Baby Doll Fashions

Sugar and Spice but not Necessarily Nice
Contemporary Baby Doll
Pretty and pouty, sulky and sensual, the classic Baby Doll look is  perhaps a meld of the traditional social meme of female vulnerability and the male fantasy of the child-woman.

Particularly popular in the 60s, the Baby Doll style  took the form of short, often unwaisted dresses or waistlines up under the bust (with cleavage), sometimes with a ribbon sash and knee socks. Baby Doll has always been an ironic look, as, although the theme is infantile innocence, the underlying sub-text is adult sexual allure. 

More recently the look returned with a more obvious sexual oomph, as evident in the picture at right and in the 90s became known as the Kinderwhore look, a kind of grunge retro perversion of the original look.
Thumb-sucking Appeal?
Baby Doll style, in its new or old manifestations, is not to every  man or woman's taste and certainly, not every woman can get away with dressing like a sexy doll- I sure couldn't, but then, nor would I particularly want to. In Elia Kazan's 1956 film Baby Doll, which he co-wrote with playwright Tennesee Williams, the theme of the child-woman is explored via the relationship between an older, witless man, Archie Lee Meighan (Karl Maldon) and his much younger wife, Baby Doll Meighan (Caroll Baker).  Pretty innocuous by todays standards, it caused a moral panic at the time of its release for its *sexual connotations* and was even banned, among many other countries, in progressive Sweden.

Child-woman, Baby Doll Meighan (Caroll Baker), lies in her cot bed, thumb in mouth. 

Natalie Wood, fetching in a Baby Doll nightgown
The Baby Doll Nightgown
Apart from critical acclaim and a Golden Globe for Kazan, the film was responsible for spawning a new fashion sensation -the Baby Doll nightgown, a super-short but diaphanous nightie. Caroll Baker's tongue-in-cheek performance as the woman held captive in childish immaturity was so sexily appealing it seems, that women wanted to emulate her style (or maybe their men wanted them to).

The style was featured on Natalie Wood, complete with little girl pigtails in the hit, withit 60s film, Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice.