An “aesthetic” is a niche style that can be presented in artwork, fashion, and decor. It invokes a specific feeling that transports you to a certain era in time or parallel universe.
I am in love with aesthetics. There are a select few that I favor more than others. I enjoy a whole variety of aesthetics, but I would say overall, that my taste is connected to nature and the ancient or primal world, along with supernatural and fantasy elements.
These are not listed in any particular order or rank.
Cottagecore is the pushback against modern urbanization and consumerism that pressures us to live fast-paced lives that center around climbing the corporate ladder. It means living close to nature, taking your time to do things from scratch, and caring for the environment.
Imagine living in a small cottage, in the middle of a forest, with lots of flowers and trees around you. You’re washing dishes in the sink by hand, hanging your laundry to dry outside with clothespins, and baking bread from scratch in the kitchen. You’re sending a handwritten letter to an old friend while drinking a cup of hot tea. You’re not in a rush to go anywhere; just like the pace of nature, you take your time to grow.
Cottagecore songs: “cardigan” and “willow” by Taylor Swift.
This aesthetic revolves around the Classical period, most commonly Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. Much of it is connected to Greco-Roman Mythology. There is also appreciation for the architecture and marble statues, as well as literature and philosophy.
Classicism is also highly connected to the “Hellenic aesthetic,” which focuses more specifically on the Hellenic period in Ancient Greece (323 BC to 32 BC).
This aesthetic is about the modern reinterpretation of the ancient world, such as retelling mythology from a modern-day perspective. Another example of this is the appreciation of white marble statues, which were actually painted in color during ancient times until the colors wore away over the years.
Classicism podcast: Ancient History Fangirl
As the name suggests, Fairycore is all about fairies. It revolves around the fantasy of fairies living in the forest, along with other mythological creatures such as elves, pixies, and nymphs. It relates to nature, more specifically the beauty, appreciation, and magic of nature.
Fairycore is similar to cottagecore in its strong association with the natural world. But Fairycore brings in more mysticism and lore. There is a strong sense of childlike wonder and playfulness, but also mischievousness, like a fairy. The term “pixiecore” can also be used, as this aesthetic is nearly identical.
To dress like a fairy, get yourself a floral crown, wings, and a small dress. Colorful makeup is also good! Some even use fairy ears that you can buy on Amazon.
Fairycore book: “Finding Faeries: Discovering Sprites, Pixies, Redcaps, and Other Fantastical Creatures in an Urban Environment”
Goblincore is very similar to Fairycore in that it embraces nature, however, rather than the beauty of nature, it embraces the ugliness. Goblincore is about acknowledging dirt, mud, bugs, snails, frogs, and all of the other unclean and uncomfortable parts of the natural world. Goblincore especially has a fondness for mushrooms. (Note: there is another aesthetic called “mushroomcore” that solely focuses on mushrooms.)
There is a theme of fantasy and mysticism, as the name suggests, based on the ugly monster, “goblin.” Much of folklore goes into this aesthetic. The philosophy is that everything in nature is alive — ugly creatures (bugs, snails, frogs, etc.) have thoughts and feelings, even rocks and crystals have consciousness, so we should respect them all rather than act like we are above these things in the social hierarchy.
Fashion involves dressing comfortably in sustainable and environmental-friendly clothing. Tones are dark, neutral, and earthy — mainly browns and dark greens.
Goblincore book series: “Frog and Toad”
Dark Academia is associated with schools and libraries from around the 1800s and very early 1900s. It is most strongly connected to books and literature. There is also eeriness, a sense of chill and haunting. Imagine reading a novel in a dimly-lit room next to a candle or old-fashioned lamp, or writing a novel with a typewriter — with a cryptic feeling that a ghost is watching over you.
You do not have to be a professor or have a high degree to embrace yourself in this aesthetic, but you can certainly romanticize the thought of it. Decor should be dark and include furniture used in the nineteenth century (and obviously lots of books!) Fashion includes plaid skirts, formal jackets, and attire similar to school uniforms. Tones should be dark: most commonly black, dark brown, dark blue, dark green, and maroon.
Remember, that this aesthetic is focused on academia (reading, writing, learning) but not complete without conspiracies, murder mysteries, witchcraft, or themes of the occult.
Dark Academia book: “Forbidden Knowledge” by Laura Cyrena Kellogg
You don’t have to be a professional ballerina to enjoy balletcore. You don’t even have to practice any ballet yourself (although it helps if you do!) This aesthetic is the embrace of all things associated with ballet. To practice ballet or watch ballet is only a part of it.
Much of this aesthetic is focused on fashion. That not only includes dancewear (leotards, tights, ballet slippers, etc.) but also casual attire such as leggings, loose tanks, zip jackets, and stretchy material. You should dress as if you are heading to ballet class. Colors should be neutral: white, black, brown, grey, and pale pink.
The philosophy is about moving delicately and gracefully while also being in control. There is also a small theme of mythology and supernatural in balletcore, as many ballets reenact classic myths and fairytales. Also, throw in some classical music.
Balletcore movie: Black Swan
Kidcore is mainly based on nostalgia and reliving your childhood. Much of the aesthetic traces back to trends from the 90s, but can also include 80s and 70s, or sometimes also early 2000s. This can involve looking up old photos (a McDonalds from the 90s), reading children’s books, and watching cartoons.
Tones are bold and colorful: rainbows, polkadots, and bright hues. Kidcore accessories are all mainly plastic. Fashion includes overalls, onesies, and knee socks. There’s also stuffed animals, stickers, Kandi bracelets, kawaii earrings, and so much more. There is a TikTok and Instagram account called “ASMR playroom” with videos of somebody using kids toys from decades ago, and it’s oddly calming.
Kidcore toy: Magic Mixies Magical Misting Cauldron
This is all for now, but I will be back to cover more aesthetics, because there are so many great ones!
2 thoughts on “My Favorite Aesthetics (Part I)”
Good post. I love classical architecture, and here in New York there are a ton of Beaux Arts and Neoclassical buildings, especially in Manhattan. Beaux Arts and Neoclassical are interpretations of Greek and Roman architecture from architects who were educated at the Académie des Beaux-Arts in Paris. It’s fascinating to see how those influences are channeled into office buildings, financial structures like the NYSE and hubs like Grand Central, but there are also some incredibly beautiful examples in Manhattan that are the headquarters of private clubs and even some homes.
There’s a former estate in Stamford, CT, that’s now split into apartments and would definitely fit into the dark academia style. It’s got one of those wrought iron retro elevators, tons of dark-stained oak paneling and an apartment converted from the old library that still has the upper library loft levels. I was fortunate enough to get a personal tour from the owner (a friend) when the library apartment was vacant.
And personally I love the synthwave/retrowave aesthetic, which encompasses everything from the iconic imagery of a palm tree lined highway with the setting sun in the distance, to neon-heavy 80s arcades and old-school vector graphics that gave off that distinct glow. Some elements of cyberpunk would fit into synthwave as well, and of course it also refers to a genre of music.
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Oooohh, very nice! The USA doesn’t have many old buildings like other countries, but I have seen those types of buildings before in Manhattan and they feel very close to the real thing. I didn’t know that they traced back to that person who was specifically inspired by that — makes sense!
That sounds incredible. I would love to see that.
Ahhhh, very cool! I can picture all of that in my head very clearly! Somehow, classifying a distinct style into a specific name feels very satisfying. Glad you enjoyed this piece.