(This post was updated December 2018.)
When first venturing into the vintage and feminine side of Japanese fashion, it can be hard to differentiate between Mori Girl and her sister styles, such as Natural kei, Dolly Kei, and Cult Party Kei. All of these styles have similarities, but each are their own unique styles nonetheless. That is why I am creating this quick guide to the most commonly confused styles: Mori girl and Natural Kei. Hopefully, after reading this post, you'll be able to spot the differences yourself!
Mori Girl fashion was created with the forest in mind. Mori Girls are categorized by the fact that they look like they dwell in the forest. Mori Girl has taken some inspiration from Natural Kei, but is very much a style of its own.
Typically, Mori Kei's most prominent features are lots of lace, many flowing layers, and natural color tones, with little bits of color thrown in. Personally, Mori Girls remind me of little forest fairies.
Mori's sister style Natural Kei was created with the forest in mind as well, but not in the same sense as Mori Girl. Natural Kei style should remind you more of a girl who lives in a cottage in a small town on the English or French countryside. The style was originally created in the 70's, so the traditional look has pretty much died out, although not completely.
Natural Kei's most prominent features are things like layers of ruffled skirts, bold floral and prairie prints, and lots of bold color contrasts. It personally reminds me of Little House on the Prairie.
However, Natural Kei does have some things in common with Mori Girl, which mean that some outfits can pass as either style, and it still will be acceptable to call it whichever you please.
But also remember, there are no set rules for the Mori Girl fashion or lifestyle. There is the official Mori Girl checklist from mixi, but by no means consider this the set in stone rules. You don't have fit with every single thing on this checklist to be a Mori Girl. You also don't have to dress Mori Girl 24/7 to be one. I think it's perfectly acceptable to dress in other styles sometimes, and still classify yourself as a Mori Girl.
Feel free to blend and experiment with styles. Find out what you really love! But until then, I hope you found this post helpful. Good luck diving into the forest dwellers world!