Cottagecore tote bags offer a charming way to add a touch of nostalgic, pastoral beauty to your wardrobe. With their vintage-inspired fabrics, earthy textures, and romantic details, these bags capture the essence of the whimsical cottagecore trend. In this beginner’s guide, we’ll explore the origins of cottagecore style, the key features that define cottagecore tote bags, tips for styling and caring for your cottagecore bag, and ways to DIY your own enchanting cottagecore tote. Whether you’re a longtime lover of cottagecore or just discovering its dreamy appeal, read on to learn how to embrace the magic of cottagecore totes fully!
The Cottagecore Aesthetic
Before diving into cottagecore totes specifically, it helps to understand the broader cottagecore trend. Cottagecore as an aesthetic movement emphasizes rustic simplicity, traditional handicrafts, and harmonious living close to nature. It calls to mind pastoral countryside living and nostalgic visions of the past.
The term “cottagecore” itself evokes cozy cottages filled with dried flowers and herbs.
Other hallmarks of the style include:
- Vintage and retro vibes – Cottagecore items often look old, faded, or distressed. Aged, non-modern aesthetics are key.
- Floral patterns – Fine china decorated with dainty roses, calico prints, and floral embroidery all channel cottagecore’s love of flowers.
- Rustic, weathered looks – Items that appear naturally worn, like wicker baskets or chippy painted furniture.
- Natural fabrics and dyes – Linen, cotton, and wool in soft, neutral hues speak to cottagecore’s organic side.
- Frills, lace, and embroidery – Romantic accents like ruffles, eyelet details, and dainty stitching.
- Picnics, flower crowns, herb gardens – Pastimes and motifs that embody the pastoral fantasy.
- Soothing, peaceful aesthetic – Serene, pleasant visuals free of anything jarring or modern.
According to British Vogue,
cottagecore is having a resurgence as urban-dwelling millennials yearn for the simplicity of rural living.
It offers an idyllic, slower-paced lifestyle, plus the satisfaction of handmade crafts and natural living.
Why Cottagecore Resonates
Cottagecore has surged in popularity over the past few years, especially among millennials. This vintage-inspired style represents a retreat from modern stresses and digital overload. As author Anne Bahr Thompson put it, “cottagecore is about our longing for a simpler life, one closer to nature and a nicer, kinder world” (4).
Beyond its nostalgic appeal, cottagecore also intersects beautifully with sustainability, crafts, gardening, and living simply. It allows people to tap into their creative sides through sewing, baking, pressing flowers, and more. Growing your own herbs and produce (or foraging) also ties into cottagecore ideals.
Above all, cottagecore reminds us to slow down and find beauty in life’s simplest joys.
Introducing Cottagecore Tote Bags
Now that we’ve set the stage, let’s focus on the charming cottagecore tote bag. Tote bags play a central role in achieving the cottagecore look and lifestyle. Their oversized, carry-all design suits cottagecore’s emphasis on picnics, outdoor adventures, trips to the farmers’ market, and foraging excursions.
Tote bags channel cottagecore style through:
- Canvas – Sturdy yet casual canvas with visible grain feels fitting for both outdoor and indoor use.
- Burlap – The coarse, natural texture of burlap suits cottagecore perfectly.
- Worn, faded looks – Washing canvas or burlap bags by hand gives them a suitably distressed look.
- Natural dyes – Pigments from tea, berries, and plants help achieve muted, soft cottagecore hues without synthetics.
- Vintage flair – Buying secondhand bags or utilizing fabric scraps imparts a cottagecore vibe.
- Floral embroidery – Colorful flowers and vines embroidered across the fabric feel straight out of a storybook illustration.
- Ruffled edges – Sweet ruffled detailing for added texture and movement.
- Painted scenes – Delicate watercolor paintings of gardens, meadows, or quaint country roads evoke pastoral living.
- Picnic, garden, and fairy tale themes – Charming cottagecore motifs printed or sewn on.
- Neutral color palettes – Soft whites, tans, browns, and pale greens complement the natural country look.
- Oversized silhouettes – Roomy totes suit carrying nature finds, baked goods, and other cottagecore essentials.
Beyond their visual appeal, cottagecore totes prove highly practical for:
- Town or farmers’ markets
- Picnics and outdoor meals
- Work and school commutes
- Beach and park visits
- Travel and camping trips
- Everyday use
Their durable, machine-washable fabrics allow you to use them frequently without worrying about wear and tear. You can toss in some fresh flowers or foraged finds to complete the aesthetic. Let’s explore how to style these multipurpose bags.
