The babydoll is a term used to refer to two different types of clothing. It can be a flirty piece of lingerie or a short dress for day wear. In both, the silhouette is the same: tent-like and hemmed above the knee. Traditionally, the babydoll style of garment was reserved for dresses for infants and young children, although it is now commonly worn by adult women as well. Choosing a babydoll for lingerie or as a dress requires some knowledge of the styles and fits that are available as well as some tips on how to pull off this stylish, sometimes sexy, sometimes serious, look and be comfortable doing so.
The Babydoll as LingerieAs a piece of lingerie, the babydoll has a bra type top with a loose fitting body. Sometimes, the body is open in the front. It can be sleeveless or have straps.
DescriptionWhen referring to this style of nightwear, it is known to be erotic and emphasize sex appeal. Because of the length of babydolls, they expose the woman’s legs. In fact, the garment’s loose fitting skirt falls between the upper thigh and belly button. Because of this short length, the babydoll is often sold with matching panties since the gown itself is short enough that underwear can be seen if worn.
Furthermore, some styles also expose or emphasize the breasts. Sometimes, the top has formed cups called a bralette, which enhances cleavage.
The babydoll can vary greatly in style from being a bit modest to being risque. They can be trimmed with lace, sequins, ruffles, fur, ribbons, or embroidery. Babydolls are normally made from lightweight, sheer fabrics such as chiffon, nylon, silk, linen, and organic cotton.
The Babydoll as a Dress
More recently, babydoll dresses were worn in the 1950s as empire-waisted dress styles made a comeback among women who wanted to wear more carefree, younger dresses than the conservative styles worn by their mothers and grandmothers. This style remained popular throughout the 1960s, featuring a high boat neck and the clean, straight lines of a shift dress. In the 1970s, the dresses were fashioned to match the trends of the time period as well with bohemian styling and hippie-inspired designs. During the 1980s, the babydoll dress faded out of the fashion scene but reappeared during the 1990s grunge fashion movement. Revitalizing this fashion trend was Courtney Love of the grunge band, Hole, whose trademark attire was a highly decorated babydoll dress.
DescriptionLike the babydoll nightie, the babydoll dress also has a fitted bust, high empire waist, and loose A-line skirt. It is a comfortable, modest dress that is easy for women of all shapes to wear. Usually, babydoll dresses will fall anywhere between just above the knee, to several inches below the knee. However, the hemline for the babydoll dress typically stops above the calf. The bodice of the dress can be loose or tight and looks nice worn with or without a belt. Although the babydoll dress can be worn year-round, it is most popular during the spring and summer months because of the drapey, cool flow of the skirt.
The shape of the babydoll dress has also inspired cocktail wear, and a popular style of this is a strapless or spaghetti strap bodice, bow-tie belt, and shiny or glittery fabric for the skirt.
The babydoll dress flatters many body types. However, the wrong fabric or misplaced gathers at the stomach can, unfortunately, create an undesirable, chubby look. Additionally, the hemline is also an important consideration. On shorter or petite women, the hem should be above the knee in order to minimize a visual "cutting" of the body; however, taller women can wear a longer length with ease.
How to Wear a Babydoll DressOften, babydoll dresses are marketed to the under-forty age group because of its youthful cut. However, because of the ability of the babydoll dress to hide figure flaws with its forgiving silhouette, designers do use darker shades and heavier fabrics to appeal to older women as well. There are several ways to wear a babydoll dress to create a unique, fun outfit.
- Leggings: Pair the dress with long leggings to create a more mature appearance. Leggings under the dress can detract from the too-young look of the babydoll dress.
- Longer Length: Leave the shorter babydoll dresses to children. As an adult, choose one that just skims the knee for a more suitable style.
- Footwear: Pairing the babydoll dress with high heels creates a sweet, stylish, and sexy outfit that is perfect for a dinner party or date night. Pairing the babydoll dress with leggings and high boots can create a casual, comfortable look or a sophisticated style, depending on the fabric.
- Jeans: Wear skinny jeans with a babydoll dress and create a casual outfit that is relaxed but still feminine.
- Accessories: Choose accessories to compliment the babydoll dress. Thick, chunky jewelry or thin, delicate pieces can be added to accessorize any desired style. And, for reasonable prices, scarves can also be paired with both muted and bold colors to achieve a variety of looks.