Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Culture

What The Heck is Cottagecore? The History of Aestheticism, Why it Matters, and How You Can Adapt It

If you have been on the internet at all during quarantine, you have probably stumbled upon the term “cottagecore.” And if you are anything you are like me, you may have wondered, “What even is that?” Well, during the past few months, I have deep-dived into the quirky, adorable world of cottagecore, put together a guide to cottagecore, and more importantly, gotten to the bottom of why it matters. Just consider me an aesthetically engaged investigative journalist! 

It should also be mentioned that cottagecore is not the only aesthetic popping up on the internet these days; there is also dark academia, light academia, softcore, and angelcore- just to name a few. Perhaps we will dive into the origins and meanings of those another time, but today, let’s explore the most popular current aesthetic: cottagecore.

First off, some definitions.

Cottagecore is an aesthetic that encompasses the fairytale-like idealism of country land, comfort food, warm colors, and a more simplistic lifestyle. It is inspired by the English and French countryside and is romantic, soft, and nostalgic. It plays into the very human urge to frolic around flower fields and play with baby animals and escape the stresses of daily life, an idealized rustic lifestyle. However, to fully understand this specific aesthetic, we need to look at aesthetics overall. 

Aesthetic is loosely defined as an appreciation of beauty. Following the aesthetic movement in the late 1800s, aestheticism entered the public consciousness and incorporated philosophy, literature, visual art, theater, and music. The aesthetic movement emphasized the importance of art and beauty and rejected the idea that art must have a deeper socio-political meaning. In the world of Instagram and TikTok, our generation is embracing beauty more than ever before. And with the rocky political landscape, it is no wonder that the aesthetic movement has risen again. It provides beauty and escapism in a tumultuous world filled with anxiety. For many, aestheticism, and cottagecore, in particular, is a way to cope with current events.  

Cottagecore also takes after the 18th-century Danish concept of hygge (pronounced hoo-gah), or domestic coziness. This is a concept integral to Danish culture, which focuses on enjoying the little things, connecting with loved ones, and finding peace in your home. It is candles and family dinners and freshly picked flowers. Studies suggest that hygge is an effective tool in aiding anxiety, depression, and increasing overall happiness. After all, Denmark is globally considered the happiest country! Maybe cottagecore is just the Gen-Z way of adapting hygge, which has been especially popular amongst millennials internationally over the past half-decade, as Scandanavian design once again hit the mainstream and remains relevant. 

So how can I become cottagecore?

There really is no specific answer. Just like the aesthetic movement in the 19th century, much of cottagecore revolves around philosophy and thought. Kindness and appreciation for the little things is cottagecore’s thesis. It is a state of mind, as corny as it sounds. Nevertheless, I scoured the internet for some classic cottagecore things, so here is a non-exhaustive list of ways to incorporate cottagecore into your daily life.

Experience Nature 

In the world of Covid-19, there has never been a better time to get outdoors and reconnect with nature. Go on a picnic, pick some apples, hike, just get outdoors! And not only that, soak nature in. Don’t just fulfill your daily walk quota. Really look around and appreciate nature’s little gifts. Chase that butterfly, climb that tree, walk barefoot, pick wildflowers! Don’t be afraid to act like a little kid. Take time to reconnect with the outdoors.

Revisit Fairytales 

While you may think fairytales are just for kids, there’s a reason why they’re so popular. Take an afternoon and binge some Disney classics or read a novel retelling of your favorite fairytale; I recommend “The Bear and The Nightingale” by Katherine Arden for a wintery retelling of a classic Russian fairytale. 

Bake some Treats

Okay, admit it, we all went through a baking phase during the quarantine, or know someone who did. It’s time to expand on that, especially as the holidays inch near. Whip up some cookies, pies, bread, cakes; the possibilities are literally endless. Take in the smell of fresh baked goods and enjoy every bite of sweet goodness.

Take a Break from Social Media

Cottagecore is all about returning to a simpler way of life. Turn off your phone for a bit and take some time to appreciate a world without screens. While you may see cottagecore scattered on your timeline, it is also about finding peace outside of social media.

Wear Flowy Clothes and Pastels

This one is more of a personal preference as everyone has their own fashion sense. Traditionally, cottagecore follows a specific style—one dominated by floral dresses, pastel colors, glowy makeup, and cute, kitschy accessories.

Finally, Improve Your Mind and Heart

As I said, kindness is at the core of cottagecore. By engaging in advocacy, charity, and education, you’re not just following a trend but leaving behind a better world and becoming a better person.

 

Cottagecore, I believe, is our generation’s way of taking on the world’s challenges and looking on the bright side. It is escapism at its finest, allowing followers to come back down to Earth and make it a happier, more radiant space.

 

For more information on Cottagecore, check out these articles:

“Cottagecore” from the Aesthetics Wiki

“Once upon a time, there was cottagecore” from Vox

“What Exactly Is Cottagecore and How Did It Get So Popular?” from Clever

“The Escapist Land of ‘Cottagecore,’ From Marie Antoinette to Taylor Swift” from NPR

And to see Cottagecore in action, check out these accounts:  

@hillhousevintage on Instagram 

@obrienandolive on Instagram 

@aestheticcottagecore on Instagram 

Fleuranoor on TikTok  

Shouldbeacat on TikTok 

Jasmin Lunar on Youtube 

Anja on Youtube 

Elena Johnston is the Co-Campus Correspondent and Editor In Chief of Her Campus LUM. She is a Sophomore and a Global studies and Communications double major with a concentration in Journalism and Public Relations/Advertising. Elena is currently the Albrecht Fellow Intern for public affairs and programming at the World Trade Center Insitute and is a writing center tutor. She previously interned this summer with the Frederick Maryland Chamber of Commerce for Communications and was also chosen as a University Innovation Fellow, an international fellowship for leadership and development. Outside of academics, Elena is involved with theater on campus and is passionate about photography, writing, design, and activism.
Similar Reads👯‍♀️