Cottagecore Tote Styling Tips
One of the joys of cottagecore totes is how seamlessly they complement ensembles for different occasions. Here are some ideas for elevating your look with a cottagecore bag:
Ground your cottagecore tote with shoes that mirror the look’s earthy vibes:
- Wool clogs – Try carved Swedish clogs or backless slip-ons.
- Straw hats – A wide-brimmed straw hat protects from the sun while contributing to the overall style.
- Dainty jewelry – Layer your tote with delicate gold necklaces, enamel pins, or carved wood beads.
- Wicker baskets – For market visits, carry a small wicker harvest basket along with your roomy tote.
- Cotton dresses – Billowy cotton or linen midi dresses feel instantly cottagecore when paired with a romantic tote.
- Knit cardigans – Cozy up any dress or top with an oversized knit cardigan in a neutral shade.
You can adapt your cottagecore tote for each season with thoughtful touches:
- Dried flowers in summer – Accent your bag with lavender bundles, strawflower garlands, or wildflowers from meadow walks.
- Apples and foliage in fall – Decorate the bag with autumnal cranberries, leaves, acorns, and crabapples plucked straight from nature.
- Holly sprigs in winter – Adorn your tote with festive holly branches, mistletoe, and pinecones during the holidays.
- Flower crowns in spring – Incorporate a whimsical flower crown into your spring outfit and complement it with a floral-embroidered tote.
By adding seasonal touches to your cottagecore tote, you can refresh the look each season. Next, let’s explore the best places to source your dream cottagecore bag.
Sourcing Your Cottagecore Tote
Cottagecore totes populate both independent maker shops and major retailers. Here are top options:
Several online stores offer an abundance of cottagecore tote bag styles to browse through. Excellent places to start your search include:
- Anthropologie – From embroidered canvas totes to patterned options, they carry countless cottagecore bags.
- Free People – Browse an assortment of vintage-inspired totes in linen, velvet, tapestry, and more.
- Nordstrom – Find cottagecore totes from brands like Madewell.
- Etsy – This global online marketplace offers thousands of handmade, vintage, and custom cottagecore totes from independent artists and small business owners.
Local Craft Fairs
Check your local farmer’s markets, craft shows, and fairs for finds. These venues often showcase talented artisans selling handmade bags in the cottagecore aesthetic. It’s an authentic way to directly support independent creatives in your community.
If you’re feeling crafty, make your own cottagecore tote from scratch. This allows full creative freedom to achieve your ideal colors, patterns, and textures.
You can find simple tote sewing patterns and tutorials online, like this 45-minute no-sew tote bag from The Spruce Crafts. With some basic sewing skills and calico or linen fabric purchased by the yard, you can create a beautiful one-of-a-kind tote.
For a quicker DIY, simply decorate a basic canvas tote with cottagecore elements. Some ideas:
- Tea-dye the fabric for a vintage look
- Use fabric paint to stencil on flowers or motifs
- Add pom-pom or lace trims along the seams
- Embroider initials or a sweet saying with thread
- Attach charms like carved wood beads or buttons
Not only affordable, repurposing or embellishing a basic bag allows you to customize it precisely to your taste. Next, let’s go over keeping your tote looking its best.
Caring for Your Tote Bag
Cottagecore totes come in various materials, each requiring special care. Here are tips for properly washing and storing your bag:
Canvas & Cotton
For sturdy canvas and quilted cotton totes:
- Machine or hand wash in cold water – Avoid hot water to prevent fading. Mild detergent prevents buildup.
- Line dry – Lay flat or hang to dry to avoid damage from heat. Reshape while damp if needed.
- Spot clean stains – For mud or dirt, rub with a damp cloth and minimal soap.
- Store filled – Stuff with tissue paper while not in use to maintain shape.
For delicate vintage or antique cottagecore bags:
- Professional cleaning – Take heirloom pieces to specialty cleaners to prevent damage to old fabrics and trims.
- Inspect carefully – Check lining, handles, and seams for weak spots before each use.
- Tissue stuffing – Use acid-free tissue or unbleached muslin to fill the bag when storing long-term. Replace every 6-12 months.
With some basic care, your cherished cottagecore tote will last for seasons to come. Getting creative with customizations and embellishments can also give your bag renewed flair.
Adding Your Own Cottagecore Touches
Personalizing a tote bag helps make it uniquely yours. Add your own handmade cottagecore accents with these techniques:
- Floral patterns – Embroider freeform flowers or leaves using a satin stitch. Follow a printed pattern for symmetrical designs.
- Initials/names – Monogram the bag with your first name or initials in a flowing script or display font.
