Friday, April 3, 2020

Styling a Prairie Dress


 Free People "Yessica" Dress

I've been working on this for a little while but last week M at M Get's Dressed wrote a great post about styling modest or conservative dresses in a modern way and it reminded me to actually finish this.  I love the prairie dress revival that's trendy right now and have been looking at way too many 70's Gunne Sax dresses on ebay.  I found this Free People dress on ebay for $15.99 a bit ago and it's a very good replica of those Gunne Sax Prairie dresses and between my obsession with the 70's does Victorian, I'm pretty stoked about this dress.

I've put together some looks with items from my closet to show some styling ideas and how the dress works with different coat length and styles.  As M mentioned in her post, footwear makes a big difference in how you style this and how it will come across but unless you're wearing it with literal granny boots, you aren't going to look like you just came off the set of "little house on the prairie." (Although granny boots would actually be super cute.)

This is how the dress looked when I first bought it. I'm 5'2 so the dress is a bit longer on me than the model.  The straps also are longer which is a fairly normal thing - in the second photo I've done a quick strap alteration and it made a difference in how the bodice fits. I took it up just a hair too much however and the dress fit a little to close under my armpit and would of been hair to wear a shirt under it so I let down the straps just a bit and ended up with the final look. It's not a huge thing but one I do to almost all of my dresses, it makes everything fit just a bit better.  Ideally, I would like to take up the skirt maybe four inches but that's a bigger alternation than I felt like doing at the moment, ha.

 In the first shot, I wore a lace top with vague Victorian influences for a little bit more warmth (it's still winter here) and because I like to layer almost all of my dresses.  The top really gives the dress a cool apron look and feeds into the "Little House on the Prairie" vibes. 

Footwear and coats are where you'll be able to state " this is intentional and I'm not just doing poor cosplay" - a heavy pair of platform docs suddenly makes this look very intentional and I personally like the contrast of a very solid, "ready to run for the bus" boot with a long dress. Paired with a long coat and a Baker's Cap, this suddenly looks very not conservative.  You can switch out the Baker's Cap for a flat brimmed hat for a western vibe or go for a fringed leather jacket.  (With the leather jacket, even though my hair is pulled back in a low bun which would be closer to the hair style of some conservative sects, the makeup and the jacket really show that this is an intentional styling.  I am wearing visual makeup in this post but with intentional styling of your dress and styled hair, you really would "have" to wear makeup to make this an outfit. I'm just really extra and I'm wearing all of the colorful dirt on my face right now.  I do think makeup can be a useful tool in creating a "look" but I don't feel it's something you have to do.  Most of my older posts I wear either no or very minimal makeup and I don't think it takes away, although nothing could of saved some of my older outfits, haha.)

* A Note: Ok, you probably are not going to look like you're a sister wife or a homeschooler or "enter your choice of conservative group" here.  Every group have a very, very specific look and that look is not just "a long dress, lol" but intentional hairstyling, dress styles, fit and materials and other added things.  I see this thought pop up a lot when every people ask about styling dresses like this and the point is - if you aren't of that particular group, you aren't going to look like it because even though you might not think it, it is a VERY intentional look within each group and you aren't going to randomly hit that because you're wearing a long dress. . Sure, some dick might make a stupid joke but that's on them.   I live in an area with many Russian Orthodox and I have never once been mistaken for one because aside from wearing a long dress, our styles have nothing in common - I'm not wearing a head scarf, I don't have the correct fit on my dress and my dress isn't the correct material and my footwear nor outerwear is not correct.  I am also not saying any of this to be negative towards those groups - I am just writing this as it's a bit of a pet peeve to hear people say "oh no, I cant wear that because I'll look like I'm homeschooooooled!"  It's like wearing vintage, putting on a RockaBilly dress doesn't mean you could suddenly step back in time and fit in perfectly - you need to have the right hair, the right makeup, the right shoes, the right fit of your clothes and the right materials and you aren't going to do that accidently.

