Is the always popular prairie dress anti-feminist?

Prairie dress. The nap dress. Milk dress.

Call them whatever you want, but one thing is undeniable: over the past four years, Laura Ashley rose The prairie dress—with a ruffled hem, flutter sleeves, and modest ankle length—had a very tight grip on consumer fashion.

Robin Jeevan, the Washington Post’s chief critic in general, wrote first about Runway Dresses In 2018, she ranked it as part of the “Ugly” fashion trend. (Think huge sneakers and fanny packs.) Recently, they were assembled as part of Cottagekor Aesthetic, a trend in design and fashion all about romanticizing simpler times and pastoral life.

Even in this Godforsaken heat, brands like targetingAnd the ancient marine And the it is in It makes new versions of loose-fitting Amish-chic clothing, selling anywhere from $21 to $54.99. Brands like Hill House HomeAnd the Bachvh And the dwin It offers intricate and elaborate designs at a much higher price point (between $150 and $375).

Prairie dress is the trend that won’t die, bless her “Little House on the Prairie” heart.

If you go shopping today, you don’t have many options besides it.

“There are two styles available to women right now and that’s the slutty milkshake babbling in the ’90s,” writer Marisa Capas joked on twitter from the current gulf.

When it comes to the former, not everyone is a fan. According to Twitter, prairie dresses are “homely,” “shabby” found Laura Ingalls Wilder Eske, If you don’t venture in “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

“I got my own prairie dress which is a big bodice prairie dress but I still love it and look sexy in it and will never go back to American Apparel bodycon hell again,” One Twitter user joked.

Shauntelle Stevenson Carnegie, a corporate events manager from New York City, is the company for Team Milkmaid Dress, mostly because it’s so versatile.

“I have four, and I wear them to church, to work and to my favorite activity, lunch,” she told HuffPost.

As for criticism, Stevenson Carnegie makes fun of those who make fun of them. (And she’s just as comfortable in her prairie gown as she does it.)

“Someone must have said the style is ugly or unpleasant, and people hung up on that. But the style sold out for a reason,” she said. “I think people hate the style because it’s It seems homely. But once I put it on and realized it had pockets, I never looked back.”

Plus, Stephenson Carnegie said, the silhouette works with her body shape.

“I’m a black woman with hips, thighs, etc,” she said, “and style looks good to me.”

Shontelle Stephenson Carnegie

Shontelle Stephenson Carnegie wears one of her favorite Prairie dresses. She owns four, all purchased at Target or Zara.

Some of this popularity is thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The dress is structured enough to be worn outside yet comfortable enough to lounge around the house – not to mention roomy enough for those of us who have earned a bit of it. epidemiological weight.

“The pandemic has reshaped what we expect from clothes,” he said. Deirdre Clemente, Professor teaches the history of the American fashion industry at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

“We expect it to be convenient, affordable, and most of all, personal,” she told HuffPost. “We expect to express our individuality in our clothes now more than at any time in human history.”

fashion writer Chloe Iris Kennedy Approves.

“Nowadays, trends don’t sell so much style as they sell identity. Kennedy, who also coordinates the The latest fashion on Twitter Met Galaan unofficial “companion event” for the annual Met Gala fundraiser.

The prairie dress and the most general madness of cotton fashion are dedicated to the “nature’s twin girl”. Clemente said the style is capable of being both emotional and modern.

“I think women gravitate towards these dresses because they are a familiar concept, evoking childhood memories of flowy dresses with lace and freedom of movement,” she said.

The historian argued, if you wish, you can trace cottagecore all the way back to the 1770s and Marie Antoinette.

To have a good time, the doomed French queen and her ladies-in-waiting were dressed as milkmaids to do household errands in Replica rural village It was constructed in the shadow of Versailles.

Prairie dress obsession is nothing new either.

Clemente said fashion lovers, especially in the ’70s and ’80s, turned to peasant dresses, prairie blouses, and lace bracelets to celebrate “simple, feminine clothing that is more in keeping with country life than city sophistication.”

Is prairie dress anti-feminist?

Of course, “You don’t live on a farm!” Not the only criticism of prairie dress.

Since clothing covers a lot of skin, some have questioned whether the trend suggests greater conservative change or a conspiracy to transform modern women into traditionalism, especially in light of the abortion ruling in Roe v. Wade His heart is done.

“Suddenly target dresses made sense” a woman tweeted In June, after the Supreme Court news. “They knew before.”

Others joked that the dress makes the wearer look like Warren Jeffs’ wife, Leader of the Polygamous Branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Then there are criticisms that because of his pioneering and family history, he is racist.

“Women in prairie dresses don’t dress like fringe religious groups in a delightful and bizarre fashion shift,” said Peggy O’Donnell, a historian and lecturer at the University of Chicago. Written in Jezebel in 2019.They dress like their great-grandmothers, claiming, consciously or unconsciously, racial and gender history.”

Of course there is pro . dress It takes hot all over the internet too.

If there is anything, some say, the dress should be restored as a symbol of a woman’s liberation, or at least to free her from “the gaze of a man.” (Unless your prairie dress has a boob window or coil Deep V neckwould likely not be seen as sexy.)

“I feel like you could wear a prairie robe instead of a ‘Future is Female’ shirt,” Fashion designer Therese Waden He told The Daily Beast in 2018.

The argument can also be made that the last time the prairie robe ran for a long time Back in the seventieswhen Roe’s decision granted abortion rights.

Prairie dresses wearers say it’s really not that deep. Tech employee Rija Taher told HuffPost that she simply loves a good home and thinks the comparisons to “The Handmaid’s Tale” are far-fetched.

“I think it’s a burdensome liberal approach to feminism that automatically confuses skin covering with oppression,” she said. “The narrative is also to the detriment of sections of societies such as Muslim women who have been arguing painstakingly that coverage is their choice, not forced.”

At Poshmark shopping site, vintage '80s Gunne Sax dresses range in price from $60 to $750.
At Poshmark shopping site, vintage ’80s Gunne Sax dresses range in price from $60 to $750.

“For me, I love the fact that dresses evoke bonds with nature, a longing that most city dwellers feel,” Taher said. “It’s more about feeling like you’re frolicking in the woods than a funnel.”

Although she understands people’s aversion to appearances, the fashion writer Kennedy doesn’t see oppression in prairie dress either.

“Injustice does not come from the look of the dress,” she said, “it stems from all choices to look like anything else.” “I think the direct link between modest fashion and oppression is a very Western perspective and a misunderstanding of the trend.”

Historian Clemente can understand all sides.

“In light of current events restricting women’s choices regarding their body, I can see why celebrating an outdated idea of ​​femininity might anger some,” she said. “But I am more inclined towards seeing women’s desires to reconsider and reconsider established and institutionalized ideas of femininity rather than turning toward political conservatism.”

Plus, you’re not restricted to being a milkmaid every day just because you dressed like this once. “You can safely wear your belted denim jacket tomorrow if you like,” Clemente said.

But if you still can’t stand the prairie dress, take heart: people will eventually put it back in their drawers, and the prairie path discourse will be over.

“I think the style will take its course in popularity,” Clemente said. “It will continue to be worn by those who love the look, but will soon be back in the revolving wardrobe of fashion trends – only to be pulled again in a decade or so.”

Are you looking for a peasant dress? Check out some of our favorites below.

HuffPost may receive input from purchases made via the links on this page. Each item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.

Hill House

“The Louisa” nap dress


Women’s long sleeve balloon dress

ancient marine

Floral print dress with puff sleeves


Flutter sleeves tie back dress

it is in

flower embellished dress


Hill Dress


Long sleeve balloon dress

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