WORDS BY STEPHEN YU
What is cottagecore?
More than just a visual aesthetic, cottagecore is an idealized lifestyle that romanticizes rural country living and the activities that come with it, whether that be raising farm animals, gardening, or practicing traditional forms of craft such as crochet. It’s essentially playing ‘Farmville', ‘Harvest Moon', or ‘Animal Crossing’ but IRL.
The largely Gen-Z movement is seen as a form of escapism from the harsh realities of modern life through a return to the simple and peaceful age of our pastoral and agricultural past. A real-world manifestation of ASMR, cottagecore seeks to calm our hyper-stimulated nerves at a time when the world seems on the brink of ecological and societal collapse, providing comfort and a place of retreat for the youth of today.
Though the movement first cropped up in 2018, it recently began to gain traction on social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Tumblr in response to mass quarantine and our desire to escape from the stresses and trauma of the modern world.
How to do the cottagecore trend?
It’s simple really – log off social media, put down your smartphone, close your laptop, and embrace nature. Take a hike or walk around your nearest lake. For city dwellers, it could mean going to your local park. Visit your nearest farm and even consider volunteering there. There’s nothing more soothing than hand-rearing a goat, or finally getting that pony you’ve always wanted. Shop locally; it’s better for the environment and helps support the OG cottagecorers – farmers. Even better, make your own food. If you can’t grow it, then forage for it. Common starting points include elderflower cordials, homemade jams, and sourdough bread. Pick up a wholesome hobby like embroidery, pottery making, or knitting – extra brownie points if you can use a loom.
But if this all seems a bit too wholesome or far too much work, you can always go the easy route by adopting its aesthetic with these cottagecore fashion essentials:
Essential Cottagecore Clothes
A vintage-style apron dress has all the practicalities of a pair of dungarees, but with the easy-breezy summer sensibility and feminine silhouette of a dress. Perfect for transitioning between gardening and trying to get a good bake on your sourdough loaf without getting covered in flour.
Gingham and Embroidery
Imagine your local county fair and everything that comes with it – jam jar lids, picnic blankets, checkered table linens – and you’ll realize that what makes it picture perfect is gingham, a pattern at the heart of the cottagecore aesthetic. Nothing captures the essence of rural life quite like a gingham dress, and with this one you can pretend you hand-embroidered it yourself.
Harkening back to bygone eras is a serious pastime for hardcore cottagecorers, which means that anything post-electricity is out, and everything turn of the century is in. Victorian or Edwardian-inspired dresses will have you feeling more like one of the girls in ‘Picnic At Hanging Rock’, and less like you’re having a picnic and hanging out with friends at your local park.
Alongside the milkmaid dress, a traditional ‘smock-frock’ is another peasant staple that’s become essential for those longing to live off the fat of the land, or at least look like they do. We love the folk-style stitching on the collar of this Prada rendition, which whisks anyone who wears it away to the world of Hans Christian Andersen.
At the heart of cottagecore dressing is wearing nature-inspired prints that mirror the seasons, and nothing screams summer more than floral print. This floral blouse from cult cottagecore brand Batsheva is so woodlandy it’s got us reaching for hayfever tablets.
When it comes to sleeves in the world of cottagecore, the puffier, and more ruched the better. Pair milkmaid sleeves with a boat or sweetheart neckline and you’ve got all the right ingredients for such magical days out in the meadows.
Slavic-style waistcoats seem tailor-made for layering over lacey prairie dresses and rustic shirting, adding a layer of whimsy to elderflower vodka tastings and folk music jamming sessions.
Capture the beauty of spring and summer all year round with cute arts-and-crafts style floral accessories, and leave the wilted daisies for your next flower pressing.
No day frolicking in fields and reciting poetry by your favorite oak tree is complete without a summer hat, as let’s face it there’s nothing cottagecore about sunburn. This lace floral style seems like it was lifted straight out of the costume department for ‘Little Women’ with a dainty chin strap made for the most elegant of cottage dwellers.
Blending Scandinavia’s traditional artisanal shoemaking and its rich history in farming, the humble clog is undeniably the shoe of the Cottagecore movement. Designed to last a lifetime, and to protect delicate feet from muddy fields, it ticks all the right boxes for the movement – it’s eco and looks good in the countryside. What more could you want?