Redress inaugurates the new year with a global call for designers. If sustainability is at the core of your label and mission, the Redress Design Award 2022 is an unmissable opportunity.
The Spring/Summer 2022 ready-to-wear collection by Ludovic de Saint Sernin burns the catwalk with passion.
Being well-dressed can make all the difference in a man’s work and personal life.
Ph. The Lazy Artist Gallery, Pexels
Read on to find out what we have unearthed to be men’s professional wardrobe essentials in 2021.
Undoubtedly, the modern professional man has more options than in previous decades to express himself; here we are going to take a quick look at how men’s fashion has evolved into the looks that we know and look to for inspiration today.
Men’s fashion has taken some drastic changes, although there are some elements that we can still see today, paying tribute to the smart dressers our ancestors were. For example, the simple work shirt has been around since the Victorian era, often dressed in a waistcoat, tailored trousers and the occasional top hat.
Looking at the last 50 years in men’s fashion alone we can see the influences in modern work clothes. From the love of patterns and paisley in the '70s, power dressing and full shoulders of the '80s, the baggy revolution of the '90s to the slimmed-down opposite in the '00s – each era has what men wear today.
10 Men’s Professional Wardrobe Essentials
There are some classic pieces that every professional man should own. To make it easy for you, we have created a men’s wardrobe essentials checklist below to get started.
1. White Shirt
Ph. Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels
A crisp white shirt is essential for any professional Whether you are in a busy office or heading to after-work drinks, a white shirt is a clean slate and something that you can easily style with accessories.
2. Khaki Pants
Having a pair of khaki pants in your wardrobe means that you are covered no matter the event. If you are heading to a smart casual event or meeting, team them up with a shirt. For a more casual look, switch for a polo or T-shirt.
3. Plain T-shirt
A plain t-shirt is perfect for chilling out but still looking stylish, or you can pair it with a jacket or blazer to give it a little more of a smart casual look. Look at getting a few colours so you can have some variety.
It sounds simple, right? But a good pair of jeans can make or break an outfit. Look into a pair that fit well, are comfortable and can be worn with a range of different style tops. When it comes to jeans, see them as an investment piece.
As the colder months set in, you are going to need a decent coat. Gone are the days where waterproof coats will make you look like a walking marshmallow! You can find coats that look stylish while also keeping you warm and dry. Top tip: a black coat will go with all of your outfits.
6. Polo Shirt
The polo shirt may have started on the pitch with a horse in tow, but now it is a comfortable addition to the professional wardrobe, appropriate for dress-down days or a relaxed event.
Another winter warmer for you – a sweater can easily be paired with any kind of trouser whether you prefer khaki pants, chinos or jeans a decent sweater will work with them all. This can also be your opportunity to have a little bit of colour in your wardrobe. Consider a blue, green or red sweater – give it a go!
These boots were made for walking, after all. Whatever your style choice investing in a pair of shoes that will not only look good but are comfortable to wear is a smart choice, it is something you will wear every day so it is worth spending a little more where you can to get the right shoe.
Make sure you are covered with a belt that you can trust to keep your outfit in one piece. It is also an excellent accessory. Do not forget – make sure you match your belt and shoes and avoid the fashion police.
Ph. Mahdi Bafande, Unsplash
A blazer can be a game-changer and allows you to introduce a pattern or some colour into your outfit without going too over the top. So why not try something a little different, perhaps a checked pattern that you can mix up with different colour shirts or trousers.
You are now ready to add those essential pieces to your wardrobe that will make you look professional, while also feeling confident. Go get them!
Newsletters are a mine of information and, especially, discounts. With January sales almost upon everyone, knowing who has the most appealing offers is a must before filling our virtual baskets. Market analysis shows you the most generous retailers on the net.
Climate change is real and happening right now, right in front of everyone’s eyes. Hence, taking action is essential if you want to see the planet better.
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Sustainability should be the new normal. If this should be our approach to fashion, climate positivity will ensure that there is something to hope for in the future.
