woman floating on a green field

"Have you ever had a dream that... that you, um, you had, you'd, you would, you could, you'd do, you would, you want, you, you could do so, you, you'd do, you?". Sorry, I had to start this blog post with this quote! As you have already guessed, we are going to take a closer look at yet another fascinating aesthetic...yes, I'm talking about dreamcore. 

This surreal aesthetic draws from the ethereal landscapes of daydreams, surrealism, and the uncanny valley. It encapsulates all things hazy, and dream-like, blending boundaries between reality and fantasy, resonating with those who find beauty in the enigmatic and the otherworldly. Wow, this sounds so peculiar in theory, but is it in practice?

What Is a Dreamcore?

Essentially, dreamcore is a surrealist aesthetic that captures (or at least tries to capture) the essence of dreams, blurring the lines between reality and fantasy, imaginary and true. It's characterized by a unique set of visual and thematic elements that evoke a sense of nostalgia, unease, and wonder. 

The origins of this aesthetic are unknown, however, some sources point to the term appearing in online forums and communities as early as the 2000s. Dreamcore gained traction on Tumblr around 2016-2018, where it became associated with a specific aesthetic characterized by vibrant colors, distorted visuals, and nostalgic themes.

  • The Rising Popularity of Dreamcore

Dreamcore has become a popular aesthetic online, with dedicated communities and a growing number of artists and creators.  Its rise in popularity can be attributed to its ability to resonate with individuals seeking refuge in the surreal. This aesthetic has also influenced fashion, design, and music, showcasing the power of dreams and imagination in shaping our creative expression. 

Unlike many other aesthetics, dreamcore is quite easily commercialized, making it a perfect base for popular brands. While maintaining its underground roots, Dreamcore's popularity has attracted the attention of brands and businesses looking to tap into its unique visual appeal. So, here is the secret! The perfect blend between popular and underground.

aesthetic collage with various dreamcore elements

Key Features to Identify Dreamcore:

‣ Liminal spaces: Familiar environments that are empty and desolate, such as school hallways or abandoned playgrounds (think Titanic or Kubrik's iconic hotel). 

‣ Unrealistic terrain and structures: Floating buildings, distorted landscapes, and impossible perspectives. A popular videogame American McGee's Alice is a perfect reference!

‣ Vibrant colors: Often featuring pastel shades mixed with bright, saturated hues. Glitching and distortion: Creating a sense of unreality and instability. 

‣ Old technology: CRT televisions, VHS tapes, and other outdated technology evoke feelings of nostalgia. 

‣ Dreamlike characters: Big eyes, multiple limbs, and distorted faces create an unsettling yet strangely comforting atmosphere. 

‣ Text as a design element: Nonsensical messages, strange symbols, and dream-like fonts add to the surreal experience.

collage with three dreamcore inspired outfits

How to Dress Dreamcore?

Dressing in the Dreamcore aesthetic often blends decade-related elements, pastel colors, and whimsical accessories. Flowy, ethereal clothing such as oversized sweaters, vintage dresses, and lace details are commonly embraced within this style. Layering different textures and patterns adds depth and a dreamy quality to the ensemble. Pairing outfits with nostalgic accessories like cameo brooches, locket necklaces, or lace gloves contributes to the overall Dreamcore look.

  • Get the Makeup Look as Well

Achieving the Dreamcore makeup look involves soft, romantic touches that enhance the dream-like quality of the aesthetic. The soft pastel eyeshadows, shimmering highlighters, and flushed blush tones help create an ethereal appearance. Experimenting with iridescent or glittery elements adds a whimsical touch, resembling the sparkle of dreams. Delicate eyeliner, often in soft wings or artistic shapes, contributes to the surreal and fantasy aesthetic.

My personal favorite elements for the Dreamcore makeup look are colorful clouds, typically drawn on cheeks and eyelids. Another cool thing to add – confusing accents, that distorted facial proportions.

portrait of a woman with whimsical makeup look
Photo: Our Satellite Hearts

Let's wrap up...

Despite its utter elusiveness, the dreamcore aesthetic often resonates with those who seek the feeling of comforting nostalgia, with a touch of euphoria. It is hard to describe the feeling connected with it. Try listening to Tori Amos's early work while being sleep-deprived? Does it make any sense? Well, I tried!

Whether through fashion, makeup, art, or digital media, embracing Dreamcore allows them to explore the wondrous landscapes of their imagination, creating a harmonious blend of the real and the surreal. As it continues to evolve and enchant, this dark, moody aesthetic remains a testament to the enduring allure of the ethereal and timeless appeal of the dream world.