If you’ve ever stumbled upon the side of social media filled with soft floral prints, slow-living DIYs, and rural life vlogs, chances are you’ve heard about the cultural phenomena known as “cottagecore.”
A quick search of “cottagecore” in TikTok brings up videos of bright green meadows with adorable tiny ducklings, shimmery fairy-like makeup tutorials, cozy and aesthetic tea sets, and reading nooks. This aesthetic movement is one of many particular internet subcultures, and it’s characterized by a muted earthy pastel color palette and 1970’s inspired floral prints.
However, what separates the cottagecore aesthetic is that it involves projected escapism from a hectic modern life. Cozy fairytale home decor, rural landscapes, interior design, and DIY activities like baking bread and dress-making offer a respite from the constantly distracted and consumption-focused mainstream culture of the 2020s.
While cottagecore has been portrayed (somewhat ironically) on social media and internet communities, it’s possible to incorporate aspects of cottagecore into your real life.
To start, you can explore cottagecore fashion by incorporating a more muted, earthy color palette into your clothes and home decor, alongside floral prints and ruffle or crochet fabrics.
Embracing cottagecore more profoundly might come with diving into some of the more substantial sides of the movement: comfort, hygge, and sustainable living.
Hygge is defined as “the feeling of ultimate coziness and contentment evoked by simple comforts, as being wrapped in a blanket, having good conversations, enjoying food, etc.” The importance of hygge in a cottagecore lifestyle comes from its reminder of a simpler time when one could take things slow and savor the simple joys of life. This transcends into fashion with the trending Nap Dress and loose-flowing blouses in warm tones that became popular during the isolated home days of the pandemic.
Pinterest is full of cozy inspiration and has many hygge manifestos and hygge holiday ideas to get you started. Most center around slow, mindful activities, like embroidery and baking, and making your home feel cozy, warm, and safe.
Cottagecore living also incorporates many sustainability-focused activities. Gardening and foraging are very popular in the cottagecore movement, alongside baking and getting your food from local farms. Mushroom foraging has also become a popular element of the movement.
While the nature of capitalism means that many companies try to profit off of the aesthetic by selling fast fashion versions of the cottagecore look, to truly embrace the lifestyle, it’s recommended to prioritize recycled or thrift clothing and home decor.
Suppose you live in a place where local farms are far and few between, or you don’t necessarily have the time to sew your entire wardrobe. In that case, you can explore recycling and composting and shop at places that prioritize using natural materials and ingredients. The cottagecore community has incredible online resources to help make small zero-waste changes daily in your life.
Check out some similar aesthetics if the cottagecore look isn’t your thing.
This look differs from cottagecore in that it focuses more on the floral patterns of the aesthetic. Wildflowers, gardening, and quaint village greenery make up this look, along with more pops of brighter floral-inspired colors.
Grandmacore, or grandparentcore, is cottagecore style with a dose of elderly whimsy. Think crocheted blankets, macrame planters, and floral motifs. The decorative elements in this countrycore look include sepia-toned visuals, fresh-baked bread, and ceramic farm animal dishware.
Like cottagecore, a honeycore lifestyle may involve at-home farm life activities like breadmaking but with more of a focus on beekeeping and honey. Not surprisingly, this color palette incorporates mostly pale yellows and greens.
As the name suggests, this aesthetic takes the typical cottagecore imagery and places it in a southwest desert setting. Stone forest cottages are replaced with adobe houses, and muted greens are switched out for deep reds and oranges. Instead of mossy grass, you’ll see tall yuccas, succulents, and maybe the occasional tumbleweed drifting by.
Vaporcottage combines the popular vaporwave aesthetic, futuristic designs, and pastel rainbow colors. The result is a colorful explosion of shimmering fairies, rainbow mushrooms, and cottagecore elements placed in a futuristic setting.
It’s no coincidence that the cottagecore movement exploded in 2020 when most of us were forced to stay in our homes and step outside the fast-paced social world we had become so used to.
Many people picked up home-friendly hobbies like sourdough breadmaking, gardening, and sewing to use their free time in lockdown. Animal Crossing, which features adorable rural decoration and character outfits inside a cozy and slow-paced environment, gained internet-wide popularity that year. Taylor Swift’s “folklore” album was also released and depicted the essence of fall with songs like “cardigan” and “august.”
With everyone stuck at home, most people use social media to share these everyday experiences. As more and more people posted aesthetic baking and tea-sipping videos, the cottagecore movement was born.
2020 was also a year when people began to be more vocal about climate change and social justice movements. With the pandemic recession bringing more stress to the middle class, racial justice protests moving throughout the country, and climate change impacts becoming more apparent, it felt like modern life was falling apart.
It’s no wonder cottagecore, also known as farmcore, which provides an escape to a more peaceful life, became such a popular trend. Self-soothing activities, coziness, and reconnecting nature offered a way to step away from a tense, unstable social climate and even was found to help benefit some ecosystems as well as a result.
As mentioned above, finding recycled and thrift items is best if trying to adopt a cottagecore lifestyle. If you need to purchase new things, you can also source your products from brands that prioritize sustainability or check out small business creators on Etsy. You can start by checking out these 20 sustainable and size-inclusive clothing brands. Or, if you’re feeling like tapping into your inner victorian cottagecore babe, you can even learn how to make the iconic “THAT cottagecore dress” yourself.
The main priority with adopting any aesthetic should always be focused on how the aesthetic makes you feel rather than how it looks! Trying new color palettes and experimenting with new hobbies can be fun. What cottagecore is genuinely about, however, is coziness, comfort, and reconnecting with life’s simple pleasures. Release any pressure you feel to have a perfectly curated aesthetic, and practice adopting this more peaceful, mindful way of living!