What to Wear When…Spirited Away

horiz (2 of 2)

Sometimes I dream in the landscape-language of Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away, imagining train tracks submerged in a shallow sea that seems endless. This strange, surreal fairy-tale of a film enchanted me in my childhood and will retain its place among my favorite Miyazaki films (Castle in the Sky, Howl’s Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke) forever, probably.

Apparently I’m not the only Spirited Away fan, though, because this dress exists! It’s decorated with the soot sprites, enlivened little dust-balls that also put in an appearance in My Neighbor Totoro. I found it secondhand after eyeing it eagerly on instagram, and decided it would be the perfect outfit for my birthday last Friday!

I continue to marvel at the fact that nearly every dress I own has a fit-and-flare silhouette–but since that fit works well for me, why not hoard them? This dress is polyester and has a very casual feel to it (in other words, I doubt I’ll be wearing it for a museum tour anytime soon), which seems appropriate for summer weekends.

These happy soot sprites are depicted with their favorite treat: little multi-colored stars. They remind me of the “wishing stars” I used to fold from thin sheets of paper as a kid. Whoever thought that tiny puffs of soot could be so cheerful? I just want to wear this all the time and share their strange whimsy with the world.

(If you’ve never seen a Miyazaki film and are wondering what on Earth I’m blathering on about–I promise, I’m not the only one who likes soot sprites! A cursory search of YouTube turns up a few cute & relevant DIYs, including a bottle full of soot sprites and a more edible variety. They’ll charm you eventually, I’m sure!)


  1. Aww, soot sprites! I made one for a friend a few years ago from black plush. The dress is adorable (and I’d love to tour a museum with a guide wearing this dress, but that’s me as a fellow Ghibli enthusiast).
    Editorial comment: the second link (to edible soot sprites) leads to the same video as the first one, I’m rather sure that’s not how it’s supposed to be. 🙂

    • You know, once I had a museum visitor (a kid!) who pointed out that a misty Winslow Homer seascape reminded him of the landscapes in Howl’s Moving Castle–so perhaps the Ghibli-themed ensemble would go over quite well at work! 😀 (And, eek, thank you for catching that! Double-posting links is the bane of my existence sometimes!)

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