If you have made sourdough bread, worn puff sleeves, tried a new braided hairstyle or bought yourself a houseplant over the past six months- congrats you have dabbled in cottage core. The aesthetic that has captured the imagination of the internet for almost all of 2020 is rooted in nostalgia. It also helps that most city-dwelling millennials idealize pretty outdoor space and a kitchen actually big enough to bake in, both scarce in your average fourth floor walkup.
In the past similar romanticizes styles have been popular but none have quite come close. Prairie chic had ditsy floral maxi dresses and a bucolic atmosphere. Wicker baskets and bicycle rides to the local shops have long been staples of both New England and British summer time. Beach Boehme had irreverent bare feet and a carefree attitude, but still none of these on their own is quite cottage core.
Beyond the half-life of a trend; cottage core has become part of the zeitgeist. Is it any wonder that with all the stress of a global pandemic, recession and political upheaval, we’re craving a bit of idyllic balm and slow living to ease our worries away? At the heart of cottage core movement is doing something lovely and wholesome for yourself and inhabiting that world.
My peak moment of cottage core this summer must have been on our weekend in Nashville, Tennessee. After a 10 hour drive down from Washington D.C, we relaxed with dinner in my cousin’s gorgeous back garden. They grow an extensive variety of vegetables and their flower beds are lush with color. Aside from horticulture, they also have two dogs, a gaggle of chickens, a pair of rabbits and a swarm of honeybees. We baked homemade pizzas in their outdoor stone oven and listened to the sounds of fiddles, guitars and a crackling fire dance into the night. If that wasn’t pastoral perfect enough, my cousin is a professional landscape artist and she gave us a little tour of her backyard studio. We joke that we’re the ‘corporate cousins’ coming down from the big city to ooooh and ahh over their creative life. And I was dressed for the occasion, channeling a vintage inspired look in my Staud Elio dress and the straw hat I pilfered from my cousin. Cottage core central, especially when strolling through the grass next to their almost too cool to be real rustic greenhouse.
As summer gold turns into September bronze, we look back on all the nostalgia of summer. On wine in the park, airy sundresses and hair tangled up by a sea breeze. And though certain things definitely end in summer, I think cottage core, much like white after labor day, will continue on. It will move from gingham picnic blankets to wrapping up in cozy cardigans. As much as we like the aesthetics of this concept, at heart it has less to do with visuals and more to do with feeling. It is carving out a space of ease and comfort and loveliness to shelter from the storm. In the overwhelm and constant bombardment of the internet, news and social media we crave simplicity.
So, I think as the leaves turn orange and the air turns crisp, we will still find haven in this call to yesteryear. To vintage, to slow, to nature, to cottage core- the perfect foil of the rush and adrenaline and electricity of modern city life. But that doesn’t mean they can’t exist and even thrive side by side. Back in Nashville, I fell in love with a landscape. One of blues and golds my cousin painted when she was out west in the craggy hills and open skies. Today, it’s proudly hanging on my wall at home, reminding me of the calm and the joy of that weekend. As I go about zoom calls and wading through the sea emails in my inbox, I can look to that painting and remember the poetry of everyday life.
Featuring the Sarah Flint Perfect Block Sandal 60 in nude