A Dress for Nature (Ad)

This dress was gifted to me by Nadinoo but all words, photos & opinions are my own

I’ve been intrigued by the Japanese concept of forest bathing for some time now. Known as shrinrin-yoku (literally ‘forest’ ‘bath’), forest bathing is a form of mindfulness that encourages more time spent outdoors among nature, specifically among trees, although you can gain similar health benefits from spending time anywhere outdoors. It’s all about allowing your senses to become attuned with nature and drinking up all that fresh air. When Nadia of one of my favourite independent brands, Nadinoo, offered to send me the Shinrin Yoku dress from her Shibuiwear collection, I was over the moon. Not only was this the dress of my dreams - long, flowy and gingham - but it was named after this Japanese philosophy that I was already interested in.

I’ve been an admirer of Nadia’s designs for many years. When I first started blogging, I remember following her blog and coveting her dresses, often worn by my favourite bloggers. I love how her garments have evolved over the years to become a collection that offers simplicity, comfort and versatility. I oft admire Japanese clothing (one of my friends has an amazing denim pinafore that she picked up in Japan that I’m always ogling) and Nadinoo’s current collection effortlessly incorporates Japanese influences. Garments are over-sized, designed to fit for comfort but to fall flatteringly across your body. Fabrics are natural - raw silk, gingham, linen and eucalyptus. There are many pieces that I’m currently pondering adding to my wardrobe (I just can’t decide between her jumpsuits and pinafores!) but the forest-bathing dress is my absolute favourite garment from her collection.

For now, while spring is still fighting the last grasp of winter, I’ve been wearing the dress layered over long-sleeved cotton tops and tights with my favourite chunky lace-up boots. In summer, I see myself effortlessly throwing the dress on with my Saltwater sandals, wearing it to waft around on Mediterranean holidays, throwing a lightweight jacket over it to explore windswept coastlines, and adopting it as my go-to for lazy summer days. I’m trying to create a wardrobe filled with garments that I love and find comfortable and easy to wear, focusing on independent brands and sustainable clothing. You may notice me occasionally accepting gifts or working with brands, but I’m very selective and only work with brands that I genuinely love and admire their focus on sustainability.

I’d like to talk more about forest bathing, and how this dress is the perfect piece to wear while wandering around forests (or fields or moors). I’ve entitled this blog post ‘A Dress for Nature’, as this is the perfect garment for my new life in the countryside. I can’t be too precious about my clothing when wandering up hills and through woodlands, and need easy-to-wear items like this dress that require little fuss and faff when getting dressed. To be mindful about my clothing choices, and to partake in mindful activities, I like to have a wardrobe full of garments that I can just pull on and go, without having to worry about comfort, fit or what to pair them with.

Forest bathing is a way of calming your mind and reconnecting with nature. It may sound like new-age kookiness, but it’s proven to have benefits to both your physical and mental health. I touched upon this last year, when I talked about why I love to spend time outside and how it can improve your health. Being among nature, breathing in fresh air, and especially being close to trees can do all sorts of wonders, from boosting your immune system, to reducing your blood pressure. It can also help you to think clearly, boost your creativity, reduce stress and make you happier. Alarmingly, most of us don’t spend anywhere near as much time outdoors as we should do, and placing an emphasis on making time for things like forest bathing can really help to encourage you to step outside.

There isn’t a manual for how to forest bathe, and the practice does not involve physically getting into a body of water. All you have to do is find your nearest forest or woodland (or fields, meadows, hills or moors) and wander around, walking slowly and without intention. Leave your phones, cameras and maps at home and just amble along, savouring the sights, sounds and smells of nature. Allow all five senses to experience the forest around you: admire your surroundings and pay attention to the different trees that you pass and the way the light falls through the canopy of leaves, smell the aroma of the wood and the earth, listen to the leaves rustle and your footsteps hitting the ground, taste the freshness of the air that you inhale, and reach out to feel the textures of the tree trunks, branches and leaves. If walking isn’t your thing, or you are unable to walk, sit and meditate or practicing yoga among the trees. Forest bathing is closer to meditation than a form of exercise, and is rooted in mindfulness. It’s not so much what you do but how you do it.