Chapter 22: A History of Doll Dressing
2023: the year we all wanted to be dolls.
It started with a whisper. Of bows, of coquette culture and of shiny pink ribbons. And then it transformed into something bigger: puff sleeves, oversize babydoll dresses and the total celebration and reclamation of girlhood. 2023 was firmly the year of doll dressing and embracing total femininity, and for many, it served as a form of fashion therapy. For obvious reasons doll dressing is at the heart of what Doll Dealbook represents. At this point, it’s wild to me that I was writing about the resurgence and history of the bow in 2021 and writing about the obsessive doll culture starting to take shape in 2022. The Museum at FIT just announced an entire exhibition devoted to the bow in 2024. Clearly, doll-like fantasy fashion is here to stay.
Doll dressing is not about being small, tame or meek. It’s rather the opposite; standing strong as a formidable echo of girlhood. Doll dressing says girls are strong and no less than women or men. Doll dressing makes up for the nostalgia of girlhood left behind; the little mary jane shoes of our former lives, the pinafore dresses we may or may not have been forced into. But it’s also been heavily represented as one of the biggest underlying themes this year in fashion, for whatever reason.
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