Sweet tea, charm, and hospitality. Southerners carry a specific reputation, acclaiming themselves as a subset of the American culture. There are numerous distinguished qualities of their identity, from traditions like debutante balls to tasty bites like boiled peanuts and grits. Plus, many leading ladies—Reese Witherspoon, Dolly Parton, Viola Davis, and Julia Roberts—embody and live a modern-day southern belle charm and lifestyle.
Along with the various other influential qualities of southern identity, the South also embodies a particular fashion aesthetic. Although cowboy boots and hats, suede, and denim play an essential role, southern-style dresses are a popular fashion staple for those living below Virginia and out west toward Texas. Here’s why southern-style dresses are so hot right now and why you should add them to your wardrobe.
Features of a Southern-Style Dress
Many fashion aesthetics consist of notable characteristics that qualify an outfit or garment as part of that identity. Boho dresses typically consist of flowy sleeves, lace detailing, and abstract prints. Dark academia clothes include earthy dark tones, button-downs, blazers, cardigans, and conservative pieces. Retro glam features bodices, cinched waists, sweetheart necklines, and flared skirts. Each style essence contains certain identifying properties that add to a certain look.
Side Note: A clothing piece doesn’t need to contain all the characteristics of an aesthetic in order to identify. They just need some of the key components. Plus, many identifying qualities overlap across different aesthetics.
There are several components that a southern-style dress should feature.
Bright colors are a common feature in southern-style apparel. They embody the charm and bubbly charisma that many people know southerners for. Out of all the colors on the rainbow, the most popular ones in southern aesthetics are classic pink and blue.
As another ode to southern charm and belles, many southern-style garments include poofy sleeves. They create dresses resembling a royal gown, comparing the etiquette of southern belles to match that of a princess. The billowy sleeves also nod back to traditional southern belle and debutant dresses.
Another acknowledgment of the comparative similarities between southern charm and princesses is layered skirts. Tiered dresses produce an optical illusion of a protruding skirt, creating a look vaguely resembling a classic hoop skirt or a prairie dress. Plus, the added texture from the layered seams adds characteristic detail, mirroring a southerner’s vibrant charisma and distinguished character.
The southern states are no strangers to the heat. Their placement in the country situates them slightly closer to the equator than their top half. Flowy fabrics help you beat the heat and optimize mobility, breathability, and airiness, making them a popular feature in southern apparel.
Southerners hold a reputation for having big personalities. Aside from bright colors, southern-style dresses also often feature bold patterns, mirroring the vibrancy of southern charm. Common prints used include florals and abstract shapes.
Proper etiquette plays a huge factor in traditional southern beliefs. It influenced a lot of characteristics of a belle, providing a set of standards for upper-class socialites. Conservative clothing features, like long sleeves, modest necklines, and lengthy dress skirts, adhere to those traditional ideals of mannerisms and respectable social protocols.
Reason Behind the Fame
Southern-style dresses encompass a range of lovable and versatile features. They work for brunch with friends, social events, and a cozy, casual day. Their versatility makes them a fashionable, functional wardrobe piece, contributing to their rise in fame.
Aside from their multifaceted purposes, there’s no reason for the southern-style dress’ sudden spotlight. Unlike the surge for crochet tops, bucket hats, and corsets, TikTok has yet to set a specific trend for the southern-style dress. However, there are many other possible contributing factors to southern fashion’s popularity:
- Southern-based movies and shows (e.g., The Summer I Turned Pretty, Dumplin, Where the Crawdads Sing)
- Taylor Swift’s rereleased versions of her earlier country albums
- The reprise of social events
- People traveling to the South for winter to escape the cold up north
There may not be a set reason for the rise in demand for southern-style dresses other than the chic appeal they offer. Their bright colors, dainty feminine characteristics, and conservative formality make them a fashionable outfit piece and worthy enough to grab off the boutique rack.
Style Tips and Tricks
Are you hopping on the trend? There are countless ways to style a southern dress and embrace some charm.
There’s no better way to wear a southern-style dress than to go full-on cowboy. Pairing your dress with cowboy boots and a wide-brimmed hat completes the southern aesthetic. Other types of boots also work well to encapsulate the cowgirl charm. For example, knee-high boots work better for shorter dresses, and heeled booties transform any look into a more formal fit.
Southern-style dresses embody a lot of character between their bright colors and bold prints. Opting for minimal accessories ensures you avoid drowning in your outfit. One popular way to accessorize the southern way is to opt for one type of statement accessory, like chunky earrings. It balances out the vibrant characteristics with minimal accessorizing while also applying one last bold statement to the look.
Add some glam to the dress for a night out or a social event with a pair of heels. No matter the type of dress, the simplest way to make your outfit more formal is to add high heels. Their sleek and feminine attributes enhance any outfit with elegance, making it more suitable for dressy occasions.
Cozy and Casual
Do you want to embody the gracefulness of a southern belle but want to keep things more casual? Pair your dress with sneakers. Contrary to heels, sneakers are the go-to footwear to transform any outfit into cozy, casual everyday wear.
The reason why southern dresses are so hot right now is still unclear. These dresses offer a lot to love, from their odes to traditional social culture to their chic features, like tiered skirts and poofy sleeves. No matter the reason for their uprising, adding a southern-style dress to your collection enhances your closet with a versatile and fashionable piece. Check out our selection of southern boutique dresses at Two Cumberland and find a southern-style dress fit for you.