A woman leaning against the limbs of a tree

Winter is long where I’m from. The snow has a way of blanketing the world in silence, creating a soft clear bubble of isolation, even before the pandemic.

This season, I’m craving coziness, warmth, simplicity and connection with the earth through everything around me, especially my clothing. One clothing style that is giving me all the feels is cottagecore. 

Since the pandemic, this previously niche trend has gone viral. In the midst of global physical distancing, the cottagecore lifestyle offers a dreamy (and safe!) vision of country living, reading books by the fire and sipping tea on a picnic blanket. Like previous global phenomena such as “hygge,” it is comforting, cheerful and calm, all feelings we are collectively seeking amidst the anxiety of COVID-19.

[Cottagecore] is comforting, cheerful and calm, all feelings we are collectively seeking amidst the anxiety of COVID-19.

So put on Taylor Swift’s Evermore album and read on for some seriously beautiful cottagecore dresses. They’re guaranteed to make you feel like baking bread and tending to your indoor gardenwhether it’s the real deal or in an Animal Crossing video game.

The fairytale investment pieces

Both Son de Flor and Little Women Atelier are synonymous with cottagecore fashion, and their stories both begin with sisters who longed for dresses from decades past. Son de Flor’s was sparked by a memory of a beautiful classic dress that their mother wore every Christmas. Little Women Atelier’s creations are named after the sisters in the classic novel Little Women, which Luiza and Julia’s mother would read to them as children. 

A woman in a green dress holding flowersBoth brands suit a similar aesthetic: swirly skirts and leather boots. (I wear the Nisolo Amalia in Brandy.) They are both made with natural linen and have long and short sleeve options. The prices are even similar! It just depends whether you prefer Victorian ruffles and puffed sleeves (Little Women) or a simpler bodice with a Peter Pan collar (Son de Flor).

The ethereal gown for all bodies

Taking the Loud Bodies Jessamyn dresses out of their brown paper and twine package, the floral scent of lavender enticed me to put the fabric to my nose. It felt just as soft and delicate to the touch and wrapped around my body like a cloud. 

The founder of Loud Bodies, Patricia is the kind of warm and honest woman who you instantly know is on your side. She creates custom dresses for humans of all shapes and sizes. If your size isn’t on her website, not to worry. Patricia will make a dress just for you! Her prices are also at the lower end of this list, with some sale items coming in at $35 (for jersey) and $55 (for frilled cotton frocks). That makes her the most accessible brand for cottagecore dreamers I’ve come across. The fact that each of her pieces is named after incredible women is the cherry on top of this inclusive treat.

I’m planning to wear my stunning white Jessamyn for my anniversary at home on Valentine’s Day paired with my Aubergine Lotta from Stokholm clog, the comfy cottagecore equivalent of a pair of stilettos. My sister’s red floral Jessamyn looks stunning with her bright red Snag tights and cute boots, and she’s been rocking it all season long.

The everyday staple

Pyne and Smith designer, Joanna, has earned a cult following for her timeless linen pieces. A transplant from England now living in California, you can see the influences of both continents in the casual elegance of her styles. Joanna kindly sent me the Thistle Check 15, a deep purple gingham button-front midi dress with pockets and waist ties that pairs perfectly with my sturdy Duckfeet Roskilde boots, Snag Merino tights and cardigans. The night after I got my dress (after a second day of wearing it), I caved and purchased another—the Islay check number 30. Named after the Scottish isle, the pattern is a mix of warm grey, black and blue.

Joanna recently co-designed a sweater with fellow ethical maker L’Envers. The luxe Merino wool garment is ultra warm and made to last. The oatmeal colorway I own goes with every single linen color that Joanna carries. Paired with my Nisolo Oxfords, I would look right at home in a 1940s British cottage, which is exactly how I like it!

Pyne and Smith dresses are made with their own linen patterns that are discontinued after one season. Thankfully, there is an active Buy, Sell and Trade community page where you can find your “unicorn dress” or pick up one for up to half of its original cost. I have my fingers crossed for an elusive Rose Currant stripe! 

Three smiling women walking along a dirt roadThe eco-warrior uniform

I’ve coveted a Christy Dawn creation for as long as she’s been in business. Her creations started with deadstock fabric that was made into the dreamy, easy dresses that Hollywood actresses and stay-at-home moms alike adorn themselves with.

I had the chance to test out the classic Dawn Dress in petite sizing and newly released Agnes Oxford. The dress material and shoe style are a bit light for winter here in Canada. However, paired with tights, I can twirl around my house dreaming of spring and hoping it will be safe for me to wear the beautiful pieces to a patio bar one evening this summer.

The original housedress

The rise of the housedress this year is unsurprising. From experience, no one can wear pajamas every day and continue to be productive. Enter Toast, a Welsh brand that has been creating slow fashion clothes and loungewear since the 90s.

The Eda Denim Pinafore Dress somehow balances a classic cottage comfort style with workwear-appropriate tailoring. The drape is beautiful and the soft denim moves with you. The details, down to the stylish buttons, harken back to a time when accoutrements were as essential as the quality of a garment. Paired with their Cotton Linen Boxy top and a pair of The Root Collective Thea Flats, I feel comfortable and confident enough for a day of Zoom calls or errands around town!

The hygge chameleon dress

In the online slow fashion community, notPerfectLinen is a must-have. The made-to-order pieces cover all your tops, bottoms and dress needs in a variety of colors. Both the new Trinity and uber-popular Mama dresses are made to be worn before, during and after pregnancy. With a roomy almost-empire waist, they accommodate even the later stages of pregnancy while still look cute and comfortable afterward. 

My sister and I both received the Trinity pleated dress with snaps in the front. My sister is breastfeeding and finds the dress so comfy and convenient that she practically wears it every day! The fabric is substantial enough for winter wear but breathable for the summer. My practical black dress layers well with my comfy tees from Wear Franc, and my sister’s teal gown is a stunning shade that matches her eyes.

A woman standing in front of a red locked door wearing a long blue dressThe boundary breaking treasure

In the cottagecore community, Black creators have spoken out against a lack of representation and sidelining of Black cottagecore creators. When I stumbled across designer Dynasty George, I couldn’t believe she wasn’t more well-known in the community. Similar to Christy Dawn, Dynasty crafts her ethically-made dresses from discarded and vintage fabric. This means that some of the pieces are one-of-a-kind works of art to be treasured. Dynasty’s romantic, floaty creations definitely deserve a spot in this list. I hope to own a gown of hers someday soon! 

Do you love cottagecore fashion? Does it inspire creativity or some other emotion for you?

Image via Joana S., Stylist: Kelly Ekardt, Makeup: Faces by Gulia, Model: East West Models

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