The anti-sexy Prairie dresses are back in style and it’s time to try it on

The Prairie dresses were mostly seen in maxi-length, tonal florals with long sleeves that was more of a message and less of an outfit. Now, it’s one of the much-talked-about trends of the season.

fashion and trends Updated: Dec 05, 2018 11:15 IST
Srishti Jha
Srishti Jha
Hindustan Times, Delhi
Prarie dress,fashion,fashion and trends
Types of prairie dresses, making a comeback in the fashion scene(Instagram)

As modest and traditional the Prairie dress has been considered over a period of time, it is one of the current season’s most talked about patterns. It’s not only about ‘going back to the basics’ mode. Womenswear has gone through many stages since its very evolution as per the etiquettes, body language, societal reservations, class conflicts and approval from men among other more significant issues like comfort, state of mind, personal choice, identity and individuality.

The maxi-length Prairie dresses were mostly seen in tonal florals with long sleeves that was more of a message and less of an outfit. The home-sewn dresses were worn by pioneer women in the mid-19th century during the American Civil war, a cut down adaptation of the ruffled and elegant high-fashion dress patterns during the early 1820s. The dress was looked upon as a variation of high fashion to the feasibilities of country life in the Western United States. At the inception of this pattern back then focused on block colours and prints as they did not show stains and dirt caused due to chores across the day. There was a decorative element in terms of frilly silhouettes around the neckline and shoulders. New York based designer Batsheva Hay captured the #throwback spirit with Batsheva dress, embracing the spirit of this classic overlooked Prairie dress by giving it an edge to the bodice with new prints, accessories and most importantly, redefining the feminity associated with it.

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A throwback Friday, if you will (to the 1800’s).

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Beautiful Mackenzie Foy

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It’s much more than just a garment that you can use to hide everything about your body that you are not proud of. This significant trend of the season and the future exudes power, glamour in its classic demeanour at fashion weeks, talk shows, premiers and of course, social media.

If you are wondering as to how can you were experiment with the Prairie dress, here are 4 ways to wear it and stand out.

The maximalist

If you are a maximalist and a lover of voluminous style, go for denser ruffles and puffier sleeves in big floral prints and accessorise with hats, throws and boots. Give your hair a boho look and you are ready to stand out without a care in the world.

Mix and match

As the Prairie dress won’t leave you pining for prints, you can experiment with layering the dress with jackets, pullovers and capes. You can go for statement shoes, classic heels or strap on sandals as per your choice of colour to bring some tonality to the entire look. Complete the look with a pair of silver of gold hoops and a minimal pendant. You can either go for plaids or a neat bun to go with it.

The minimalist

As less is more for some, you can opt for plain fabrics with or without textures in white, grey, black and the pastel palette. You can stylize the dress with lacy frills, embroidery and silhouettes depending upon your love for extra. You can perfect the look with pearls around your neck and curls in your hair and you are elegance personified.

It’s all in the sleeve

The Prairie dress is open to interpretation with sleeves. If you are not into the classic pattern, you can experiment with half sleeves, sleeveless, ruffled edges or even the sleeves in a different fabric and texture. That opens a lot of scope for neckline as well and you can accessorise the look with bracelets and cuffs.

Some lump it into the Western revival; others describe it as part of an antisexy movement within the industry; The Washington Post deemed it to be the “most provocative thing in fashion;” The New York Times characterized fans of its look as “pioneer women.” No matter how you characterize it, explain its rise, or feel about this very specific silhouette, it’s clear that the prairie dress is at the very center of the fashion zeitgeist.

Those long-sleeve, mid- to maxi-length dresses, usually in some sort of antique-looking floral, are pervasive for fall 2018 and future seasons, but it’s been a slow burn. This aesthetic—and its hero item—has been the bread and butter of smaller fashion brands like the New York–based Batsheva (worn by celebrities including Lena Dunham, Gillian Jacobs, and Amandla Stenberg) and London label The Vampire’s Wife (beloved by the likes of Alexa Chung, Florence Welch, and Olivia Wilde) for a few years now. They’ve helped make these modest, frilly frocks in vintage prints and fabrics go mainstream—before bigger names like Dior, Coach, and Kate Spade New York started incorporating the silhouette (or pieces derived from it) into their collections.

For the designers behind the prairie-dress trend, this isn’t a surprising development: On the rise of more covered-up fashion, designer Batsheva Hay of Batsheva told Glamour that “women today are reevaluating our behavior and our choices…. I want [my clothes to embody] what our decisions would be like if we actually made all of our own choices, without considering what men think we should wear.”

If you’re curious about the dress sensation that’s sweeping the industry—or, at the very least, want to see what all the fuss is about—consider the 19 prairie-esque styles for your fall wardrobe.

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First Published: Dec 05, 2018 11:12 IST