If a Victorian child of the farm saw the Fluide Instagram, do you think it would kill them or make them stronger? Weirdly enough, we don’t have to look far to figure it out.
I’m talking about cottagecore, the trend that really isn’t a trend, but a lifestyle. Democratized by Tik Tok and accessible to all, millions of users are living out their Little House on the Prairie dreams, and it makes complete sense.
In a time where there’s not much to do but be on our phones and stay at home, cottagecore is yes, and-ing quarantine by using technology as a vintage frame for a picturesque lifestyle of romanticism and self-sufficiency. Viral videos inspire millions to make their own lavender teas, sew their own blouses, tie their hair in handkerchiefs and of course, modify their beauty routine.
After all, a little escapism is healthy, especially in such stressful times. But despite cottagecore’s DIY democracy, the movement has struggled with depicting its diversity. A trend created by queer, bipoc and neurodivergent zoomers gets lost in translation, instead sometimes presenting as…. How do you say… Marie Antoinette in her peasant village—lite.
I corresponded with our resident cottagecore enthusiast (and TikTok Editor, which is like, so perfect) Ashley Fletcher to talk about cottagecore, beauty, and representation online and off.
Okay, spill all your intel on cottagecore. How did you get into it, and what initially attracted you to it?
So it's kind of funny, I kind of live in a cottage… I've lived there my whole life, in LA. My mom is obsessed with everything vintage. Our house looks very old fashioned, and everything in there is super vintage-y. We would always watch Anne of Green Gables, Little House on the Prairie, all of those movies. With TikTok during quarantine, and this trend with cottagecore, it really started to have its own name. That showed me that this vintage, prairie-style could be combined with other styles into something more modern, rather than something old people like. It can be very feminine and masculine, but particularly for me, I like how it makes me feel very feminine and gender euphoric through clothing and DIY.
There are a lot of ins: baking, DIY, even interior decorating, and of course beauty. How do you participate?
I get a lot of my inspiration from Instagram and Pinterest, but mostly TikTok. I love interior design. I love floral arrangements and I have them all over my room. Do you know about @brrch_floral? It's an inspiring Instagram account of floral arrangements. I don’t know if they're cottagecore, but it’s super vibrant and modern, and also vintage-y. I’m also really into editorial graphic makeup trends. I don't know if you know Katie Jane Hughes, but she’s also into cottagecore. She does a lot of graphic eyeliner.
Are there other accounts on Instagram or TikTok that you frequently visit for inspiration?
For fashion on TikTok, @tinyjewishgirl. Her style is kind of opposite of mine, but it inspires me. It’s a lot of early 2000s aesthetics, and she does a lot of thrift outfit videos. Another TikTok and Instagram person is Neo Nguyen, and they do a lot of 80’s and vintage-y looks, and very editorial makeup. And Anne Sophia Costa does a lot of cool photography and makeup stuff.
Are there different aesthetics in cottagecore? Or can you blend them together?
Definitely! I think cottagecore is a blend of a lot of different trends and eras. It's not full vintage, but it can be. You can pair it with a lot of edgy clothing. I like to mix it with 80s because that’s my main aesthetic, but I like to pair that with the softer edge of cottagecore. Especially with makeup, pairing something that's supposed to be vintage and modest with a really bold editorial eye look—I think that’s a huge part of what cottagecore is.
I’m familiar with the fashion and lifestyle aspect of cottagecore, for sure. But I was thinking with the makeup side of it, there’s really no makeup in the cottage…
I guess there’s no makeup for traditional prairie style. But looking at it now, the makeup is more refined at its base. It’s very dewy and wet makeup. I love not putting on anything, and throwing on some bright eyeshadow or glitter. It’s makeup, but you’re not trying too hard to make it something super intense. You're not covering up anything. It's very authentic and exploratory.
That’s why I like how authentic it is! It’s not trying to cover anything up. This is your natural face, and it’s okay, you can glam it up if you want.
Yeah! I think that's a very new trend right now, very minimalistic makeup, but makeup has also become more artistic. Definitely with the eye and lip areas, that’s where you can actually play and focus less on the contouring and the concealing. That stuff is becoming less important in makeup. Especially in cottagecore.
Its so different from anything that was popular four years ago… The brows….
