The Dress I've Been Wearing Since Forever Without Knowing It

How is it that I never knew the style of the dresses I've been wearing for basically forever has a specific name?
I was editing the photos for this geometric dress + striped blazer post when the word "prairie" oddly kept popping into my head. I didn't understand why that was but somehow only knew the word was supposed to come in a phrase. At that moment, for the life of me, the phrase just wasn't escaping the depths of my brain.

What I was sure of: the word "prairie" was the main key.

A few days later, out of nowhere, it finally came to me: Little House On The Prairie. A TV show that I am positive I have never seen in my life but most probably have read about, maybe on the world wide web somewhere.

That got me thinking: why in the world would my brain associate the photos of my dress with a blazer with the word "prairie" and the phrase "Little House On The Prairie" in the first place?

So I did what I always do when I'm flummoxed: I Googled. For what "prairie" means, specifically. To simplify, here are a few words and phrases that are usually affiliated with it:
Modest. High neck. Long sleeves. Midi-to-maxi length.
Ruffles. Lace. Frilly. Florals.
Victorian. Pioneer-esque. Bohemian. Relic of the past. Vintage.

There's no clear definition for "prairie dress" so the term covers a pretty vast range of dresses; I wouldn't have categorised certain dresses as "prairie" but who am I to argue with the experts?
Example: The green floral dress I wore next to a bike below, but a well-known fashion site included that exact dress in their prairie article, so, I digress.

There is however no doubt that a prairie dress is always long-sleeved with a high neckline, and almost always with a little frill.
And that was when I find out I have been loving living and breathing in prairie dresses my entire life.

Perhaps even a little ironic because prairie dresses are traditionally associated with cute-as-a-button little girls but I am positive I wear prairie dresses more in my adult life than in my childhood! Modest dresses have become trendy these recent years though so I'm pretty confident that prairie dresses are not unique to my closet, or even the closet of modest dressers. (Seriously though, riffle through your stuff, you probably do own at least one.)

However things are, I've decided these two things a long time ago anyway (whether I realised it or not): prairie dresses are part of my modest aesthetic, and I will forever look for my next perfect modest dress.
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Here's a collection of some of my favourite dresses that I've worn on this blog — and still own/wear up to this day:

Being a modest dresser, it makes perfect sense that prairie dresses are my jam but at the same time I can totally understand anyone else's rejection of this particular style of dress, so out of curiosity: are you Team Prairie Dress?


  1. In the U.S., the prairies are found primarily in the Midwestern/middle American states. They are open areas of grassland inhabited by roaming herds of antelope, buffalo, deer, wild horses and other hooved mammals. Native Americans were pushed off these lands with westward expansion of pioneer/settlers who were looking for land to settle on and farm. (mid 1800s and early 1900s) The pioneer women wore this simple,unadorned, often handmade style of cotton dress.
    In my view Liyana, the dress in your opening photo is the only one that really fits the prairie dress styling. The others are maxi dresses with a far more modern vibe.
    Little House on the Prairie was a series of books written by a young girl
    (Laura Ingalls Wilder) about her life growing up on the prairie. Specifically she lived in Minnesota and South Dakota. (I grew up in Minnesota and now live in South Dakota.) Love, Jude

    1. Thank you for the background story on prairie, Judy - I somehow knew that you were going to type a reply like this when I posted this!

      I now wonder if my personal first time of hearing the phrase "Little House On The Prairie" had to do with the books or TV series, but I cannot possibly recall now. I know bits about the books/TV show, but I was never that interested in the storyline, to be honest. The thought of encountering racism in it (at least that's what I heard) doesn't excite me either, but if it's for learning purposes, why not? (Perhaps it's like Go Set A Watchman? which I thought was a good tough read for educational purposes.) I'm assuming you've read the entire book series, Judy? Should I possibly give them a go? I'd have to check of the local bookstores here carry them, of course.

      I think many styles went through fashion evolution and get a modern update - like "bohemian" fashion, for example - that they look so virtually dissimilar to their OG appearances in history. My Googling of prairie dresses involved a lot of style related keywords so the sites that taught me what prairie dress is are, I suppose, "au courant", as opposed to sites that are historically accurate.

      Checking the origin of prairie dresses, I must say, NONE of my dress would count as a "real" prairie dress! But aside from these fashion sites' definitions (yes, plural) of a prairie dress, I actually do like the detailing of the original prairie dress. Well, aside from the "unadorned" part, that is, give me all the beautiful prints there is to offer - plus I much prefer cotton blend than plain cotton anyway!


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Hi, I'm Liyana

I'm a style & lifestyle blogger based in sunny (and ever humid) Malaysia. On The Good Weekender, you can find typed journals of my evolving modest personal style, travel adventures, skincare/beauty updates, home decor things, and stories of other bits and pieces of my everyday life. I hope you'll enjoy flipping through these pages of my virtual book!