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Your Beginner's Guide to Cottagecore
Your Beginner's Guide to Cottagecore

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Your Beginner's Guide to Cottagecore

written by Mye Brooks

Your Beginner's Guide to Cottagecore
Your Beginner's Guide to Cottagecore

Even if you don’t realize it, you’ve seen it: cottagecore, the latest lifestyle and aesthetic trend sweeping Generation Z. It comes in earth tones, in pastels, in eyelet dresses and crowns of daisies — a simple, back-to-basics ideal of living.

Your Beginner's Guide to Cottagecore

Your Beginner's Guide to Cottagecore

written by Mye Brooks

Your Beginner's Guide to Cottagecore

What Is Cottagecore?

Think Your Grandma — But Make It Trendy.

Take it straight from the internet’s Britannica — Wikipedia says that cottagecore “celebrates an idealized rural life,” that it “values traditional skills and crafts” and satisfies “a desire for ‘an aspirational form of nostalgia’ as well as an escape from many forms of stress and trauma.” And that sounds great; cheaper than therapy at least. But what exactly does cottagecore entail?

Picture this: a charming rustic cottage in a sunny meadow or a clearing in the woods. Whitewashed kitchen and drying herbs plucked from the garden, mismatched stoneware on the table, homemade sun tea steeping on a windowsill. It's a porch swing, a foraging basket, a floral cotton apron. And, of course, the smell of freshly baked artisanal bread.

Cottagecore is an aspirational lifestyle, fashion, and home aesthetic that represents an escape from modern-day stress and celebrates an idealized rural life. It embraces traditional skills like scratch baking, gardening, and handcrafting. At its core, cottagecore is about a generation that's seeking a vision of tranquility that would be right at home in Little House on the Prairie. It is the romanticization of a life that many of its adherents have never known — rural, slow, kind, and unplugged.

For art, fashion and home decor, picture muted, gentle, earthy colors — dusty pinks, golden yellows, sage greens. Natural, cozy textures and materials are essential: warm wood, clay, and stone. The unifying principle is a kind of dreamy bohemian cheer, a plucky do-it-yourself simplicity, set against a pastoral scene.

Cottagecore AV Club

Because cottagecore is a form of escapism, it's no surprise that fans flock to entertainment that takes place in a cozy world far from modern-day reality. Cottagecore fan-favorites trend toward nostalgia, simplicity, and above all, cheerfulness.

Follow #cottagecore on Pinterest or Instagram, and you'll find that children's stories and series feature heavily in the cottagecore repertoire. Now trending: Illustrations from the classic Frog and Toad children's books are quintessentially cottagecore with woodsy-illustrations, simple prose, and gentle conflicts, like how to resist devouring the last cookie in the jar. Finnish designer Tove Jansson's illustrated Moomin franchise is a cuddly favorite featuring a family of friendly, roly-poly trolls in Moominland. And with dreamy stories of friendship and love, artfully animated films from Studio Ghibli are also a staple of the cottagecore escape fantasy. For the literary set, cottagecore enthusiasts swoon over the work of authors like Jane Austen, who present easygoing romance with wit, delicacy, and old-fashioned charm.

More modern forms of entertainment can be cottagecore as well: computer gaming franchises offer a peaceful simulation for the bucolic lifestyles many cottagecore fans crave. Consider the Story of Seasons and Stardew Valley franchises; in both games, players take over a dilapidated farm and score points as they grow crops, tend chickens, craft goods, sell produce, socialize with townspeople, and raise children.

The Big Disconnect

At first blush, the cottagecore trend may seem counterintuitive. Why are urbanized digital natives, people connected 24/7 by technology and social media, romanticizing a time and place without WiFi? What about the hard realities of rural living, let alone rural living a hundred years ago? It's safe to say that many who ascribe to the cottagecore aesthetic have never mucked a horse stall or grown vegetables. It's even more confusing when you see how many women and members of the LGBT community covet the cottagecore lifestyle, when historically 'simpler times' meant oppression for them.

But cottagecore isn't about running away to the 1800s or trading in hard-won equality for antiquated social norms — it's about reconciling the soul to the hollow demands of modern life. If a person can take one step away from the outside world and look toward a more peaceful existence, what does it matter if they're wearing rose-colored glasses to do it?