On Nouveau Peasantry & Elitist Simplicity!

Peasant blouses, boho skirts and handmade, vegetable-dyed leather that one meets in every single catalogue and website is a trend I warm toward! (Largely because the look covers a multitude of sins, and apart from a very fortunate handful, makes everyone look ridiculously shapeless. It also fosters belief that a large segment of the world couldn’t-care-less about what they put on! Yes, myΒ naivetΓ© is charming, indeed!) πŸ™‚

Conversing about this and the incomprehensible prices of ‘heirloom grains’ with my in-the-know, whole-foods loving friends, I recently got called an aspiring ‘New Peasant’ and was pointed to the Harper’s Bazaar quiz to check if I really had ‘the symptoms’! (Well, I do live in Dorset and buy way more Goats cheese than anyone above a size 0 legimitately should! ;P) But, all jokes aside, I have to admit that there is a latent, softly-emerging “Nouveau Peasant” that’s come to the fore as my nesting instincts have been test driven these past few months! (If you are a first time visitor, can I gently point in you in this direction for a catch up?!)


Wood, simple living, rustic, new peasant
Wood, simple living, rustic, new peasant

Like endless culturally and geographically displaced 30 + year olds, the appeal of a more meaningful existence removed from the abject capitalism of the 80’s and 90’s appeals to me. The idea of a quieter, more pro-active life filled with pursuits deemed β€œauthentic”, β€œreal” and β€œmeaningful” holds a certain inescapable charm.Β  Possibly echoing an entire generation that I’m part of, I’ve felt like a hamster on the wheel and toyed with the idea of a country home with the smells of freshly baking bread, rain kissed gardens and the pleasures of home-made chutneys/ jams devoured gratefully with a few friends that matter etc. etc…and if that makes me a new peasant, I’d gladly don the title! (After all, who wouldn’t want a slice of this careless perfection, often captured in scores of lifestyle mags with cool muted photos on matte film, untouched by the taint of reality?!)

The only fly in the ointment here is that the closer I look at these suburban aspirations available in a profusion of “Indie” channels, the more obvious the elitism of this ‘simplicity’ is! Often, carefully concealed in these frugal, made-from-scratch lifestyles of homesteading dreams and rustic hand-thrown salads is a subtext of discrimination and division. One can’t but see through the rhetoric of the ‘jam-jar revolution’ to know that it’s as much about the haves and have-nots as is a full-fledged designer dinner put together by high-profile planners and caterers. Aspiring to this new-peasant, fern-rich-simplicity is sadly a very middle-class ethos!


Wood, simple living, rustic, new peasant, tea, speciality, hipster

The more I think about this, the more I conclude that we’re drawn to the lure of a life of unmitigated good times for a reason; after all, no other generation stood the chance of seeing the advancements ours has, or felt more entitled to a better life! Our constant search for contentment is seen even in the mere reminiscence of a well baked croissant or a freshly brewed pot of your drink of choice! The story of our lives seems to have moved to the fine print and the magic lies solely in the details. The bigger picture is just too daunting to contemplate.

Life only seems to make sense when broken down into it’s rudimentary form of human connections. With this I agree….

What I find fault with is the story of people/collectives who project the lives you wish you could live, the cool elitism of their ‘artisan’ simplicity causing distinctions and exclusions in their thumbing their noses at anything mainstream. (Tut-tut anyone who uses regular plates or supermarket cutlery to photograph their authentic offerings!) A contradiction unambiguously jarring to the very premise of home-making and fellowshipping; connectedness and community! The fundamental backbone of a human collective, as it were!

Wood, simple living, rustic, new peasant, bread

Interesting that this profusion of baking , the “real” food and the “real” living and all our “cultivated” and “curated” beauty occurs quite conspicuously among those fairly well placed on the social ladder (quite unlike generations that precceeded us with their dreams of capitalism and a resultant land of ‘milk and honey’).Β  Is it all evidence that we yearn for a better world and seek to create a microcosm of it in our own lives, despite the fact that we are not quite the ‘struggling’?!

Living as we do in a world that stamps out honest, wholesome principles of relationships ie: intimacy and connectedness and plays into the ample hands of fabricated creativity-the answer barely lies in a ‘choreography’ of meaningfulness. Recognising that living simple shouldn’t cost so much, connecting with loved ones shouldn’t need a Β£1000 camera and every social media at the ready, is probably a good place to start!

