If you’ve never heard of ‘Cottagecore’, don’t be ashamed. I hadn’t heard of the term until around a month ago. But somehow it’s been lingering about on the internet (or off the internet, as I’ll explain later) since the 2010s, somewhere in the metaphorical spider’s web of Tumblr blogs.
Cottagecore is an ‘aesthetic’, meaning a movement which stems from a set of principles surrounding a visual, musical or literary subject. For example, art deco is an aesthetic, as are baroque, punk and vampire. Because we love putting labels on things in the 21st century, aesthetics have grown in numbers. An ever-growing list of aesthetics has been curated here, if you want to find which aesthetic you can relate to most – although it might be Cottagecore. So read on…
What is Cottagecore?
Cottagecore is all about romanticising cottage life and all that comes with it, including growing your own plants and food. Imagine a cottage somewhere in the countryside, with a natural-looking garden full of roses, lupins and foxgloves; perhaps there’s a single dairy cow mooing in the background, or someone in gingham overalls picking vegetables from a patch. You walk inside and there are handwritten letters on a coffee table, candles instead of electric lights, and every cushion and blanket features an insect or floral print. That’s the gist of the Cottagecore aesthetic: simple, natural and charming.
What’s the point of Cottagecore?
If you’re Cottagecore-inclined, the visuals I described above probably appealed to you. But why?
Most followers of Cottagecore would probably say that the aesthetic isn’t just about the visuals. It’s about the feeling of living mostly off-grid, away from the hustle and stress of modern living, and the positive environmental and health-related aspects of such a life.
There’s no doubt that we’re too switched on, too attached to our screens and too out of touch with nature – even though gardening is on the rise, particularly with young people. In response, Cottagecore offers a form of escapism to a simpler life.
Is Cottagecore achievable?
Although many of us might relish the thought of throwing our mobiles phones away, handing in our notice and heading to the countryside to live off the land, this lifestyle change isn’t for everyone. But this is the beauty of an aesthetic – you don’t have to go the whole hog. You could just indulge in parts of Cottagecore while living your normal life.
For example, you could go down the fashion route and add a bit more linen, gingham and corduroy to your wardrobe in all sorts of earthy tones. Or you could take a leaf out of the cottagecorist’s eco-friendly manual, and eschew your car journeys to work for a brisk bike ride, or take up beekeeping.
And if you’ve got a garden, it’s very easy for you to apply the Cottagecore aesthetic to your outdoor space. See my inspiration below…
What are your thoughts on the Cottagecore aesthetic? Idyllic aspiration, or unachievable dream?
Michael has been involved with gardening and plants since he was just five years old. He is a self-professed Plant Geek, and was listed in the Sunday Times top 20 most influential people in the gardening world, thanks to his plant hunter role at Thompson & Morgan.
Michael was responsible for new plant introductions such as the Egg and Chips plant and the FuchsiaBerry and keeps busy travelling the world in search of new plants as well as lecturing worldwide, including stints in Japan. He is very active on social media – so why not give him a follow at @mr_plantgeek or Facebook – and writes a plant-focused Substack called Grow This, Not That.