NOT ready to give up the cottagecore trend just yet? No problem—prairie dresses are back for another season and are looking just as romantic as ever.
Ever since Greta Gerwig’s Little Women remake hit screens at the end of 2019, fashion’s obsession for bucolic, Victoriana-inspired whimsy has really kicked up a notch—and with summer just around the corner, what could be prettier than floor-skimming floaty layers, floral prints and ruffle detailing?
So what is a prairie dress exactly? Well prairie dresses usually feature high necklines and full long skirts, along with ruffles, tiers, floaty fabrics and plenty of floral. The style dates back to rural America, circa the late 1800s, where they were worn by pioneer women. Often the dresses were homemade and typically featured rich colours and prints that dirt wouldn’t show up on as easily. Clever, right?
By the 70s, a full-on prairie dress revival was underway, thanks to the loose and flowing fashions of the hippie era and the growing popularity of Laura Ashley’s Victorian-inspired traditional fabrics and billowing silhouettes. It’s a look that fashion has frequently revisited and referenced ever since, and this year is no different—the likes of Moschino, Rodarte and See by Chloé all sent prairie dresses down the runways, so they’re definitely here to stay.
Ready to go prairie? Whether you embrace full-on romance with feminine accessories, toughen up the look with boots or go easy-wearing with sandals, there are a multitude of ways to do this look—and that’s before you even get to the choice of fabrics, from ditsy florals to more contemporary block colours.
Below, we’ve rounded up some of our faves for the season to get you inspired. Shop the best prairie dresses here.
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1. Best if high necklines aren’t your thing: Romacci’s Floral Print Deep V Neck Ruffle Maxi Dress
- (AD) Romacci Floral Print Deep V Neck Boho Maxi Dress High Waist Ruffle, £20.49 from Amazon – buy here
If the traditionally high neckline of a prairie dress feels too restrictive or—dare we say it—matronly for you, Romacci’s deep V neckline is a gorgeously sultry alternative.
Featuring the ditsy-est of floral prints against a soft white background, it also comes in blue if you fancy making a stronger impact. With ruffles in all the right places and a side high split, this is definitely the sexiest way to do prairie, while retaining all the femininity and floatiness of the style.
2. Best for summery vibes: R.Vivimos’ Half Sleeve Square Neck Midi Dress
- (AD) R.Vivimos Half Sleeve Square Neck Midi Dress, from £28.45 from Amazon – buy here
Looking for a prairie dress that’s primed for summer days? Coming right up.
This gorgeous frock by R.Vivimos is available in a range of pretty hues— naturally we’ve gone straight in for the sunniest option in bright and beautiful yellow.
Featuring a pretty dobby print and shirred detailing, the square neckline is pure milkmaid, with the ruffles and puff sleeves adding to the drama.
Accessorise with your fave summer sandals and a cute little straw bag for the cutest of picnic-ready looks.
3. Best denim prairie dress: M&S’ Denim Belted Midaxi Tiered Shirt Dress
- Denim Belted Midaxi Tiered Shirt Dress, £55 from M&S – buy here
Thought prairie dresses were only floral? Think again.
This beauty from Per Una at M&S retains all the details of true rural style, with a voluminous tiered skirt, puff detailing on the sleeves and an overall relaxed and laidback feel.
Styled with tan accessories, it’s a dress that suits grassy pastures and city pavements alike.
4. Best floral prairie dress: M&S’ Ditsy Floral High Neck Maxi Relaxed Dress
- Ditsy Floral High Neck Maxi Relaxed Dress, £39.50 from M&S – buy here
The most traditionally ‘prairie’ of all our picks, this M&S frock ticks all the boxes: it’s floral and tiered, with bib and waist detailing plus blouson sleeves for a floaty feel.
We love that it’s not quite maxi too, so you can show off a killer pair of sandals—always a winner.
Plus it’s made from sustainably sourced viscose to ensure its production methods are kinder to the environment and 100% traceable. A real must for eco-friendly shopping this season.
5. Best for ethereal wholesomeness: Urban Outfitters’ Florrie Prairie Midi Dress
- UO Florrie Prairie Midi Dress, £59 from Urban Outfitters – buy here
Sofia Coppola’s Virgin Suicides is another key cinematic reference for prairie style, and this beautifully whimsical number definitely recalls the film’s dreamy costumes.
Featuring a relaxed sleeveless silhouette with an empire waist and floaty tiered skirt, it’s finished with delicate lace trims for a truly romantic feel.
Crafted from pure cotton, it’s perfect for summer wear too: team with pretty sandals to continue the ethereal look, or pair with a pair of boots and a biker jacket for tougher, trans-seasonal wear.
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Enjoyed our guide for the best prairie dresses? Why not check out the best spring knitwear?
We’ve also rounded up the best white t-shirts for women that will nail your staple wardrobe.
And check out our dedicated Sun Selects fashion section for more style tips, trends and products.