The world feels a bit chaotic right now, which could be why many are using fashion to beckon a more tranquil time.
Prairie dresses, vintage outfits, straw hats … they’re all part of the aesthetic associated with "cottagecore" — a movement that serves as a refuge from the complexities of modern living and a nostalgia for simpler times, according to Amelia Ansink, accessories editor for Fashion Snoops.
What is cottagecore?
“Sustainability and a do-it-yourself ethos are key when it comes to clothing and accessories for this movement,” Ansink explained to TMRW. “A strong aesthetic influence comes from the popular prairie revival, think 1970s Laura Ashley or Gunne Sax, alongside domestic pastimes like patchwork, quilting, knitting and needlepoint.”
“During the worldwide pandemic and long periods of stay-at-home orders, the movement accelerated rapidly as people looked for an escape from our dark reality,” she said. “Cottagecore unintentionally represents the ideal quarantine life, where isolation in nature is strived for and everything we need can be produced at home and by our own hands.”
What are cottagecore clothes?
If you scroll through Instagram’s #cottagecore hashtag, you’ll find romantic and whimsical pictures featuring flowy dresses, floral patterns, flower crowns and vintage-style hats.
Courtney Fox, 27, who runs the popular cottagecore Instagram account @thefoxandtheivy, said her clothing inspiration comes from her childhood.
“I grew up in rolling farmland in rural Pennsylvania, not too far from Lancaster County, which has a large population of Amish, so this landscape and way of living helped to inspire me,” she said, adding that she also gets fashion ideas from literature like "Anne of Green Gables," "Little Women" and "The Secret Garden."
Where to buy cottagecore clothes
Since one of the pillars of cottagecore is eco-living and sustainability, it’s no surprise many of the clothes are found in thrift stores. “For me, cottagecore has meant trying to reduce my waste production and purchase things more sustainably, including my clothing,” said Fox. “There was a time when I was buying fast fashion, but I realized it didn’t really align with my values.”
If it’s not thrift, Fox said she will purchase from Etsy to support small businesses. She makes sure to buy sustainable garments made of natural fibers, like linen.
Christina Loewen, 27, of Lake Country, British Columbia, who has more than 74,000 followers on her cottagecore Instagram account, said she looks for vintage items on Depop and Poshmark. Some of her favorite brands include Faithfull the Brand, Christy Dawn, Auguste the Label and Peplum Co.
“When picking out clothes, I look for romantic and timeless pieces that bring a sense of nostalgia,” she said. “'Anne of Green Gables' has always been my muse.”
For her young daughters, who also make appearances in her photos, it’s all about the handmade pieces. “Etsy has a beautiful selection of handmade items as well as local farmers markets,” she said. “I also love Nest and Nurture, Lil’ Lemons and Nooks Design for them.”
Who is cottagecore for?
“Despite pulling a lot of inspiration from history and generations past, this movement still has a strong youthful spin to it,” Ansink said. “Since this trend is most popular on apps like TikTok and Instagram, Gen Z and younger millennials are the main demographic here.”
Even if you don’t live the kind of fairy tale life associated with cottagecore, you can still enjoy its benefits thanks to the social media community surrounding it.
“I think it gives people a little bit of escapism from their own world and busy life,” said Keri-Anne Pink, 34, of Northamptonshire, England. The popular cottagecore Instagrammer, who runs @gingerlillytea, said she loves looking at other accounts for inspiration and to feel calm.
“Being interested in flowers, baking and gardening, and being the type of person who loves sitting with their books and paints in forests and flower meadows, I don’t really meet many people who understand me,” she said. “So it is so lovely to have all these people around the world who are similar. It makes me embrace every part of myself even more.”