A Different Kind of 90s Fashion

“Go back to nature, live in the forest, before they take it away” – John Williamson

[LOL I just realised that this entire post could have been shortened by saying: it’s basically being a Hobbit]

I’m at an age where I’ve lived long enough to see the cringe-worthy fashions of my childhood and adolescence being recycled and up-cycled into the latest thing; where Insta- and real – celebrities are showing up wearing 70s, 80s, and 90s fashion. At least designers and influencers now have left behind some of the rougher edges, and instead streamlined these looks into a take that reflects more modern, and dare I say it, more suitable, tastes. What I mean by that is; contouring, and matte or juicy lips in vibrant colours, instead of the white cast face with orange-brown lipstick on a cool-toned skin (aka; totally unsuitable, and vice versa for warm skin), and luxuriously Olaplexed hair instead of frizzy, damaged locks, or pixie cuts that are less pixie and more…bowl. Things like that. I’m all for taking ideas and improving on them, I just wish I’d been able to use these tweaks the first time around. So, although I have an appreciation for “The 90s: 2.0”, I don’t really have a nostalgia for these kinds of looks, it’s more of an: “Oh god, why :|”, when I think back to how I used to wear those fashions during my childhood.

Today, though, I’m talking about a different facet of the 90s. Something that hasn’t really been revived in mainstream fashion, and that has matured from its origins to become a more defined genre/style:

Cottagecore; to be precise, and all the other ‘cores’ to go along with it. Warmcore, farmcore, honeycore, grandmacore, naturecore, dirtcore, gardencore, flowercore, cozycore, summercore, plantcore… and the list most likely goes on, into ever deeper sub-sections of an already obscure sub-genre.

@garygardeningcentre on Tumblr

Why is it called cottagecore, you might ask? Not sure, but it seems to be a derivative along the lines of ‘hardcore’ (as in the music/style/genre…not the style of video..*ahem* More like a descriptive word of an aesthetic one is into)…except you’re not into anything hard at all, quite the opposite in fact. Cottagecore is all about being ~*soft*~.

What’s it got to do with the 90s, though?

I thought maybe it was just my quiet, suburban childhood, where teddy bears, Victorian children’s books and adventures to the countryside were daydreamed about, and everything that encompassed. It had a lot to do with fantasy and Western European-centric folklore (although the Ghibli movies certainly have the same feel), the romanticising of farming and rural life, and home-baked goods. However, with my discovery of cottagecore on (where else do you find an obscure sub-genre but…) Tumblr, it appears I’m not the only one.

There were quite a few movies and TV shows that came out in the 90s which fit the cottagecore style, including my favourite; The Secret of Roan Inish, as well as ones like Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth, Little Women, and the Beatrix Potter series. I do wonder why so many shows and books for kids in the 90s were from over 100 years ago or so, but I guess it’s like fashions coming and going. If you have an inkling, I’d love to hear it. Nevertheless, cross-stitch, watercolour illustrations, fables, embroidery, dollhouses and classical music were all part of the same trend.

Photo by liskin_doll

But what exactly is cottagecore? Now that we’ve passed through Emo and *edginess*, sarcasm and apathy, it seems some people want to get back to wholesomeness and sweetness, authenticity and all that is natural. Not to abandon technology, computers and phones inasmuch as incorporating them into these romanticised cottage lifestyles. Taking the time to create a photoshoot of you wearing a gingham dress, carrying a wicker basket of blackberries in a field overgrown with wildflowers, while a French stone farmhouse sits behind you is definitely cottagecore. A photo of your crouching #squadgoals, wearing Adidas tracksuits in a city parking lot with your Ferrari, not so much.

Close enough. Photo by @liskin_doll on Insta

It’s all about the wistful, and the whimsical. Think Pride & Prejudice, and Far From the Madding Crowd. A small house, or…~cottage~ in the countryside with a vegetable patch, handmade clothes, spending your days picking flowers and baking tarts doesn’t exactly seem like an unattainable goal. However, in a world where people feel increasingly like they need to document how amazing their globe-trotting, fast-paced, competitive lifestyle is, it can feel like a life increasingly out of reach. If you’re into living in a cottage, you’re probably not going to be the kind of person who wants to fly in a private jet to party with the Hadids, and write cocky Instagram captions to your millions of adoring followers. Your Friday night would probably be a little more hyggelig than that – think cup of tea and a book or drawing pad in a comfy armchair. An extrovert’s nightmare, and an introvert’s dream.

However, the former is what is being reinforced as what success looks like, and many people get caught up in the ever-refreshing Instagram feed of travel bloggers and fitness gurus, and feeling more and more like they will never be good enough, or reach that height in their life, even though, if they think about it, they don’t actually want that kind of life. Although the Dream has widened its parameters more than the 50s style of white picket fence and nuclear family in the suburbs for all intents and purposes, it is still difficult to tell That Aunt at Christmas why you haven’t done this or that, or why you’ve chosen your certain lifestyle, right? That’s what’s being explored via the internet at the moment, and while it is certainly a bumpy road, it’s exciting to me to see where things are headed in some ways.

