Remember those charming, patchwork printed silhouettes that had all the little girls (and the big ones alike) swooning over “Little House on the Prairie” fashion? Those pioneer-esque dresses that were often perfected with a smudge of dirt and a pair of lace-up boots, which inevitably lend them a tomboyish air despite their incontestable femininity?

Well, for spring 2016, those same romantic silhouettes were imagined anew, touched up just enough to look modern, complemented with a just hint of sheer or a cheeky cut to feel effortlessly sexy.

In a season when Victoriana by way of the ’70s is ruling on the runways, the American prairie theme comes as no surprise. And before you dismiss it as dated or old-fashioned, check out the runway report below to see all the ways in which prairie embodies the new notion of chic as a spring 2016 fashion trend.

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Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16
Girl of the plains: S/S '16

Prairie chic for spring 2016.

The feel of old romance prevails, so does the soft allure of femininity, so how exactly did prairie fashion transform for spring 2016? The change hides in the plethora of eased up silhouettes borrowing some of the bohemian nonchalance; they’re all about lightness now despite the myriad of frills adorning them, they’re sexy in a way that doesn’t feel forced, they’re body-conscious without showing too much skin.

Key elements.

If prairie fashion has got you feeling excited for the upcoming spring season, here are the key elements you should consider when shopping for your next favorite garment. Dress the part with:

Light colours, micro patterns.

Although the earth-toned shades of the prairie (think dusted reds, sandstone, light tan and antique gold) made it all the way to the spring runways, it’s in the lighter, softer colour schemes where novelty lies for the season. Think baby blues, faded pinks and peachy tones when choosing the backdrops for the maximalist, prairie-inspired prints and patterns drawing up the trend.

And speaking of prints, this is the season to go with micro-patterns, highly-romantic and just as delicate looking, floral, paisley, rustic but rich, intensified with clashing patchworks or ombre trims.

prairie chic fashion trend spring 2016
Modern prairie at Erdem and Veronique Branquinho, S/S ’16

High necks & puffy sleeves.

The reimagining of life on the plains didn’t happen without the resurgence of the high necklines, austere but regal in feel, buttoned up all the way to the top, or gathered underneath a black ribbon tie.

Slightly less present on the runways, but just as impactful, the full, puffy sleeves complemented some of the more romantic Victoriana silhouettes, balanced out and rendered contemporary with something as simple as a cold shoulder.

prairie chic fashion trend spring 2016
Modern prairie at Philosophy and Erdem, S/S ’16

Ribbons, ruffles & frills.

The black ribbon tie adorning ruffled high collars was perhaps one of the first signs to attest the rise of the American prairie as a fashion theme for 2016. Lacy, silky, tied loosely or precise, this is the one element that will help you effortlessly translate the vintage theme to modern times.

The ruffles, alongside the lacy trimmings, help pinpoint all the ways in which prairie fashion has changed for the 21st century. Now, they adorn infinitely shorter hems, deep V necklines and bell sleeves, when they’re not cinching the waist, or enhancing the shoulder line.

prairie chic fashion trend spring 2016
Modern prairie at Laura Biagiotti and Etro, S/S ’16

Prairie made modern.

Any silhouette that borrows from such theatrical themes as American prairie risks to look too much like a costume at some point or another, like a fatigued rendition of the old, if not polished to perfection. The secret for them being wearable and feeling modern this season lies in:

Lightness & sheerness.

No signs of heavy fabrics, of rigid shapes, of matronly silhouettes could be spotted on the spring 2016 in what concerns the new take on prairie fashion. Instead, in was all made to look luxurious despite the countrified inspiration, and easy, despite it all being intensely ornate and heavily embellished.

Go for airy, featherweight fabrics that move with ease to counterbalance the heavy prints and appliques defining a prairie chic dress, particularly if the silhouettes are floor-sweeping. If they also bear long sleeves, choose a deep plunging neckline to cancel some of the severity of the dress.

