The other day my brother asked me if I’d heard of cottagecore and I just about threw something at him. Have I heard of it? I, a bitch who to this day maintains an ✨aesthetic blog✨on tumblr dot com just to reblog pictures of cabins and feel my worried brain go smooth and peaceful? The author of a piece in this very newsletter about my secret desire to retire to the mountains and build intricate dollhouses for the rest of my days? A gal who stumbled upon a Twilight-themed playlist on Spotify just last week and has listened to it like five times since because its rustic vibes are simply immaculate? I’m familiar with cottagecore, thanks.
For those of you who are normal, cottagecore is an aethetic that’s cozy, cute, and bucolic. The term has been around for a couple of years, but it’s really caught on since quarantine started, which makes a lot of sense. Grocery supply chains seemed poised to collapse, but you were in luck if you could grow your own herbs and bake your own bread. City dwellers were trapped inside, longing for outdoor space to roam. Fashion became inconsequential — now soft, comfortable garments were all that was required day to day. It’s cottagecore’s time to shine.
Hygge, the Danish concept of warmth and coziness, began to trend a year ago. But hygge is most often presented as touches incorporated into the otherwise sparse Scandinavian design that’s so popular among millennials. Cottagecore is more “shabby chic.” Picture Miss Honey’s house in Matilda and you’ve got it — it’s falling apart a little, and that just makes it more charming and less uptight.
There are some very cutesy elements of cottagecore that I’m not particularly keen on. It’s a bit too whimsical for me at times, with fairy tale connotations that I’m simply not into. I suppose that I’m cabincore, if anything — flannel over gingham, sturdy mugs over delicate teacups — but that concept doesn’t seem to be taking off in quite the same way.
It’s all the same idea, though. It’s obviously all tied to the nightmare that is being Very Online in this century. What if you could turn off all your push notifications, log off Twitter forever, and simply pick wild berries in the countryside? It’s easy to understand the temptation. I’m not sure exactly when it was that I realized that it was actually pretty common to fantasize about fleeing society , but it was surely before I saw this all-time great post on Tumblr back in 2013:
Unlike other aesthetics — your seapunk, your cybergoth — you can adopt cottagecore touches into your daily life relatively inconspicuously. Decorate with some vintage touches. Bake some muffins and turn off your devices for a few hours. Do whatever it takes to escape this modern world and disappear to a cabin that you own in your mind — I’ve been burning the famous Mountain Lodge Yankee Candle every winter since I first saw this fanatical endorsement, for example, and it does make me feel like I’m shielded from the elements in a sanctuary made of logs, far away from other people and their nonsense.
I think it’s nice that cottagecore exists. I like that people can use their online resources to conjure up different lifestyles for themselves and strangers can connect with them and enjoy them, too. I highly recommend latching onto your own aesthetic if this one doesn’t appeal to you. Make one up! Try being Enlightmentpunk or urbanspooky or post-Amélie tweecore. I don’t know what any of those would look like, but I’d like to see what happens if someone took a stab at it. Our world is very stressful, but no one’s stopping you from making a new one up.