Monastic Zen (For Grasshoppers Everywhere)

Ninja Fashion


“You think Bernadette Maguire killed him?”
“Uh… no. She’s, like I said, she’s old.”
“Old people can kill people too.”
“I know, but…”
“She could be a ninja.”
“She’s not a ninja, for God’s sake. She’s somebody’s great grandmother.”
“I want you to think carefully about this, Kenny. Have you ever seen her with a sword?”
“How about throwing stars?”
“This is ridiculous.”
“Have you ever seen her dressed up as a ninja? That would have been my first clue.”

– Derek LandyDeath Bringer

So no – this fashion trend does not quite demand a black bandana worn over your face and to carry essential accessories of sword and throwing stars, but I thought we might just have a little fun imagining ourselves as ninjas on this Friday morning. So – go on, take a moment, click here to listen to some inspiring music and just slip into that darkness of sliding down walls, over rooftops, hiding in shadows on your way to carry out that assassination….. And no – you can provide your own victim: whoever has annoyed you this morning. I won’t report you for infanticide or if your husband mysteriously goes missing…

So let’s get serious now (or as serious as I can ever bring myself to be about fashion).

This is a very simple look (deceptively simple my young friend), featuring long layers worn over slim trousers, softly belted with complicated knots in sashes. There are origami folds and of course, everything is in neutral whites, sands and dense, dense shadowy black.Oh, and occasional splash of colour. but you feel this was put in as an afterthought when the designers realised that they had absolutely nothing that would catch the eye of the casual browser as they walked past the display in the shop. Sorry, you expected me not to be cynical about commercialism in the fashion industry?

Fabrics are natural too – hopsacks, linens and silks mixed with lighter cottons and sheer fabrics for a bit of flow and drape over the top of all that austerity.

So if you too are tall and lean and can do chic minimalism, you might very well be rubbing your hands together with glee. Ah, no, you wouldn’t, would you? Because it’s not your style. You might however give a slight indication of interest with one raised eyebrow.

Ah, but I should just mention that we have quite a bit of the old asymmetric stuff going on with hemlines and jackets…. just thought I ought to mention it – but I’m sure all those of the Classic persuasion can avoid it quite easily.

So just for you I’ll give some examples….

Now this is going to be an expensive look, so we’ll go to my favourite John Lewis…

Let’s start with jackets. Well, they’re all long. That was a given really, wasn’t it? Let’s see what we’ve got then.

Jaeger Petal Coat £275
John Lewis Duster Coat £69
Mint Velvet Kimono £99

Mint Velvet Waterfall Jacket £89

  I suppose the Japanese influence is most strongly seen in the Kimono, but you can see those clean lines I talked about in the top two and then the more blowy, oversized draping on that waterfall jacket. These jackets belong rather more to the abbot of the monastery I feel than to his top secret warrior. But maybe the warrior wears them too when not actively engaged in carrying out assassinations.

Moving onto tops. We can begin to see some of the origami knots coming in here – although you may not be able to see that intricate knot on the belt of the Mint Velvet wrap top – white on white – never a great look for an image. Now that top is first cousin to a judogi (Judo Jacket) isn’t it? And I’ll see you on the dojo later – or, ah, maybe not…. We have tunic tops too, although this one is helpfully called a “Kaftan”. Hey – you guys at Mango – you got the continent wrong! Right style, wrong name! (Aside – “Prats!”)

Mint Velvet Wrap Top £79
Mango Fringed Kaftan £24.99

Now, what’s next? Ah yes, skirts. Hmmm, you know I might have mentioned the whole asymmetric thing? Uh huh; brace yourselves…

Phase Eight Asymmetric Midi Skirt £52
Oasis Long Line Wrap Pencil Skirt £36

You might be able to see the cunning folds in that Oasis skirt (you could conceal a throwing star quite nicely in there) and of course, the flowing skirts of that Phase Eight thing won’t hinder you as you make your fast getaway over the palace roofs! But, if elegance and subtle drapes are more your thing and you don’t feel the need to wear black, then there’s always this option…

Phase Eight Saira Twist Maxi Skirt £44

That’s more taking tea in the palace as you quietly slip poison into the cup of the Emperor, isn’t it?

Dresses is where the designers have really gone to town on the drapes and folds.

FC Asymmetric T-shirt dress £69

Ah, that one’s asymmetric again, isn’t it? Whoops….

FWM Silk Dress £199
Chesca Jersey dress £125

Ah, that’s better. You can see the pleating nicely in that FWM one (and so you should for the price: definitely Princess Ninja there) and the folds making the classic silhouette in the Chesca one, with, again, handy folds for concealed weapons.

I’ve already mentioned the slim trousers to be worn under the tunics, but the other option is luxurious wide legged trousers like so…

Mint Velvet Wide legged Trousers £79
Mango openwork flared trousers £39.99

The Mint Velvet trousers are in a terrifically elegant feather pattern, white on dove grey. I even quite like them myself! (Wonders will never cease!). The Mango ones are such an open weave that, if necessary, you could use them as a tennis net for next week’s style blog. But that broken texture means they’re also great for hiding in the shadows when the Imperial Guard come rushing past.

And of course – shoes. What are you going to wear with all this Japanese Zen going on? Something like this perhaps?

Kurt Geiger Mae Leather Toe Thong Sandals £59
Carvela Klassy High Heeled Wedge Sandals £95

Or this?

It’s a choice of running or mincing really, isn’t it? So, there you have it. Monk or Ninja, you choose.

I know which option I’d go for (noises off as she rootles around for her throwing knives and wooden staff…)!

As always, please make me happy by sending me a comment and next week it’s Resort Privé.

Anyone for tennis?


2 thoughts on “Monastic Zen (For Grasshoppers Everywhere)

  1. Hello Victoria, I have been writing these every week, but posting only in newsletter form (I got lazy I think). Anyway – back to posting every week (more or less) from now on. Those Phase Eight skirts have a certain style, don’t they!

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