In case you haven’t noticed, channeling your inner prairie woman is very in. Laura Ingalls is your new muse, if you’ll have her.
The New York times noted the trend in September, and multiple outlets have followed suit. Personally I’m very up for this fashion inclination, which took hold about a year ago and is showing no signs of slowing down. The dresses are forgiving and comfortable—granted, you might have to give up on caring what your husband or male significant other thinks about what you’re wearing. He probably won’t get it.
But trust me, letting go of that particular concern is a liberating endeavor and worthy of any effort it might require. Plus you will revel in wearing these pretty dresses.
Batsheva is the recent breakout designer in this category, but there are others who have always had a subtle Little House vibe and are currently doubling down on the trend. Here are some of my favorite ruffled looks, no butter churning necessary.
This L.A. designer was born in the late 1970s on the island of Fiji where her mother copied fashions she found in the Vanity Fair fashion magazines she ordered and sewed them for herself and her daughter. Being isolated from the influences of trends, her mother developed a strong sense of style. Even when the family moved to New Zealand, her mom continued to hand-make her clothes.
Thoms’ designs are reminiscent of her mother’s heirloom pieces and are infused with a California sensibility. She also creates her clothing ethically at a small family-run business in Bali.
It’s fair to say that Batsheva has exploded over the past year. The New York-based ready-to-wear brand for women and girls was founded in 2016 by Batsheva Hay, who has an affinity for Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ashley, Holly Hobbie, and anything with 80s ruffles. The brand’s Instagram account has become a sensation, with celebrity fans including Christina Ricci, Aidy Bryant, Brie Larson, Courtney Love, and Busy Phillips among others.
“Batsheva plays with American styles of feminine dress—from Victorian to pioneer; from housewife to hippie,” says the designer’s website, and I can’t imagine a better description. Laura Ingalls Wilder never could have imagined high collars, puffy sleeves, and long ruffled skirts could be this sexy. Batsheva is “rejecting antiquated notions of womanhood” and we’re all for it.
The Peacock dress, $1,950
Susie Cave, a former model and wife of Nick Cave, launched The Vampire’s Wife in 2014. She did not have high hopes of the brand’s success, it was more an effort to provide herself with something she’d love wearing to events. But she was soon beloved by Florence Welch, Cate Blanchett, Chloë Grace Moretz, Alexa Chung and Kylie Minogue. And with fashion’s current obsession with covered up, ruffled styles, her popularity has skyrocketed.
Ulla Johnson has long incorporated refined prairie style into her designs, which somehow fits with the fact that her parents were archeologists. And judging by her spring/summer 2019 collection, she’s certainly capitalizing on the current trend. Even her sweatshirts have voluminous sleeves.
The sisters behind Doen, Margaret and Katherine Kleveland, create flowy, comfortable, earth mother designs that would fit right in on any prairie, or the street of New York city. You can’t really beat that for versatility.