Climate change is amongst us and should be tackled immediately. For better days to come, we must look at the broader picture: the agenda of how sustainability promotes a better environmentally friendly life for all and, particularly, how to create a change capable of adapting to all lives.
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Climate positivity helps to minimise climate change while also promoting a positive approach in our society. Seeing a switch and aiming for a difference demonstrates a feeling of dedication. It embraces new sets of options and challenges in the hopes of improving the community, our society, and the ecosystem as a whole, so climate change will soon cause less damage. Eco-friendly, recyclable, and greenwashing are all keys to promoting climate positivity.
Sustainability And Us
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As people of the world, we all have the power to make valuable changes in our lifestyle; it just requires simple knowledge and awareness of what has been affected: people's livelihoods, our communities, and current attempts to control the climate change impact.
When it comes to sustainability, it is frequent to hear about it but we have no idea about how it is made, where it comes from, or what the day-to-day manufacturing process entails. Durable development should encompass more than just crochet, knitting, and locally sourced materials; it should also include a thorough understanding of history, care, and the work process. To create something high-quality, resistant, and long-lasting, assuring that future consumers will only have one job: to care for their garments, which includes caring for the biosphere.
Sustainability is about more than just keeping the ecosystem clean and safe for everyone; it also recognises the importance of ideals like renewal growth and diversity, as well as striving for greater social justice and equity. “Doing nothing or doing just enough is not going to cut it. We have to act in this decade to avoid the most severe environmental and socioeconomic effects of a changing climate,” said Dickon Pinner, who is the senior partner and global leader of McKinsey & Company’s Sustainability Practice.
The process will be seen if you look at the future profit; in the end, you only have a successful income if you have reliable consumers. Sustainable living expands every day, and consumers grow and adapt to a more positive lifestyle; therefore, change and evolution are required.
The beauty of seeing different kinds of clothing is the beauty of the world of fashion, and everyone wants to be a part of a trend or a craze. However, many fashion brands are on the verge of wreaking havoc on the ecosystem by employing fast fashion, low-wage labour, and hazardous production methods. Why is it wrong? Delilah Smith, who has spoken on fast fashion's impact on the environment, said, “A fast-paced model requires fast-paced production, and unfortunately, quicker production gives way to an increase in environmental damage.” Therefore, these companies make and distribute their products is neither safe nor equitable.
Consumers: The Key To A Sustainable Lifestyle
Ph. Jess @ Harper Sunday, Unsplash
The environment versus high fashion, how will everyone protect it? And how will everyone deal with the consequences? Clothing can be made more eco-friendly but we can also choose second-hand vintage clothing found in charity and antique shops, as well as on websites like Vinted and Depop, which filter items based on affordability, preference, and like-ability.
There is no denying that in the fashion industry sustainability is the buzzword right now. It is about sending a statement to everyone and, in some ways, addressing all of the challenges that fashion and the environment have with each other, as well as producing a vital message to highlight, showcase, and encourage climate positivity. Biyya Mansoer has expressed in an article, ‘You are what you wear’, “the way we express ourselves through fashion can provide an influential platform to drive change towards more ethical and sustainable practices in fashion supply chains. Here is where self-expression through fashion has evolved into something bigger – a choice and our way of life.”
A study by Dunja Radonic on the ‘fashion discount’ has displayed the percentages are different in all age categories. For general statistics, “53% of men and 47% women in the UK buy from sustainable brands” and “mature women between the ages of 35-55 buy from sustainable brands”; therefore, this data demonstrates how sustainable trends are still snowballing.
Goal For Change
The changes required to combat climate change are possibly tricky but necessary. If something is at risk, it is bound to have a resolution. Sustainability is critical because it allows for positive change for the improvement of both people and the planet.
The countdown to New Year's Eve is getting closer, and so is the time to plan your outfit for the last night of 2021. An explosive mix of sparkles and red-carpet glam is the most popular choice, but there is no rule. We encourage you to dress to impress as you are.
Ph. Inga Seliverstova, Pexels
Are you not sure about what to wear on New Year's Eve? No panic! The editorial team put together their best festive outfits in this NYE stylebook where the key denominator is your personality.
