Updated: MAY 23, 2015

Babydolls is a term for women’s nightgowns or negligees which resemble empire-waist style dresses. Babydolls are short and expose the legs, typically falling at the hips. Most are loose-fitting and made from lightweight or sheer fabrics including silk, nylon, and chiffon. A babydoll gets its name because it resembles the feminine style of dress worn by dolls or young children.

The term was popularized by the 1956 film Baby Doll which featured a sexy character who wore the garments.

More About Babydolls

Babydolls have a retro appeal, yet their designs have changed dramatically since their introduction. Traditional babydolls offered little support for the bust, but some contemporary designs are fitted with bra cups. As well as providing support for the breasts, this also helps create cleavage. Babydolls are often enhanced with lace, bows, ruffles, ribbons, and other decorative details. Some vintage styles open in the front, like a robe.

As babydolls are usually loose fitting, they are flattering for a range of female body types. They hug the curves of the body while disguising problem areas like the tummy and thighs. Many women feel less self-conscious wearing babydolls than other forms of lingerie. The loose-fitting design also offers easy access for sexual activity.

Babydolls are most commonly worn in the privacy of the home, but have at times been popular garments to wear as part of one's outfit, including during the ‘90s grunge era. Babydolls have become a popular choice for bridal lingerie as they are more affordable and accessible than bridal corsets.

Like most types of lingerie and nightwear, babydolls are seen as fetish items by some individuals. Babydolls typically leave the legs bare, and some provocative styles also expose the breasts. As they are so short, babydolls are commonly sold with matching panties. Women may enjoy the glimpse of underpants the babydoll provides, and others may choose not to wear underwear at all.


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