How to update your prairie dresses this autumn

By Allyson Shiffman
Woman in Prairie dress

Photo: Getty

Don’t move them to the back of the closet just yet...

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Scandinavian summer is devastatingly ephemeral. Blink and you’ll miss the occasion to wear an airy frock with bare legs. It is a tragedy, really, given the seemingly endless selection of covetable prairie dresses on offer this season.

It is quite natural that our love affair with all things pouf-sleeved, tiered and empire-waisted has lasted this long given that there really is no better way to merge the comforts of home (remember lock-down?) with out-of-the-house-appropriate attire. Our favorite ankle-skimming frocks from Prada, Cecilie Bahnsen, and Ulla Johnson barely enjoyed a moment of air-time before the temperature started to dip.

But these gowns needn’t be relegated to the back of the closet until next summer. With some well-conceived layering and a pair of cozy socks (calf-length or thigh-high), the prairie dress can confidently stride into fall, even taking on a fresh, decidedly less wholesome attitude.

Cardi party

For the ultimate on-the-nose, Little House on the Prairie-esque aesthetic, toss on a cardigan to combat the coming chill. Lean into a magpie sensibility via an oversized, chunky iteration from The Great, Tom Ford, or Ganni. Worn unbuttoned and fancy free or tucked into a belt for a more polished presentation, cardis effortlessly extend the life of a prairie dress well into autumn. Complete the look with knit socks and bulky sandals or, better yet, bring an element of grunge with converse or combat boots. Yes, a prairie dress can be grunge - just ask Courtney Love.

The Landscape Lodge striped crochet-knit cotton-blend cardigan

The Great

Ribbed wool and cashmere-blend cardigan

Tom Ford

Holzweiler Tine knitted cardigan
Tine knitted cardigan



Body con

Counter the earthy innocence of the prairie dress with a second-skin bodysuit, like that one from Prada’s Fall collection, or that one from Marine Serre. More is most certainly more by way of clashing prints and unexpected material mashups. Neoprene and broderie anglaise? A jacquard knit with light-as-air voile? Sure, why not. The humble prairie dress has never looked so cool.

Crescent Moon jumpsuit

Marine Serre

La Perla Souple lace-trimmed stretch cotton-blend jersey bodysuit
Souple lace-trimmed stretch cotton-blend jersey bodysuit

La Perla

Alix NYC Monterey ribbed stretch-modal jersey thong bodysuit
Monterey ribbed stretch-modal jersey thong bodysuit

Alix NYC


Suit's up

The relaxed blazer is a staple this season, and while it is most at home with slouchy denim or easy trousers, the unexpected pairing of power suiting and prairie dressing is high impact, especially as we return to the office from summer vacations (or for the very first time in over a year). Best served in earthy tones from sand to espresso courtesy of Chloé, Brunello Cucinelli, and Saint Laurent, an oversized blazer will ease the transition from the beach to the boardroom, particularly when paired with oxfords or loafers.

Acne Studios Oversized woven blazer
Oversized woven blazer

Acne Studios

Nina Ricci Checked twill blazer
Checked twill blazer

Nina Ricci

Frankie Shop Isla crepe blazer
Isla crepe blazer

Frankie Shop