We did it many times: buying a shiny, daring, excessive New Year's Eve outfit and wearing it just once. Fashions Finest's team opened their wardrobe and picked their best NYE looks. Browse our unconventional lookbook for inspiration and tips to let your personality shine and save some money for the new year!
Bethan’s New Year's Eve Look
"My NYE look is styled with a 1960s' glamorous American housewife in mind," says Bethan Carrick, fashion historian and editorial intern at Fashions Finest - "think Mad Men's Betty Draper, my ultimate style icon. My plans for NYE are up in the air so I'm keeping my options open with this outfit but making sure I'm glowing. I have gone for a palette of luxurious golden hues which is tied together with a black Prada centrepiece - can you ask for much more? It is always important to me to match what I'm wearing on my feet with what I'm wearing from my neck and upwards: so these delicious jewel-encrusted Manolo Blahnik heels which no doubt are inspired by the court of Versaille are paired with an equally luxurious vintage gold pill necklace. To balance out the statement of gold I'm wearing a dainty Chanel cloche hat. These Batsheva orange dotted trousers signal to me where luxury meets comfort, which I am all about. Finally, wherever I will be it is going to be cold so I'll need a cosy jacket to take me through till 12 am and this Dior faux fur jacket is ideal. This outfit makes me feel like I'm going to gracefully glide my way through 2022. Cosy golden vibes only, please."
"I've chosen Vestiaire Collective to source my NYE look as I'm a big supporter of resale and believe it's the future of fashion. I spend a lot of time trawling through this site looking at beautiful garments that I hope to one day have money and space in my wardrobe to own."
Leila’s New Year's Eve Look
"This is an alternative and mainly vintage-inspired take on the New Year’s Eve outfit. It does not always have to be a dull sparkling glitter dress. Embrace the ‘90s and draw all eyes to you, while simultaneously supporting small independent designers and sustainability by shopping pre-loved."
Leila Katharina Kaess, international student and editorial intern at Fashions Finest, goes into more detail: "Snakedivine is an independent brand, based in Kassel, Germany and run by Rebecca. She studies free arts, makes tattoos and began to engage with CGI. Most of her items are unique single designs with an exclusively-limited batch of one to three pieces. This makes everything you buy extraordinarily special and individual. With one of these pieces, you are safe to avoid turning up in the exact same outfit some else is wearing. Rebecca is also keen on sourcing the fabrics from small sellers, remnant fabrics and second hand. The entirety of the range offered online is carefully crafted by hand. In an attempt to conquer fast fashion and overconsumption she invests a lot of time and creativity in every single piece. Thus, it is all the more devastating to see that a variety of her designs have been stolen, manufactured in horrible conditions and with synthetic materials, by the Chinese ultra-fast fashion brand SHEIN, to be sold for a few pounds. She is only one of several upcoming designers to be named. That is why we must support small and independent businesses!
The corset jacket by the infamous ‘90s brand Catwalk Collection is now considered deadstock, as those are not produced anymore, so you might want to get one as long as they are privately sold. A cute bralette underneath means that you could also open up the jacket or get rid of it entirely if you want to wear it as a top.
The well-beloved NODALETO platform Mary Janes pick up the jacket’s black velvet material, thereby creating a continued theme, as well as bringing top and bottom together coherently.
A cute little handbag to fit all the little things one needs when heading out are perfectly stored in this lovely vintage Vivienne Westwood bag. Vestiaire is always a good place to buy designer handbags since they are vintage (good for the environment and your wallet) and undergo testing for proof of authenticity by professional staff, which ensures that no dupes are sold. Lots of chunky silver jewellery and the eyecatcher, a huge Vivienne Westwood pearl choker, bestow the look with an edgy retro vibe. Also, notice how the cross earrings pick up the green colour of the bag, while the nail polish and lipstick match the colour scheme used in the trousers. Attention to little details like this compliment an outfit. This compilation can be used as inspiration, maybe you have some items in a similar, or would like to try your hand at an upcycling project."
