Call it the Bridgerton hangover, but the ease and comfort of cottagecore is here to stay

Credit: vogue.in

Ruffles, bows, lighter-than-air organza—here’s why the simplicity of the trend rings so true on the pandemic era

Remember the ‘strawberry dress’ craze on social media last year? Flounces of pink tulle with strawberry embroidery reminiscent of both—nature and jam-making. The dress by Lirika Matoshi was rightfully dubbed the ‘Dress of Summer’ and the aesthetic has now seeped into all of our Instagram feeds, closets, and lives: hand-knit cardigans, ruffled collars, vintage floral prints, and white. So much white.

Bridgerton hangover

If there’s one fashion trend to come out of 2020 (besides living in our sweats), it is cottagecore. People are flocking to the minimalist craft-focused aesthetic for all the right reasons; but prairie dressing, as we know it, is not a new concept. It’s a trend as old as England’s Regency-era (and the inspiration for Netflix’s recent OTT period drama, Bridgerton), with Little House on the Prairie in the ’70s, and, most recently, Taylor Swift’s new album release Folklore where sweet shirts with scalloped edges and checkered skirts were the chosen wardrobe.

Truth is, the soft and calming ease of prairie dressing renders it the perfect antidote to these uncertain times. It’s also the next best thing when sweatpants fatigue (yes, it’s a real thing) kicks in. Sweatpants and Birkenstocks with socks might have been the go-to look of 2020, but when things needed to be switched up, a smocked dress was our friend. Could it be that as we made ourselves busy around the house (by gardening like Kareena Kapoor Khan, or baking and crocheting in quarantine) we made our wardrobes match our simpler pursuits?

While the nostalgic trend has gained traction thanks to gen-Z TikTok users during the lockdown, the aesthetic of milkmaid dresses and tops with billowy sleeves has been around forever. Designer Rina Singh, who is behind Eka’s crafted cottagecore dresses explains, “I refer to the sensibility of the prairie because I work with natural handloom textiles that are not engineered for an urban look where construction and pattern cutting are key. The silhouettes in cottagecore are oversized and the lightweight textiles look wonderful when layered. This trend truly does not belong to a timeline because if you are someone who wears this aesthetic you won’t overnight switch to androgyny or ball-gowns and avant-garde pieces. It’s a small-scale craft inclusive trend that is inspired by that country pastoral look but still eclectic and interesting enough to carry on forever.”

Maison Cléo, a Paris-based mother-daughter brand dedicated to slow fashion also believes in the same sensibility. Their blouses carry all the tenets of cottagecore: they’re made in lighter-than-air organzas and with dreamy details like bows and collars that would make the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg proud. In 2018, the urban prairie girl had a moment thanks to brands like Batsheva, Doên, and The Vampire’s Wife who adapted the aesthetic for the city-chic girl. And then ‘Cottagecore couture’ was coined a term for the preoccupations of fashion’s romantics like Erdem Moralioglu, and Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte who brought ruffled petticoats and broderie anglaise underpinnings onto the runway.

Cottagecore comprises all things nature—think sunlit meadows, picking apples, and tending to baby animals on a farm—an idyllic quaint lifestyle away from the cares of the world. And while not all of us can set off to the country-side like Taylor Swift in “The Lakes” (Hello! WFH reality), here are our top picks from international and homegrown labels that will inspire you to pick up a picnic basket and escape to Neverland.

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