Exactly How to Perfect the Look
In our always-on, perpetually connected world, there’s obvious appeal in the possibility of a life pulled away from it all. Instead of running from meetings to appointments and trying to cram in a workout amidst the hustle (not to mention a 10-minute meditation), a back-to-roots lifestyle follows a different, slower route. From scrolling through countless Pinterest boards, related TikTok hashtags, and the many Reels dedicated to showcasing this dreamy approach—it’s clear that the cottagecore aesthetic is holding strong.
While the prevailing impression is one of Hill House nap dresses and shelves upon shelves of Penguin classics, there’s more to the cottagecore aesthetic than meets the eye. (Although those are components of the style that I’ll forever obsess over.) Really—it’s an ethos. Cottagecore is a mindset that prioritizes patience with the world, taking the time to sit with nature and observe its delicate intricacies. Those who practice cottagecore and weave its details into their lives know that connection with the people and places we love is the key to a whole and happy life. The ruffles and farmhouse flair are just the beautiful icing on the cake.
For those craving a little more romance in their everyday lives, this is for you. If you want to adopt the cottagecore aesthetic, keep reading for tips, tricks, and the best sources for inspiration.
Featured image from our interview with Claire Zinnecker by Michelle Nash.
How to Create the Cottagecore Aesthetic for Yourself
As many of my friends can attest, I’m a self-prescribed homesteading enthusiast. And while I knit, sew, and spend many an evening by candlelight, I can only take my canning and small-scale gardening so far. (I’m a Chicago urbanite.) But the beauty in taking inspiration from an aesthetic and cultivating it for yourself is just that. With the resources available to you, you can find more joy in what you wear, how you decorate your home, and the inspiration you surround yourself with each day.
Let’s dive into the what, why, and how behind the cottagecore aesthetic. Who knows—you might get the itch to fix up a country farmhouse by the end.
What is cottagecore?
Cottagecore romanticizes rural life. While past decades and generations have prioritized the comfort and ease of a technology-driven lifestyle, the cottagecore aesthetic celebrates the exact opposite. Simplicity, traditional skills (those that have largely been phased out by technological advances), and self-reliance are key components. Some of the activities associated with cottagecore include:
- Sewing/knitting/crocheting your own clothes and linens
- Gardening and growing your own food
- Project-based kitchen skills including sourdough, baking, kombucha, etc.
- Canning and preserving food
But as I alluded to above, there’s also a consciousness that’s an inextricable element of cottagecore. In an article written by Courtney Jay Higgins for The Good Trade, she explores the importance the movement gives to sustainability and developing a deep connection to and appreciation for the land. Personally, I found my way to the cottagecore mindset through Julia Watkins, who before becoming a writer and photographer began her career in conservation. (More on Julia below.)
All that to say is, the trajectory makes sense. Across all areas of life that the cottagecore aesthetic touches—fashion, home, food, and garden—a respect for the materials, plants, animals, and people behind our resources is evident.
With that in mind (and the understanding that cottagecore really isn’t a trend, but a concept that developed as far back as 2,300 years ago), it’s clear that cottagecore goes beyond being a style or something purely visual. Instead, it’s a way of life that can inspire good and beauty in all that we do.
Inspiration for Cottagecore Outfits
That being said, getting dressed with the cottagecore aesthetic in mind is one of the many creative ways you can bring it into your life. Cottagecore as it relates to fashion is defined largely by a traditionally feminine way of dressing. Think: Long, flowing skirts and dresses, whimsical patterns and delicate frills, hair tied back in a bow. Of course, this isn’t to say that to achieve the aesthetic you have to adhere to antiquated views on gender. Much of the cottagecore style can simply be conveyed through a penchant for vintage finds and cozy, comfy layers like a hand-knit sweater or your favorite well-worn socks.
Keep scrolling for some of the brands and creators who do cottagecore best.
With over half a million followers on Instagram, Paula Sutton knows a thing about effectively bringing the cottagecore aesthetic to life. (Further proof: Her bio reads: “Country Interiors, Gardens, Frocks, Flowers & Cake!”) Her style is cottagecore to a tee: bright prints, florals galore, Peter Pan necklines, and dungarees done to perfection. But what’s even more captivating about Paula’s presence online—and I have to imagine in real life as well—is the infectious joy she exudes in every post and story. While it’s true that social media has long been written off as a highlight reel, I have to believe that what Paula posts is true and authentic bliss with the life she’s created for herself.
Anna Margaret (who goes by Margo) is the queen of thrifting. She regularly shares her vintage-hunting hauls on both her Instagram and YouTube. And you’ll regularly catch her frolicking through flower-flecked fields in a Dôen or Christy Dawn dress (that is to say, cottagecore apparel at its finest). And while her wardrobe does the aesthetic to perfection, be sure to also give her a follow for her cottagecore-inspired interiors. Her home is nothing short of a cozy cottage daydream.
