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By Betsy Greer on December 5, 2023
During the pandemic, interest in baking was up and interest in travel was down. It’s no wonder that cottagecore, a trend idealizing the joy rural life can bring, popped up in 2020 as lockdowns started and staples like toilet paper were hard to find!
Curious to learn a bit more about the trend and how you can bring a little cottagecore into your own home? Read on below!
Cottagecore is a design trend that celebrates a simplified version of rural life, where there is always time to bake, ramble and create. When you start looking around online for definitions of the term, some common themes emerge.
According to the BBC, “at its heart, cottagecore hinges heavily on modern escapist fantasies, and posts are full of foraged mushrooms, long billowy dresses, gingham tablecloths, baskets of wildflowers, sourdough bread and mossy terrariums.” On The Good Trade, cottagecore features include “a lifestyle rooted in traditional skills — like baking bread, gardening, and sewing your own clothes.” While The Vou sees the trend as full of “rare countryside scenery, nostalgic peasant dresses, rustic handmade crafts, and artisanal creations in fashion and homeware.”
While to DIYers these things may seem neither “escapist” nor “rustic,” those lists do evoke scenes devoid of technology and hustle. And this absence of stress makes cottagecore perfect for dreaming about during a pandemic.
As noted above, cottagecore includes many things you might find in fairytales. What remains, however, is hinted in this quote from Vox, ”romanticism, not fairy tales, is the real influence on cottagecore.”
Romanticism has less to do with candlelit dinners than with placing yourself in a perfect moment or daydream. Having the time and ability to show up in serene places features heavily in the trend, as shown in Books and Quills’ post “25 Nature and Cottagecore Instagrammers to Dream Away With.”
Think of the delight found in floral geometry and the easygoing whimsy of nature. The feeling of going on vacation somewhere remote; the smell in the air when you get there. Romanticism shows up in moments that can occur anywhere with anyone, once you’re fully present in what’s happening in front of you.
Woodland creatures, mushrooms and flowers show up again and again in some of our best selling cottagecore designs and this cottagecore collection of Spoonflower designs curated by Artist Community Manager Tara Reed.
As to where these motifs might work best, think of areas in your home where you go to relax, like reading nooks and sunrooms, or places like busy hallways or tiny bathrooms, where cottagecore design themes could help bring calm.
When looking at who shows up in many cottagecore trend images, it’s important to note that not everyone sees themselves within them.
However, influencers like Noemie Sérieux, founder of the Instagram account @cottagecoreblackfolks, are inserting themselves into the narrative, as she told Architectural Digest, “for those of us who don’t see people who look like us [in the typical cottagecore imagery], a little reimagining of these periods as inclusive rather than exclusive is just as important as preserving the complete history,” she says. “It allows us the opportunity and the creativity to see our ancestors as more than just a victim of their era.”
And several cottagecore trend pieces note that #cottagecore has provided a safe space for LGTBQ+ youth to share their own rural dreams on social media.
As a cottagecore fan named Reid told i-D magazine, “Unfortunately, my hometown, like many rural areas, is very anti-LGBTQ+. … It especially makes me feel like the things I loved in childhood, like having farm animals and picking blackberries in the fields and getting lost in the woods, are cis- and hetero-coded. So for me, cottagecore is an ideal where I can be visibly queer in rural spaces.”
Whether you’re a surface designer or a DIYer, if you like the cottagecore aesthetic and don’t see yourself in what social media has to offer, remember that you can put yourself into the trend!
Given the prevalence of social media algorithms, it can be easy to forget that we can create our own worlds and that algorithms are rarely the whole story. However, the larger emotions that cottagecore evokes are for everyone to enjoy.
And what if cottagecore seems too sweet for you? Enter “goblincore.” A trend fashion historian Rachel Weingarten explained to Nylon as “if Taylor Swift is the floral-crowned goddess of cottagecore, then Baby Yoda could be the poster child for the lovable aspects of goblincore.”
Goblincore takes the romanticism found in cottagecore, but celebrates a more well-rounded image of nature. As Tiktok user @froggiecrocs told The Guardian about the trend, it “romanticizes the ugly, lesser appreciated parts of the natural world.”
Given the pandemic, it’s easy to see how a neat rural cottage could feel too perfect for some. And how letting nature take over that same cottage for snails and snakes to inhabit might feel more in sync with many of our own energies as the northern hemisphere heads into another pandemic winter.
Betsy is a writer and stitcher who joined the Brand Marketing team in July 2021. In her spare time, she talks to people about their choice to make things by hand and related lessons learned for her project Dear Textiles. She also aims to befriend all the dogs she meets and is forever looking for the perfect dress pattern with pockets.