What actually is a babydoll dress?

Te catwalks have decreed that the babydoll dress is one of the key dress styles of the season. Valentino, Jeremy Scott and Giambattista Valli all offered different incarnations on the catwalk, but, judging by the responses in the GLAMOUR office, there is still confusion about what it actually is.

What actually is a babydoll dress?

The babydoll started out as a short nightgown invented by a designer called Sylvia Pedler in 1942 as a means of working with the fabric shortage during World War II. A version for children was also created – the length was kept short so that kids could have their nappies changed with ease, so bear that in mind when you’re wearing yours. Pedler apparently hated that women began calling them babydolls and never used the term herself.

What actually is a babydoll dress?
Printed silk dress, £853, Giamba at My-Theresa

In the 60s and 70s they were adopted as daywear and, although they lost a lot of their negligee look (that fembot look just isn’t practical for the office), they were and are still characterised as something that a child or doll might wear – so high-necks, long sleeves, short in length (for easy access nappy change remember), a swingy skirt and often empire line.

What actually is a babydoll dress?

There is something unarguably creepy about wearing a piece that is a hybrid between lingerie and little girl attire, but the current incarnations have more of a 60s vibe than Lolita weirdness. It’s evolved and has grown up. Think Megan fromMad Men, Twiggy or Alexa Chung working her denim version for AG Jeans last season.

How to wear them? A lot of the appeal of a babydoll comes from the fact that they’re so easy to wear – you don’t need to think about what else to wear them with, except perhaps your footwear. Offset their girlishness with a pair of boots – either a Dior-inspired PVC version or with a 70s-style knee-length variety. To keep with the ladylike theme, try a pair of chunky heeled pair of Mary Janes – this season’s current shoe obsession.

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