Cottagecore Beckons a Return to the Simple Life

The pandemic, the protests, the politics…life seems on overwhelm for everyone. People are searching for some sort of ‘normalcy’ to their lives, only to discover that, for the most part, life as we had known it, is history.

What is Cottagecore?

As folks look for comfort, relaxation and a sense of well-being, many are attracted to the cottagecore movement, a romanticized, idealized, and peaceful interpretation of country life. Related aesthetics you may be familiar with include farmcore, countrycore, fairycore and grandmacore. To us, it’s really about taking what you like from the past – and infusing it into your present moment.

To be sure, baking, gardening, canning, reading, and sewing have seen tremendous surges of interest as people look to do for themselves, much like farmers have done throughout history. We grasp the past for comfort in the knowingness that our ancestors endured difficult times with much less than we have today – and we bolster ourselves with that knowledge and our own “I can do” spirit.

Did you know? Although “cottagecore” emerged as a named aesthetic around 2018, it isn’t necessarily “new.” Wikipedia even reminds us of Marie Antoinette, who often dressed as a shepherdess or milkmaid as she hosted intimate gatherings with friends in a model village, Hameau de la Reine. Far from being unique, “it was fashionable in 18th-century Europe for nobles to build picturesque ornamental farms on their country estates in the style of rural villages.”

The Cottagecore Aesthetic Finds Inspiration in Simplicity

Cottage core is a way of life that yearns for simplicity, looks back, and chooses what one finds comfort in. One woman was so excited by her very first loaf of homemade bread. No, it wasn’t baked in an oven fed by wood for heat, she used her modern convection oven, but taking bits and pieces of the past – and present – and creating a sense of comfort and joy in living is something so many crave for.

And many even dress the part, too. No longer wearing boring jeans or lounge pants around the house, many women instead choose beautifully feminine dresses (think vintage Gunne Sax & Laura Ashley). And maybe a full-length calico apron, too… Tablecloths aren’t stored away just for ‘special’ days, they’re used every day, with old-fashioned dinnerware gracing the table … maybe some dreamy periwinkle with tiny roses.

Cottagecore Shuns from the Drama of Modern Times

Folks quickly discovered that their lives can be suddenly interrupted, and everyday items we take for granted, like grocery supplies, can become nearly impossible to find when a pandemic strikes. With working parents suddenly home schooling their children, families wanted something more than just homework and office tasks intruding on their family life. They wanted something extra, something they could feel good about, something as a family they could share.

Truth be told, there were those who enjoyed the escape from the office gossip. They took to working at home like a bee discovering a rose in full bloom. And they began to discover that they found a sense of accomplishment in many “ordinary” home routines – in baking a loaf of bread, for instance – something they always yearned to do but never had enough hours in the day with a full-time job. And a warm, fresh, loaf of bread perhaps expanded into a home-cooked dinner, and a pride in being able to say, “I cooked this!” or “I made this!”

Cottagecore Isn’t For Everyone, But It Is For Us

Sure, there are nay-sayers and critics of the cottagecore movement, but let’s face it, everything in life is criticized. It’s just a fact of life. The Indian mystic Osho said it well: “From the very beginning you are being told to compare yourself with others. This is the greatest disease; it is like a cancer that goes on destroying your very soul because each individual is unique, and comparison is not possible.”

What the cottagecore aesthetic represents existed well before any pandemic. But for many new initiates, for the first time in their lives, they can be home because of a quarantine – and not have to apologize or face ridicule for it. They didn’t have to justify why they wanted to be at home. And many realized it was a way of life they could adapt to, with a few tweaks here and there.

It was an opportunity to discover baking, gardening and a simpler, more tranquil life. Many more people have latched on to the movement, a returning to the idea of a quieter ‘life in the country’ lifestyle, growing their own vegetables, tending to a flock of chickens, even sewing their own clothing, taking daily walks, riding their bikes.

Cottage core is like looking into a child’s fairy tale book: days of old, featuring women with long, cotton, flowing dresses adorned with ruffles and lace, animals scampering about, and children who read books and enjoy nature … free from the continual intrusion of video games or an iPad.

Cottagecore. It’s a Nostalgic Way of Life.

In short, it’s a nostalgic way of life, taking what you love from the past: whether it’s wearing the romance of Laura Ashley or Gunne Sax dresses, decorating your home with old-fashioned cottage treasures, discovering thrift store wonders…and feeling reinvigorated because you’re experiencing a way of living that’s authentic for you.

You open your doors to antiques, curtains with cabbage roses, doilies dotting the backs of armchairs and sofas, floral wallpapers adorning the walls, lace curtains blowing in the summer breeze. It’s about returning to a simpler life, leaving behind the office gossip & pressures, traffic nightmares and 24/7 emails.

Gosh, no. It’s not for everyone. It’s not intended to be. Nor is any movement. But because of the pandemic, we are learning to how to live again…blending old with new to create our own unique lives.

We can’t change life back to the way it was. Victor Frankl, a psychiatrist and neurologist who survived concentration camps during WWII, once said:

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Many folks are choosing a new way of life – their way-  taking bits and pieces from the past, bringing them into their everyday lives, and choosing their own way to live. While cottagecore may be just another Internet trend, its deeper representation will likely enchant those attracted to the aesthetic for a long time to come.