 Here I'm showing the difference between wearing a high neck on a coat and a collar that lays flat.  The coats are about the same length but give off very different looks because of the silhouette.  I will say I personally don't like the coat with the higher neckline as it gives an impression of no neck and my head just sitting on my shoulders but if I took away the blouse under the dress, the lower neckline would probably help that.

A maxi dress goes great with almost every coat length.  Here is a hip length coat, a knee length coat and a maxi coat - I forgot a cropped coat but all work really well with this dress length.  As you can see, a modern black boot with a sharp toe box and a plain black coat keeps the dress looking pretty modern. Accessories like hats and purses make a big difference as well!  

 You can play up the western vibes of the dress with a flat brimmed hat and a fringed leather vest, again the docs keep it from looking like you want to be on the set of Lonesome Dove or something. (However, that would be a solid look! Accessorize with a fancy mustache for bonus points.)  A plain black coat is something most people have and even though it isn't the most exciting choice, it still works for a good modern outfit.  We also have some prime "Free People styling action" going on in the middle photo - it's the exact same outfit as the last photo but a sassy hand on hip, a foot thrown out and tada, you're cool or something.

 Here you can see the dress and the blouse by themselves, adding a flat brimmed hat, a pointy toe boot and a fringe bag work for a warmer weather western-ish outfit. (I don't know what I mean by warmer weather, I'd probably wear this in like 45-50f. 

The second and third outfit show how you can use your outer wear to either "flatten" the lines of the body and create more of a lean profile - pushing the sleeves up just a tiny bit to show some skin at the wrist keeps it from being overwhelmed by the amount of fabric and give a little intentional styling to the outfit. The third outfit shows how you can "add" to the lines of the body with a fitted shoulder, a closer cut along the bust and a nipped in waist and ruffles at the hips to create volume or change the shape of the silhouette.

 Lighter outerwear also looks cool.  Here's a big shag jacket which is definitely a "choice" but it looks intentional with the docs and you have a lot of volume and texture going on.  A cropped jacket with a Baker's Cap again takes away the cosplay vibes and then a big vest and docs is another interesting styling choice.
Most furry vest styling I've seen have been from the 2012 ear of Pintrest with it styled with a field jacket and skinny jeans - over a maxi dress is the more modern version of styling one. However, I feel like a white cowboy boot with the vest and the dress would of been amazing but I don't have a pair.

 For some sweet 70's vibes, you can wear a vintage leather jacket and boots with a fabric bag. 
Bringing back the shag jacket again, it with the brown boots and the printed bag is some more "modern takes on vintage" styling.  A black jacket with some ruffles at the hip or a peplum jacket is another cute take on a vintage jacket, ala Victorian riding jacket.

 For some summery inspo, the sharp toed boots with a lacey robe and a sunhat is cute or a long cardigan works well.  A bigger sunhat and a tote with sandals is easy styling that doesn't feel "too out there" and blends with most of the trends right now.

Straw boater hats, sandals with a bow or headbands are more great ways to accessorize your prairie dress.  Basically - wear your prairie dress how you would wear a regular maxi dress and tada!  The fun thing about these dresses is you can take them in so many different ways style wise and if you wear them with your current wardrobe, it'll look great - they mix with modern and trendy items really well.  I didn't even try the good old denim jacket and sandals and that's a fool proof outfit.   (I am really sorry about the stupid faces I making, I would blame it on the quarantine of 2020 but I already had that probable before.)

I purposefully bought this dress in the black/white color way because I want t put together some great "witchy prairie" looks - I didn't really get into that vibe in this post because I realize it's a little more niche and not everyone likes the witchy shit. (I do, give me all the witchy all the time.) 

*I've typed prairie enough times that now it looks like a fake word to me.

1 comment:

  1. To be so small, you have huge thighs and calves. But, you cannot help that and you look pretty darn good for being in your 60s.


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