What seems like a fairytale does not have to remain a picture on a screen.
With the pandemic increasing our need for a comfortable homespace, there has been a pivotal change in our pace of living. While it might feel like the bustle is back in our lives again, this does not mean that Cottagecore has to remain a 2020 fad – many, including myself, view it as a quaint addition to one’s lifestyle.
However, if you have never looked into it before, the appeal for Cottagecore might sound confusing or disconnected from our current reality. But I am here to explain how it can be included, even in the most basic terms, to provide a healthy outlook on self-care as opposed to escapism.
So, what exactly is Cottagecore?
Cottagecore is an internet subculture that romanticises rural and domestic living, with pursuits like farming, gardening, baking, sewing, and picnicking. Imagine the visuals of ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ (1975) or Beatrix Potter books. But besides this aesthetic front, there is an undercurrent philosophy dissatisfied with modern hustle-culture. Rather, this subculture focuses on the romantic, simplistic lifestyles of rural dwellers.
I have learned that Cottagecore is most beautiful when not consumed by others’ eyes; this return to nature has restored a natural ‘flow’ into my daily life.
Embracing Cottagecore is when I’m by myself, rather than alone.
Instead of technology and work swallowing up my time, I gain this refreshing agency through engaging in simple, inexpensive activities. What if this freedom did not have to be stuck in the nooks of your life, buried in Pinterest boards and Tumblr blogs? Cottagecore should not only exist to be looked at but as something involving active engagement: setting time aside for stillness, nature, and wholesome hobbies. Even if you are not comfortable championing it as a lifestyle, there are a few things to incorporate into your self-care routine as acts of physical, emotional, and spiritual fulfillment.
Spending time in Nature
While not everyone has access to folic in an open field, walks in the country or city parks are great meditative and physical exercise. A lot of us forget to breathe and appreciate the earth beneath our feet, and the trees within arms’ reach. Next time you venture outside, notice the flow of water, the movement of birds, or the flowers in the pavement cracks. Take pictures on a polaroid to decorate your room with, or, simply engage with the present in real-time – whatever works for you is key.
If you are a creative person, try your usual pastimes outdoors. Read, sketch, or paint in your local green space rather than at home, and note this change in atmosphere. If possible, try taking a different route to work one day – walk through the woods, take a different train, or drive through scenic roads. See this change works for you and incorporate it into a long-term practice. This way, nature becomes a small part of your routine without you having to think about it.
Or, feel free to try bringing nature indoors. For instance, ensuring your indoor plants get enough water can be step towards our own self-nourishment. This responsibility over another living thing (almost like a pet) can be a tangible reminder of our own needs.
Surrounding ourselves in nature offers us a place within it — which can be hard if you’re used to four bedroom walls or an office cubicle. But incorporating the little things, even if only weekly, helps us practice gratitude and appreciate the spectrum of life beyond what we already know.
Relishing in the Domestic
Utilising and transforming your homespace will help you in living that Cottagecore dream. Think of Jane Austen novels and antique ‘Little Women’ hardbacks, and how traditional crafts such as embroidery, music, and painting thrived within the home. Unlike in the nineteenth century, there is now no pressure to secure a spouse with these pursuits. These hobbies alone are not done for a public audience but for, well, self-indulgence!
From baking cakes to thrift-flipping garments, making art for your own consumption is an interesting addition to your self-care. Think about how your hobbies can be transformed into something whimsical and artistic. If you’re a baker, add candied violets to your cakes or present your run-of-the-mill muffins in a woven basket. Practice embroidery on some old pajamas, or do a still life sketch and frame it as homemade decor.
Remember, it doesn’t matter how ‘good’ these are; the fact that you took time out for yourself and did them should be something to celebrate.
Not only do you develop a skill, but you get to enjoy the final product. Sometimes we all need to kick back and craft. So please, indulge, create, and share what you’ve achieved!
Curating your image
There’s never a wrong time to update your wardrobe. Vintage-themed thrift stores may not only have the garments you desire, but also an atmosphere that transports you to a fantasy world. The old music, the smell of sandalwood, and antique crockery feel as though they belong in another life.
Pinterest is a good source of inspiration for Cottagecore fashion. You’ll notice the vintage motifs in the long dresses, dungarees, cardigans, with a blend of pastels and earth tones. Flowy, loose dresses are universally flattering and romantic, and a waistcoat can spruce up a regular button-up. Vintage shops are also brilliant for accessories – gloves, hats, pearls that are impossible to find cheap in regular stores are easy to find in these pockets of the world.
If you do not have access to vintage shops, regular thrift shops will still have some nostalgic trends to don. Due to the wide selection of materials, fits, and silhouettes, it is a good opportunity to step outside your comfort zone and yet still have fun. Do not be afraid to be daring!
Not only has shopping cheaply and sustainably been a fun pastime, but personally, it also has boosted my confidence. Living my whimsical fantasy has helped turn my fashion focus towards artistic expression and away from traditional beauty standards, which can be restrictive to certain body types. Style is its own craft, so own it!
Furthermore, these activities do not have to be spent alone. Organise a picnic with friends, join or start a book club, or organise an afternoon tea as a casual date idea. Turn your routine encounters into your own romantic reality!
Perhaps what we need is to take up more time and space for ourselves. Time spent embracing stillness should not be deemed wasted because it lacks a hustle. I want people to see that time for
themselves is still valuable, and that, for some like myself, the agency makes life more bearable each day.
Keep this in mind when you next zone out while reading in a city park, lose track of time learning how to crochet a cardigan, or wander around in rustic villages with no place to be. With Cottagecore in mind, you are not alone, but by yourself.
Zorsha Taylor Suich is an English Lit and Creative Writing student at UEA with a love for writing, culture, and vintage style. She is the fashion section editor for Concrete, UEA’s newspaper, and an Oxfam shop volunteer, which both employ her love for artistic expression through clothing and personal style. She aims to promote sustainable practices through her content calls, volunteering, and newspaper articles. Presently, she is interested in Cottagecore and takes her inspiration from Pinterest, film, and the high street. Other interests include classic literature, period dramas, classic rock, the 1960s and 1970s, tarot reading, video essays, and the sociology of alternative subcultures.