This baby’s got back. We break down the return of the saccharine babydoll dress style.
“I’ve been seeing babydoll dresses making a comeback on the racks of local boutiques like Karen Walker. I love the idea of them, but how on earth do I wear one without looking like a child?”
The frilly lines and often pastel shades of babydoll dresses can ring alarm bells for many, going well beyond our black, tailored comfort zones. But this frou-frou style can be surprisingly wearable when paired with clean lines and sharp accessories. The babydoll dress dates back to 1942 and American lingerie designer Sylvia Pedlar — the style’s cropped hemline owing to fabric shortages during World War II. Gaining popularity when worn by actress Carroll Baker in the 1956 film Baby Doll, the dress made the transition into daywear during the ’60s and ’70s — think Twiggy bouncing around in a barely-there Mary Quant number. Fashion houses such as Miu Miu and Louis Vuitton have since devised somewhat more subversive versions — taking the dress far beyond its sleepwear origins. Here’s how to style a babydoll in any setting…
How to wear the babydoll dress in the office
• Counteract the short hemline with your favourite pair of black trousers.
• A polished loafer or brogue adds a masculine anchor.
• Try out a slick hairstyle, as curls can look too cutesy.
Deadly Ponies scarf, $230; Merchant 1948 shoes, $230; Twenty-seven Names dress, $360; Vanessa Bruno trousers, $479, from Workshop.
How to wear the babydoll dress in the evening
• Tie a scarf around your neck in a simple knot. Avoid finishing it with a bow as your dress is already providing plenty of flounce.
• If heels feel too feminine, get playful and pair with cowboy boots, a combination sported by starlets Sienna Miller and Kate Bosworth.
• Pull back on the blush and lipstick. Instead, focus on your eyes.
Gestuz dress, $600; Trelise Cooper dress, $559; H&M dress, $80.
How to wear the babydoll dress on the weekend
• Keep it comfortable with your favourite pair of sneakers, but ditch socks that hit too high on the ankle and border on schoolgirl territory.
• Add extra warmth by layering a turtleneck or ribbed sweater underneath.
Helen Cherry dress, $549; Cooper dress, $299; Twenty-seven Names dress, $360.
Words and styling: Danielle Clausen
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