Olivia’s New Year's Eve Look
"For me Christmas and NYE is the best excuse to wear a full outfit of glitter and this dress is the perfect example." Olivia Brecque, editorial intern and Fashion Design Management student at the LCF, considers the holidays as the perfect time to do something good for someone in needs: "To get you in the Christmas spirit I decided to pick my outfits from Cancer Research in Islington as I believe there are endless choices of outfits in Charity shops, not only is it good for the environment but you are helping to raise money for a cause. This outfit in total cost 69£. Any pair of black boots that you own should do the trick as all the focus is on this glitter dress. I would like to thank the staff at Cancer research Islington for being so helpful and kind."
Deborah New Year's Eve Look
"I have chosen a look from my wardrobe because I like the idea of thinking sustainably and reusing clothing rather than buying new clothes that I don’t really need." Deborah St. Louis, founder of Fashions Finest, is a champion in sensible fashion choices.
"Most of the items I have worn many times and in different ways. The ASOS top is a new purchase and I love the combination of burnt orange with the black floral design. The warehouse tan skirt is one of my favourite items which I have had for over 10 years so no longer available online but here is a similar look from Warehouse which I’m sure anyone could find in a charity shop for less than half the price.
I have finished my look with a selection of jewellery that I have had for many years and that will complement any look. Similar jewellery can be purchased at an affordable price from Accessorize.
My go-to leather handbag has been with me since the '90s and it cost me around £20.00 back then. Here is an alternative from Ted Baker. My go-to heeled boots, which finish this look so nicely, find a similar alternative online at ASOS.
Now I’m all set to step out and enjoy my NYE party with friends without even having to spend any money on an outfit."
Valentina’s New Year's Eve Look
"How things change... In the past, I was more bothered by the idea of celebrating the year leaving us rather than looking for party outfits and having fun. The fussy me was not ready to bid farewell to the year, especially if it was a generous one for me!
My NYE outfit idea has the typical broken student, my old me, in mind. Here is a versatile look that allows you to reuse the dress and any item in the new year, again and again. The OOTD plays around colours and feels making the '70s the decade of freedom, youth and carefreeness. The essential piece is this Reformation 'Briea' halterneck mini dress. Pattern, colour palette and neckline take inspiration from the party decade for excellence. Move around in this dress; as the silk flows, the cubed pattern acquires fluidity. Geometries break.
Reformation follows the Net Sustain 8 eco-conscious production keys. A candid ZARA faux fur jacket accompanies the dress to keep toasty and conceal the sensual open back. It is 100% artificial fur and crafted in line with the brand environmentally-friendly standards.
2021 footwear saw barely-there sandals and chunky heels alike. These vegan MONKI ankle boots give a strong sense of stability with their structured heel so your feet will thank you too!"
Valentina Chirico, chief editor at Fashions Finest, moves on matching jewellery. "The handpicked accessories recall the dress warm colour scheme: gold. NuebeStudio polymer clay drop earrings in the shade Sahara are a dainty touch of exclusivity and lush: 100% handmade with 14k gold leaf. Behind NuebeStudio is Noelia, a former Spanish model turned SEO marketer, then jewellery maker.
Gold is rather expensive, so why not add some brass bracelets instead? These stackable brass bangles are handmade and fair trade by People Tree, plus they shine like gold! '70s' earthy and saturated colours find a nicely surprising balance in this Louis Vuitton embossed leather pochette in an acidic lime hue. You can go second-hand for that piece of luxury you deserve."
"My country wants red as the go-to and super lucky colour for the festivities, including NYE. But this year, I want some gold and sunshine in my makeup.
Swirl Benefit Galifornia blush on the apples of your cheeks and forehead for an instant healthy glow. Galifornia is more of a warm peachy shade with a sweet and exotic fruity scent. For more gold and lush I would ask imPRESS, it replies with its 'Luxurious' press-on nails dipped in champagne gold and pearls. If time is running low, I trust the brands' innovative cushioned glue pads for extra hold and its superb salon-worth designs.
I almost convinced myself to celebrate this year!"