- Sweet sayings – Stitch cheery words like “Home Sweet Home”, “Living The Dream”, or “A Walk In The Woods”.
- Watercolors – Use diluted paints to create washes of color for landscapes, flowers, or other scenes.
- Stenciling – Cut out simple stencil shapes from cardboard to create repeating prints of mushrooms, bees, strawberries or other motifs.
Charms and Patches
- Vintage buttons – Cluster colorful glass or carved buttons for cottagecore flair.
- Fabric scraps – Upcycle old quilt squares, doilies, or handkerchiefs by stitching them on.
- Found objects – Attach natural elements like small pinecones, acorns, or pretty feathers. Display in burlap pockets or pouches.
With a little creativity, the styling possibilities are endless! Next we’ll explore adapting your tote for each season.
Cottagecore Totes for Every Season
The great thing about cottagecore style is that it transitions seamlessly through the seasons. Here are tips for tweaking your tote’s fabrics, colors, and accents to complement spring, summer, fall and winter outfits:
- Pastel fabrics – Opt for soft pinks, mints, sky blues that reflect budding flowers and new growth.
- Floral embroidery – Vibrant daffodils, tulips, or cherry blossoms.
- Whimsical patches – Sew on colorful butterflies, bees, birds, and bunnies.
- Fresh greenery – Tuck in sprigs of baby’s breath or fern fronds.
- Earthy hues – Natural tan, denim blue, or forest green shades reminiscent of the outdoors.
- Botanical prints – Vivid patterns with poppies, vines, leaves, and watercolor landscapes.
- Oversized straw bags – Capture a sun-drenched vibe.
- Dried herbs – Accent with dried lavender bundles or wheat stems.
- Warm neutrals – Opt for bags in lightweight wool, brown leather, or fading cotton reflecting autumn’s palette.
- Picked fruits – Accent with bittersweet, mini gourds, crabapples, or maple leaves.
- Cozy textures – Try velvet or brushed flannel bags that feel extra comfy.
- Woodland scenes – Embroider or paint autumn trees, deer, and woodland creatures.
- Holiday hues – Incorporate classic red, forest green, and buffalo check patterns.
- Snug materials – Velvet, faux fur, or heavy knits to stay warm.
- Rustic accents – Accent with pine sprigs, cinnamon sticks, or vintage glass ornaments.
- Snowy scenes – Add wintry motifs like snow-covered pine trees, ski chalets, or snowflakes.
With some seasonal updates to patterns, materials, and decorations, you can refresh your cottagecore tote bag year-round!
If you want to share your styled cottagecore looks on social media, read on for photography and hashtag tips.
Showcasing Your Cottagecore Style
If you want to post your fabulous cottagecore outfit pics featuring your tote bag, here are some tips:
- Capture the setting – Photograph your look in natural environments like gardens, meadows or forests to complement the style.
- Style flat lay photos – Arrange your tote with other cottagecore elements like flowers, books, baked goods or crafts for pleasing overhead shots.
- Use soft lighting – Shoot in the shade or indirect sunlight for a moody, ethereal vibe. Late afternoon golden hour is perfect.
- Edit lightly – In post processing, opt for minimal editing. Boost brightness slightly and use filters sparingly to maintain a natural, genuine feel.
- Tag relevant hashtags – Include tags like #cottagecore, #lightacademia, #goblincore, and #faecore to reach fellow cottagecore fans.
Sharing your unique cottagecore style is a great way to find inspiration and connect with others. It allows you to look back on cherished memories in your own digital style diary.
I hope this guide has equipped you with plenty of tips for embracing the magic of cottagecore tote bags. Here are the key pointers:
- Source your tote from makers, vintage shops and DIY materials to get that authentic cottagecore look.
- Style your bag with footwear, jewelry and garments that complement the whimsical style.
- Adapt your tote for each season by tweaking the colors, fabrics and decorative accents.
- Add your own handmade touches with embroidery, fabric paint, and other embellishments.
- Care for your cottagecore tote properly by hand washing, spot cleaning, and tissue stuffing.
- Photograph your styled cottagecore looks out in nature for idyllic backdrops.
Cottagecore totes effortlessly bring pastoral charm to your daily routine. With timeless, nature-inspired beauty, these totes are more than accessories; they’re treasured heirlooms. From enchanting florals to rustic tones, they blend style with functionality. Crafted for durability, they become faithful companions, embodying the spirit of countryside living wherever you go. Elevate your everyday with the rustic charm of Cottagecore totes, carrying a piece of the pastoral landscape with you on every journey.