I’m in My Cottagecore Era. Here Are 5 Ways I Achieve the Look & Lifestyle

I have always been a child at heart, enjoying the simple things in life like making bug hotels, dancing around my living room, and playing dress-up. I never could have pictured myself having to grow up so quickly. But when I was 17 years old, I got engaged to my high school boyfriend. I spent my senior year working as hard as I could so that we could have a wedding after graduation. Before I was legally allowed to vote, I had become an adult.
Soon after I was married, we moved to Santa Cruz, California, and then to Ohio. In the Midwest, I  found and fell in love with this lifestyle called cottagecore. To me, this idealized rural life was all about living at a slower pace and being more eco-conscious. But as a newlywed, so much of the cottagecore lifestyle for me was also about being a wife and a homemaker, which I had deeply identified with. My life was ripped out of the pages of a vintage woman's periodical: I was wearing powdered aprons while baking bread.
But then I started feeling trapped in my relationship. My husband, who I discovered had long been lying to me, was gaslighting me. I was barely an adult and in an abusive marriage. The fantasy that the cottagecore life provided me helped get through my day-to-day, until it didn’t anymore. At 21, I was going through a divorce, and with my ex-husband gone, I felt like my identity and community within the cottagecore lifestyle disappeared, too. How could I be a homemaker when my home was completely destroyed? 
On one hand, I resented cottagecore living. Its traditional ideas around gendered service, like the glamorization of wives as solely caregivers who cook, bake, and clean for their spouses, started to upset me. It started to mirror the sexist culture of marianismo present in my Latine culture that places value, femininity, and joy in self-sacrificial service and expects women to tolerate abuse for the illusion of harmony. I was done with it. All of it.
But as sorrowful days turned into reflective months, and I began to heal from the trauma and grief of that relationship, I found an unexpected tonic: cottagecore, again. But instead of spending my time doing housework for someone else, I’ve spent the last 10 months making a home for myself and within myself. I now romanticize my slow and cozy mornings alone, putting flowers in my hair to help me rediscover my own beauty, being still enough to practice and grow my faith, and focusing my attention on learning how to be low-waste in my little home.
In doing so, I also find myself treating the child who grew up too fast. I take videos of myself dancing around in my vintage nightgown. I read books and make art among the daisies outside. And I enjoy picnics with girlfriends and buy myself flowers during solo dates. These days, cottagecore living is a coping mechanism, and I want to share five ways that I achieve this lifestyle and aesthetic, practically.

Get into the cottagecore mindset.

For me, the mindset of living cottagecore is all about slowing down to enjoy the small and seemingly mundane parts of life, being as sustainable as possible, fostering gratitude and an “I have enough” mindset, and having a kind and lighthearted spirit.
I find practical ways to incorporate this into my routine throughout the day. In the mornings, I make myself a cup of tea, sit by my window, and jot down my thoughts. I journal about anything and everything that is on my mind and am also sure to name the things I am grateful for. This centers my mind and forces me to take a moment to pause and write each thought out. 
I also like to walk slowly and notice the little things that are all around, like the scents I smell, how the trees and dirt feel on my skin, and which bugs, birds, and critters I see. If I want to stay in, I might read a book, listen to a podcast, or watch a YouTube video about how to live more sustainably. Understanding the way our waste contributes to the detriment of our planet and how I can be a part of the solution helps me to be more mindful. Other times, I might practice a craft, like art or baking. I like to use my five senses while I bake or cook. To really soak it all in, I sometimes step outside for a moment to grab the mail or throw out some trash. When I come back inside, I’m welcomed by the delicious scent of my meal and some 1940s tune I’m usually playing. 

Make your house a cozy home. 

Picture this: You walk into your house or apartment and you see antiques you have collected over the years resting on wooden shelves, your curtains gently float as the wind passes through, and the light catches house plants displayed in thrifted pots, filling your space with life and possibility. How do you feel? Cozy? Me too. It’s the small details that really make a house feel like a home.
With the cottagecore style, you want to give the sense that your home is somewhere in the English countryside. Think Pride and Prejudice. I get inspired on Pinterest, searching phrases like “English countryside home,” “natural interior,” “cozy kitchen,” or “cottagecore home.”
Typically, the aesthetic comes together with the help of antiques. I like to look for antique or thrifted trinkets, like hats for display, baskets, coat racks, tea cups, and candle holders to cozy up my space. In fact, about 90% of what I have in my home was purchased second-hand. I also look for items with natural or earthy muted tones, adding in a floral print here and there for a pop of interest and warmth. On that, potted plants are always cozy and brighten a home. I like to go for pothos, philodendrons, and ZZ plants. 
Above all, keeping things organic and natural is the best approach. Cottagecore style is all about creating a space that is lived in, and it should look that way, too. It’s not about perfection, so I don’t worry if my blankets are half-folded, my pillows aren't perfectly fluffed, or my painting supplies stay out on my desk. 

Keep you hair and makeup natural and playful.

Cottagecore is all about an effortless, dreamy, and romantic aesthetic that makes hair and makeup so much fun (and fairly easy). When I want to feel like a princess, I go for voluminous, dreamy, big curls. For days when I don’t have time to wash my hair, I add light twists in my hair, make an over-the-head braid, or simply wear a beret. 
As for makeup, the key to the perfect cottagecore look is to keep it simple. Use barely-there foundation and concealer. Skip the highlight and use different shades of soft, rosy blushes on the cheeks and nose for a gentle glow that looks effortless. Because this is a soft, natural-looking aesthetic, I keep eye makeup light and use tinted lip oils and glosses. I have been doing this simple and natural cottagecore makeup look for about two years now, and it’s never failed me. The best part: It takes me about five-to-10 minutes to finish — and it feels romantic from beginning to end. 

Dress up and slow down. 

There are many different branches of cottagecore, including light and dark academia, farmcore, goblincore, grandmacore, and coastal grandmother, to name a few, and I tend to include a little of everything in my wardrobe. For me, the key is to stick to natural tones. When shopping, I look for long, flowy dresses, especially if they have a cute floral or gingham print, frocks from the 1940s, and vintage nightgowns. 
What I love about cottagecore clothing is that it makes you slow down. Because so much of the long, dainty pieces I wear are vintage, I have to move carefully and thoughtfully in them to make sure they don’t rip. Even more, I also choose to shop at thrift stores or slow-fashion companies, like The Simple Folk, Simple Retro, Sezane, Son De Flor, and Sandgrens Clogs. But going cottagecore doesn’t mean you have to trash all your modern pieces. In fact, this lifestyle centers sustainability, so think through ways you can repurpose what you already have to fit this aesthetic. If you need some help, watch my tutorial.

Live the cottagecore life with these activities.

What constitutes a cottagecore activity? At its core, it is really about activities that help you to slow down and bring you a sense of coziness, peace, and genuine joy.
For me, it looks like playing the fanciful forest board game Everdell with family and friends or enjoying virtual games like Animal Crossing New Horizons, StarDew Valley, and A Little to the Left solo. I also love making art. Whether I’m trying out watercolor, learning embroidery, or dreaming about picking up crocheting, these classic art forms make me feel like I am back in the 1800s. I also take pleasure in devouring art, like visiting the bookstore, reading in silence, or dancing slowly to the sound of a dreamy piano number. 
The cottagecore lifestyle has taught me so much more than I could have ever imagined. I have learned how to cultivate mindfulness in my life, how to be more eco-conscious, and how to still make my house a home even if it’s just me and my cat for now. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to do or be cottagecore. Really, the most cottagecore thing you can do is enjoy the simple pleasures in life, like taking care of your body, being kind and grateful, and caring for our earth.

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