Katie’s New Year's Eve Look
"2022 is right around the corner and people across the world are readying themselves for fresh starts, inspirational Instagram stories and resolutions that they will definitely stick to this year. The best way to channel this positivity and abundance into your New Year" - says Katie Bowman, social media intern at Fashions Finest - "is to dress for success, or so the old saying goes."
"This year I will be ringing in the New Year with my best friend and her daughter at their home, so my take on the glamour and glitz of New Year’s Eve may differ from previous years. By this I mean pyjamas.
This pale pink satin trouser pyjama set from John Lewis is the perfect co-ord to sip strawberry daiquiris on the sofa. To keep in with the pink colour scheme, these pink fluffy slide slippers from Ugg matched with this cosy dressing gown from Boux Avenue will make you the envy of everyone who decided to party out in the cold.
So whether you’re out in the club, staying in with friends or asleep before the clock strikes midnight, have a wonderful and safe New Year and enjoy the night in style."
Find Katie's picks:
Pijama set - Slippers - Dressing gown
Sophie’s New Year's Eve Look
"I have mainly chosen this outfit because you could wear this outfit for any occasion. You do not have to underdress or be overdressed. This is more a sort of casual wear."
Sophie Schot, creative media student and media intern at Fashions Finest, embodies a young and practical take on the festivities.
What a way to wave goodbye to 2021! There are many ways to dress up for New Year's Eve, all varied and still valid, whether you plan to spend the last night of the year partying all night out or staying in all wrapped up nice and cosy.
Mixing and matching our favourite clothing and wishlist picks was a fun game and a good style exercise. Fun aside and most importantly, our NYE stylebook wants to be more than a simple shopping guide. Indeed, it is not.
We like to think we are like no other e-zine around. We do not want you to feel compelled to buy so that you can feel gratified and conformed. Fashion should make you both look good and feel happy. You can do it in many ways; for example, you can join the secondhand brigade and give new life to pre-loved clothing online or in-store. You can buy to support a cause dear to you, wear independent and handmade labels, rent a luxury outfit or even design and sew your own holiday outfit! Being fashion smart is always among the latest trends, and there is no shame at all in wearing something casual on New Year's Eve or repurposing glam pieces to spice up your daily outfits.
Use this NYE outfit stylebook to steal some great tips. Save on money (and headaches), not on fashion!
Mimmi Kasu is one of the fastest growing fashion brands in the West African region. The contemporary fashion brand is known for their high-end custom-made pieces, proudly made in western Nigeria.
Since their launch in 2019, they have expanded their horizons and addressed the fashion needs of diverse women globally. Their design and production processes are carefully curated and optimally executed to meet the finest of outcomes for the phenomenal woman. Mimmi Kasu pieces are made for the 21st-century woman who desires sophistication and elegance, on her journey to conquering the world.
Iria Ponte, artist and designer born and raised in the West Coast of Spain, has started her path as independent designer after gathering years of varied experience and knowledge across the fashion industry in London while consolidating a solid idea of own fashion values, identity, and style.
In 2014 she started studying pattern cutting and garment construction to grow her brand identity, collection, and portfolio. After years of study, along with her inner creativity she designed collections named “Vintage Exposure” and “Classy Boho” where the names refer respectively to the high exposure photographic art direction along with the Vintage character of the collection as well as the Classic and Chic garments' fits and shapes harmonized with rustic fabrics which gives the airs to the boho style.
In 2018 and in the search of new collection design creativity she attended informal studies of “creative fashion collection design” in London, where she receives certification and learns how to join art, TV, and fashion together to create a vibrant fashion collection based in a strong visual and detailed TV inspirational research. It is then she releases her third portfolio of fashion design development with a TV show merchandising collection named “Stranger 80s things”, based on the first season of the TV show “Stranger Things” where prints, t-shirt messages, textures and seasonal fabrics, colours, exposures, and lights of the garments play altogether a song that redirects the viewer to every iconic moment of the TV show.
In 2018 Iria Ponte gives name to her first fashion label Lace Copperwood in the search of a feminine, sophisticated, sensual still natural, introspective, and intuitive expression of a cosmopolitan and urban woman.