Sheerness makes for another great way to add youthfulness to the prairie inspiration, in both the shorter and longer renditions of the dress. Use light layering as another perfect means to modernize the look, choosing lacy bras and delicate crop tops to slip underneath unbuttoned dresses.

prairie chic fashion trend spring 2016
Modern prairie at Ulla Johnson and Philosophy, S/S ’16

Short hems & exposed shoulders.

The classic prairie dress we all know is the kind that sweeps the floor, or hits just above the ankles revealing a pair of lace-up booties. But no real makeover happens without some drastic changes. And so, the hems of the modern prairie dress grew super-short, hitting above the knees with playful, frilly trims.

The same way, the on-trend cold shoulder helps lend the prairie-inspired frock an air of subtle sexiness, all the more if the silhouette is long sleeved and ankle grazing. Based on the same principle, some delicate ruffles can also be used to sweeten up the quiet sensuality describing the exposed shoulders.

prairie chic fashion trend spring 2016
Modern prairie at Fay and Preen, S/S ’16

Key silhouettes.

Be it a close interpretation of the pioneer-esque dress, or one that bears resemblance to the original by way it feels only, the key silhouettes to shape up the prairie chic fashion trend may be sharing the romance, but they can still take on a myriad different looks.

If you love yourself a more modern, sexy, flirty look, seek out a Lolita-esque rendition of the prairie dress, one that mixes shorter hemlines with a subtle play on transparency, and makes use of lace, ruffles and black bows to emphasize the prevailing girliness.

For more of a summery, holiday-ready look that oozes of retro romance, seek the prairie feeling in an easy button-down dress that hits just below the knee. Enhance its feminine feel with bare shoulders, ankle strap heels and a dainty hair accessory.

prairie chic fashion trend spring 2016
Modern prairie at Philosophy and Lena Hoschek, S/S ’16

Staying true to the classic means settling for a stricter, midi silhouette that leaves little skin on show. Trims of broderie anglaise, exaggerated ruffles and a darker, earthier hue are sure to help translate the vintage side of the aesthetic. Keep the look on trend with a braided do, metallic make-up and a pair of mannish brogues.

A mix of old romance and bohemian nonchalance, a maxi dress cut in precious fabric, adorned with clashing patterns and gentle ruffles, is perhaps the easiest way to do prairie-folk-chic for spring 2016, plenty of inspiration for contouring the mood coming via Etro.

prairie chic fashion trend spring 2016
Modern prairie at Antonio Marras and Etro, S/S ’16

Prairie verging on ladylike, the juxtaposition of a crisp, high-collared shirt with a full, printed, high-waisted skirt makes for a pretty alternative to all the folksy dresses that filled out the runways, particularly if you love yourself a decidedly more retro look.

Lying on the other side of the spectrum, the modern alternative to recreate the prairie feel with easy separates invites you to pair intricate blouses, with high collars, ample sleeves and exquisite needle work with high-waisted shorts, the tailored, easy, relaxed kind.

prairie chic fashion trend spring 2016
Modern prairie at Lena Hoschek and Zimmermann, S/S ’16

Or, you could go after the same kind of modern-prairie look by selecting a pair of tailored printed pants trimmed with lace to be styled with a matching lightweight coat (that could easily be doubling as a dress); reinforce the prairie aesthetic with vintage patterns and ribbon bows.

For the night, the prairie look gains enchanting qualities with ample silhouettes – ethereal, floor-sweeping – adorned with delicate floral appliques. Gain extra points in rendering the look modern by choosing a sweet, pastel hue, an off-the-shoulder silhouette, and a pair of high heels as the only accessory.

prairie chic fashion trend spring 2016
Modern prairie at Laura Biagiotti and Luisa Beccaria, S/S ’16

Prairie chic accessories.

In terms of accessories, prairie fashion makes it easy for you to style and make the looks your own. Aside from the black ribbon bows, and the embellished chokers, you can use fine necklaces and statement heels to bring the outfits up to date.

A cinched waist with a buckled belt and a pair of luxe cowboy boots can easily take your look down the Western route, the cowgirl style still very much on trend.

prairie chic fashion trend spring 2016
Modern prairie at Philosophy and Fay, S/S ’16

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