Cottagecore: the Modern Escapist Coping Mechanism


In the time of increasing chaos, what is Gen Z to do? Partake in unhealthy coping mechanisms, of course! Romanticized lifestyles have found an extraordinary breeding ground within the holy app, TikTok. Such obsession with aesthetics is nothing new, as we all remember the “quirky girl” Tumblr epidemic of 2012. However, when did we become obsessed with crocheted librarian cardigans and thatch roofed cottages?

Cottagecore is a popular aesthetic that romanticizes the idea of running away from a stressful daily life in which you have to: do stuff (ugh) and participate in society (so draining!). The cottagecore aesthetic centers itself around traditionally “grandma” activities, older and handmade clothes, and baked goods shaped like various woodland creatures made with ingredients you found foraging outside your homey little cottage in the middle of the woods. 

With a new trend of grandma style clothing on the rise, vintage styles are gaining popularity again, like 60s style headscarves and floral knitted sweaters. And because of Gen Z’s growing concern for climate change, the wearing of secondhand clothing has become a big trend. While the fashion industry does naturally cycle through repeating trends of past generations, it never predicted the trend to not want to be trendy. The “not like other girls” mindset evolved the fashion styles of today’s teens, now wearing whatever is eye-catching or slightly visually off-kilter from their mom and dad’s closets. Not only does the cottagecore lifestyle give great social validation for its followers, but also gives the peace of mind of sustainable living.

Cottagecore is primarily a means of escapism from the rather stressful environment we have found ourselves immersed in. From the pandemic that’s upturned our lives for a number of months now, to a tumultuous election that has many on edge, an escape to a cottage in the middle of the forest with your gay lover doesn’t sound like a terrible idea right about now! This is also why cottagecore has become especially popular among the LGBTQ+ community, particularly lesbians and sapphics. And who can blame them? Don’t you hate it when your rights are held up for debate and you just want to flee the country to stop thinking all the time? So annoying!

This is the great success of cottagecore: its encouragement of everyday housewife activities. Embroidery, baking, and crochet were all stress free activities for these women, meant to keep their heads out of politics. And no matter what year it is, we all need to escape from what can be a chaotic political climate. Even with our activism and participation in politics, we need to catch a break sometimes. To live a perfect cottagecore day is to put the mental turmoil at rest- never   ending days of careless strolls to the local market and needlepoint, with no expectations to study or obtain sustainable income; it sounds like a fantasy- because it is. Romanticizing aesthetics and false realities will always just be for our utopian daydreams.

But we can still take a few hours out of our day to imagine living by ourselves in a small cottage in Sweden with two cats!

Here is a checklist of Cottagecore Grandma Activities approved by Charlene and Kate:

Graphics by Crystal Leung.