A romanticised interpretation of the slow life, the internet aesthetic is inspiring many to ditch the hustle & cherish nature. Here’s how you can go cottagecore too...
What also came as a surprise for fans was the fact that Folklore is heavily inspired by the cottagecore trend.
By Reya Mehrotra
In July, American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift took the world by surprise when she released her album Folklore, which she reportedly wrote and recorded in isolation during the pandemic. However, that wasn’t the only reason the album made news. What also came as a surprise for fans was the fact that Folklore is heavily inspired by the cottagecore trend. The video shows the singer going about in the woods, sporting a vintage hairdo and clad in a relaxed maxi dress. She can be seen playing a moss-covered piano in the middle of the forest and, towards the end of the song, sports a hand-knit cardigan, typical of a cottagecore life.
For the uninitiated, cottagecore is an internet aesthetic that focuses on traditional skills and crafts—very daydreamy and nostalgic, and making one long to go vintage and close to nature. Wear a cardigan, bake some bread, play some country music, live slow and you’re cottagecore.
Cottagecore has been trending ever since the pandemic set in and the world went slow. Not just cottagecore, there are many other such aesthetics—grandmacore, craftcore, faeriecore (or fairycore), naturecore, honeycore, warmcore, among others—doing the rounds of the internet today.
So what led to the birth of cottagecore? Possibly people’s fatigue with the mindnumbing speed at which humans are living and working in today’s world. Cottagecore and other aesthetics give one a chance to live life like we used to once upon a time: slow and relaxed. The aim is simple: inspire people to ditch the hustle, slow down, live a simple life and cherish nature.
If you are unsure how to begin, here is a guide to going cottagecore…
Picnics in the wild Recently, singer Justin Bieber and his model wife Hailey celebrated their second wedding anniversary with a picnic in the garden. There are, in fact, companies today which provide picnics. Take, for instance, Ireland-based Grapicnic, which provides a range of luxury picnics—bridal shower picnics, morning meditation breakfast picnics, psychic reading picnics, etc—in the middle of nature. One thing is clear: the old-school picnic with mats and sandwiches-in-a-basket is back in fashion. To have an enjoyable cottagecore picnic, carry a mat, some homemade bread, juices and fresh fruits to a park, meadow or even your own garden if you have one. It’s a great way to embrace the slowness of nature. You can also carry a good book to read. Indulge in the dreamy aesthetic with soft music playing in the background.
Handwritten letters Cottagecore celebrates going vintage and what could be more vintage than handwritten letters and notes? Instead of sending emails, try sending handwritten letters for a personalised touch. Be it love letters, letters to a friend, appreciation letters or thanksgiving notes, it is all better when it is self-written. The trend has been gaining popularity for quite some time now, but cottagecore has brought it into the spotlight. Taylor Swift recently set an example by sending a handwritten letter to a gay fan who is pursuing his PhD. In these unprecedented times especially, sending a handwritten note to someone may prove to be a sign of love and care. In a short film released in September (ahead of the IPL season), Indian captain Virat Kohli, too, can be seen writing a letter to his future self.
Knitting Grandma’s hobby is a hot trend of cottagecore. Knitting away to break the monotony of remote working is refreshing. Singer-songwriter Harry Styles’ multicoloured knitted cardigan during a recent live performance gained everyone’s attention, so much so that the designer shared how to knit a sweater. One can also put their creative juices to good use by indulging in embroidery and crochet on their dresses or for decorative purposes. You can also handcraft jewellery, baby blankets or socks for a vintage countryside feel. Social media platforms like Instagram are abuzz with knitting videos and pictures. In her song Cardigan, Taylor Swift, too, dons a knitted white cardigan.
Soft pastels Work from home has made us dump formal clothes and adopt pyjamas, but cottagecore asks you to ditch even that. It celebrates country-style dressing—flowy and buttoned-down dresses and skirts, and soft pastels like white, pink, blue and yellow. You can also opt for breathy cotton maxis (silk ones for the night), puffed and ruffled sleeves, milkmaid necklines, laces and loose clothing. One has to give up denims, tight, body-fitting formals and trendy clothing for more comfortable, close-to-nature, easy-to-wear clothing. Cashing in on the trend, a number of international brands have introduced cottagecore dresses. For the hair, one can try pastel-coloured or floral headbands, ribbons or even flowers and hats.
Baking Baking—be it bread or cookies—is an integral part of cottagecore. It takes you back to the pastoral way of life. From honey cakes, honey-glazed bread and peanut butter choco chip oat cookies to spiced sugar cookies and pancakes, one can try baking anything that takes one’s fancy. The baking trend also caught up on social media during the lockdown—baking and posting on social media, in fact, go hand-in-hand today even for an amateur. One reason perhaps why many turned bakers during the lockdown is that sugar temporarily uplifts the mood and baking is known to be therapeutic. No wonder the pandemic-induced anxiety made us bake our hearts out.
Go floral Cottagecore asks you to indulge in floral beauty—think floral clothes, floral decor, pressed flower art and much more. The trend has not even spared the royal family. Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, was spotted wearing a red floral dress and mask in September. Many celebrities, too, have been spotted in floral outfits. Actor Roshni Chopra has, in fact, taken the trend quite seriously and has even designed her home in floral prints. The actor shares images of her home on social media and one can see lots of floral elements, from wallpapers and curtains to decorative flowers. However, it’s important to remember that one shouldn’t pluck too many flowers. Instead, you can have flower-bearing plants at home for an organic floral home decor (small potted flower plants are a sight to behold on your work-from-home desk) and even try baking pressed flower cookies. You can also collect fallen flowers for decorating your home.
Gardening The internet aesthetic celebrates the return to all things traditional, including gardening. You can create your own mini garden in your balcony or terrace. The therapeutic practice helps one attain peace of mind. Ideally, a cottagecore garden is dense with plants and flowers in full bloom, giving one the feel of living in a forest. Inspired by the trend, Airbnb UK, too, has introduced cottagecore-themed living spaces with flourishing gardens and is even providing virtual tours of these properties. Celebrities and influencers on social media were also seen embracing their green spaces during the lockdown. Some people even grew their own vegetables to become healthier. A report published in The Telegraph on September 14 said that the plant-growing obsession was so high that “plant poaching” surged in Philippines, as locals wanted to grow their own gardens during the lockdown.
Decoding the core
Some popular internet aesthetics explained
Grandmacore An aesthetic based around stereotypical grandma things such as crochet, gardening and baking
Fairycore It is inspired by nature, soft pastels, butterflies, magic, flowers
Goblincore Celebrates aspects of nature often seen as ‘ugly’ such as frogs, mud, snails, mushrooms and moss
Craftcore An aesthetic themed around the homespun movement, handcrafted items
Naturecore It celebrates the theme of animals and nature-related things
Honeycore Based around rural production and consumption of goods such as honey and bread
Warmcore Related to things that make a person feel warm, fuzzy and nostalgic
Webcore The use of traditional web design elements such as clip art, video games with aspects of poetry and self-expression
Dragoncore Collecting and appreciating things of sentimental value such as shiny trinkets, jewels, gemstones and coins
Witchcore An aesthetic centred around the theme of witchcraft
Ravencore Nature-centred aesthetic inspired from ravens