hances are if you don’t live under a rock, you’ve probably heard about cottagecore over the past year or so. But, what is cottagecore exactly? Cottagecore is a modern-day take on the types of fashion inspired by traditional western agricultural and English countryside style. It aims to romanticize all things natural like the outdoors, growing your own vegetables, and getting in touch with one’s self.
Cottagecore reached its highest peak of popularity a few months into the pandemic, causing followers of the trend to turn the typically lonesome quarantine into something more rewarding, full of positivity and light. The pandemic wasn’t the start of the trend, however. The moments in isolation were just when it began to pick up more steam than it ever had before. Since most Gen Z and young Millennials were locked inside all day with nothing to do, it’s understandable they gravitated towards a new lifestyle that celebrated the situation COVID brought about, instead of spending time wishing things were different.
A Crash Course in the Cottagecore Aesthetic
So what does the cottagecore aesthetic include? It varies a little bit from person to person (and because cottagecore includes several sub-aesthetics that often get lumped together like fairycore and royalcore). But the identifying features of cottagecore's quaint, vaguely magical style are pretty consistent:
- Nature. Think moss-covered rocks, canopies of green leaves, rocks at the bottom of little streams, cold mountain ponds -- anything fresh and green or flowing and fresh. 🌳🌾🌲🌿
- Flowers. Cottage core has a particular fascination with flowers -- tiny wildflowers, daisy chains, blooming meadows, and anything else that's wild, pretty, and free. 🌸💐🌷
- Mushrooms. Perhaps the defining symbol of cottage core, mushrooms -- especially ones with big, bouncy spotted caps -- are an easy way to identify cottage core. 🍄🍄🍄
- Actual cottages. This can mean thatched rooves, tiny homes, or any home surrounded by (or filled with) nature. 🪴🏡 ⛰
- Woodland creatures (real and fantastic). If you could find it in a garden, it's probably considered a cottage core critter. Hedgehogs, bunnies, fairies, frogs, sheep, gnomes, mice, and so on. 🧚🦔🐰🐑
- Pretty much anything else that makes you think of winding dirt roads and stone fences in the English countryside. 🍄🌞🍓🐸🛶✨
Where did cottagecore fashion come from?
Like most aesthetics that have gained major popularity over the past couple years, the timeline of the conception and creation of cottagecore is a little blurry considering it’s acceptance started slowly until it was embraced over time by the masses. But cottagecore fashion has recently picked up steam—becoming the biggest trend for summer 2021.
As far as anyone knows, the first examples of cottagecore began popping up on Tumblr in 2010. Since then, the trend has grown into more than a fashion choice—but an overall lifestyle that embraces the importance of minimalistic beauty inspired by all things natural and peaceful.
Cottagecore reminds people who follow the trend that it’s important to stay calm and light during a time when there’s so much uncertainty. The trend puts a large focus on using the outdoors to your benefit and trying to spend as much time as you can basking under the whimsical spring sun. With Spring and Summer 2021 underway, cottagecore is making a huge comeback in malls and online clothing sites all over with shelves and pages full of long, airy dresses, shirts with billowing sleeves, and hats that look like they were made for Alexis from Schitt’s Creek.
The OG Cottage Core Inspiration
Cottagecore inspiration comes from a wide variety of resources, but the early influences are traced back to romanticized versions of farming and agricultural trades, with many of the cottagecore outfits resembling an ornamented version of overalls, old fashioned dresses, and oversized work shirts.
Movies, TV shows, and books have also created inspiration for the trend, especially those that take place in an old-fashioned countryside with characters living simple and outdoorsy lives like Little House on the Prairie and The Sound of Music.
The fashion sense used in these types of media created a blueprint for the eventual embrace of cottagecore fashion and the various core-pieces related to the trend. For instance, the types of dresses worn by the Von Trapp family in The Sound of Music are currently being sought after and sold on the popular cottagecore Instagram page @cottagecorethings. With over 116 thousand followers and 25 thousand average likes per post, the trend is soaring above and beyond expectations.
Other influences are said to come from romanticized fairy-tales and old English era style shown in books, movies, and games like Beauty and the Beast, the Legend of Zelda series, Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. This subculture of cottagecore seems to create a wide-spread nostalgia for simpler times in the past, while spreading word of the subculture through the extensive use of social media. As Alanis Morissette would say, isn’t it ironic?
Modern Inspiration Behind the Cottage Core Aesthetic
Modern Inspiration into cottagecore fashion comes from the same place almost everything is found these days—social media. Tumblr started the fire when it comes to cottagecore, but Instagram and TikTok fanned the flames for a younger and wider audience to begin incorporating the subculture into their lives as well. There are countless TikToks, Instagrams, and Tumblrs dedicated to all things cottagecore—the style, the décor, the overall lifestyle of simplistic natural pleasures. It’s become a fun way for younger generations to connect and take back the time they lost during the pandemic.