@lovergroves on Tumblr

The reason I’m writing about all this is that this is where the nostalgia has hit me. It’s brought back all the things I wanted for myself when I grew up as a child, and they pretty much all fit into this lifestyle. I don’t think it really is all that obscure as a desire for people in my generation, because even Sephora has just released its own “Witch Kit”, as controversial as that may be. I mention this because it all ties in together. It’s that kind of witchy friend who always gives you your horoscope and has a tea concoction for every occasion. It’s not so much the nu-goth style of Vampire or Witch that came around with 90s/2000s era media (eg Buffy, Charmed, Interview with a Vampire, etc), as it is the natural ‘friendly witch in the woods’ type, who gives you a herbal concoction to help with your ailments. Think more Hufflepuff than Hocus Pocus. It’s all very wholesome and inclusive, which is something that seems to be lacking in Western society in particular, or maybe to be more accurate, in cultures that focus more on the individual, rather than the collective.

“Cottage Witch Aesthetic” by  @oldoakwoods on Tumblr

Wholesomeness is something I’m very into these days, after spending years in that mentality where you’re apathetic, but in a tortured artist kind of way because it makes you so mysterious and interesting (you know how I mentioned that “oh god, why?” feeling before?). After reading those adorable books by Meik Wiking and exploring these little sub-genres, it gives me a ‘good’, relaxed feeling, rather than an angsty, anxiety-ridden one. I feel like I’m recharging instead of being drained.

It’s quite therapeutic, because it encourages and celebrates ‘goodness’; being good to each other, being good to the earth, and being good to yourself, and coming from a generation where that was lame, and not giving a frick-frack about anything, apart from very shallow and materialistic statuses and objects, it’s a place I feel I can finally breathe. And I suppose it is very much to do with the pressure we put on ourselves these days, especially personally, with a chronic illness, feeling like I can never keep up with the fast-paced world I’m in. It’s a place where it says it’s OK to want just enough, not an excess, and it’s OK to spend your days quietly indulging in creative pursuits rather than over-indulging in fast food and the clickbait outrage cycle. ‘Dropping out’, and doing things that not only make you happy, but they make you feel good in a healthy way, rather than feeling good in a guilty secret kind of way (what I mean is; turning your phone off to paint a watercolour and listen to some lofi music with some candles burning, rather than watching The Kardashians and eating Mi Goreng in your room at 4am after drinking all night with people you can’t really call your friends).

pagewoman:“ Thomas Hardy’s Cottage, Higher Brockhampton, Dorchester, Dorset, England NTPL/Robert Morris ”
“Thomas Hardy’s Cottage, Higher Brockhampton, Dorchester, Dorset, England” – @pagewoman on Tumblr

I think that’s enough rambling now, anyway! Here’s a playlist of some music that feels like it fits with my idea of cottagecore that I put together, illustrated exactly as I pictured (since I can come up with the ideas, but have little to no skill in executing them) by wonderful and talented BB. I would love to hear if you wanted to add to it, or what your take on cottagecore and all its related sub-genres is; what it means to you, and why. If you want to see more of the cottagecore aesthetic, have a look at my Tumblr, although it isn’t solely cottagecore, or just search for it on the site itself.



Happy exploring!

xo, Lo

Thor’s Dag

So. It’s Thursday. Just a typical day – the day after Anzac Day, in fact. I’m sitting in the uni computer lab chatting to an advisor about how I can withdraw from the course without penalty, since it’s after the census date, after all. I’m in the final year of my degree, and I’m withdrawing yet again because what I *think* I’m capable of doesn’t match up to the reality.

I know I’m mentally and physically capable of doing this, and honestly it sounds like a pathetic cop-out even to me, but somehow since my surgery last year, everything has further gone to the crabs. Finally, I broke down to BB and admitted that I just couldn’t do it anymore – not in our current situation, anyway. If everything else was perfect (heck, I’d even settle for average), I’d have no problem with completing uni, plus working, plus cooking/cleaning/exercising/socialising/whatever else it is that people (or what I used to) do every day. But it’s not, and so I ultimately had to admit that what I thought I could do wasn’t what I actually can do. It sucks, because I always have my family’s voice in my head telling me that I just have to, and that I’m not trying hard enough. I generally believe in mind over matter, but this is a matter of being physically incapable. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is unfit.

It’s a catch-22, as I’m realising it probably is for all sick people: you don’t feel good/can’t do the things that you usually can, or that everyone else seems to do without as much difficulty, so you try to fix it – you go to the doctor, physio, specialist, surgeon, get some tests, get some prescriptions, try them out, react badly, get surgeries, can’t recover in the same time, can’t keep up, and miss out on school/work and you don’t feel good, so you start the whole process over again. Over and over until you finally strike a balance, until the next time. Most people never find that balance, or can’t afford to keep trying. If you’re lucky, you’ll manage it most of the time, but it will always be there in the background.