Iria Ponte's brand is inspired by her roots, regional traditions, nature, feminine aesthetics, wild landscapes all in all influenced by her experience of living in a green Scotland and in a cosmopolitan, urban, fashionable, and trendy city as London can be.
This year, in September 2022 she releases her first Label physical collection as an official independent designer within the London Fashion Week Schedule and launches this collection to the market, available to purchase it exclusively from the catwalk or onwards from the online store.
A little thatched-roofed cottage in the middle of nowhere, lavish afternoon teas in a garden surrounded by homegrown plants and vegetables, sounds dreamy, right? The Cottagecore aesthetic encompasses all of that and much more.
Amidst all the ruffles, flowy long dresses, reading poetry like you are the main character, manifesting, learning about the power crystal stones inhabit, baking deliciously indulging banana bread loaves (the list of proposed pastime activities goes on endlessly), a more contentious side lies in the Cottagecore trend.
In our first part on this topic, we have already expounded upon the definition as well as where the aesthetic is historically rooted, and why it suddenly rose in popularity. So, if you need a quick refresher or missed this one skim through it over here to get the full picture.
@thebunnyboudoir in a gorgeously transcendental setting. As a horror fan, she frequently incorporates these kinds of spaces.
As beautiful and awe-inspiring the content we see online is, this aesthetic sadly has its fair share of negative aspects, which are widely ignored or misinterpreted especially by young Gen Z participants, who are notorious for shortly immersing themselves in hot trends whilst the hype lasts, but quickly turning to the next one shortly after, perfectly reflecting how fashion cycles currently develop to become shockingly short-lived to an unprecedented extent.
This approach culminates in an artificial desire to reinvent one’s own style literally every few weeks, so we cannot help but wonder: is this aesthetic really as wholesome, sustainable, and supportive as it seems? A hard question to answer because, after all, things are not always black and white. Therefore we will take a closer look at the other side of the coin throughout this second part in an attempt to unveil some lesser-known realities of the Cottagecore trend.
To Put It Straightforwardly, Why Is Cottagecore So White?
Ph. courtesy of Sinem Bahadir
Sinem Bahadir aka @sinembhd is a popular Germany-based influencer, fully embracing the Cottagecore vibe. She is an inspirational, positive example of diversity. In wearing a hijab, she fiercely signalises pride in her heritage, permeating all unspoken limitations that some within the movement might want to impose. In that, Sinem's dreamy images encompass a message beyond beauty. Everyone can partake in any kind of aesthetic, no matter their nationality, religious belief, gender, or looks. An important message to convey, indeed.
To start this off, let us tackle the most prominent and heatedly debated matter. A huge lack of diversity is more than apparent within the digital movement, to a point that a controversial debate on whether Cottagecore is inherently racist erupted. This issue has been widely discussed in public discourse, both in a myriad of articles and YouTube videos. The first thing appearing on the screen when typing in Cottagecore, be it on any social media app or simply Google, is a bunch of prototypically beautiful, young, slim, white women standing in countryside fields, wearing vintage-inspired attire. Is this due to the respective platform’s algorithm favouring white people’s content on account of their programming, or are there actually so few people with other ethnicities and body shapes embracing the aesthetic?
@sinembhd sees herself as a visual storyteller, hence indicating to her following that there is more to pictures than meets the eye. Partaking in the Cottagecore aesthetic is certainly not limited to the British landscape. Living in Germany, she showcases that beautiful places fit for retreat into nature can be found anywhere in the world. We highly recommend taking a look at her feed. Prepare to get lost in a dreamy world of truly magical photographs, displaying an alternative and very unique take on Cottagecore. With Sinem you are in for a treat, that is for sure! (Ph. courtesy of Sinem Bahadir)
What is safe to say is that algorithms are created to promote a specific idealised, preferably Eurocentric beauty standard. This has long been common knowledge, though TikTok made it blatantly clear to all its users since it is so obviously repetitive when it comes to outward appearances of the chosen creators that ultimately land on a for you page. Studies suggest that the app rates videos for potential success based on the attractiveness of those in it by means of a beauty assessing algorithm. A machine is able to identify how far an individual’s measurements of certain landmarks of the face deviate from an expected average. The algorithm then measures and evaluates the degree of fit with the previously established ideal, thereby providing a kind of ‘beauty score’. It goes so far as to even pick up a person’s skin texture, lowering Koinophilia (non-normative traits for an attractive face that is) by unevenness, discolouration, and wrinkles.