And please, for the love of life, let’s bring potato chips and cheese puffs back to the party –the people serving Quinoa on Nori mostly look miserable for a reason! ;P


Wood, simple living, rustic, new peasant, chorizo, wine


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  1. says

    I hope you will permit me an ounce of stupidity as I comment on this post. As someone who lives outside the mainstream and who carves their own niche I am somewhat lost. Perhaps I have missed the point and hope I have not misunderstood, but I am not the least bit offended which I think was the intention? If I have got it right then I am sad and unsurprised in equal measures. We must do what is heartfelt in this life lest it should become a sham πŸ™‚
    sustainablemum recently posted…EatingMy Profile

  2. says

    Accept my apologies on being long winded enough to have not made my point obviously. This post was not about stalwarts like yourself, for whom I have the utmost respect. You have the courage to actually live this life for real. My point was about the lifestyle that pretends to sell this life, but on the weekends, if you get my drift! It’s all so artisan that unless you’re a ceramicist or a gourmand, there’s no place for you in here.It’s a simple living that costs about five times a regular one because of the very expensive simple gear. This is the pretend peasantry that is sweeping through the affluent west and I was looking at the trend, lightheartedly. I admire you in no small way and have always made that evident. Please do accept my apologies, very heartfelt one at that if I’ve made you feel that I’ve criticised your way of life. I literally salute you everytime I’ve had a glimpse of your life.

  3. Lorraine says

    I’m so glad you’ve written this, I laugh inwardly as I see this movement sweep over literally every colleague here in the US. I agree with you in more than one way. The only thing I appreciate about it is that it’s brought home the point that it’s only friends, family and relationships that count at the end of the day. The rest is artifice! Brilliantly written. XO

  4. says

    Hey I am not in the least bit offended :). Just saddened that some are pretending to live the simple life masked as something else. I guess I probably knew it existed just didn’t want to truly believe it………..
    sustainablemum recently posted…EatingMy Profile

  5. says

    Thank you so much! I’d be so upset to know I’ve upset you in any way at all! Oh yes, the superficiality of that is awful, and you see it everywhere…possibly a bit more in the US than here in Britain! The reverse discrimination against anything that’s not served in custom made artisan ceramic, photographed on a mark 3 camera and held on vintage tea towels! Makes me laugh because I love seeing those beautiful images and love making them too…but I know I’m nowhere close to living that idealic life that every indie lifestyle mag sells me πŸ™‚ I hope my comment on your post came through. Xx

  6. says

    Wonderfully written, as always! I think there is a big conflict with those craving a simplistic lifestyle, yet desiring only the ‘best’ (read ‘most expensive’) products. I live in the countryside with chickens and ducks and I want my son to appreciate the beauty of the nature surrounding him. At the same time, though, we are still surrounded by very well-off people and there is an element of one upmanship from some of those, in spite of their insistence that they live a true country lifestyle (whilst driving their 30k cars and buying meat from the most expensive of home delivery options rather than the wonderful local butcher!)xx
    Hannah Budding Smiles recently posted…Bloggers Snail MailMy Profile

  7. says

    That is my criticism…the mockery of what should be a truly better way of life! As a friend of mine mentioned, the only good hing about this simplicity driven trend is that it’s gettting people’s focus back to family. I’m personally hoping the aspirational bit of it will die down as people get a bit fedup spending Β£24 on a wooden teaspoon! ;P Well done you for growing Toby up in a lovely, natural environment. xx

  8. says

    I’m not sure I am ready to leave out of the mainstream, I watch all those programmes on TV about people building a better, simpler life off the beaten track but I always wonder if a year or two down the line they are truly happy. For now I am happy to live within walking distance of civilisation
    Boo Roo and Tigger Too recently posted…Harry Potter Snuggle Sac {Review}My Profile

  9. says

    If that’s what people genuinely feel driven from within to do, more power to them! I aspire to that life, but am miles away from being able to cope. I don’t yet have the skill sets needed to be able to sustain it. πŸ™‚ I, in my own way try to amalgamate good aspects of both ways of life . x

  10. Daniel Simm says

    This reminded me of an article I once saw that gave a recipe (wait for it!) for a simple-lifestyle coffee when out for an afternoon stroll in the woods. It involved bringing a ridiculously expensive pair of weighing scales, a portable bean grinder, and many other things that you apparently need if you want to live like a *insert latest lifestyle trend here*.
    It made me wonder what the most important part of their afternoon walk was… It certainly wasn’t the conversation, or the surroundings.

  11. says

    Haha…this made me laugh! πŸ˜€ I love my coffee, I really do…in a desperate sort of way, but no way am I going to persuaded to take all that stuff out on a walk. I suppose my woodland walk is just not article material ;P Tsk!!

