by Madeline Felauer
You turn your face up to the sun and bask in the glow. The air around you is bright and fresh, lingering with the smell of a recent rain and the lilac bloom that follows. Sighing, you pick up your wicker basket filled with wildflowers and start off towards the cottage. Your skirt swishes around your ankles, and your shadow outlines your puff sleeves and bonnet. A chirp emanates from your basket, breaking your relaxed state. Reaching into the tote, you groan in defeat as you pull out your phone and see you have 10 missed calls. They are all from your boss, and it’s a Sunday.
Wait … what? If you thought this was a scene from “Pride and Prejudice” (the 1995 Colin Firth version of course), you’re not far off. This internet creation known as cottage chic is a combination of old English rural life and modern style clothing. You can, of course, go the whole nine yards with this trend and transform into a barmaid, or take the reserved approach and adopt puff sleeves this summer.
Here are some elements of cottage chic that can help you jump on this bandwagon faster than Lydias’ midnight escape with Mr. Wickham.
Puff sleeves may be the most accessible part of this trend as the rise of this voluminous shape has gained popularity in recent years. This puff can be modernized by wearing it in a sheer fabric, such as silk or organza, which could provide a cool relief as the summer temps rise. Continuing with increased volume are circle skirts; A-line, but with extra fabric in between each panel. The more they swish when you walk, the better! Combining puff sleeves with a large skirt instantly invokes a romantic quality to the ensemble, which can be furthered if each article is printed with tiny rosettes. Think grandma’s wallpaper and the cotton blanket of an afternoon picnic. Thrift stores around Appleton are your best tool to find these items, as many pieces donated have prints such as gingham, plaid, florals, or even little apples.
Modernizing this trend is the next step for those who don’t want to throw out their wardrobe in the hopes of suddenly moving to York. The best example of this is to choose one article of cottage chic and pair it with a casual piece in your closet, such as a graphic t-shirt or funky socks.
This trend is an invitation to wear a corset to the grocery store or slip on your wooden clogs to stroll along the Fox River! The overall goal is to call attention to the fast pace of our modern lifestyle by connecting it to the slower life of an ideal English countryside. You can take the philosophy further than just clothing and approach your whole summer from this viewpoint. After the year our world has endured, an escape from reality into a fantastical countryside might just be the cup of tea you needed.