Cottagecore: What’s old is new
As a fashion aesthetic it’s all very romantic and old-fashioned. Sound familiar?
If you’re a child of the early 80s, you might be thinking, Uh, yeah, we called those prairie dresses…
Turns out, yesterday’s prairie revival is today’s cottagecore dress.
Is a 2020s cottagecore dress basically an 80s revival prairie dress?
The revival styles of the ’80s offered everything from puffed sleeves to high collars, and ruffle fronts and offset buttons — while the most popular fabrics often had traditional colors, small print patterns, or plaids.
As you can see from this photo flashback, today’s modern take isn’t all that modern! You can still take inspiration from the early-80s prairie revival aesthetic to inform your cottagecore styling today.
The prairie dress & skirt: Ruffles, ruffles everywhere
Excerpted from The Bismarck Tribune (Bismarck, North Dakota) August 17, 1982
The prairie skirt is another popular “dressy-active” look. A welcome style for juniors in spring and summer, the prairie look is big for children this fall, says Jim Helphrey, assistant manager of Herberger’s Department Store, Kirkwood Plaza.
Longer skirts and dresses with flounced hemlines will be seen in all areas of women’s clothing, he says.
Debbie Arnold, 10, says she wears blue jeans and corduroy jeans most of the time to school because of “gym days,” but would wear a prairie skirt on “dress-up days.”
Patterned after fashions of the Old West, the prairie look features “ruffles, ruffles everywhere” on blouse collars, cuffs, and shoulders, Helphrey says.
Even long-sleeved T-shirts in the style of athletic clothes have ruffled trim or shoulders. Nibbe says she likes the ruffled blouses, but not the prairie skirt: “Sometimes the colors are wrong.”
Eleven-year-old Carlson says she and her friends would probably wear the blouses, but with blue jeans.
Vintage 80s cottagecore prairie shirt and skirt combos from 1983
Old-school cottage core: Vintage prairie dresses from the 1980s
A prairie dress or culottes went well with big hair
Plaid ruffled blouse & Solid ruffled blouses (1982)
The essence of charm: Of woven polyester-and-cotton. Ruffled collar and cuffs. Button front. Ruffled front princess seams. Imported from the Far East.
Supermodel Cheryl Tiegs even got in on the ruffles
Ruffled prairie revival fashions for little girls from 1979
Vintage prairie dress: For the frill of it (1983)
Sasson: The latest young looks trimmed with ruffles, bows, eyelets & more
Lilac dress with hand-smocked bodice; White and plaid shirtwaist-style dress; Blue chambray dress with bow and cuffs
The dressy look, with young Jennifer Connelly (1982)
Make a ruffled prairie sweater, fringed pioneer jacket & more (1982)
Make a snappy vest, a fringed pioneer jacket, ruffled prairie sweaters, more!
Take your pick from our prettiest looks for fall, partnered with your favorite country-music singers in Opryland, USA
Dottie West, Grammy-winner and country superstar (she sings on Liberty Records) in a knit Prairie Pullover, soft-sleeved and ruffle-trimmed – the yoke swings around back! Joseph Galler’s Musarde yarn.
Shelly West, Dottie’s daughter, who was named country music’s 1982 Newcomer of the Year, wears our Wrangler Pullover, a checkerboard-patterned knit in denim blue laced with suede-colored stripes, tie closing. In Tahki’s Donegal Tweed Homespun.
Below, Shelly, who records for Warner/Viva, in a Cowgirl Vest, crocheted diagonally in earth tones. It’s country-style fancy with pearl-button “studs,” embroidery-look touches. Neveda’s Bistro yarn.
More country sweaters
Kippi Brannon, one of country music’s newest stars, wears the rustic Homesteader Slip-On, above, knit in Berroco’s Dji-Dji yarn, accented with geometric patterns.
Here’s Kippi — she’s with MCA records — in a Pioneer Sweater-Jacket with Western-style fringe and wooden beads like the real thing! In a soft palomino-color textured knit. Unger’s Skol yarn.
Covered wagon knits
Charly McClain in a Frontier sweater fashioned after the shirt worn in covered-wagon days, with a placket front closing, pearly buttons. Knit in easy stockinette with seed-stitch collar, cuffs, in Lion Brand’s Cape Cod.
Below, Charly, Epic recording star, in our charming lacy-yoked Country Ruffles sweater, knit in the sweetest shade of pink. Joseph Galler’s Fantasia.
The romance of ruffled sweaters (1982)
Frankly feminine sweaters to knit and crochet in soft, soft pastel yarns.
1. Pretty peplumed jacket with nipped-in drawstring waist, frosted with ruffles. Crocheted in Unger’s Angel Spun.
2. Classic lacy-knit cardigan softened with a gentle edging of garter-stitch ruffles, dainty dimple sleeves. Brunswick’s Pomfret.
Ruffly retro pullover knits from the ’80s
White, wonderful pullover spiced with plum and glittery silver stripes features waist-cinching border that ends in a flounce, drawstring neck, and puffed sleeves. Anny Blatt yarns.
Slim-fitting special-occasion slipoverknit with economical Lion Brand’s Woolana in softest orchid has diamond pattern front and back, ribbed border, and ruffled collar and cuffs.
Sewing patterns for pretty prairie dresses (1982)
For mother, for daughter . . . for spring, country classics with soft Western styling — figure-hugging bodice, puff sleeves, swingy skirt — to sew in floral fabrics.
Little girl’s version is also made from the same flowery prints shaded in soft pinks, green, plus a band of solid pink. Button-down bodice ends in front V-shaped seam, is accented with the same green velvet ribbon, crocheted lace. Simplicity #5349.
Delicate floral dress features a triple play of coordinating broadcloth by Styletown. Slim-fitting pearl-buttoned bodice is sweetly styled with long, full sleeves ending in lace-edged buttoned cuffs; flared skirt is swirled with large flowers hemmed with a tier of lace. Simplicity #5348.
Prairie revival cottagecore dress, the Laura Ashley way (1983)
Two stylish dresses: the attractive button-through dress on the left has an elasticated waist, self-fabric belt, and seam pockets. Ideal for day and evening in this pretty print in powder blue and rock pink.
On the right, a charming period dress buttons into a shaped waist. The distinctive Laura Ashley print in carmine and periwinkle blue is enhanced by the contrast collar and cuffs. Both styles are made from 100% cotton, available in sizes 8, 10, 12, 14.
NOW SEE THIS: Gunne Sax prom dresses of the eighties