3 Hyper-Specific Ways to Wear a Prairie Skirt

In 1976, Yves Saint Laurent launched what would become regarded as one of the greatest collections of his career. “Ballet Russe” was a series of garments consisting of voluminous, ankle-length skirts rendered in brightly colored taffeta with balloon-sleeve, billowing blouses and fur vests. The garments harkened back to traditional 18th-century “peasant” wear from Russia, but in ’76, these garments were reimagined opulently, as haute-couture.

There is no direct ancestral line that traces the subsequent emergence of “peasant” wear in fashion, but a decade earlier, self-identifying hippies who’d outgrown the beat movement adopted a similar style of loose-fit, leg-concealing skirt. Such silhouettes have been popular among several cultures, least not including the folklorico dresses of Mexican history. Not until the early aughts, though, did I start to build a record of my own understanding of the skirt style’s context, seen most popularly covering the limbs of celebrities like Lizzie McGuire, I mean Hillary Duff, within the pages of tabloid magazines.

Nearly 20 years later, I scoff at the thought that we were ever comfortable calling a skirt “peasant,” preferring to name it prairie, but wondering if that’s right. Either way, the style is back. It’s exhibited a gradual ascent to stardom, revealing itself piecemeal, first as a balloon blouse, then a nightgown for day-gowning. But with a very healthy display of ditzy floral prints and otherwise patterns freckling the tea-length skirts that populate the digital floors of clothing stores Internet-wide, I am compelled to say: HERE ARE THREE WAYS TO WEAR ONE IN LIEU OF JEAN SHORTS THIS SUMMER.

1. In the rain

Man Repeller is launching some new summer products under the brand name “Repeller” in a couple of weeks, and this tie-dye bandana with a scallop trim is one such item you will be invited to acquire. You can wear it around your neck, your wrist, your ankle, or as a headscarf to protect your ears from the elements as you style a baseball cap over it. Because it’s raining, right? Cue the trench coat dutifully worn over a striped tank top with a style of prairie skirt selected to catch the trench and off-set the thong sneakers. Yes, thong sneakers. 2019 has been great for footwear so far.

2. In the workplace

Or is it WERQ! place. I am committed as hell to figuring out how to get you dressed for the office without also getting you fired but while letting you feel like your truest self to the extent that fashion will allow. Here I pair a more traditional a-line floral skirt with the emblematic ruffle trim but conceal its a-line-ness by leaving a counter-floral print button down shirt tucked out as styled over a navy-blue striped t-shirt. As if that wasn’t enough, though, there are floral shoes, too. It’s spring, after all, and breaking grounds is what we do.


I don’t know if you’re taking yourself out, or your mom out, or a suitor out, but it’s irrelevant because this outfit is applicable across all those scenarios and then some. If you’re curious about the then some, I invite you to consider an evening therapy appointment, the meatball, which is kind of like the Met Ball but it happens at a restaurant in Little Italy after dark, or, I don’t know, a nail-clipping convention. Look how exposed your limbs are! Not to play favorites, but this is far and away the best of the loot as far as my taste is concerned and do hope you find yourself sitting on a bar in a similar approximation someday soon.

Photographed by Edith Young at Ghost Donkey. Modeled by Anastasia Chekry of Silent Models.

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