So, as we could see so far, Cottagecore seems to have a visible lack of people of colour. The issue becomes even more problematic when keeping in mind the negative implications of land ownership and its connection with the slave trade in the British Isles, which was only ended in 1833 by the Slavery Abolition Act. The historical background comes into play, as the aesthetics’ style, especially in clothing and accessories, is vastly reminiscent of bygone eras. Prairie dresses, fancy bonnets with attached lacy bows, Victorian-inspired parasols, gloves, and everything we would associate with the time periods it aims to imitate and take inspiration from. Is it just a harmless dress-up, a true passion for original vintage style, or a deliberate attempt to undermine people of colour, by consciously signalising a harsh exclusivity of the look? To be candid, the reasons behind every individual's choice of fashion can hardly be overgeneralised without being presumptuous. Seeing that most of them are either very young or truly submerged in rural seclusion, holistically embracing a sustainable lifestyle with competence and awareness. In the end, everyone engaging should be careful not to idealise the past while forgetting what context the time period indicated was embedded in.
Escapism At Its Best – Content Polished To Perfection Distorts The View Of Secluded Country Life Realities
@monalogue, the queen of Cottagecore and her husband @aaron.etc perfected the art of capturing awe-inspiring moments in naturalistic environments, suspending the spectator's reality for a fleeting moment. (Ph. Aaron Gibson)
A good bunch of those engaging in Cottagecore by publishing their content on social media propagate a highly idealised idyllic landscape, which in fact is far from reality. Sure, the British countryside is breathtakingly beautiful, but living in a secluded cottage takes much more than simply dressing up and sipping some tea in your garden. Not acknowledging the hardship of rural life and work, acknowledging what it actually takes to obtain a cottage is seldom shown. The pictures convey a drastically polished version of what is an escapist fantasy.
In a time when owning property becomes more inaccessible due to constantly increasing market prices, young adults strive for independence from sometimes ridiculously brazen landlords. Their demands and rent increase seemingly come under little state regulation and, especially in big cities, the situation appears to get only worse with time passing. Scoring an apartment in an acceptable area in London feels like mission impossible for youngsters with limited money recourses. Even if you are lucky to claim an apartment, suffering damages or problems with the property is often met with landlord’s inaction, a well-known issue, as both tenant and landlord know that there will always be plenty of people eager to move in instead never mind the state of it. This situation strengthens the inherent desire to own property, the land is significantly cheaper, after all.
Like a scene straight out of Poldark! Those of you who have read the first part of this series should be familiar with these two. Ramona and Aaron have been in the game for many years by now, though they are not pretending to indulge in a utopic world, but provide informative insights into what obtaining a cottage in the countryside actually demands. (Ph. Aaron Gibson)
Ramona Jones aka @monalogue with the aim of sharing her expertise and personal experiences released a book called ‘Escape Into Cottagecore: Embrace Cosy Countryside Comfort in Your Everyday’, in which she openly concedes that the idea of Cottagecore is evoking “a soft, fairytale world”. Notwithstanding, she also opens up about mental health and her own struggles. Dealing with sensory and social issues as a child, staying at her grandparents in the countryside felt like a safe place, a “haven from the rest of the world” where she could be herself, free of any judgement or constraints. This early on kindled her love of nostalgia and rustic life. It just so happens to have become a trend recently. Ramona successfully passes on her knowledge, personal recommendations, alongside tips and tricks ranging from herbology to mindfulness. It is true that you do not necessarily have to live in the British countryside, cut off from any kind of technology and isolated from everyone else, to experience what the movement is about, visually or in a deeper sense in its core values and aims. This brings us to the next conspicuousness: technology.
