"What we wear always reflects the times we are in," explains Merlette founder Marina Cortbawi, who views the revival of the babydoll dress trend as more than just a coincidence. The Brooklyn-based brand is well known for its voluminous multi-tiered Soliman mini dress that's been worn by swarms of influencers since its launch back in 2016. "I believe that loose-fitting silhouettes are being revisited now because women want to experience freedom and fun, a garment that supports movement," she says.
The collective appreciation (and subsequent return of) of babydoll dresses is just the latest in the constant cycle of blast-from-the-past trends that have begun to gain traction among the fashion community again. Scrunchies, ruffle-embellished socks, barrettes, and likely anything else you were wearing 15 to 20 years ago has once again caught the attention of celebrities, influencers, and designers alike. But, the next iteration of babydoll dresses isn't an exact replica of past designs. This time around, it's less of the ultra-mini, tulip-like '90s style worn in Clueless, Romy And Michele's High School Reunion, or Passport To Paris. Instead, the look has evolved into a shape that's noticeably more voluminous and "evokes ease and the feeling of being unbound in the garment," Cortbawi explains.
These floaty, unfussy iterations of the babydoll have quickly become a favorite among the fashion set because of their impactful but largely effortless design. It's virtually impossible to click through a Fashion Week street style gallery without spotting at least one instantly recognizable Cecilie Bahnsen dress. The ethereal Copenhagen-based label speaks to modern femininity that prioritizes comfort, minimalism, and effortlessness.
London-based Molly Goddard is another designer whose high-volume dresses have surged in popularity. Often puff-sleeved and cut in highly saturated tulle, her silhouettes provide an almost doll-like quality that results in a reliably fun approach to style.
This newer high-volume iteration of the babydoll dress also appeals to a modern shopper because it allows for more layering combinations than its predecessors, particularly when it's not warm enough to wear on its own. Cortbawi recommends that, while it's still cooler out, "wear it over a light wool rib legging and a ballet flat or sneaker, or layered over a pair of wide-leg raw edge denim jeans." Then, once warmer weather hits, you'll be set by simply styling your dress with sandals.
Ahead, see how influencers are wearing the babydoll dress right now, and shop the picks to add an air of ease to your spring wardrobe.
Babydoll Dress + Tall Boots
If you're stuck on the best type of footwear to pair with the babydoll dress trend, a knee-high boot is reliably a good choice. The pairing feels cohesive and nods to the swinging '60s.
Babydoll Dress As A Top Layer
Spring is thankfully right around the corner, but in certain parts of the U.S. it's still (regrettably) quite cold. Until temperatures warm up for good, you can layer your babydoll dress over a turtleneck and pants for a creative approach to the trend; it makes for an eye-catching look for dinner out with friends.
Babydoll Dress + Low Heels
For days when you want to throw something on and go — all while feeling polished — a babydoll dress with sandals, loafers, or low heels is the winning combination, as illustrated above.
Colorful Babydoll Dress + Western Boots
Don't retire your cowboy boots just yet, as this Western footwear happens to look quite cute when worn with a brightly hued babydoll dress. Your new music festival uniform, perhaps?