Life&Style Writer Saskia Hirst runs away with the fairies in detailing how to achieve the fairycore aesthetic
Imagine A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Now imagine it as an aesthetic and you’ve hit the jackpot. In my (very rose-tinted) eyes, it is the creme-de-la-creme of aesthetics. At its extreme, Effie from the Hunger Games is the shrine we all bow to— which may seem quite terrifying— but don’t be put off. That’s just the extreme. I suppose the aesthetic could alternatively be called ‘elf-core’: angelic, ethereal, dreamy— and indeed near super-human. Very magical and mystic indeed.
I advocated in my guide to cottage-core, that cottage-core is the modern Romanticism— not only that, but it is mundanity glamorised. If that’s true, then fairy-core is transcending human state altogether. More like the mystical creatures of fantasy. Think of cottage-core as a calm, relaxed, overcast, perhaps even drizzly day; fairy core is the rainbow, sunshine and celebration afterward — the manifestation of this aesthetic in style is the golden honeypot of treasure on the other end of the cottage-core spectrum. Common phrases that put this into play (and indeed cosplay) are euphoric, ‘like being in Wonderland’ or ‘away with the fairies’ or lost the forest. It’s a dreamscape— but that’s an understatement.
‘Eccentric experimentation’ or ‘eccentric expression’ encapsulate the very essence of fairy-core. It’s the key difference between its adored mother-aesthetic of cottage-core. It’s key features are lace, butterflies, ribbons, glitter, pastel shades, magical creatures, flowers and plants— to name but a few.
If cottage-core has an element of elegance that graces the style, then fairy-core serenades the style by sprinkling fairy dust all over it. Prints are welcomed— butterfly tops, florals (much like cottage-core, but bolder), bows, sheer angel tops found in Urban Outfitters, the list goes on. Whatever seems angelic, ethereal and eye-catching fits with this aesthetic. The main feature of the style is that it is the bright and colourful companion to the understated, minimalist cottage-core. Ruffle blouses and the dress types and textures I described in my cottage-core guide fit in nicely here.
The colour palette is bolder and broader compared to cottage-core. There’s a lot more wiggle room for personal taste: pastel blues, pinks, lilacs, yellows, and many more. It’s all about the bold and the brave. Angelic are the textures: sheer, cotton, mesh, lace, silk, satin or chiffon— anything that is otherworldly or, as my friend puts it ‘Disney princess-esque’, but conjure a princess of the forest— Mother Nature is still at play here. Luckily, it’s not Mother Gothel.
You’ll be glad to know, if you’re not in the know already, the hair styles are more or less the same as cottage-core — add a few curls or waves, perhaps ditch the felt bucket or straw hats, and you’re all set. Done and dusted. There’s more freedom for experimentation. Hooray for nuance.
Flower crowns, once again, are an absolute essential to dazzle the eye – and let’s not forget a handy ribbon. Perhaps pearl hair clips too (which, yes, takes inspiration from the soft girl aesthetic) or a pearl headband is, likewise, chef’s-kiss worthy. Dainty jewellery like that described in the cottage-core guide couples these quintessential essentials.
I’ll let you in on a not-so-secret advice: the crucial difference between cottage-core and fairy-core is glitter. Glitter is like a sprinkle of fairy dust! Surprisingly, fake eyelashes are also associated with this look – very Effie Trinket approved indeed. Glittery eyes are preferred of course (and more socially acceptable) but if you’re a fan of cosplay, it can go elsewhere. Golds or silvers are a great neutral to add a glistening spark to your eye, adding an extremely out-of-this-world ethereal touch. Gold if you have brown or hazel eyes; silver if you have blue or green— this is perfection on the complementary colour wheel. When buying glitter you should always be looking for an eco-friendly brand. But, of course, don’t feel limited to the eyes. Go crazy. Or don’t. Whatever floats your boat. It all passes the vibe-check.
I hope this is one of the things that will age well. It was only a month ago that I discovered this aesthetic and realised I was doing the aesthetic without realising. Fairy-core has more of a floral twang to it, it’s very (traditionally-speaking) ‘feminine’— which may be a problematic way to labelling it. It is all about being light, gracious, poised, compassionate, in alignment with yourself and the airy-fairy. It acts in line with the practice of spirituality (for me at least) or the image of an eccentric, modern-mystic pastel witch in the woods. I love the pagan and spiritual roots, as someone who’s deeply spiritual myself. It’s also semi-nostalgic for me: the idea of picking flowers and making crowns definitely reminds me of the school field daisy-chain competitions we all remember. Lucky for us, it’s now a whole aesthetic – and one to be treasured or cherry-picked for inspiration, definitely worthy of celebration.
Read More From Life&Style: