What is Cottagecore?

If the last few months have seemed like the stuff of nightmares, the cottagecore trend is the rose-tinted fantasy we need to calm our spirits.

The essence of cottagecore

Cottagecore is a longing for a more wholesome way of life. Fans of the trend dream of moving to a tiny house in the woods, wearing billowy dresses with puff sleeves, baking bread and foraging for food in the company of cute forest animals.

Cottagecore is a romantic version of country living depicted in film adaptations of Little Women, Anne of Green Gables and The Secret Garden. The trend embraces the simple pleasures of a bygone era and all the comforts of being at home.

Gaining popularity

The aesthetic has been around since 2010 but cottagecore is quickly gaining new followers eager to seek a welcome distraction from the world’s chaos.

The cottagecore hashtag has nearly 4 billion views on TikTok and over 723,000 post on Instagram. It climbed to the very top of Tumblr tags about the time the coronavirus pandemic began accelerating and saw a huge spike in mid-February to late March.

Girl with butterflies in her hair

Why is cottagecore such a hot trend

One theory is that the pandemic has changed the way we think.

Orlando Wood works for an agency that researches and monitors how different styles of advertising correlate with effectiveness. He argues for over a decade advertising has adopted a left-brain view of the world. The left brain is overly rational, supremely confident and intent on finding the simple, single truth of any matter.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Orlando has seen a sudden “right brain reset”.


man reading book under tree

The right brain set

The right brain experiences the word in a far more complete way. Its purpose is to gather information and understand the world around us. It is fascinated by everything: exploring connections, open to new experiences and new ways of seeing the world.

The right brain embraces intangibles like emotion, community, relationships and is intuitive about others’ feelings. The right brain doesn’t try to boil everything down to one clear answer and move on, it feeds on complexity and ambiguity.

The left brain thinks it understands everything it needs to about the world. Until something happens to prove it wrong.

Fairytale toadstool in forest

A new perspective

Across the world we are all feeling frazzled as we try to come to terms with the new reality.

The rules keep changing and we are faced with a threat we can’t see and don’t fully understand. The left brain can’t cope so the trusty right brain comes to the rescue.

This side of the brain is happy not to be at the centre of everything and recognises how precious life, relationships and experiences are. The right brain is our mental escape valve.

Cottagecore: the antidote to this febrile moment

Cottagecore is the right brain’s catnip taking us back through time. The right-hand brain has a sense of history and nostalgia – it’s not just obsessed with the here and now. The aesthetic celebrates creativity, self-expression and connecting to others.

In the dreamy glow of wooded glades and fields of swaying wildflowers no one questions why the girl posing in the tiered skirt and broderie anglaise bodice isn’t wearing a face covering.

The act of baking sourdough bread, knitting or pressing flowers provides consistency during confusing times. What’s more, that fairy tale, little house deep in the woods decked out in chintzy frills and florals allows you to occasionally opt out of a world that isn’t always as pretty.

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