  12. says

    Wonderfully written, friend! Yes, I agree with you, simplicity is quite difficult for us that don’t own the right accessories, or look ridiculous in the latest simple fashion trend. I find simplicity appealing when it is about using what you have at hand, and making time for what truly matters.
    Glad to see you back! xx
    Elisabeth recently posted…11 little factsMy Profile

  13. says

    I love the simplicity you follow, Elisabeth! All of us yearn for that and try to do our best. I know I certainly try, though succeeding is a whole different matter! πŸ™‚ xx

  14. says

    Gosh what friends do you have?!?! hahaha. My family are all country bumpkins and go out and hunt their own game and grow their own veg and are the centre of the village community. AND YET also shop in Tesco πŸ™‚ …and would probably kill me if I tried to make them eat quinoa…even the well to do ones who lived in London and then came back to live in the middle of nowhere! Some people try too hard….best ignore them! It would annoy the hell out of me! sorry to be frank! P.S Your photography skills are ah-maz-ing!!
    susan @happyhealthymumma recently posted…Apple Cider Vinegar – A List of BenefitsMy Profile

  15. says

    Haha! My friends are quite lovely actually, if slightly hipster! ;P Some of them work within this new lifestyle wave that’s sweeping through America and has caught up with Britain where there is a great need to go back to basics and live with intentional simplicity! I quite fancied the idea too until it became a bit obvious that the simplicity is quite rigged and is about as much a club as any other lifestyle clique. Still not a bad trend, I’d say, but like any, has a flipside! Yes, I totally agree that everyone has to find their peace within, no amount of bespoke coffee or wholefood-driven tidal waves are likely to find that for you. I love looking at trends and seeing what is at the core of this zeitgeist πŸ™‚ It’s no tirade against any one way of life, I think amidst it all, we must find our own balance (easier said than done, I suppose! ;P) Thank you Susan, for stopping by and sharing your views…much appreciated. xx

  16. says

    Fantastic photos and you’ve totally sold me the lifestyle….. ha ha ha. And I couldn’t agree more… that this simplicity proffered comes at a price, which makes the whole thing a total contradiction, and is so insulting to those who have very little income and to those who are genuinely living the life. You don’t need bags of money and a French baguette to find yourself. Lovely to be reading you again. X
    older mum in a muddle recently posted…#One Week – Summer ’14 – A New RhythmMy Profile

  17. says

    Ooh, hello you! I’m so pleased you’re back πŸ™‚ Hahaha, I’m glad and cannot wait to see you deadpanning with your baguette in a fog-washed selfie! ;P Jokes apart, I agree, despite the fact that I quite buy into the photographic sensibility of this trend. Visual expression for me is often divorced from reality and I’m happy with that, but to make it a gold-standard for something as subjective as meaningful living is a bit much! I have had loads of very meaningful exchanges over paper plates and corn puffs (twiglets too!). I don’t need hyacinths and seaweed for meaning!x I’m rushing off to read what you’ve been writing, so pleased to see you back! xx

  18. says

    I love the way that you write that forces me to read slowly and even makes me read sentences more than once. It is almost like you look out the window between each sentence, a vibe that is so entwined with the words that it prohibits the speed reading reader. Your lifestyle says SLOW DOWN and so does your writing style. There was only one irony that you need to iron out for me. You state that people should be able to photography cheap cutlery and cheesy wotsits but yet your photographyis classy and middle class too no? I know I love it in an aspirational way. Just confused on that little point, but otherwise loved the post x
    Liska @NewMumOnline recently posted…#NewsMumOnline on The UK Blogging and Vlogging WorldMy Profile

  19. says

    Thank you for that lovely comment, Liska! It made me smile ear to ear πŸ™‚ I hear you and yes, I agree in part…. I’m probably going to do a terrible job explaining, but bear with me! To me, it’s an aesthetic…I like making pictures, very often, between work and mommyhood, my visual creativity is lost and often, it’s only by piecing together crockery and cutlery, I give vent to that. It’s NOT a way of life…and I’m not given to hanging out in overly “cultured” places constantly. I’m as at home eating street food in India and my possessions (barring very few) are cheaply sourced, if good looking. I actually own no expensive kitchenware πŸ™‚ the happy outcome of moving nearly every year! What I criticize is the religiosity of these nouveau trends… Gosh, who wouldn’t like to live like they’re in an Anthropologie catalogue?! ;-)I’ve seen bread making become so entrenched with some of my friends that an odd loaf of Hovis demands evacuation of both space and bringer of such plebtitude … I hope somewhere in this rambling, you sense my position on the matter πŸ™‚ Thank you SO much for stopping by. Xx


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