With social media taking charge of the cottagecore narrative, it’s created a space for LGBTQIA and BIPOC individuals to express themselves in a judgement-free zone that celebrates being one’s true, authentic self. So, although some of cottagecore’s initial inspiration came primarily from white, heterosexual origins--the overall aesthetic has transformed into a progressive and inclusive subculture that’s fit for everyone.
A 2019 horror film may seem like an odd place to draw inspiration for a trend that's so full of warmth and light, but take a look at any still from the film and you'll notice that its clear aesthetic feels pretty familiar. Dubbed a "folk horror" film by critics, Midsommar is full of the flowers and flowing white dresses that have become the cornerstone of cottagecore.
The 2.5 hour film follows a couple who travels to an idyllic rural town in Sweden for its annual midsummer festival. Their vacation starts out normal enough, but it quickly spirals into increasingly violent and bizarre rituals at the hands of a pagan cult. Despite several gruesome deaths, viewers are left with take-home messages about the importance of nature, ritual, empathy, and community in surviving life's hardships.
Even suggested by some to be the inspiration behind the 2020 lockdown's famous Nap Dress trend, it's easy to see why we can't talk about cottage core without bringing Midsommar into the mix.
Taylor Swift Inspiration
You know we couldn’t talk about cottagecore without mentioning 2020’s queen of the cardigans—Taylor Swift.
Taylor swift has had a busy year with two full albums and additional new releases of her old songs. But just like she once traded in her country roots for a more pop-hit sound, she’s reinvented herself once again this past year with a whimsical, indie-folk album that stands out as some of her best work yet.
Taylor’s new albums haven’t just inspired the music industry this year, leading her to several Grammy wins--She’s also inspired the world of cottagecore fashion with her woodsy ballads and effortless romanticism that feels like it would be the perfect soundtrack to any cabin weekend getaway.
After the release of Folklore, cottagecore numbed rose astromatically on Instagram and Tumblr. The fans of cottagecore had their style in place and now Taylor was delivering their very own soundtrack to go along with it. Within Swift’s own music videos, she fully embraces the cottagecore aesthetic, wearing long flowy dresses, hair in delicate braids, and surrounded by beautiful nature scenes—it’s like she was born to play this role.
How to Dress in Cottagecore
If you’re someone who has a curious interest in cottagecore, but you’ve never ventured out to incorporate the look or lifestyle into your daily routine —here is the rundown of all the important items someone must have in their closet to pull off the full cottagecore aesthetic.
You don’t have to break the bank when searching for cottagecore styles, either. The art of thrift shopping and repurposing old clothes is what cottagecore is all about. Take some time to sift through the racks of your local thrift store and you might just hit the jackpot.
One of the best pieces you can invest in when building a cottagecore wardrobe is the peasant blouse. The billowing sleeves and sweetheart neckline give off the perfect romantic, yet simplistic vibe that every cottagecore lover is trying to emulate. It can be paired with almost anything from jeans, to corduroy pants, high-waisted flowy skirts, overalls, and so much more.
Anything with puffy sleeves is really a go-to when it comes to cottagecore. The puffy sleeves are romantic and old-fashioned so you can feel like you transported yourself to a time when life was simpler and no one knew what Instagram was.
As we’ve mentioned plenty of times, flowy dresses are a major style piece involved in the cottagecore aesthetic. They have a fairytale quality about them that makes it a great piece to wear on a beautiful day in nature.
Pinafore Dresses are a great way to mix and match your favorite puffy sleeve blouses into your outfit. If you love rocking the pinafore on it’s own, that’s cool too! Whatever you feel will work well in a given day.
This specific piece screams Belle from Beauty and the Beast to us. If you’re constantly baking in the kitchen or tending to your many house plants, putting one of these cottagecore-chic aprons over your outfit is a great way to keep everything clean, while pulling off cottagecore perfectly.
You know we couldn’t complete this list without having cardigans on it? Long flowy cardigans are a staple piece in any cottagecore outfit. They’re especially important in the spring time when the weather isn’t warm enough for short sleeves, but not cold enough for a full jacket.
Braids have always had a natural and simplistic look about them, even if it takes you 30 tries to get one side the way you want it. It’s no surprise braids are a big part of the cottagecore style. Adding a braid to any outfit is basically like accessorizing, especially in the cottagecore aesthetic where the less accessories the better! If you don’t love wearing braids, you can still utilize them for your cottagecore look by leaving them in overnight and revealing perfect waves in the morning.
Putting a bow in your hair adds to the romantic look that cottagecore is known for. We know Jojo Siwa is the queen of the bows, but for the cottagecore look, you’ll want to find a more neutral color or design that doesn’t overpower the rest of your outfit.
Cottagecore is a simple and romantic way to express one’s self through their clothing and natural activities. If you feel a connection to the outdoors and a love of all things romantic, this is the aesthetic for you.