While TikTok’s presence in the US might be on shaky ground, the app’s hundreds of millions of users are continuing to churn out content 24/7. Amid all those videos comes the latest aesthetic that is taking over accounts worldwide: Meet “cottagecore,” which has racked up more than 3.6 billion views on TikTok.
Like the VSCO girl, soft girl and e-girl aesthetics before it, cottagecore is rooted in escapism and fantasy, but it eschews the beachy and goth getups in favor of a rustic “Little House on the Prairie” vibe to the millennial- and Gen Z-favored platform. And you know a trend is headed for the mainstream when it starts seeping into other social media forms too. Case in point: #cottagecore has more than 628,000 posts on Instagram.
What is cottagecore aesthetic?
Whereas previous subcultures have focused on the users’ look — from makeup and hair to clothing and accessories — cottagecore is far more in-depth, encompassing the scenery and lighting as well. Cottagecore influencers are creating entire vignettes for their posts, from delicate picnics in a grassy field to vintage tea parties in a sunshine-filled kitchen, leading followers to assume they’re located in a quaint cottage in the English countryside.
The idea behind the genre is finding fulfillment — happiness, even — in languid, unplugged days. And considering that most of the world has been under some sort of stay-at-home order this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, cotttagecore’s dreamy style has spiked. Amanda Brennan, a trend expert at Tumblr, told Vox that the cottagecore hashtag jumped 153% on the platform from March to April this year, with likes on cottagecore posts surging a whopping 541%. And on Pinterest, an increase in searches by Gen Z pinners for “cottagecore fashion” in June was up 80 times compared to last year.
So what can you expect to find when you start digging around the cottagecore world? First up: baby goats. Yes, really. And vintage teacups, homemade pies, picnic baskets and flower crowns. The subculture is, of course, dominated by the fashion, though, which includes everything from long, flowy nightgowns and silky slip dresses to gingham skirts, seersucker minis and pretty much anything with a muted floral print, puffy sleeve, milkmaid neckline or ruffled hem. Accessories also play a major role, with pearls, wicker baskets and straw bags popping up often.
Follow our guide to become more familiar with cottagecore below, and who knows? You might even find some products for yourself too.
Best cottagecore fashion
Roberta Maxi Dress ($188; anthropologie.com)
Maxi dresses are a cottagecore must, and this, with its old-world inspiration, fits the bill. We love the tiered floral patterns, the lace detailing and the fact that it comes in standard, petite and plus sizes.
Gingham Button-Front Apron Dress ($98, originally $135; draperjames.com)
Exuding country girl charm, gingham is a perennial cottagecore favorite, and we think this adorable apron dress from Reese Witherspoon’s sweet-as-pie brand Draper James is a must. A linen-cotton blend, the dress has a fit-and-flare silhouette and, wait for it…pockets!
Smoke & Mirrors Maxi Slip ($98; freepeople.com)
While the cottagecore base appreciates all the trappings — lace, ruffles and pearls included — devotees also love them a sexy little slip dress. This one from Free People comes in five dusty hues and has adjustable straps. We love the draped back and the fact that it can be machine-washed.
Cami Tie-Strap Sundress in Bright Buds ($89.99, originally $138; madewell.com)
With its camisole straps, smocked backing, linen fabric and tiny bud print, this easy, breezy dress is perfectly cottagecore. We love the midi length (note: For shorter ladies, the dress is a bit longer, hitting the lower calf), the hidden pockets and the majorly on-sale price.
Bow-Detail A-Line Dress ($49.99; hm.com)
With ultra wide (and supportive!) ruffle straps and a bow tie back, this dress is guaranteed to rack up the likes on the ‘gram. A built-in bra offers a surprising amount of support (and puts just the right amount of décolletage on display), while the crepe jersey material is totally opaque, plus it’s available in black, hot pink and a lovely light brown. More to know: Described as being “midi,” the dress is more of a “maxi” length for shorter gals.
Ruffle Wrap Dress ($98, originally $135; draperjames.com)
Ruffles and seersucker? It’s a cottagecore match made in heaven. Sweet as can be, this dress is made of a thicker material and has a cotton lining.
Linen Drawstring Dress With Embroidery ($129.99, originally $158; jcrew.com)
This sweet dress certainly falls within cottagecore requirements. (Linen? Check. Dainty embroidery? Check.) And it’s bound to be a wardrobe staple, thanks to its curve-skimming silhouette. Pair it with a leather jacket and some booties when temps dip, and suddenly it’s a multiseason MVP too.
Cashmere Crewneck Sweater With Pointelle Stitch ($138; jcrew.com)
Speaking of temperatures dipping, that’s happening, like, soon. But that doesn’t mean cottagecore needs to die. Instead, devotees can turn to charming sweaters like this pointelle cashmere option from J.Crew that features ruffle detailing on the sleeves.
Cotton Cableknit Pointelle Sweater ($128; jcrew.com)
And while we’re on the topic of sweaters, let’s address how perfectly cottagecore this one is. Chock-full of intricate details, including the knit appliqués and dropped shoulder, this sweater will easily transition from summer to fall. Simply throw it over one of the long, flowy dresses, pair it with boots and you’ll hit your autumnal stride.
Puff-Sleeved Sweater ($19.99; hm.com)
Proof that not all sweaters have to be bulky, this super soft fine-knit sweater from H&M is as dainty as can be, thanks to its fitted composition and girly puffed sleeves. Also, we’re not mad at this price.
