Prairie skirts are slightly flared to very full, with one or more flounces (deep ruffles) or tiers, and are often worn over a ruffled eyelet or lace-trimmed petticoat. They were introduced to fashion by Ralph Lauren in his fall 1978 Western-themed collection.
Prairie skirts are so-called after their resemblance to the home-sewn skirts worn by pioneer women in the mid-19th century, which in turn are a simplified version of the flared, ruffled skirts characteristic of high-fashion dresses of the 1820s.
In keeping with their design inspiration, traditional prairie skirts are usually made of "country" fabrics such as denim and flowered calico. Prairie skirts are a staple of women's western wear, and very full prairie skirts are worn for square dancing.
Mid-calf length, button-front denim prairie skirts with a single flounce, worn with a petticoat that was slightly longer than the skirt, became a mainstream fashion in the 1970s and early 1980s following Lauren's introduction.
- George-Warren, Holly, and Michelle Freedman: How the West Was Worn, p. 184-187.
- George-Warren, Holly, and Michelle Freedman: How the West Was Worn, Harry N. Abrams (2001), ISBN 0-8109-0615-5.