If you’ve existed on the internet at any time in the last few years, you might have heard about different aesthetic subcultures, namely Cottagecore. You might even have been able to figure out what it’s about, but then “Barbiecore” keeps getting thrown around, people are saying they’re in their “Witchcore era,” stores are e-mailing about their newest “Fairycore fashion pieces,” and now it all seems a little confusing.
Don’t worry, I’m here to help.
Let’s go ahead and get started with the main (and arguably most popular) of the ‘cores. The New York Times described it as a reaction to “hustle culture.” Cottagecore is ultimately a trend that celebrates a simpler, more rustic lifestyle. Popularized by millennials and Gen Z, those wanting to bask in Cottagecore focus on gardening, baking, and living a simple, soft lifestyle.
You might be thinking Witchcore is just a thing because it’s now Autumn and that means Halloween is right around the corner, and for sure that helps with finding products for those trying to get those ~vibes~ but this aesthetic lasts throughout the year. It might be slightly more niche than the other aesthetics because it’s based on modern witchcraft. It is also just a cousin of Cottagecore: it focuses heavily on nature, though slants more towards herbs and gem collecting.
If Witchcore is the cousin to Cottagecore, then Gremlincore is the antithesis. Sometimes referred to as Goblincore, this chaotic relative-aesthetic embraces nature but finds beauty in what is not traditionally viewed as beautiful. So instead of flowers and charming evergreen, Gremlincore focuses on moss and toadstools and the soil and earthworms and finds whimsy and joy in them.
So now that we have gotten through the nature based aesthetics, let’s look at another particularly popular ‘core: Fairycore. Fairycore likes to focus on elf and faerie mythology. It embraces pastels, butterflies, springtime, and soft animals. It is more based on magical elements than the other aesthetics previously mentioned, which is it’s biggest difference from Cottagecore.
Clowncore is a very real thing, and it’s the most whimsical on this list (this the hill I have chosen). It focuses on positivity and joy and the colors are always bright and happy. It is the one aesthetic that is based on looking and sometimes acting like a specific type of performer (psst, read about it here) more than embracing an ideal, though it is just as idyllic as the others. That ideal, of course, being challenging society's rules and perceptions.