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Have you ever walked through the knee-high grasses of the American prairie? Odds are likely not, but that shouldn’t stop you from getting in on summer’s romantic trend and wearing one of the best prairie dresses. The year 2020 marked the rise of cottagecore, a craft-centric trend that applied to both dreamy dresses and a desire for a life filled with at-home DIYs. But in 2022 the lens is shifting. With the rise of Victorian-era dramas like HBO’s The Gilded Age and epic westerns like The Power Of The Dog, there’s a cultural pull toward the wistful appeal of the vintage aesthetic.
Traditionally the prairie dress is defined by a few key details: ruffles, a high neckline, voluminous sleeves, and a billowy body. Generally they’re fabricated in light cotton or linen, ideal for time outside in warmer temperatures. But this season brands are incorporating fresh twists to the classic, choosing thin shoulder straps or an oversized collar as alternatives to the traditional (and often constrictive) neckline. With the rise of shorter hemlines, you’ll also find a number of options that hit above the knee this year.
For more established iterations, try a light white dress with a billowy bottom. Or go for a pastel floral-print dress—an ideal option for dressy daytime occasions.
Ahead, find five takes on the prairie dress that feel modern and un-frumpy. Whichever way you choose to embrace the aesthetic, just make sure you find a field somewhere to frolic in.
White and Lightweight
For a warm day outdoors, a floaty white dress will keep you comfortable, even in the sun. Try a crochet long-sleeve option for a more traditional feel, or opt for something sleeveless for a more modern take.
Sea Georgina open-back midi dress
Isabel Marant Étoile Lanikaye mini dress
Ulla Johnson Olina tiered midi dress
Aje Tidal corset midi dress
Merlette Soliman tiered mini dress
Bird and Knoll Alba maxi dress
While prairie dresses tend to feel better suited to casual activities, these thin-strap versions have a bit more polish, making them ideal party dresses. Look for a statement neckline or waist details to make the look pop.
Tory Burch Hook and Eye dress
Veronica Beard Windansea maxi dress
LoveShackFancy Camisha crochet-trimmed maxi dress
Cara Cara Haley midi dress
Juliet Dunn tie-shoulder floral-print midi dress
Embrace the return of the mini with these cropped options that hit just above the knee. You’ll still embody the prairie core aesthetic but in a way that works for modern occasions.
Hill House Home the Athena Nap dress
& Other Stories smocked mini dress
Juliet Dunn printed dress
Farm Rio Delicate Forest Scarves mini dress
Faithfull the brand Venezia shirred linen midi dress
Reformation Desiree check mini dress
One trend worth exploring this season is the statement collar. These summer dresses still have a vintage feel but without the constricting high neck.
Sea Annika smocked floral-print midi dress
Kiki Vargas Dorothea dress
Ganni jacquard mini dress
Batsheva May floral dress
HVN Marina belted shirt dress
Rixo Ellen denim maxi dress
For days when you want a dress that will keep your legs covered entirely, you’ll want to consider these sweeping maxi styles. The best prairie dresses are breezy, billowy, and ideal for keeping you cool in hot temperatures.
Altuzarra Lily shirred off-the-shoulder maxi dress
Gucci floral-print muslin dress
Loretta Caponi Gioia smocked embroidered maxi dress
The Great the Prairie Bird lace-trimmed maxi dress
La DoubleJ Scarlett flounced maxi dress
If it’s already working, don’t mess with tradition. These pretty floral designs will look great with the addition of mules and a basket bag.
Lug Von Siga Sophie pleated maxi dress
D’Ascoli Greta tiered maxi dress
Caroline Costas Gianna printed maxi dress
O Pioneers Nora ruffled midi dress
Markarian Apple faille midi dress