Here is an intimate exploration of the Baby Doll Nightie (Nightie). How has this deceptively simple lingerie item survived for so many decades?
Could it have a psychological secret that makes it so popular and addictive to the girls who wear it? Not to mention the men who queue up to buy Babydoll underwear for their wives, girl friends and lovers.
First let me throw my thoughts into the ring. For me the Baby Doll sometimes lacks subtlety. Some designs are too obvious. Tarty even. Depending on your shape and whether you have great legs, they can also be slightly unflattering.
I normally prefer something that pulls me in a little. Adds a bit of shape. But I have to admit that I've gratefully accepted some gorgeous Baby Dolls as gifts and really enjoyed wearing them too. That's me done so lets start with a little night dress history.
Lingerie pre-1960’s was all about covering up, pulling in and supporting. Think the bra, the bustier or the corset. Even the teddy neatly encloses the female form, locking it within with its clip-fastening crotch.
Back to the 1960s
Lets begin back in the mid 1960’s when everything changed. This was the era of a cultural explosion of free love and letting it all hang out. Women dispensed with stockings and suspenders, corsets and even the bra. Women's clothes suddenly providing much less covering and minimal support. Think simple mini dresses, mini skirts and little if any underwear.
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Baby Doll and Carroll Baker
The Baby Doll perfectly reflected this new, liberated worldview. Hence the increasing popularity of the baby doll nightie amongst 1960’s teenage girls.
The garment provided a sensual covering but, unlike most underwear, made the wearer totally accessible.
Hence the very short, yet flared hemline, and in more modern versions the open front, often secured only by a simple bow.
The style also gave rise to the Baby Doll Dress, a garment that could be safely worn outside the bedroom.
Another feature of the babydoll is the raised waistline (almost under the breasts); sometimes known as empire line styling.
But where does the name Baby Doll come from?
The name was first used when Carroll Baker wore the revealing garment in the 1956 infamous movie "Baby Doll."
Tennessee Williams wrote the script and Baker played a sensuous Mississippi teenage bride of a guy well past his prime.
The role brought Baker instant fame plus a certain amount of notoriety.
Both the film and the lingerie of the same name were a smash hit.
Baby dolls of the 1950s were simple flared negligees with a hemline that reached approximately six inches above the knee.
The original look was similar to a dress worn by a baby (or a baby doll) and was short and flared with a wide hem to make nappy changing easy (lets change the subject now and get back to grown up clothes!)
The babydoll look continues to be popular to this day but the design has evolved to match current fashions. Pastel colours and simple chiffon or lace have often been replaced by more raunchy colours such as red and black.
Burlesque Baby Doll
Today’s versions may have shaped supportive cups or be much tighter than the 1950’s originals. Today, you’ll often find a Burlesque feel to the baby doll.
The hemlines has also risen and are typically somewhere between the upper thigh or even navel height.
But lets get back to this theme of accessibility we touched on earlier. Traditional lingerie is restrictive.
The teddy encloses, the corset squeezes and holds, the bra contains and supports the breasts whilst the suspender belt fiercely grips the stockings.
When a women wears these garments there is a subtle message that she is holding back and not giving everything away.
In contrast with the Baby Doll where everything is wide open and up for grabs. The wearer offers herself freely. There are no barriers. To wear it is an invitation to intimacy.
No wonder men so often give the Baby Doll to their lovers as a gift (in hope, of course, that the recipient will wear it for them).
If you fancy a Baby Doll then drop a subtle hint to the man in your life. Alternatively, if you want to surprise your current squeeze with a special treat then cast your eye over what the Internet has to offer and find a Baby Doll that makes you sizzle.
Don't tell him. Just appear in his line of sight wearing it. I can guarentee he'll abandon the game on TV and join you immediately in the bedroom!
Fantastic Burlesque Lingerie Video!
Burlesque Baby Doll in Motion!
James on January 06, 2016:
Yesterday [6th Jan. 2016] I went to this Second Hand Clothing Store, and I was looking in the Retro rack and discovered a fabulous vintage nightie in a midi length to the knee's [sort of "babydoll type} I started to get real excited and my heart was racing,as I thought "I'm going to buy it even though there were lot of females milling around at the counter,they all started to look at me,which made me even more excited.I put the nightie up on the"counter" and girl behind said "oh thats a very nice sexy nightie" I said "yes, I think it is too" then she said "Is it for your Wife?"then I said "NO..its me, as both my Wife and I love to wear these vintage chiffon nighties in bed and around our home "she replied,"Well, thats pretty amazing, I've never heard of a man wearing nighties before" I was getting even more excited by then, and I replied, with my heart pounding.."Well now you have eh??," Then I looked around and noticed all these bloody females tuning into our conversation.so I said out loud to them all.." Hey, Ladies GO MIND YOUR OWN DAMN BUSINESS" Then the Girl behind the counter said"Good on YOU MATE" " AND I hope you enjoy that lovely vintage nylon nightie " I replied " I SURE will" then I paid for it. AND said " I love the color [mauve ] " and she agreed, when I arrived home I couldn't get into that chiffon [outer layer] nightie quick enough to try it on.So I wore it in bed that night, after my wife washed it, it just feels so SO good as it has a BIG spread of chiffon on the outer layer, I measured it and it is over 120 inches . So I really love all that chiffon around my body, and so does my Wife,So to sum it all up,we both love wearing vintage nighties and peignoirs that have a big flair of chiffon. Also I'd like to say I am NOT a cross-dresser, its just that I have a "fetish" I guess, for vintage chiffon baby-doll nighties and full length nylon vintage nighties and negligee's ..ITS all good stuff, AND, I am a real Man doing a"real" Mans Job, and none of my work mates would have a clue as to my "ways" at night. Not that I'd ever tell them anyway.
James on December 29, 2015:
I to love babydoll chiffon/nylon vintage nighties, I bought this fab pink vintage nightie the other day,it has a nice bow in the front with long silky/nylon ribbons to the hem. I love playing with the ribbons in bed and the chiffon against my skin is a great feeling. So I guess I'm like you Mark I feel " so girly and lovely.....
Derek on October 04, 2015:
J'adore baby doll chiffon nighties, I have sewn a few wild seeds, wearing them for bedtime❤️
poetryman6969 on March 24, 2015:
Love the black and red models. Lovely.
Mark ova on May 18, 2012:
I'm one of the men who queue up up to buy baby doll nighties. I buy them for my wife but I must confess I often buy them too large for her so I can wear them myself. I adore them. They make a man feel so lovely and girly.
Katrina Mitchell on April 05, 2012:
I love Baby Doll nightgowns. They are the only sleepwear that I've had since I was a little girl. I have a huge collection, including about three dozen that I wear and rotate until they are tossed out or retired. I buy a new one about twice a month. But, they are not just for sleepy time. They are more fun in the evening, when it's time for a bit of television. As a teenager, I used them to torment my step-brother with them. Girl power is always enhanced by a great looking Baby Doll.
Gina Coole (author) from London on February 11, 2011:
Thanks for stopping by. By 'never fails' I bet you don't mean its hard wearing or warm!
Anath on February 10, 2011:
I have a similar one to the one shown in the last photo -white lace with black accents- it never fails ;-)