As Contradictory As Its Oxymoron Name – Is It Detoxed Relaxation If Every Step Is Filmed And Put Online?
The paradox is more than clear, the Cottagecore trend champions anti-modern attitudes towards everything that is wrong with our fast-paced city lives and hustle culture, but it seems to primarily exist and thrive in modern spaces through public sharing on social media and online platforms. Maybe though, that antithesis is one of the aesthetic's greatest strengths. Rather than demanding unrealistic attempts to completely ditch modern devices and technological progress, it appears to encourage a reassessment of modern values. It may even offer a bridge between the past and a more sustainable future. As inherently social beings, humans completely shutting themselves away, in the long run, would actually be an unnatural thing to do. Finding like-minded people online to connect with in times when socialising in real life became a struggle, bears a huge potential for some.
Aesthetics intentionally inspire an emotional response, often instilling a sense of calmness and evoking a soothing effect within us. Due to our unlimited access to all forms of art on demand, we increasingly crave beauty and have developed a longing for the picturesque, thereby trying to incorporate it into literally everything. It becomes problematic however when recorded moments get fixed to such a degree that they are not accurately representative of reality and are amended to what we want them to be, rather than what they really are. Yet, there is a distinction between dramatically edited posts, where alterations are noticeable at first glance, and the currently favoured approach of editing to a lesser degree. This quickly leads to a coincidence of reality and fiction, blurring the lines further and further, while distorting the views on what is shown. It gets dangerous if users fail to further reflect upon the content they engage with.
@thebunnyboudoir, shown in everything that makes a Cottagecore enthusiast's heart beat a little faster. Floral patterned ruffle dress, pinafore, a straw hat, and of course some fresh flowers. (Ph. courtesy of Melody Cardoso)
Despite the many downsides, what has been exemplified here shall not overshadow the various positive ways Cottagecore has actively promoted positive activities and values in the public eye. Sustainability, taking globalisation seriously, freedom of heteronormative norms, mindfulness, meditation, looking inwards, paying attention to personal well-being, educating yourself through reading, anti-capitalism, challenging the belief that all progress is good, and so much more – to an extent that listing everything here would certainly go beyond the scope.
In the context of a global pandemic a little dose of escapism should not necessarily be a bad thing, it may very well have helped some to overpass the time between amplification and easing of restrictions. Many activities are congruent with traditional housewife work; however, not everyone seems to be fully aware of the negative historical implications. Ultimately, the motto should be: 'vintage style, not vintage values '.
In the long run, it can indeed become a lifestyle, existing outside the internet or simultaneously without being dominated by it.
Ph. courtesy of Sinem Bahadir
This article is by no means supposed to ridicule anyone committed to this movement, but rather an attempt to raise awareness on some less discussed shortcomings which are easy to dismiss and overlook. All content creators featured throughout this article are enlightened and knowledgeable about the aesthetic they engage in, and they are a truly delightful addition to the scene with their stunning visuals.
Those who are still most prone to perfunctory misconceptions are teenagers, especially those who just recently discovered Cottagecore. A huge contributor to this is the set limitations of some social media platforms. Instagram has been around for quite some time now, the difference to TikTok though lies in the extent of content that can be shared. On Instagram, each creator can elaborate on the visuals in lengthy texts underneath. On TikTok, instead, the time span for videos was limited to merely 15 seconds until most recently, when the company decided to bulk it up to 60 seconds. Users are therefore provided with a very narrow time frame to convey a message beyond the perceptible. Quite a challenge! The majority of people within the community certainly mean no harm, nor should any bad intentions be at play. With everyone having the recourses to further research the topic straight from their mobile, it lies in everyone’s responsibility to do so by means of trustworthy sources before immersing head over toes into something new, unaware and in ignorance.
PrettyLittleThing helps us get into the right festive spirit with its latest campaign: ‘Them’. The new PLT collection celebrates everybody during the holiday season with models including he/she/they A’whora, known to the public for competing in the second season of Drag Race UK.