I think I’ve mentioned it in a previous post, but after my surgery I threw up everything I ate for several weeks, followed by some things being ok, and then really being not ok, and throwing up again, until it finally settled down. However, something else started instead; something I’d actually experienced a few times before, but never to this extent, or as often. Every time I ate something, my stomach would hurt and feel super uncomfortable, I’d get shooting pains behind my ribs, and my whole abdomen would blow up like a balloon. Really uncomfortable, gross and embarrassing. Except now it’s almost every time I eat anything that’s not rice mixed with miso soup, water and filmjölk (like a Swedish drinking yoghurt). It keeps me up most of the night, even if I’m utterly exhausted, I just cannot sleep (what most people in the chronically ill community refer to as ‘painsomnia’). The other issue is that it will happen for a few days/weeks and then I’ll be fine again to eat most things for a month or so, so it’s difficult to predict. But every time it happens, it’s for longer, more often, and much more painful. Not only that, but I can’t tell whether I’m hungry or nauseous most of the time, which is a really weird feeling, and if I don’t eat every few hours, it gets quite painful and uncomfortable and I feel like throwing up.

Why don’t I just stick to those foods to be safe? Well, think about your favourite food, and then imagine that you could only eat the blandest baby food for the rest of your life, no matter how hungry or how much you’re craving it. I love to cook, and love to try new foods and go out for dinner and drinks (although alcohol has been an issue itself for a few years now -_-), and now instead of: ‘hey honey, what should we eat tonight?’ it’s: ‘ok, more sloppy rice?’ ‘yeah..I guess…’.

Something I think a lot of people don’t realise or give too much thought to (and I’ve been one of them) is that you see sick people – and I mean chronically ill, terminal people – stuck with IVs and ports and pumps, and getting tests and blood tests and scans and ultrasounds, and you just accept on face value that that’s what they’re used to, that their life is like that. But sick people can hate needles too, or faint when they get blood drawn, or hate swallowing giant tablets all day and feel over it and sick, and gross, and not want to. But they just have to, and don’t have a choice. It’s something that you never really get used to. I can’t count the amount of blood tests I’ve had in my life that keep giving me different readings every time, or the amount of doctors I’ve seen, or the amount of tablets I’ve taken. You just want it to stop, and be able to do normal stuff like everyone else – not even everyone else – like you used to. You want to stop being exhausted and unable to concentrate, and to just snap out of it, but it never ends.

Anyway, I’ve got repeats of repeats of blood tests to do for thyroid and coeliac testing and other things I don’t even remember, and stomach ultrasounds and whatever else, on top of the three physios I’m going to for neck, jaw and knee rehab, as well as a specialist dentist for my jaw. Last week I had to test for stomach ulcers, which came back negative – great, right? But in this world, it just leads to more questions, and more tests.

So, my disability support (oh yeah, I have a disability support case worker now, although I’m not on disability), and my doctor have recommended I take a break from study, as I simply can’t keep up with the course load, having a couple of hours to focus on a good day, and am never able to predict when I’ll have a flare of something with regard to due dates and deadlines/tests. My muscles aren’t firing or engaging properly to be able to recover from the surgery, and it only takes a couple of days for muscles, with EDS, to atrophy, so I have to do physio every day to try to make any kind of progress. Of course, on top of being able to focus or have any kind of energy with everything else, is where that aforementioned catch-22 happens.

I used to be so athletic. In my teens, I’d do 100 situps and pushups every morning, walk to school, do 2 hours of touch football, walk home and go to the gym and do 50 laps in the pool. That was an average day for me (a bit too much, but my family are PE teachers and coaches and have an obsession with exercise, to the detriment of actual schoolwork). I used to be muscular and slim, although I thought I was fat (ha! If 15 year old me could see me now, fml). I used to do a full face of makeup every day, no matter how I was feeling, and dye my hair all the time. I had piercings and plans for more tattoos, and go out drinking all night. I’d had medical issues since birth, but I always did more than other people and pushed myself further than the average person, which was when I started to experience the real symptoms of EDS. Now, I can’t even get out of bed some days. I have to sit on a chair in the shower, and having BB even touch my skin sometimes feels like a punch. He even has to lift me off the couch sometimes. It feels utterly pathetic when I still see myself the way I’ve described above. That’s why it’s taken me so long to admit what I can and can’t do.

Wow, that sounds overwhelmingly negative, but actually, although I have so many frustrating and exhausting things to deal with, I have never been this happy, overall, in my life. I said I would be honest, authentic, and fearless when it came to representing myself here. I’ve been exhausted every day lately for no reason, and trying to balance everything to actually make some recovery progress. Actually, the last post I made took me and BB months to create, and I only finished it the other day before posting. But I still love doing the things I used to, although sometimes I literally can’t handle it, I still like to be asked. I’ve even found new hobbies that I actually can do – if you’ve been following my insta or facebook, you’ll know I’ve discovered a passion for video games, and art I can do on an iPad from bed.  Hopefully now I’ll be able to be more active on here, since I feel much more creative without the stress of being able to keep up with uni at the moment.

Sorry for the long rant post! Just some thoughts in between promised posts, ie Skincare :|. With so much brain fog, it’s all I can manage, and if I tried to make proper posts, it wouldn’t be anywhere near the quality I want. So for now, I’ll be playing God of War and Tomb Raider, and experimenting on Procreate, while I try to keep up with rehab and figure things out.


Lo xx