Whether you’re obsessed with Taylor Swift’s surprise album Folklore or not, you’ve probably noticed the recent cottagecore fashion trend taking over virtual shelves and your Instagram feed. Despite writing the cottagecore album of the year, Swift did not invent this new trend, but she has certainly captured a lot of the aesthetics of it. While the concept of idealizing agricultural life is far from new, cottagecore has taken over the COVID-pandemic world. Out of all the elements that make up the cottagecore aesthetic, cottagecore’s dainty, soft clothing vibe is definitely soaring in popularity.
To be super technical, the cottagecore trend can be traced back to pastoral literature which was first found in Ancient Greece. The general concept involves an idealized life away from cities and the complications modern society often causes. Away from the hustle and bustle of living in populated towns, shepherds and farmers can find peace and merriment through being closer to nature. This theme has popped up again and again throughout history; it’s hardly a novel concept for people to shirk urban difficulties for a picturesque, countryside life. A more recent example of the pastoral convention's popularity is in the ‘60s and ‘70s, when TV shows like Mayberry R.F.D., The Andy Griffith Show, and Little House on the Prairie were all at the top of the ratings.
This new wave of cottagecore, however, offers some slight variations. Urban Dictionary lists cottagecore as “a niche aesthetic based around the visual culture of an idealized life on a Western farm. Common themes include sustainability, gardens, farm animals, rural living, and nature.” The cottagecore aesthetic has been particularly prosperous on Tumblr and TikTok, with a lot of content coming from the WLW (women-loving-women) community. The aesthetics include prairie dresses, mood boards of fields and jars of honey, baking your own bread, and small farmhouses.
The trend reportedly first re-emerged in about 2018 (when its first subreddit was created), but its boom really ramped up in late 2019, according to Google searches for the phrase. It's easy to see why cottagecore has become even bigger amidst the global pandemic, as many city-dwellers trapped in their small apartments with little access to nature escape into daydreams of a simpler life — one where you can run in the fields, avoid traditional grocery stores, and be totally self-reliant. It’s like the social isolation people are already experiencing, but in a world where you can find fulfillment in being totally self-sufficient instead of feeling listless.
Like all good subcultures, cottagecore also has a very clear fashion aesthetic. Flowy prairie dresses and skirts are a staple of the trend. Puffy sleeves, ruffles, big pockets, and button-downs are all also featured heavily throughout. Color-wise, faded browns, baby pinks, olive greens, and maroons are all fairly popular, especially in gingham and florals patterns.
If you want to get in on this romantic trend, there are plenty of places to start. But while you start planting your first herbs or baking scones, you may also want to look the part. Below are some cottagecore pieces that are perfect for running through fields.
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