Cottagecore Is The Latest Lifestyle Trend — But What Exactly Is it?

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Alexandra Lozovschi

The cottagecore trend has been booming all over social media during the COVID-19 pandemic and global lockdown, but what exactly is it all about? The typical imagery associated with this "budding aesthetic movement," as it's been labeled by The New York Times, usually depicts nostalgic countryside scenes and women in prairie dresses.

But cottagecore is more than just an aesthetic; it's a lifestyle focused on reconnecting to nature and bringing a sense of simplicity into a chaotic world.

"Cottagecore is less about being the new thing to do and more about going back in time, simplifying things, and revisiting your roots," explains Healthline. "Think of cottagecore as a combination of forest bathing, the game Animal Crossing, and Taylor Swift’s Folklore album, plus a little Henry David Thoreau for good measure."

If all of this appeals to you, scroll through to learn how you can incorporate cottagecore into your daily life. Photos below for inspiration!

The Aesthetic

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You can't mention cottagecore without delving into its quaint but charming esthetic. Whether we're talking interior design, fashion, or activities, this trend is all about breaking free from the constraints of modern life.

“As a concept, it embraces a simpler, sustainable existence that is more harmonious with nature. Aesthetically, it’s a nod to the traditional English countryside style, romantic and nostalgic,” Wovn Home founder Davina Ogilvie tells Architectural Digest.

Since cottagecore aesthetics encompass a wide range of elements, as do the activities associated with this trend, entrepreneur Molly Hatch, founder of the eponymous tableware and home goods brand, breaks it down for you.

“For me, cottagecore is about coziness at home. Key aesthetic components are bringing natural elements indoors as decorative elements — dried flowers, fresh flowers, houseplants — along with a natural color palette with neutrals and warm tones.”

The Fashion

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Much of the same influences and elements have carried through to the fashion component of cottagecore, which combines whimsical and fairycore elements with cozy fabrics, floral and gingham prints, and quaint accessories.

"It’s all about loose, comfortable silhouettes that have a homespun quality about them whether they incorporate lace, ruffles, crochet, smocking, or embroidery," states Cosmopolitan.

Judging from the flood of pictures on Instagram over the past year or so, the trend has brought about the revival of peasant dresses, eyelet lace details, puff sleeves, soft floral patterns, and solid earth tones.

Wicker accessories, such as straw hats and handbags, are also intrinsic to the natural theme of cottagecore. Ultimately, it's all about what you like and what best suits your personal style, may it be muted, bold, or in-between.

"Floral prairie dresses are the pinnacle of cottagecore, but if you want to add a sultry touch to the otherwise sweet and innocent look, add a vest or corset to accentuate the bodice," advises InStyle.

The Lifestyle

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As a lifestyle, cottagecore embraces a plethora of activities that are just as diverse as its aesthetics. The trend -- one "hearkening back to agricultural life, skills, and crafts," per Architectural Digest -- emerged in the 2010s as a "reaction against capitalism and our increasing time spent in front of a screen." As the concept gained widespread appeal, it also became about "ongoing interests in wellness and sustainability," as well as "the idea of social consciousness."

At its core, the movement "is largely about skipping out on the status quo and the yearning for a place where you can be yourself," notes Healthline, whether that involves a certain way of dressing, exploring your passion for cooking and gardening, or practicing forest bathing and wild food foraging.

"You don’t have to have a cabin in the woods or an obsession with fairies to adopt this lifestyle. It can be as simple as watering a plant in your living room, watching birds outside your window, growing herbs on your windowsill, or baking something delicious."

The Mental Health Benefits

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This liberating lifestyle does more than just fuel hobbies and passions and fulfill aesthetic needs. It also has a profound impact on mental health, which stems from promoting our communion with nature.

According to Healthline, cottagecore contributes to an increased peace of mind and a stronger sense of self. It also stimulates creativity and sharpens our intuition. But most of its benefits derive from deepening our connection with the forest.

“The immune-boosting phytoncides and negative ions in the forest air, and in the soil… help increase resilience and reduce depression symptoms,” Allison Chawla, a licensed clinical psychotherapist, spiritual counselor, and certified life coach, tells the media outlet. “Things we can’t see but are great for our mental wellness are naturally present and available in the woods.”

The trend has seen a significant rise during the coronavirus quarantine precisely because it offers a sense of escape.

“For many, [cottagecore] seems to be a way of embracing isolation and reclaiming it as a part of a purposeful and simple lifestyle,” says licensed mental health professional Hayley Neidich.