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This Week in Fashion: Babydoll, Oh, Baby!

April 12, 2010

For those of you who have followed the history of the Babydoll dresses, you’d know that they originated from the 1950’s when the name was popularized by a movie called “Baby Doll” starring Carroll Baker thus  marking the beginning of the enduring popularity of the style for adults.

Turning to a daywear dress, some of the styles are similar to what is worn by dolls in the form of infants, and by some infants.  The gown is short enough that diapers could easily be changed.  However, there may be an alternative origin for the style, if we consider the lineage of lace-trimmed shortie bedjackets and bed-capes of the 1930s and 1940s.

More modern babydolls have originated from the 60’s and 70’s and are the ideal adult apparell.

It is now a highly eroticized item of adult apparel, often classified as a form of lingerie.  Adult babydolls are quite different from the infant babydolls; they fully expose the woman’s legs, and some styles emphasize or deliberately expose the breasts as well.   The gown is often sold as a set with matching panties.   A typical babydoll is short enough that underwear is visible if worn. Styles of the same general length, but not intended to emphasize sex appeal are sometimes called shortie nightgowns.

Wikipedia also states, “Babydolls became a prominent part of the “Kinderwhore” look during the early-to-mid 1990s due to the popularity of “Riot Grrrl” and “Grunge” performers like “Courtney Love” and “Kat Bjelland“.”

Though lingerie retailers provide a substantially variety of alluring styles, while getting away from the nightwear to becoming  short daywear dresses,  they were given the name “babydoll.”  You’ll also see it as two words or hyphenated.  

The babydoll was purposely given a second identity that indicates that it’s not just a “behind the scenes” apparel.  It draws sex appeal with its length that makes it possible to wear without having to wear any types of shorts.

Today babydoll dresses can be found at popular retailers such as Macy and Neiman Marcus.

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