It may be the latest lifestyle and decor trend, but what is cottagecore exactly? How do you get the look? Where did it come from? What is quintessential cottagecore? If you want to know, then sit back and let me fill you in.
WHAT IS COTTAGECORE?
Cottagecore is an ideal. It’s almost a philosophy. It’s a romanticised countryside-inspired aesthetic. It has influence over everything from interior décor, to clothing and even to food.
It’s central ethos is celebrating the nostalgia of living a simple life in the English countryside of a bygone era.
Cottagecore is a look back to a less complex time, more focused on quality and less about quantity. It’s hazy, lazy summer picnics and fresh baked pies with produce from the home-grown kitchen garden. It’s mushroom foraging in an autumn forest and warm hot chocolate on a cold winter’s night huddled by a snug fire. It’s taking the time for homemade rather than the quick and on-the-run. It’s about rejecting materialism and embracing self-care.
The cottagecore look is a mix of country cottage and farm chic. It’s blossoms, gingham, flowing lace, and vintage velvet. It’s about creating a cozy, nurturing life, and as much about things you do to bring a sense of wholeness and calm to your life as it is about what you put on your walls or shelves.
Cottagecore originated on social media, made popular by bloggers posting idyllic shots of rustic country living and offering rural lifestyle tips. The term is thought to have been coined on Tumblr in about 2014, but it has seen a huge surge in popularity more recently.
The suffix ‘core’ is said to be inspired from the late 70’s hardcore punk naming, which it has absolutely nothing to do with, but -core is commonly used nowadays in many genre names like fairycore, goblincore, countrycore….
With these crazy times of lockdowns and uncertainties it’s been a period when many people have had the luxury or have been forced to re-evaluate their lives, their goals and what’s important to them. Many have come to realise that there is more to life than the rat race and the constant accumulation of more.
Many have had the time to make their houses into real homes, have rediscovered the joys of home life, have had the space to breathe and create a new focus of self connection and authenticity, and there’s been a sizeable increase in moves to the countryside of people looking for a different way.
So the cottagecore ethos, that started as a micro-trend, has blossomed in popularity as it’s caught the imagination of those wanting a more genuine and natural life, as an alternative to the stresses of the mainstream.
Connecting with nature is a fundamental cottagecore principle. From gardening, to picnics, to walks on the beach, to bike rides down country lanes, cottagecore advocates for the calming, health giving and reviving effects of enjoying nature.
With nature as central, sustainability and being in harmony are hugely important. Making your own food and ideally growing it yourself is cottagecore to it’s core. Eating within season from an organic kitchen garden is ideal, but for those who don’t have that luxury, a healthy, clean diet is still achievable – farmers markets, local farm shops and wholefood stores are urban cottagecore equivalents, and sunny windowsills are great for growing herbs and other small food plants even in apartments.
Baking is a huge part of the cottagecore movement because of course homemade is champion. Making sourdough bread, which became a national lockdown pastime, is cottagecore inspired. But not only – pies and flans and quiches, cookies and cakes, anything and everything. Jams, cordials, chutneys, pickles are all easy to make and let you enjoy summer flavours any time throughout the year. And using farm-fresh eggs and local or home grown organic produce, it’s almost impossible for things not to turn out delicious.
Crafting is a big part of cottagecore too. The lifestyle celebrates traditional skills, rejecting the mass produced and investing in soul nurturing projects, so naturally getting in touch with our creativity and expressing ourselves is a fundamental part of cottagecore. This can mean anything from making your own clothes, crochet and knitting to making candles, lotions, creams and balms, pressed flowers, foraging for herbs to use, or finding a stick in the woods and turning it into a necklace holders or wall art, decorating vintage frames, making dried flower mobiles, hand painting wall murals…. these are all archetypal cottagecore crafting pastimes and many more besides. Cottagecore is about the calmer, more rewarding existence, of a back to nature homespun life.
The countrycore house embraces natural country living but it can as easily be translated into an urban design aesthetic. Materials are natural – wood, cotton, linen and wool, wicker and flowers, natural fibres rather than plastics and synthetics, quality and valued pieces rather than cheap and disposable.
Cottagecore is a rural-inspired style, with the charm and vintage feel of the English countryside cottage. Wooden furniture, ideally reclaimed, recycled or simply reused, floral wallpapers, country scents, fairy lights, layers and layers of floral prints, embroidery, hand made trinkets, cozy bedrooms for a personal sanctuary. A cottagecore house can be a little bohemian, a little messy, a little raggedy at the edges.
The cottagecore house is grandma chic where a home knitted tea cosy on a freshly brewed pot of tea wouldn’t be out of place, and of course accompanied by a fresh baked scone with home made jam.
Colours are natural, earth tones and flowers, lots of flowers. Lavender and rust. Dusty pink and baby blue. Ochre and oak green. Off whites and oatmeal. And blossoms are a must.
Cottagecore fashion is feminine and casually elegant. Gone are the lockdown leggings, which have been replaced with simple style and charm. Vintage inspired flowing dresses, straw hats, bows and flowers. It’s Pre-Raphaelites meet Anne of Green Gables. It’s smocking and ruffles, gingham and plaid, embroidery and lace. Patterns like floral and paisley add to the feminine feel, with headscarfs and hair bows and floral head wreaths.
Tiered skits and puffy sleeved tops are favoured, with everything light and airy, loose and floaty. These are not your typical clothes for working the land, tending the animals and baking in the kitchen, the cottagcore lifestyle staples, but are ideal for laying around in a field of summer flowers and for fairy adventures in the woods.
By contrast shoes are sturdy, solid, plain, almost Amish inspired, in brown or black leather, and are perfect for forest frolics and romping in the great outdoors.
Given the wholesomeness of cottagecore and the ideal of rejecting the hamster’s wheel of commercialism for a life closer to nature, it’s ironic that cottagecore has proliferated on the the antithesis of this; on the hectic of the internet. But if you consider that this has contributed to feelings of overwhelm, it’s understandable that it’s also been one of the protagonists for people to seek solitude and calm. And it’s perhaps divine poetry that it is this technology which allows the message to spread and serves as a doorway to encourage others.
So then in overview, what is cottagecore?
It’s about creating a comfy space as a refuge which allows us to be enveloped, to prioritise self care and wellness. Respecting and appreciating nature and living more in tune with our natural surroundings is part of that. It’s a celebration of simpler times gone by and an encouragement to be ourselves and explore a more meaningful life.
Cottagecore offers a way to escape our modern lives to a romanticised timeless simplicity. It’s an opportunity to slow down and skip with the fairies.
This is Cottagecore.