The brows! How it used to be using eyeshadow to shape it super cut and thick, and now it’s natural and brushed up with gel. Everything is changing so quickly!
What are some Fluide products that you use to pair with your cottagecore looks?
One is the Universal Gloss, it's the perfect instant dew and shine.If I wanna make it super dewy, I'll add Universal Gloss on my cheekbones, and then go up into the outer corner of my eye. And even though mattes are a big thing right now, lip gloss is super on trend. It's less intense and gives a fresh and wet look. [I love] any of the lip glosses, especially the glitter ones. Also, the first thing that came to my mind was the Aura Glitter in Galactic. I love that shade. It’s very warm and reminds me of a sunset, and that’s always super pretty on the eyes. And any of the Universal Liners to add glitter to the eye. I think cottagecore is very spiritual as well as earthy, so it can relate to astrology and space, and how glittery and magical that can be. Fluide works pretty well with the glittery and wet aspect of it.
I love how you mentioned that it pairs well with spirituality. When I think about my TikTok feed, cottagecore and witchtok are almost synonymous.
Definitely. Cottagecore is earthy and witchy, about being in touch with nature.
It’s pretty representative of what we’re going through right now. To connect with earth and nature, to do your own crafts and feel good naturally, that’s so important right now. It’s the most important aspect of self-care.
Connecting with the earth is huge right now because we feel so disconnected from it. Cottagecore is inspired by nature, and some of the things that come up when I think of cottagecore are cats, mushrooms, frogs, flowers—frogs are a huge part of my life. Its a huge part of queer culture too, frogs, snakes and rats; Queer people just love those animals.
Are you on the frog side of TikTok?
I am definitely on the frog side of TikTok.
So how does social media influence cottagecore for you? And how do you think it impacts the movement as a whole?
Social media, especially with TikTok, has allowed people to discover new styles and find their own niches—frog Tik Tok, cottagecore, witchtok.... There are different niches you can dive into, and we’ve never really had that to this extent. This super intricate algorithm allows you to find our own place. It's also super personal to our generation, because we grew up watching a lot of Disney and princess movies, and reading a lot of books about fantasy, dreaming and living in a fantastical, supernatural, medieval time period was a lot of what we grew up with. So with Tik Tok, a lot of us grew up with those same things, which is why we’re so attracted to cottagecore.
It’s a very queer trope to want to live in a forest, or go to the countryside and own some chickens, farm organic vegetables… How do you think the LGBTQ community has played the part of bringing cottagecore into mainstream media?
I think social media has always been super important for the queer community. Social media has given us queer spaces and queer education that we couldn’t get when we were younger. TikTok’s algorithm has made it easier for queer people to share their experiences with each other, and create an overarching community to unite us all. Our queer generation is almost all together in this section of TikTok. It kind of feels like a party, educating, learning, sharing experiences, telling jokes, and just being ourselves.
But as much as we need queer representation in spaces, we also need to be inclusive and accepting and culturally sensitive. Representation of all ethnicities, genders, races and sexualities, body types, etcetera—all of that is super important to have within the representation of queer people and in the cottagecore aesthetic. It’s often taken over by white people because that always gets pushed on the internet.
I feel like it's almost come first circle. When I was first introduced to cottagecore, it was 100% over Twitter, seeing brands produce campaigns with skinny, white models wearing prairie dresses. But then I went on TikTok and saw what it actually was, and now its authenticity is reaching mass media.
I think TikTok does have it’s flaws with its "For You" page and who is shown predominantly, but I think it’s so much better than what brands showcase as cottagecore. It's in a completely different universe. It’s really nice to see people being able to be their own models or spokespeople. It still has a long way to go, but Tik Tok has a lot to offer in terms of representation and these different aesthetics. It’s not just these skinny white girls that can be cottagecore, it’s really anybody.
So cottagecore has really come about during quarantine. Do you think that whenever it’s over, whenever that may be, do you think it will stick around?
Yes! Cottagecore right now is very spring-summer, but it could evolve into cozy and warm vibes. It'll definitely continue throughout the year, and I could see it moving past the summer part of it and more into winter—around the holidays, with home decor, spices, and food. I see it becoming bigger than it is right now, and becoming its own fully-formed staple in fashion to mark this era in our generation. I see brands shifting to be more centered around natural beauty, and less 2010s. Basically, I see it becoming huge!