The best prairie dresses for pulling off cottagecore this summer

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Have you ever walked through the knee-high grasses of the American prairie? Odds are probably not, but that shouldn’t stop you from embracing the romantic summer trend and wearing one of the best prairie dresses. 2020 marked the rise of cottagecore, an artisan-centric trend that applied to both dreamy dresses and the desire for a full DIY life at home. But in 2022, the lens is shifting. With the rise of Victorian-era dramas such as HBO’s The Gilded Age and epic westerns like The power of the dog, There’s a cultural pull to 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 billowing body. Generally made from lightweight cotton or linen, they are also ideal for spending time outdoors in warmer temperatures. But this season, brands are incorporating fresh twists on the classic, opting for thin shoulder straps or an oversized collar as an alternative to the traditional (and often constricting) neckline. With the advent of shorter hemlines this year, you’ll also find a range of options that hit above the knee.

For more established iterations, try a bright white dress with a billowy butt. Or you can opt for a pastel colored dress with a floral print – an ideal option for elegant daytime occasions.

Find five prairie dress variations ahead of time that feel modern, not dated. However you decide to embrace the aesthetic, just make sure you find a field to let off steam.

White and light

On a warm day outdoors, a floaty white dress keeps you comfortable even in the sun. Try a crocheted long sleeve option for a more traditional feel, or opt for something sleeveless for a more modern twist.

Isabel Marant Étoile Jaena crochet maxi dress in embroidered cotton blend with lace trim

Tove Ceres midi dress in pleated organic cotton

Matteau organic cotton poplin maxi dress with broderie anglaise

Aje Tidal corset midi dress

Self Portrait tie broderie anglaise midi dress in organic cotton

Gabriela Hearst Alex upcycled linen blend maxi dress

Thin straps

While prairie dresses are more suited to casual activities, these thin strap versions have a little more sparkle, making them the ideal party dress. Look for an eye-catching neckline or waist detail to elevate the look.

Kika Vargas tiered ruffled cotton midi dress

Carolina Herrera sweetheart cotton midi dress

Shrimp Red Liberty Midi Dress

Rosie Assoulin Rough Led Around the Edges Dress

Loretta Caponi Armida smocked cotton poplin dress with floral pattern

Lug Von Siga Melody midi dress in ruched linen with a floral print and ruffles

Short hem

Say hello to the return of the Mini with these cropped options that hit just above the knee. They’ll still embody the core prairie aesthetic, but in a way that’s appropriate for modern occasions.

Ulla Johnson Miranda belted cotton-blend mini dress

Christy Dawn the Verna dress

Batsheva x Laura Ashley Welsh floral print cotton dress

Loveshackfancy Viola lace-trimmed tie-dye cotton voile mini dress

Tanya Taylor Tiana floral mini dress with puff sleeves

Muzungu Sisters Florence organic cotton mini dress with snail print

statement collar

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 Violette printed embroidered cotton midi dress with broderie anglaise trim

Cecilie Bahnsen Malou cotton dress with floral embroidery

Long Marocain dress by Miu Miu

Ganni oversized seersucker wrap midi dress

La DoubleJ Abito Della vita maxi dress in gathered cotton poplin with open back and ruffles

Horror Vacui Heidi cotton poplin maxi dress with floral print

maxi dress

On days when you want a dress that fully covers your legs, consider these flowy maxi styles. The best prairie dresses are airy, billowy and ideal for keeping you cool in hot temperatures.

D’Ascoli Greta tiered khadi cotton maxi dress with floral print

Yvonne S Tiered cotton-voile maxi dress with floral print and ruffles

Agua by Agua Bendita Linen Maxi Dress with Magnolia Print

Gucci cotton muslin maxi dress with damask print

Farm Rio Pineapple Beach Embroidered Maxi Dress

Rixo Cannes tiered midi dress in embroidered cotton with open back and open back

pastel flowers

If it’s already working, don’t mess with tradition. These pretty floral designs look great when you add mules and a basket bag.

Zimmermann Andie ruched floral print silk maxi dress

& Other Stories button-down printed midi dress

Caroline Constas Gianna maxi dress in a floral cotton blend

Faithfull the Brand Tayari midi dress in floral linen

Rixo Kristen maxi dress in cotton with a floral print

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