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Summer 2020—aka “Peasant Girl Summer”—celebrated all things cottagecore

The cottagecore aesthetic truly defined the summer of 2020 for the young and online set. Romanticizing all things rustic and rural, you’re most likely to have encountered this escapist aesthetic and its incumbent markers—grassy green fields, prairie-ready maxi dresses, and quaint cottages surrounded by lush florals—on your social media feeds. Adopting the cottagecore aesthetic includes taking up activities like baking bread, crafting, gardening, picnicking in the park, and of course, wearing Laura Ingalls Wilder-approved prairie dresses. Though the trend may sound stylized or superficial, cottagecore represents much more than just a contrived image: it provides a small escape for young adults living in the dual grip of a global pandemic and a cultural reckoning with racial injustice. Read on to learn how cottagecore has become a key theme within fashion, music, and travel.

FASHION

Fun, free, floral, feminine: these are just a few of the words that describe cottagecore style. The Spring/Summer 2020 runways really helped to popularize pastoral culture: cool-girl brand Jacquemus set a runway show in a field of purple lavender in France, highlighting the haute end of this trend. Fellow fashion designer Batsheva modernized the “housedress,” a quaint and comfortable item made of vintage and recycled fabric, which was perfect for wearing while partaking in nostalgic hobbies at home. The strawberry dress also became an icon of cottagecore culture this summer. In terms of accessories, wicker baskets, hair bows, braids, and bandanas come out on top. Within this category, and just a few months ago, Cassandra noted the rising popularity of pressed-flower products, a key theme within this trend.

MUSIC

When it comes to music, young adults are finding themselves to be newfound fans of folklore. Taylor Swift has been called the “cottagecore queen” thanks to her new album, Folklore, which debuted this summer. Folklore is emblematic of this trend, marking a swerve from Swift's usual pop repertoire towards a more piano-based and balladic indie style. Her Cardigan music video was shot in a forest and cabin, with minimal makeup and styling, helping to more fully bring the cottagecore aesthetic mainstream. Zooming out, young adults have created dozens of cottagecore-themed playlists on Spotify and YouTube, which rack up thousands of listeners and feature artists like Hozier and Fleet Foxes.

TRAVEL

A prominent component of cottagecore is connecting with nature, finding freedom from the chaos and complexity of modern (read: urban) living. The pandemic has further propelled this trend, as young adults aim to get outdoors. Rather than planning major getaways, young adults are opting for nearcations to fulfill their cottagecore aspirations: renting out cabins and visiting farmhouses where they can frolic in fields and enjoy quiet, verdant spaces. HuffPo explains, “many people are grabbing their laptops and heading for smaller cities or the suburb’s greener pastures — or returning to the small town where Mom and Dad still live.” For those not traveling, the cottagecore lifestyle is easily adopted in-home through interior design, cooking, and leisure activities.