September 12, 2023 1 Comment on Baby Doll Lingerie and Sylvia Pedlar
The lingerie sewing patterns that Folkwear debuted this year (510 Passionflower and 511 Juliette's Dream) are heavily influenced by the baby doll lingerie that developed and was popular in the late 1940s and the 1950s. Baby doll lingerie brings to mind sweet and sexy garments - lacy and loose and very short. Baby dolls are loosely defined as a garments with an empire waist and a skirt ending above the knee. This type of lingerie often has lace, frills, or bows on the hems, seams, or straps, giving it a typical lingerie look.
Baby doll lingerie is credited to clothing designer Sylvia Pedlar who created super-short nighties in the early 1940s as a response to war-time fabric shortages. Before this time, women's nightwear was generally long and voluminous, similar to our 224 Beautiful Dreamer. These newer short gowns were quickly called baby doll lingerie, though Ms. Pedlar reportedly did not like the term and would not use it.
Sylvia Pedlar was a successful designer who studied fashion in New York and quickly started her own fashion brand, Iris Lingerie, in 1929. She ran the company successfully until it closed in 1970, winning several fashion awards for her designs along the way. Ms. Pedlar focused on high quality lingerie and designs that drew on past romance as well as the seduction and sexual freedom of the 1960s. Not only did she bring the baby doll to popularity, she also developed a toga-like negligée designed for women who slept in the nude. In addition, she re-worked Victorian-style nightwear and added exquisite machine-made white work to many of her designs. But, for Folkwear, the baby doll gown she developed and popularized is what inspired our 510 Passionflower Lingerie Top and 511 Juliette's Dream (and several other designs we have in various stages of development).
Sylvia Pedlar design from 1962. Metropolitan Museum of Art, pinterest link.
Sylvia Pedlar design from 1958. Metropolitan Museum of Art, pinterest link.
Inside label of an Iris Lingerie nightgown designed by Sylvia Pedlar.
The sleeping toga designed by Sylvia Pedlar, on the cover of Life Magazine, 1962. Pinterest link.
Baby doll lingerie balances cute and sexy and has a definite sassiness. The flowing skirts float out from under the bust to a very short, seductive length. And the lace and bows on hems and seams connote innocence of little girls outfits. However, sheer fabrics and often very low necklines are not at all childlike. Baby doll lingerie of the 1950s and 1960s could be made of several layers of sheer fabric in white or pastel colors. And as the lingerie style developed, jewel colors, black, and lace added to the interest of baby doll lingerie. Usually baby dolls were made with nylon, chiffon, or silk, and were embellished with ribbons, bows, and lace, making them flirty and feminine garments to wear.
Early babydoll lingerie designs - advertisement.
Vintage baby doll lingerie styles. Pinterest link.
Vintage baby doll lingerie dress with layers of fabric and short sleeves.
1960s Baby doll lingerie. Pinterest link.
While the baby doll lingerie style has waxed and waned in popularity, it has stayed a staple of lingerie design. Over the years, many changes have been made. The skirts have been made slightly longer, or even shockingly shorter. Necklines have been high and low, square, rounded, or made into deep V's. Some baby dolls have sleeves, some just small straps. Brighter colors have been used and skirts have been made less full. Some styles are open in front, and black has become a popular color. Not only all these changes, but baby doll lingerie turned into dresses - the baby doll dress became popular in the 1960s and 1970s thanks to Mary Quant's designs - and stayed a classic dress design. And now, for instance, now one may see a baby doll lingerie is not just worn as nightwear but worn over jeans and high heels. The nightwear-to-daywear trend includes this cute frock.
The juxtaposition of baby doll lingerie - sweet and innocent and sexy and seductive - has been what is intriguing and interesting of this style. And the style is surprisingly flexible, going from nightwear to daywear, from modest to quite the opposite. We hope you enjoy the options and possibilities with our patterns 510 Passionflower Lingerie Top and 511 Juliette's Dream.
February 14, 2024