In this high-tech world, we are dependent on social media to make friends, shop the latest fashions, build an online portfolio for a future career and create an idealized personality for the world to see. So. Much. Pressure. Gen Z grew up with technology and has been fluent in all kinds of gadgets: MP3 players, Nintendo Wii, the first iPhones, Skype — you name it. We saw Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and other social media platforms grow and have kept up with these trends since the iPod touch.
Modern social media trends consist of aesthetics as opposed to previous subcultures of the 90s. Aesthetic trends are noncommittal and short-lived, attainable by fashion fads or home decor. Cottagecore is an aesthetic that romanticizes a rural European lifestyle detached from mainstream society — fully immersing in nature, baking, delicate details and femininity with a vintage feel.
Gen Z has made this a big trend since the Tumblr days and it still thrives on TikTok. To me personally, it is reminiscent of the Rococo period; ruffled dresses, ribbons, tree swings, curled hair bouncing in the summer wind and reading the classics outside. A picture-perfect kitchen would be in a cottage in the English countryside, a warm pie in the oven, light green cabinets, fresh flowers on a table dressed with a lace tablecloth and homemade lemonade clinking with ice.
Close your eyes and picture “The Sound of Music” mountain scene where Maria sings her heart out in the Swiss Alps. I believe everyone has their own idealized lifestyle that is a version of cottagecore — embracing simple human pleasures like singing outside. It is a relaxed, carefree way of living. No 9 to 5 jobs or busy streets with polluted air.
Why is cottagecore so fascinating to Gen Z? This need for escapism definitely emerged on a new level after the COVID-19 lockdown. People of all ages were able to rediscover hobbies like cooking, spending time outside or crocheting. Getting back to our humanistic roots of taking care of each other and our homes as well as making things became desirable for everyday life. It seems like since we have been back to school and work we no longer have time to enjoy these activities.
This generation had a limited amount of time before technology dominated our lives. I remember playing all day in the snow or outside at the park during summer break as a child. Life felt timeless, simple and satisfying.
Nowadays, the way to work, do homework, communicate and even pay bills is digital. We are committed to our phones whether we want to be or not. Watching a TikTok or scrolling through Pinterest to pin idealized cottagecore photos gives us temporary relief from our high-tech world.
Gen Z also highly rejects consumerism and has a deep appreciation for sustainability; cottage core supports these ideals. We can daydream of a time of innocence, simplicity and no responsibilities.
I also view this aesthetic as a non-apologetic, traditionally feminine approach to the world. Though I’m 19 years old, I love baking, sewing and even cleaning which many claim to be “old lady” past times.
Consuming cottage core content can almost be emotional since it is a lifestyle so farfetched for most of us. Though this highly romanticized version of cottage core is not feasible all the time, we can implement home decor, clothing pieces and “old-fashioned” hobbies into our lives when we need to take a break from this high-paced world.
What does cottagecore look like for you?