Cottage core style is an aesthetic revolved around traditional living in a whimsical, romanticized way. It’s baking from scratch, gardening, elegant dresses with feminine touches and all things wholesome. It’s about being soft and bringing beauty everywhere, and intentionally glorifying the most mundane tasks like drying laundry on the line, and eating your greens – don’t forget your edible pansies on our salad.
It’s a movement towards a healthier and happier planet.
Cottage core is unique in that it’s a modern trend that it’s a trend that nearly anyone can enjoy while being in touch with nature. I love cottage core style because it makes us nostalgic for simpler times and helps us see beauty in forgotten treasures. The beautiful family heirlooms, knitted doilies and tea sets that we never knew we’d appreciate and desire for our own modern spaces? They are exactly what we wish to use to set the tone of our home.
Key elements in the style:
Cottage core is popular because it’s a complete escape from our modern realities of capitalism. It glorifies slow living and supporting farmers, small businesses, a creating DIY life and being natural wherever and whenever possible.
It’s common to see creators share tips on foraging and preserving food, planting tea gardens, herbal medicine, essential oils, cooking and baking from scratch, sustainability and wellbeing (ahem, the entire premise of frolicandfare.com)
The imagery captured is filled with warm, dappled sunny light, natural hues like true green grass and lemon-y yellows, which we’ve become accustomed to editing as “brightest whites”. It’s sky blue skies and violet wild flowers. Red checkered picnic blankets and old wicker baskets. Vintage bakeware and spending the afternoon baking a pie. Cute and cuddly woodland and farm animals, baby chicks with flower hats. Embroidering and wearing clothing from natural fibers.
Cottage core style is also often referred to as “grandma core” “faecore” “farm core” or “goblin core” and is closely associated to “green witch”, and other natural aesthetic communities.
The common theme through out is the desire to live peacefully with the outside world. It’s stress free and a beautiful step away from “hustle culture”.
It’s maximalist, but in more simple sustainable ways. Cottage core style is that collection of lace garments, sea shells and dried flowers on your window sill you’re just so drawn to.
How the community is inclusive:
I am really excited the first time I read an article about cottage core, because I already naturally fit into this lifestyle. I had unexpectedly become a stay at home mom in a country overseas with a new baby, and even pre pandemic, I started making everything from scratch. Soaps, candles, baked goods, you name it. We cloth diapered and hung our clothes on the line in the sun to try. When the pandemic hit and we all had to stay inside, I felt really blessed we were well equipped with tools and skills to self sustain.
I became a photographer who never shot an image without styling with my pressed flowers or roses from my garden. It’s no surprise that I leaned into curating highly styled images of baked goods, which was a form of self care and comfort fo me. Without even knowing it, I’d been buying cottage core style dresses for several years because they were comfortable and elegant. As soon as I saw there were entire communities of people like me, I felt supported during a time I was in a different continent from my family. The aesthetic is built around escapism, open mindedness, beauty and support.
When I first discovered the communities, I quickly followed other creators and joined several Facebook groups. Whimsical dress and playfulness is encouraged and accepted. It is always a requirement to be kind, respectful, and to support eachothers’ art when possible. Many of these groups were dominated by LGBTQ members. Cottage core is often criticized for being overly romanticized and a form of escapism. However, it’s really soothing and provides a sense of belongingness.
How the cottage core style supports sustainability movement:
Cottagecore naturally allows for sustainable movement in a way that doesn’t feel extreme. It feels natural to incorporate soap making and growing your own food in this lifestyle. It gives us a new understanding and appreciation for those who tend to their land and animals. While it’s well known that the style completely glamorizes rural living, I think we all agree we enjoy our modern amenities and don’t have any desire to go without our cars or even modern homes. However many of us will continue to enjoy our new found passion for sourdough baking and slower living
How did cottage core style become popularized?
Cottage core became popular during the 2020 pandemic quarantine. The aesthetic can be considered a form of escapism. A sense of anxiety is lifted when we realize much of what we want and need can be obtained by reducing our wants and needs. And we can achieve this by producing things at home from scratch.
Like many others, the pandemic was the first time in my adult life I had a sense that there was no where to go and nothing I needed to do. Being completely present with my kids in the garden, baking from scratch and things like embroidery became a regular part of our routine. I found so much joy in these things, they carried on even after life resumed to it’s full speed. We chose not to catch up.
Criticisms of cottage core style:
Cottage core style receives criticism for being overly romanticized and unrealistic. It’s suggested that the peak interest in cooking and gardening promotes traditional lifestyles that are pro-patriarchy. However, unlike the traditional wives (or trad wife) movement (a group of woman who advocate for the return of traditional gender roles) the cottage core community has modern world views.
Cottage core style is also criticized for romanticizing a time that did not truly exist for most. Even today, I say the aesthetic is not attainable for the majority. However, most agree it’s still enjoyable to look at. I consider it more of a personal style with promising benefits and forgiving for those who do not actually live in cottages in the woods and forage.
I believe cottage core aesthetic has more promising features such as sustainable lifestyles and surrounding ourselves with beautiful findings. Overall, it has reminded us that life doesn’t need to be so complex. Simple pleasures and romanticizing less desirable parts of our lives are a form of self care in troubling times.