Cabin-Core, Cottage-Core, Study-Core, Oh My! Deciphering The New Trends

If you follow fashion or have logged into nearly any social media app recently, you have probably come across a fair amount of TikTok-inspired trends and other looks with an overall feeling that is clearly derived from social media and inspired by influencers. What’s more, you may have heard these TikTok trends called various terms like “cabin-core”, “cottage-core”, “school-core” and “study-core”. Granted, the names can seem a little silly, but behind the buzzwords are some super-wearable fashion trends for women over 40 or of any age.

Deciphering The TikTok Trends For Women Over 40

The first two terms – cabin-core and cottage-core – can be summed up pretty easily as all things cozy, fuzzy, and practical(ish) if you’re living in a cabin or cottage in the woods, or simply want to emulate that aesthetic. Think chunky knits, flannel, plaid, and suede boots, either done in soft pastels (cottage-core) or rich autumnal hues (cabin-core).

The third and fourth phrases – school-core and study-core – is a preppy, almost collegiate, or scholarly look that you may have also heard referred to as “academia” or “dark academia” if it’s done in black and dark jewel tones. It also usually includes varsity-style jackets or pleated skirts, and similar pieces that typically connote school uniforms. 


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But knowing all the buzzwords is hardly necessary to look like you’re aware of what’s in fashion, and some of these TikTok trends just don’t really work after 40 (or much after 20 really, unless we’re talking costumes). Here are some of our favorite ways to pick up on these trends without looking like you’re trying too hard or dressing like a teenager… 

tiktok trends fashion cabin-core, school-core fountainof30


The shacket or shirt + jacket combination item that looks like an oversize shirt isn’t going anywhere any time soon. It’s an easy piece to pick up if you want to be both on-trend and comfortable, and you can throw one on over nearly anything. Try out the look for less than $40 with this plaid style from UANEO via Amazon

Hiking Boots

While rugged boots meant for the trails are pretty much always practical, there are some more refined versions on offer lately that can help you get a little bit of that cabin-core aesthetic even if you live in a big city and the closest thing to a wildlife encounter you have is seeing a pigeon or squirrel in the park. We like a little bit of fur trim or shearling on our hikers, like these lace-ups from UGG.

Oversized Sweaters

There’s absolutely nothing like a big cozy sweater when it’s chilly outside, and this fall and winter we’re seeing some great options. Something with a big shawl collar or cowl neck can be flattering, and a sweater that is long enough to be a tunic or dress with leggings might be a great option too, especially with the aforementioned hiking boots or lug soles. Keep it classic with an ivory cable knit like this Banana Republic sweater or try something more of-the-moment in something like this peachy-rust Free People tunic

Slouchy Socks

Sometimes when it’s freezing outside, all you want is a pair of big fluffy socks. Ask and you shall receive, and snuggly warm socks are perfectly paired with this season’s lug-soled boots. Get patterned or textured knee-high or over-the-knee socks and scrunch them down a bit for extra-coziness and style, like these from WowFoot via Amazon.


Ponchos may bring thoughts of those terrible knits from the 00s or the 60s and 70s hippie looks; plus, perhaps nothing says “older boho women of a certain age” more so than a southwestern patterned poncho thrown over everything. However, ponchos have gotten modern and we’re loving something like this Melrose and Market drawstring turtleneck version for a modern extra layer. 


We love a good pair of corduroy pants for winter, and this season’s straight-legged cords are comfortable and easy to mix in with your current wardrobe. Just swap out the denim for a pair of corduroy pants in your favorite neutral, or get a pair of corduroy joggers that are essentially sweatpants but look like you’re wearing real pants, such as these from the Gap

Varsity Jackets

These can be tough to pull off once you’ve graduated from high school, but some of the contrasting colorways done in a bomber style like this gender-inclusive satin varsity from Nordstrom’s Be Proud by BP can be surprisingly chic. 

Pleated Skirts

A pleated skirt veers into dangerous territory once you are out of school, but they can be wearable over 40 with a few obvious caveats like no knee socks, a longer length, and maybe skip the plaid in favor of a solid like this charcoal gray skirt by Tanming (paired with a slouchy sweater for the ultimate winter-cozy look).  

Sweater Vests

These are a super preppy staple that can be more wearable than you think, even if you tend to lean a little more boho-chic. Keep it classic with a button-down but wear it over distressed denim or even joggers to modernize the look and keep things grown-up, or layer a sweater vest over a thin turtleneck or long sleeve tee. Going oversized and slouchy works well in this case, like this borrowed-from-the-boys sweater vest from Sanctuary

Logo Crests And Elbow-Patched Blazers

Nothing signals academic or professorial aspirations more so than a tweedy blazer with elbow patches, or a sharply tailored schoolboy blazer complete with a logo crest or monogram. No one does it better than Ralph Lauren, so if you love this look it might be worth the splurge. Or try searching it on Poshmark, the RealReal, or other resale sites. Be patient and you may be rewarded with a steal. 

Shop The TikTok Trends Here

Pictured above from left to right:

UANEO Womens Casual Plaid Wool Blend Button Down Long Sleeve Shirt Jacket Shackets, $29.98 – $39.99

UGG Classic Weather Hiker, $199.95

Banana Republic Italian Merino Cable-Knit Sweater, now $70

Free People Leo Tunic Sweater, now $79.97

WOWFOOT Women’s Knee High Socks, $14.50

Melrose and Market Cozy Drawstring Turtleneck Poncho, $29.97

Gap High Rise Corduroy Joggers, $79.95

BP. Be Proud by BP. Souvenir Gender Inclusive Varsity Jacket, $55

Tanming Womens Winter High Waist A-Line Pleated Wool Midi Skirt, $39.99

Sanctuary BFF Sweater Vest, $79

Lauren Ralph Lauren Bullion-Crest Corduroy Blazer, $195

Are you trying out the school-core and cabin-core looks this winter, or are you leaving them to the TikTok generation? Let us know in the comments or in our Growing Younger Facebook group! 

–Jacqueline Zenn

You may like to read more of Jacqueline’s fashion styling posts like Just Belt It Out! Belt Trends For Winter 2021 and This Outfit Styling Trick Will Make You Look Instantly Put Together.

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Are you following Fountain Of 30 on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest? We’ve got lots going on, so join in on the fun! Subscribe to our newsletter here.  You don’t want to miss a post and promise not to bug you to death. We also started a Facebook Group called Growing Younger for women to discuss everything good and bad about being over 40. Additionally Lauren now hosts a podcast called Beauty is a Bitch! and a weekly Instagram Live series called “Growing Younger Gabfest with Lauren.”

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