Dark Academia and Cottagecore: The Head and Heart of Slow Pandemic Living

cottagecore woman gathering flowers in a field

As we turn the corner to Spring and find ourselves (hopefully at long last) emerging from the pandemic that has consumed our lives for the last two years, I find myself reflecting on two undeniable cultural and fashion-oriented movements that swept through our homes and our social media feeds during the course of this time: cottagecore and dark academia. 

While at first blush they may not seem that similar, there is a good degree of overlap within both aesthetics. Typical cottagecore outfits include flowing maxi dresses, puffed sleeves, frills and high femininity. Related interests may include mushroom foraging, gardening, crafting and a slow living lifestyle. Fascinations with faeries, the magickal world, and even Wicca can be a part of this overall sensibility. At its root, cottagecore longs to return to the earth, return to the self, and celebrate femininity and sensuality.

dark academia fashion outfit

In contrast, rather than relying on airy, voluminous fabrics, a dark academia aesthetic favors heavier materials more closely associated with collegiate life: wool and tweed blazers, pleated skirts, plaids and collared shirts. The influence of styles worn in the chilly climes of Ivy League schools is seen in swaddling oneself in sweaters and scarves, thick socks and leather Mary Janes or loafers. Dark academia adores time quietly spent alone in the company of good books, and good tea. Slow living appears here again in a return to thoughtfulness, turning away from the flashy and towards the substantial; a feeding of the mind.

bishop sleeve black maxi dress goth dark cottagecore dark academia

Slow living, the practice of remaining grounded and thoughtful about how one spends time, particularly at home, is a shared theme. One could call cottagecore the summer of slow living, and dark academia the winter; they could be the feminine and masculine, or in the sense of the tarot, the cups and the swords. All taken together, I’ve begun to think of them as the head and the heart of our time spent turning inward since March 2020.

They’re more than fashion trends of course. They’re a way we’ve found of relating to our new environment, our new thoughts, and our new focus on wellness and centeredness during the pandemic. The experience of calm crafting or gardening at home is not universal, but for the critical mass of people driving these trends, there was a mass shift towards a lifestyle that was burgeoning, though not as present outside of “wellness” circles.

Trued Apparel exists within a subset of both of these that you could call “dark cottagecore”. We almost exclusively use biodegradable natural fibers in our clothing, responsibly sourced and responsibly made in the USA. Don’t let the business jargon fool you; at the end of the day, it’s very grounded. I run the business myself, and pack every order individually. Our materials are silky soft, selected for their high quality, and each person I work with to produce our handcrafted clothing is a craftsperson and absolute master of their trade.

Together we have built a way to provide breathable, comfortable, layerable and unique clothing with a touch of both masculine and feminine, moody and airy. It could be called anything from goth to modern minimalism, to empress-like, to dramatic and dark. But ultimately, Trued exists to allow you to live your life to the fullest, and express your strength, however that may manifest.

Oh, and we have a Kate Bush dress coming out later this year. Stay tuned!


Be well,

Melissa | Founder of Trued

pussy bow bishop sleeve dark cottagecore dark academia goth fashion