Tiered Peasant Midi Skirt in Climbing Floral ($59.99, originally $92; madewell.com)
Perfect for a tea party alongside roaming chickens or for pairing with some sneakers to hit up the farmers market. Gauzy and ultra lightweight, this pretty skirt is also super comfy, thanks to its stretchy smocked waist. More to know: It’s still available in sizes XXS to 3X.
Puff-Sleeved Romper ($39.99; hm.com)
If you could bottle up romance and put it in a romper, this would be it. With a smocked bodice and stretch cotton twill fabric, the romper’s puffed sleeves and vintage-esque pattern will fit in perfectly amongst a cottagecore backdrop.
Puff-Sleeved Wrapover Blouse ($39.99; hm.com)
Cottagecore fans never met a puffed sleeve they didn’t like, and this girly blouse is sure to land on their “must” list. While we love the wrapover design, the bow tie closure and the peplum bottom, it’s the airy jacquard fabric that’s our favorite detail. More to know: The sleeves and waist are transparent, but the torso and back are lined.
PJ Harlow Women’s Laura Top (starting at $31; amazon.com)
Satin is a favorite material of cottagecore devotees, and luxe sleepwear brand PJ Harlow offers lots of options to choose from, including slinky boxer shorts, soft-as-butter lounge pants and a slew of matching tank tops. The hardest part is choosing one of the ten colors, though we’re betting this audience is going to opt for blush or pearl.
The Hollie Ankle-Strap Sandal in Nubuck Leather ($138; madewell.com)
A bestseller for Madewell, these chunky-heeled sandals are perfectly neutral and therefore perfectly cottagecore. Special padding on the soles and the incredibly soft leather make the shoes wearable 24/7.
Yebo Sneaker ($149; soludos.com)
While bright, patterned, even dirty sneakers might be the trend right now, these new vegan sneaks from Soludos would fit perfectly into any cottagecore vignette. Sustainable and made from plant-based leather and recycled water bottles, the platform sneaks have a retro design that would easily pair with the maxi dresses and skirts beloved by this subculture. More to know: The shoes are ultra padded, making them a dream to walk around in all day long.
Best cottagecore accessories
LisaUaShop Rustic Flower Crown ($38; etsy.com)
Yes, most die-hard cottagecore devotees are foraging flowers and creating au naturel crowns, but if you’re looking for a much quicker option, this pretty handmade hairpiece will get the job done. With more than 2,800 sales, the LisaUaShop also has nearly 400 positive reviews touting the crown’s great quality.
Mini Straw Tote ($88, originally $112; draperjames.com)
A mini straw bag with a gingham liner? That ties into a darling bow?! Yes, it does exist, thanks to Draper James. Perfect for running through bucolic fields (and taking a photo, natch) or just running errands in your hometown, this tote will add a hefty dose of whimsy to any outfit.
Furtalk Straw Hat (starting at $19.16; amazon.com)
Drinking coffee out of a vintage mug while staring out at the distance is great…but it would definitely look better if you were wearing a straw hat, right? Right. This one is a bestseller on Amazon, has more than 2,700 positive reviews and comes in nine neutral hues.
Scuddles Extra Large Picnic & Outdoor Blanket (starting at $26.99; amazon.com)
Picnic backdrops are tantamount to the cottagecore aesthetic, and this outdoor blanket with its neutral stripes will blend beautifully into the background. More to know: With nearly 2,000 positive reviews, it’s an Amazon bestseller, and at 60-by-60 inches, it’s roomy enough to fit four adults.
Party Pack Picnic Basket ($63.20, originally $99; westelm.com)
You’ve got the blanket, now you need the basket. And thanks to West Elm, this gorgeous wicker basket with leatherette straps is packed to the gills with accessories — four porcelain plates, four forks, four knives, four spoons, four wine glasses and one corkscrew, to be exact. Looking for something less robust? Check out Food52’s charming option, which is a little less expensive.
FaerieWingsShop Enchanted Fairy Wings ($45; etsy.com)
In case you missed it, adult fairy wings are a thing — just search the phrase in Etsy and hundreds of options will come to the surface. And because cottagecore enthusiasts love nothing more than an ethereal detail, they made this list. We like this enchanted set from FaerieWingsShop, which has more than 1,400 sales. Available in dozens of colors, the wings ship within two to three weeks.
Kenneth Jay Lane Imitation Pearl Necklace ($42; shopbop.com)
Pearl necklaces are great at conjuring up romance and mystery, but they normally cost a pretty penny, which is exactly why we love this imitation from Kenneth Jay Lane — it’s only $42.
Emile Henry Classic Ceramic Pie Dish (starting at $39.99; amazon.com)
Pie-making is another integral cottagecore theme, and this classic dish from Emile Henry will bring your results — and your IG likes — to another level. Crafted from French Burgundy clay, the dish’s scalloped edges and array of colors are the perfect accents to your latticework crust.
Vintage English Transferware 3-Tiered Stand and Set of 4 Teacups ($220; food52.com)
Like adult fairy wings, it turns out adult tea parties are also a thing, especially when it comes to cottagecore. But finding an adult set is no easy task, which is why we love this complete set — including a three-tiered stand! — from The Brooklyn Teacup. The English vintage set includes four teacups, four saucers and the stand. Your brunch (and subsequent photo shoot) is now good to go.
Glossier Lip Gloss ($14; glossier.com)
They may be running through the hillside, but let’s be clear, cottagecore lovers want a perfectly dewy lip. This cult-favorite lip gloss is exactly what she’s looking for. It comes in clear, holographic and juicy red shades.
Glossier Futuredew ($24; glossier.com)
Super dewy skin is another marker of cottagecore, and we’re digging Glossier’s Futuredew serum for an instant, effortless glow.