Little Fashion House on the Prairie

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Little Fashion House on the Prairie
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The frontiers of fashion continue to colonize historical trends of the decades. Now, the ruffles, lace and earth tones of the Midwestern settlers is sweeping across the runways. In 2009, we saw Western wear with turquoise jewelry and rustic weaves. In 2011, prairie frocks add boho bounty with eyelet lace, smocked embellishments and straw-like details. The palette of muted pastels, delicate prints and neutral colors evoke a breezy whimsy that marks the prairie trend. Designers like Anna Sui and the Mulleavy sisters of Rodarte (pictured) harness the beauty in the following 10 looks.

Pioneer Your Prairie Fashion
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Pioneer Your Prairie Fashion

One of the most defining characteristics of prairie style is the mix of rustic simplicity and soft, feminine colors and accents. When styling your own prairie look, reuse neutrals and muted florals from spring and pair them with dark blues, browns and black. Combine elements of old-fashioned Midwestern design like crochet, beads, long dresses and boots, just as Anna Sui did with this outfit.

Start with Embroidery
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Start with Embroidery

Embroidery adds refinement and luxury to a garment despite its humble use on the prairie. Anna Sui accents the nature-inspired prints of this dress with embroidery. Feathers and beads bring earthiness to this style. Look for dresses that mix sheer fabrics with heavy embroidery for a playful, put-together outfit. And, opt for boots when the temperature drops.

Hop on the Covered Wagon
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Hop on the Covered Wagon

Who knew a high, old-fashioned neckline could look so chic when paired with sheer printed fabrics and a long coat? Be bold but understated in a long statement coat in a dark neutral as seen here by Rodarte. Choose an equally lengthy skirt or dress with a touch of details like polka dots, flowers or appliques.

Play with Prints
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Play with Prints

Embrace your inner child by having fun with different prints in coordinating colors. Wear apron-inspired dresses, rompers and jumpsuits with a patterned shirt or blouse underneath. Avoid layering prints that are too similar -- take a cue from this plaid collared top and abstract dress with ruffles.

Know Your Neutrals
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Know Your Neutrals

The bright whites of summer are fading into the warmer shades of beige for fall. Enhance your look with golden threading, decals, beads and accessories. Don't be afraid to incorporate a splash of harvest colors like burnt orange and browns. Anna Sui graces her runway with wheat, straw, feathers, twigs and a touch of sparkle to convey the feel of the prairie.

Go with the Grain
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Go with the Grain

If you're over accessories made from feathers, beads and straw, and you can't take an all-nude color palette, find your prairie look with a direct interpretation: a graphic of a wheat field. Like the hemline of this gorgeous, blue-sky silk gown by Rodarte, you can find beautiful imprints of non-flowering plants on clothing that are like a breath of fresh air.

Smock It To Me
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Smock It To Me

Though you don't spend hours a day churning butter, you can mix up your wardrobe with a sand-colored smock dress and sheer blouse by Anna Sui. Cute ruffles and pockets adorn this Midwestern mini dress. Sui has styled this unique outfit with subtle gold and orange eye makeup, minimalist straight hair and feather accessories.

Weave in New Textures
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Weave in New Textures

Rodarte uses pops of color, different directions of stripes and texture in this eye-catching dress that looks like rows of farmland from above. The kernel-shaped pattern of this A-line dress is accented by a triangular belt of dark green, white and gold. If you wear a nude and brown striped dress, use a belt to cinch your waist as shown above. Don't forget to don a pair of bold tights and sky-high Mary Janes to complete this chic ensemble.

Make It Modern
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Make It Modern

Even though the prairie trend conjures images of the Ingalls family settling in their little house on the Western territory of Kansas, you can make the look modern with tailored separates. Complement a structured blouse, like this long-sleeved Rodarte number in beige and gray basket weave tweed, with high-waist pants that have large pockets and a masculine edge. Keep accessories to a minimum if you're wearing an adorned neckline or cutouts as shown here.

Don't Shed a Tier
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Don't Shed a Tier

Prairie tops, dresses and skirts are known for their layers of tiers. To avoid looking frumpy, layer on the lace with well-placed tiers that accent the best features of your figure, like this Rodarte dress. The cutouts in the periwinkle dress create the illusion of more tiers from the neckline, simultaneously adding daintiness and sexiness to the frock.

Slip on a Shawl
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Slip on a Shawl

Intricately woven afghans and shawls were a mainstay in log cabin life. Hark back to the days of homemade knits in a shawl-inspired dress. Play up fringe and ornate patterns, like this silk smock by Anna Sui. Select patterns with shapes that will emphasize your favorite parts of your figure. The triangle white space of this dress flatters the model's shape, while the gold necklace adds dimension to the outfit.

Feather Your Edges
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Feather Your Edges

Elements of the prairie can be conveyed in the most simple details -- flecks of gold as a sparkle of sunshine, feathers from a bird perched on the barnyard fence -- Anna Sui plays with textures to exude the lightness of the outdoors in this gold and beige dress. Let embellishments like these dyed feathers ground your look, giving it a hardness, despite the delicate material. Showcase a beaded bodice and sheer overlay for a wisp of airy drama.

Jump Start With a Jumpsuit
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Jump Start With a Jumpsuit

You may not be asked to fix a wagon wheel while wearing this white jumpsuit, but you will be the center of attention.The triangular top of this whimsical Rodarte look highlights the model's face and hair, drawing the eye up. The subtle print has a variety of circle designs that create a elegant tapestry similar to paisley, without being too busy and cluttered. When searching for your own jumpsuit, look for a cinched waist and soft print design like this, to avoid looking like a gypsy or as if you're wearing a child's onesie.

Churn Your Patterns
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Churn Your Patterns

Subtle prints like floral and paisley mix well with the right color combinations, as shown in this romantic hippie look by Anna Sui. A blouse with feminine detailing in a basic silhouette will strike the ideal balance between bohemian babe and modern prairie girl. Avoid prints that are too loud if you're pairing items together on your own. Choose apparel with dainty or antique buttons for an added flourish.

Heart of Dixie in a Maxi
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Heart of Dixie in a Maxi

A patchwork maxi skirt paired with a crochet top will give your outfit a breath of fresh country air. Keep the look modern with sophisticated styling: sleek hair, a chunky necklace and prairie sky-high wedges will do the trick. Anna Sui keeps her models fresh-faced and youthful in minimal makeup. Add a touch of bronzer along your cheeks for a fresh from the fields blush.

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