As the length of quarantine and social distancing extends indefinitely into the future, teenagers and young adults on TikTok and Instagram increase postings of themselves with dreamy filters and DIY hobbies that require them to use their hands. They may also be wearing clothes that remind one of eras past, with a few modern touches and bright colors.
These social media influencers are capitalizing on a trend that has reached new heights with the pandemic: an aesthetic known as cottagecore.
“I would describe it as an aesthetic based upon a quiet, simple life filled with good, wholesome food, animals to care for, a garden to tend to, clothes that feel whimsical and a deep-rooted appreciation for nature and the natural world,” said writer Katherine Livesey in an interview with the Huffington Post.
Cottagecore is an aesthetic movement similar to the Romantics of the 1810s to the 1830s. While there are some fashion influences, particularly with the Edwardian period and the 1930s, the majority of the movement focuses on activities and sensations associated with farming, gardening and a romanticized life in rural areas.
The trend started in 2018 according to the Washington Times’ article “How the #cottagecore Internet aesthetic dovetails with pandemic travel.” The article explains that the trend started primarily on social media such as Pinterest and Tumblr. The movement went through a few experimental names such as countrycore, farmcore and grannycore before settling on the name it is now known by.
Cottagecore has grown more popular since the worldwide shutdown in March 2020, with Pinterest seeing 80 percent more interest in the tag according to CNN’s article “What is Cottagecore.” Because of the aesthetic movement’s focus on DIY hobbies and gardening, the aesthetic has become an inspiration as to ways to pass the time in lockdown and while social distancing.
The aesthetic also focuses on forms of sustainability, making it more palatable to those who are trying to be more climate-friendly.
The main appeal, however, is the escapism and fantasy of it. Cottagecore is about a safe and romanticized version of the past with a focus on coziness and what is known. In the current uncertain world state, that is comforting to the younger generations especially.
This focus on a rural and historically and agriculturally-inspired lifestyle is similar to the Romantics and to the hippie movement of the 1970s according to culture writer Suzanne Wexley in the Huffington Post’s “What is Cottagecore: Meet the Biggest Trend in Quarantine.”
“Just like most bohemian movements that predate it, cottagecore also expresses a general displeasure with the current state of capitalism and urbanism, which has been really hard on millennials and is expected to be rough on Gen Z, too,” Wexler said.
The movement overall is focused on a comfortable, cozy life in which one can live without the scrutiny of modern life and work at their own pace. The comfort it brings is what makes it a mainstay in the current world state.
If students at UNCG want to incorporate this popular aesthetic into their lives on-campus or learning at a distance, there are plenty of stores that decor and fashion can be ordered from. Etsy shops sell affordable decorations that allow students to support artists during the pandemic. Most stores that sell bedding have patterns such as floral or gingham that fit into the cottagecore styles.
Cottagecore clothes are carried by brands like Shein and Romwe, although the aesthetic is starting to trickle down to chains like Urban Outfitters and Target.
To try the lifestyle aspects of cottagecore, students can join the weekly paint and hike event hosted by Campus Activities & Programs at the Botanical Gardens.
There are many more activities that can be enjoyed from one’s own dorm room and can bring comfort in the current times.
“Taking up embroidery so you’re not endlessly scrolling through social media, growing herbs on your windowsill, baking something delicious and cuddling your cat all fit nicely within the aesthetic,” Livesey said. “But more importantly, they’re nice, relaxing and wholesome ways to spend your time if you’re in need of a little bit of calm and quiet.”