As a creator, photographer, author, and plant-based cook, Chloe Crane-Leroux translates the cottagecore aesthetic to the digital sphere with elegance and grace. And though she’s New York-based, you’d never know that she captures most of her content in an urban setting. While she shares slower living through concrete, easy-to-recreate recipes, she also inspires this way of life through thoughtful captions and Reels that deserve a showing at Cannes. (Proof that I’m not exaggerating.) As an aside, her relationship with her mom is Nancy Meyers-level of cuteness. For the cottagecore aesthetic with a French flair, be sure to give Chloe a follow.
Inspiration for a Cottagecore House
PSA: You don’t need a house on ten acres complete with farm animals to create a cottagecore vibe. Even with just 1200 square feet and no outdoor space to my name, I’ve prioritized secondhand quilts, embroidered pillow cushions, and thrifted china to create a general sense of coziness. At the end of the day, you’re after comfort and a home that feels like a warm hug. Whether that’s through candles galore, hand-me-down heirlooms, or simply well-loved pieces, the aim is to make your home a visual reflection of your life’s personal narrative. Everything you give space to should have a story—and these are the creators who do it best.
Friend of the site, Claire Zinnecker’s design talent and eye for potential knows no bounds. Case in point: she transformed this fixer-upper Austin farmhouse (that she found on Facebook Marketplace, mind you) into a true haven of beauty. She’s the founder of Claire Zinnecker Design, an Austin-based boutique interior design firm that crafts spaces with a resonant character and timeless appeal. And while Claire might not describe her aesthetic as cottagecore per se, she has the rare talent of expanding a client’s passions into the look and feel of a space. For more get-ready-to-go-down-a-rabbit-hole design inspo, follow the before and after of her Austin home on @savingidahouse.
I’ve been a fan of Amanda Watters’ work long before I even got on Instagram. Every week, I ate up Amanda’s stories, seasonal musings, and creative projects on her blog (which she continues to regularly update). She’s translated her talent for writing and photography into a feed that keeps the beauty of a static photo alive. From home vignettes to reflections on motherhood to images that elicit simple joys, Amanda is a must-follow in your cottagecore social media kit. She’s also the founder of Homesong Market, a Kansas City-based home story that can also be shopped online.
When you need a few moments of blissful social media scrolling, pay Jemma’s feed a visit. You’ll find galettes showcasing every seasonal fruit, idyllic country landscapes, and composed corners of her home that will remind you to seek beauty at every turn. Jemma is also a talented amateur florist. Stunning dahlia arrangements, colorful cosmos, and vases filled with wildflowers have all merited a home on her page. And for true culinary delight, be sure to watch her sourdough English muffin tutorial.
Teased above, Julia Watkins is one of my favorite creators who shows the cottagecore aesthetic in action. Not only are her visuals dreamy, but she shares concrete tips to help you build traditional skills. Head to her blog for candle-making tutorials, tips on creating a low-waste home, and more. I also have both of her books, Simply Living Well and Gardening for Everyone on my shelf. Trust: there’s a treasure trove of cottagecore inspiration to be found within each.
Resources for Cottagecore Decor
To bring the cottagecore aesthetic home, I can’t emphasize enough: start making vintage shopping and thrifting a hobby! I love visiting estate sales on the weekend and hunting for pieces that have lived a life before me. I find that when I shop secondhand, the items I bring into my home share a loving energy with the space. That’s part of the magic of shopping with intention.
But if you’re also an avid online shopper, take heart: there are plenty of resources where you can find beautiful pieces and craft your cottagecore home. Below are my favorites.
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Mentioned above, Amanda Watters has taken her eye for vintage and heirloom-quality pieces and turned it into a beautiful shop. Within home categories that span everything from the bedroom to bathroom to the sweetest pieces for kids, Homesong Market has it all. Amanda has revived the lost art of running a general store and made the experience available for all of us online. But because I want to live the magic in-person, you can bet I’m planning a visit to the Kansas City brick-and-mortar shop soon. Who wants to join?
June Home Supply
June Home Supply is intent on helping homeowners bring a quiet and simple sense of beauty into their homes. The pieces aren’t just stunning to look at. They’re curated to inspire thoughtful moments at home. Whether it’s dinner by candlelight, an afternoon spent reading with tea, or going about your everyday tasks with a sense of mindfulness, June Home Supply’s beautiful assortment makes it all possible.
I couldn’t wrap up this guide to the cottagecore aesthetic without highlighting Camille’s lifestyle brand, Casa Zuma. While the overall aesthetic is inspired by Camille’s love of the ocean, the intention runs deeper. Each piece is crafted to inspire presence in your daily life—a core tenet of cottagecore. Items are designed by makers all over the world to help you shape your home’s unique story. It’s a mindset that “sparks connection, nourishes your soul, and makes you feel more alive.” Expressing consciousness, slow living, and thoughtful curation, if that doesn’t describe cottagecore at its most fundamental, I’m not sure what else can.