Winters Past

20th Century Fashion from Deco to Disco

Reimagining the Eighties: Subversive Prairie Style

I learn a lot about clothes and style from watching how my customers wear vintage. Recently I’ve noticed an interesting thing: some very stylish, fashion-forward ladies have a fresh, modern take on those iconic  70’s-80’s Victorian peasant frocks. You know these dresses. They have high necks, puffy shoulders and leg-‘o-mutton sleeves and they evoke a Hasidic/Amish homesteader in a Laura Ashley fever dream.

I began to notice this micro trend popping up in social media land. The “Mary Shelly on the Prairie” aesthetic is a self-aware play on femininity, especially when paired with chunky bold shoes and natural hair. They look fresh in a good-weird way and they’re surprisingly sexy, like this:

Modern prairie style vintage dressing

Modern prairie style vintage dressing

Subversive Sister-wife Style

My inner feminist nerd is intrigued. These dresses are the opposite of short, tight and low cut styles designed for an unevolved man’s idea of sexiness. Perhaps a woman who owns her own body might choose not to display it for the male gaze but rather chooses to dress for her own enjoyment. Self-possession carries it’s own sexiness.

Maybe the true insurgents are the ones wearing ruffles.

1980s Laura Ashley style

Christina Ricci as Wednesday Adams, Chloe Sevigney as a sister wife, Sissy Spacek in Badlands, Elaine on Seinfeld, Princess Diana and Courtney Love all play with subversive ideas of  femininity

But I digress. Back to vintage clothes. To paraphrase Freud, sometimes a dress is just a dress and these dresses are off-kilter, playful and funky.

So, if you’re feeling like the love child of  Jane Eyre and Laura Ingalls Wilder, I’ve got your frock.

Updated take on prairie modern

Updated take on prairie modern

Author: Winters Past

I am a vintage clothing shop owner living and working in rural north Florida. I believe in adding a little vinegar and molasses to my greens, having my coffee outside whenever possible, and mixing something vintage into every room and every outfit.

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