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Choosing a Baby Doll Dress

Updated on October 29, 2014

Baby Doll Dresses and the Movie Baby Doll

Here is all you need to know about Baby Doll Dresses (BDD). So, what exactly is the BDD? And while we are talking about Baby Dolls, where did the name come from? Finally, what’s hot with the BDD?

The Baby Doll style of nightgown was designed in the 50’s by couturier Nancy Mecher. She made her first design in light transparent nylon. Incidentally, this type of negligee is often associated with pin-ups of the time.

You can trace the name Baby Doll right back to Carroll Baker who wore this revealing garment in the form of a nightie in the 1956 movie "Baby Doll."

The 19 year old ‘Baby Doll’, played by Baker, is a real tease, not helped by her habit of sleeping in a child’s crib in the nursery in her short nightie while she waits for her newly acquired middle-aged husband to consummate the marriage!

The role brought Baker instant fame plus a massive amount of notoriety. Both the film and the lingerie were a big success.

Baby dolls of the 1950s were simple flared negligees with a hemline that reached approximately six inches above the knee.

Baby Doll Dress

Baby Doll Cocktail Prom Dress
Baby Doll Cocktail Prom Dress
Baby Doll Lingerie with a Burlesque Feel
Baby Doll Lingerie with a Burlesque Feel

Baby Doll Lingerie

The term baby doll also relates back to the sort of dress worn by a baby and therefore also by baby dolls. The very short, flared hemline makes nappy changing easy. Don’t think about it! Lets move on.

Babydoll lingerie continues to be popular to this day but the design has evolved to match current fashions. Pastel colours and simple chiffon or lace have evolved into more raunchy colours such as red and black.

The baby-doll lingerie is often low cut to show off the cleavage.

Today’s versions may have shaped supportive cups or be much tighter than the 1950’s originals.

In recent times, you’ll often find a Burlesque feel to the baby doll. The hemlines of the lingerie have also risen and are typically somewhere between the upper thigh or even navel height (in which case it is hardly worth bothering to wear it!)

In 1969, the Feminist Writer, Germaine Greer Described the Liberation of Women as Follows:

"The women kept on dancing while their long skirts crept up, and their girdles dissolved, and their n*****s burst through like hyacinth tips and their clothes withered away to the mere wisps and ghosts of draperies to adorn and glorify ..."

So Where Does the Baby Doll Dress Fit In?

Lets go back to the mid 1960’s when the fashion world went through a cataclysmic shift. This was the era of free love and letting it all hang out.

Women dispensed with stockings and suspenders, corsets and even the bra. Clothes were suddenly providing covering but nothing more. Think simple mini dresses, mini skirts and little if any underwear.

The baby doll perfectly reflected this new, liberated worldview. Hence the popularity of the babydoll nightie amongst 1960’s teenage girls. Baby doll dresses first appeared around 1966. They were obviously more substantial than the baby doll nightie but were based on the same style.

They were flared from below the bust with cutaway armholes and/or a halter neck. They were typically made of transparent tulles, lace or chiffon mounted over a matching lining or crinkled cotton crepe fabrics.

1960s Baby Doll

1960s Baby Doll Nightie - Modest by today's Standards!
1960s Baby Doll Nightie - Modest by today's Standards!
Beautiful Strapless Baby Doll Dress showing how great the style can look
Beautiful Strapless Baby Doll Dress showing how great the style can look
Baby Doll in Blue
Baby Doll in Blue

What Makes a Dress a Baby Doll?

Just as Baby doll lingerie has survived to the present day and has evolved to meet changes in fashion so too the baby doll Dress is still with us and undergoing a real surge in popularity.

What makes a dress a baby doll? One of the key characteristics is a raised waistline to just below the bust.

The dress then hangs straight outward to the hemline. In other words it isn’t figure hugging.

This is also known as the Empire line. Sometimes the baby doll dress is known as an empire line dress.

However, baby doll dresses tend to be shorter and more flared than empire line dresses.

Personally I think the Baby Doll Dress looks better with a lower hemline. Mid thigh is my absolute limit. But I have a friend who wears her baby doll dress with the hem just below her bum.

An interested boy enquired discreetly in a club recently if she was wearing her nightie. I noticed when she danced you could see her knickers and her ample cleavage at the same time!

Anyway each to their own, I guess. And she does has a lovely personality!

The baby doll neck can be high, low cut or even be strapless. Alternatively it can look great with spaghetti straps or a halter-neck.

This style is, in some ways, similar to a maternity dress and can be used to hide the other bulges too!

It is also a very youthful look and can be quite innocent depending on styling and length. But, like the lingerie version it can also be incredibly sexy (back to my friend and her knickers!).

A current favourite of mine is the Burlesque look. The Baby Doll Burlesque is typically black and red with a risqué feel, decidedly saucy and looks tres hot with long black gloves!

There will be plenty of Baby Dolls around this Spring in the shops and on line. The baby Doll Dress is an ideal style to wear to let the fresh air to caress your limbs and blow away the last vestiges of winter.

So why not treat yourself to a Baby Doll dress? Go on, you know you want to!

Striking Baby Doll Dress with Halter Neck
Striking Baby Doll Dress with Halter Neck
The legendary model Twiggy from the 1960s in a Baby Doll Dess
The legendary model Twiggy from the 1960s in a Baby Doll Dess
1970's style Baby Doll Dress with high, square neckline
1970's style Baby Doll Dress with high, square neckline
Classic Baby Doll Dress with Halter Neck and Simple Lines
Classic Baby Doll Dress with Halter Neck and Simple Lines
Baby Doll Dress with more than a hint of Burlesque
Baby Doll Dress with more than a hint of Burlesque


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    • profile image

      Chris Hugh 

      8 years ago

      What great pics and cute dresses!

    • hunter1riley profile image

      Hunter Riley 

      8 years ago from Nashville

      Baby doll dresses (and lingerie) are under-rated. You hardly ever see them worn, at least where I live. They are sexy, comfortable and typically affordable.

    • Eileen Goodall profile image

      Eileen Goodall 

      8 years ago from Buckinghamshire, England

      Great hub, so, so, so cute.

    • toddwertz profile image


      9 years ago

      Great hub, Thanks for sharing this blog.


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