There’s something about shopping at Muji that reminds you of summer escapades in Europe, in particular a nostalgic 1950s/60s movie version of the European summer holiday. From the hygge music featuring folksy Nordic accordion tunes to the stations of neatly folded merchandise and travel-friendly apparel and accessories, which all happen to be Euro-summer-appropriate, it’s enough to make you want to sell your apartment and head for where ‘the hills are alive’!
It makes me wonder if dressing perpetually in this manner can make me feel happier, the way being on holiday can make one feel. A deeper browse through Muji’s brand spanking new KLCC store reveals one thing: while you can’t trick yourself into believing you’re on holiday in Europe, you can adopt that French gamine ‘je ne sais quoi’ or Italian gina ‘sprezzatura’ with ease.
Muji certainly is the one place where you can get that iconic European chick chic, which embraces simple styling and a monochromatic palette that the brand nails perfectly. Here are some quintessential Euro-chic looks you can create with Muji.
Muji Look #1: The Breton Belle
It’s ironic that Muji, a Japanese brand, is today’s home of the Breton stripe, the official uniform for French navy seaman in Brittany circa 1858. Inspired by this outfit after a visit to the French coast, Coco Chanel introduced the design to the fashion world through her nautical collection in 1917, and voila, the world has not looked back since. Its insouciant and laidback styling has been so much associated with fashion that the Breton striped top has become universally accepted as chic.
French style icon, Jean Seberg made it all the rage and the Breton remains iconic, seen on the likes of Charlotte Gainsbourg (pictured here in one of her first movies ‘Les Paroles et Musique’ in 1985) to Pauline Etienne in ‘Tokyo Fiancee’, just to name a few.
You’ll find that Muji makes their Breton tees in a thicker fabrication, but that is to ensure the shape stays after washing, and it can double as a sweater for layering over shirts and inner tees in colder climes.
See the trailer for Tokyo Fiancee here:
Muji Look #2: The Italian Gina
Francesca, played by Alessandra Mastronardi is the new love interest in Season 2 of Aziz Ansari’s Master of None. His character, Dev, spends a summer learning how to make pasta in Modena, a small city in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy. Ah… the good life!
Francesca displays extreme ease in oversized casual men’s dressing in a look that hails back to the 1950’s. French actress, Jean Seberg (inset), may have been Francesca’s inspiration for this sprezzatura- infused look.
Here’s the Master of None trailer for Season 2. There’s not a lot of Francesca, but it’ll get you in the mood for la dolce vita.
Muji Look #3: Bonjour Tristesse
Jean Seberg, most well known for cult movies, Breathless and Bonjour Tristesse, is the epitome of french chic. Here she channels quiet seaside glamour with a simply knotted denim shirt and white capris. She’s also a fan of the oversized shirt, and Muji has those in abundance, in organic cottons or linen. If you’d like to take the Euro-style quotient higher, look in the men’s section, and get creative with belts or other accessories.
Muji Look #4: Roman Holiday
Actress and style icon, Audrey Hepburn, shot to fame in her film Breakfast at Tiffany’s playing a hick-town American girl, but hailing from Britain and born in Brussels, her inherent superpowers as a chic-maker cannot be denied.
In the 1953 film, Roman Holiday, her character Princess Anne, sheds her stuffy royal image and finds her own style after running away from the palace. The look has since been etched into the sartorial hall of fame. Adopt her look and update it with items from Muji.
Muji Look #5: Pyjama Mama
Speaking of Roman Holiday, Audrey Hepburn as Princess Anne says, “I hate this nightgown. I hate all my nightgowns and I hate all my underwear too…Why can’t I sleep in pyjamas?…Just the top part.” And I so agree.
However, the most glamorous pyjama muse of all time may well be bombshell Sophia Loren, who not only made pyjamas ultra-sexy in the 1967 film, ‘A Countess from Hong Kong’, she allegedly spent 7 months almost entirely in bed, while she was pregnant.
The thing is, real pyjamas pyjamas are hardly the most chic outfit on the planet. Pyjama dressing (expensive pyjama looks made for wearing out) has visited the fashion runway several times, but there is sometimes a need to be chic indoors, with people who matter (ahem!). Pyjamas pyjamas can also be downright dowdy (if the design details are wrong) and uncomfortable (if the fabrication isn’t right). Thankfully Muji does pyjamas right (they’re seamless!)
Just looking at the pyjama bar in their KLCC store gives me satisfaction. I particularly love the softness of the double gauze variety, and they also come in short sleeves if you’re so inclined.
Muji Look #6: Belle de Jour
You’ll have observed that I kind of left the best for last – the grande dame of French haûte-style – Catherine Deneuve.
Known for her movies ‘Les Parapluies de Cherbourg’ (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg), and Belle de Jour, Catherine Deneuve’s two signature outfits – the black dress with white collars and cuffs by YSL (a metaphor for her outwardly innocent character which hides a dark torrent of emotions and a double life), and the tan trench coat from Cherbourg, Belle and other films such as Mississippi Mermaid – can take on a more relaxed, modern twist with Muji.