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So, Dressing Like a Prairie Girl Is Still a Thing — Here’s How to Actually Pull It Off

Urban prairie girls coming to a town near you and are…trendier than ever? Whether you live on the prairie or not, the style of the season (and the past summer season) incorporates the typical “prairie girl” into an urban scene, otherwise known as U.P.G., or Urban Prairie Girl.  In an article from WWD, they predicted that “Prairie Tale” or otherwise known as “Urban Prairie” is expected to be a Spring 2019 trend. Yes, I am referring to the style of the 1800s and calling it a current fashion trend. 

Some of you are probably wondering (because I know I am) — what exactly is the prairie girl fashion and how do you make it trendy? Is it possible to partake in certain trends from this style without going full-on prairie girl? Absolutely. According to The New York Times, a typical prairie girl style includes puffy sleeves, peasant tops, tunic dresses, boots, flowy silhouettes, ruffles, high collar necks, floral, a lot of rough textures and fringe. A lot of people would describe this type of style as kind of messy and all over the place, especially compared to past fashion styles that are more put-together. But whether you like it or not, prairie girls are more stylish than ever. 

For those of you jumping onto the prairie girl style trend, or even just incorporating certain garments of this style into your everyday wear, here are ways to not just join the urban prairie bandwagon, but to nail it.

Ruffles, ruffles & more ruffles

Yellow Floral Ruffle DressOrange Ruffle Slouchy Sweater | Green Check Frill Miniskirt | Navy Ruffled Floral Midi Dress

Ruffles can be recognized in a variety of different types of garments and in an array of diverse styles and colors. Ruffles add a feminine, chic touch to the garment and are associated with past garments in the old, initial “prairie girl” style. Nowadays, you can see ruffles in almost every kind/style of garment. 

Boots are a must

Tan Leather Riding Boots | White Lace-Up Bootie | Chestnut Suede Hiking Bootie | Black Crave Boot | Dark Grey Western BootDenim Blue Leather Bootie 

Shoes can make or break the entire vibe of an outfit, which is why picking the right shoes to make the perfect “prairie” girl outfit is crucial. There are so many options to choose from when it comes to boots (knee-high boots, riding boots, ankle booties, lace-up, suede, and velvet). During the winter season, your go-to shoe, despite the style you’re going for, is most likely a boot. The key to picking the best boot for the U.P.G. is a western-like shoe. Stick to the neutral colored lace-up booties, combat boots, old-western riding boots, etc. Grungy is the best way to describe these types of boots; however, they do not need to look “dirty,” but old-fashioned. 

Not your typical sleeve

Heather Grey Mock Neck Top | Red Floral Dress |  Animal Print Bell Sleeve DressCamel/White Funnel Neck Sweater | Light Blue/Purple V-Neck Sweater

Over the past few seasons, sleeves have become more of a statement and have continued to trend. Examples of puffy types of sleeves/shoulders include the mutton-sleeve, bell sleeve, peasant sleeve, Juliet sleeve, and the balloon sleeve. Adding puff sleeves to a top or dress creates a high volume look and is a chic, unique touch to the garment. Back in the prairie days, women were constantly seen wearing larger sleeves of some kind and this throwback trend has recently emerged into current trendy fashion.

The higher the neck, the better

Black Ruffle Detail Popover Blouse | Yellow Peplum TopOlive Pullover Sweater | Orange Lace Collar SweaterNavy Floral Dot Dress 

One of the most “prairie girl” looks includes a high neck or collar. These high necks can be simple or they can be frilled or detailed in some way. Back during the pioneer days, high necks/collars were a dramatic fashion statement on their dresses, tops, and even sometimes coats. In today’s fashion, the high neck still makes that statement and most of the typical “prairie shirts” or “prairie dresses” include some kind of drama in the neckline.

Vintage floral

Green Floral Square Neck Blouse | Natural Red Flounce Bouquet Blouse | White Floral Ruffle Midi Dress | Black / White Floral Top | Teal Floral Wrap Minidress 

Floral is always a good choice when it comes to using patterns to make a fashion statement. Vintage florals dominated the fashion back when the U.P.G. look was initially established long ago. These floral fabrics were predominant to the Victorian silhouettes. Today, vintage floral is a chic way to show your inner U.P.G. and can be found in a wide variety of looks. The antique appearance of these florals create a dainty, feminine vibe and will be taking over your wardrobe.

Fringe for life

Navy Plaid Fringe Ruana | Light Pink Fringe EarringsTan Suede Fringe Bootie | Dark Oxblood Fringe Slipdress | Colorblock ScarfLight Denim Fringe Skinny JeansPeriwinkle Fringe Sleeve Pullover Sweater | Black Fringe Faux Leather Crossbody Bag

Fringe has been attempting to make a comeback for some time now, but now, this western-like trend is hitting the market hard. Whether it is used for detail on a jacket or shoe or the addition to accessories, it supports the U.P.G. look. When it comes to this prairie-inspired look we are all going for, incorporating fringe is a definite must. This prairie-girl “fringe” trend is being found in the chicest ways possible and we can’t wait to use fringe to spice up our U.P.G. look.

And last, but definitely not least, lace

Wine Lace Cap Sleeve Sheath | Beige Heather Lace Pullover | Orange Lace BlouseNavy & Black Asymmetric Lace SkirtGolden Lace Inset Top | Teal High/Low Lace Dress | Emerald Lace Trim Top 

The U.P.G. look is not a thing without lace. Lace creates a vintage, old-fashioned feeling in a feminine manner. Lace has been around for awhile, but the most essential way to show off the “prairie girl” look is the application of lace to pull it all together. Lace was the key to this Victorian/Prairie girl era and is being brought into modern fashion. It may be used overall throughout the entire garment, or simply could just be applied in the trim, but all in all, lace is everything a prairie girl needs. With the combination of other prairie girl trends, the use of lace collectively assembles the entire U.P.G. that is coming into all of our current fashion radars. 

Some may say there’s a reason this 1800s fashion become outdated while others are all about it. What are your thoughts on this 1800s throwback? Are you down to be a prairie girl or are you going to ignore this style trend? 

Alyssa Cook

Ball State '19

Ambitious midwestern girl with an obsession with pizza and my dog.
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