On March 12, at around 7 a.m., @beerbottles_chainsaws, aka Man Repeller’s Manager of Production, Crystal Anderson DMed me a photo of this Prada dress that ended up monopolizing both of our mornings. First, she declared her love for it and inquired about its origins. (It walked down the Prada Spring/Summer 2019 runway back in late September 2018, I informed her, typing with one hand as I brushed my teeth.) We rapid-fire texted a few more words of admiration back and forth.

Then our DM chain moved on to screenshots of other dresses we love — all of which were mini in length and flared out in a flirty, innocently girlish way. There’s a name for them, of course—babydoll dresses—and the “cute aggression” they inspired in us actually makes a ton of sense when you think about it.

A month later, the fever returned when I came across this dress by AVAVAV Firenze and just had to share it with Crystal. We swooned. Then it dawned on me that something must be done: we must unpack the allure of the babydoll dress.

Dress 1: AVAVAV Firenze Ruffle Chip

Let’s start with the aforementioned AVAVAV Firenze dress, which I stumbled upon during an Instagram scrolling adventure. The Victorian collar! The sleeves! Each of them are made of deadstock fabric, which makes them not only more eco-friendly but more original, too. They’re very lightweight—perfect for a summer night—and can even be tucked into pants as a billowy blouse (see how the brand styled it here).

Dress 2: Urban Outfitters Picnic Party

While I did market research for these dresses, I asked Crystal for feedback and sent her links throughout my hunt. She was a big fan of this one from Urban Outfitters, clocking in at a cool $69. I love how it’s very much a different dress on each of us because of our heights — it’s shorter and more flirty on her, a bit longer and more boxy on me. The neckline on a traditional babydoll dress is typically pretty simple, so Crystal styled hers with a bib of necklaces while I opted to wear mine with thigh high boots to play up the high hemline.

Dress 3: Veda Watermelon Candy Cane

This dress has the longest hemline of the Five Guys we styled. We both decided this is actually the perfect little number to wear to a summer wedding. (I would go with the pink one Crystal is wearing and pair it with strappy summer sandals.) For our on-the-street vibe, however, Crystal styled hers with fabric Mary Janes and I went for mid-length quilted boots. Four thumbs up for the low neckline and the spaghetti straps, which will be crucial on an extra-hot summer days.

Dress 4: Urban Outfitters Tutti Fruity

This Urban Outfitters number arrived just before our shoot and Crystal’s face lit up as soon as I pulled it out of the package. We’re huge fans of the sleeves — Crystal kept hers up on her shoulders and I wore mine slung down. (The bodice of the dress has a rubbery lining so it stays put!) I think we all know this dress was made for summer brunching, either with sneakers like Crystal’s or a sweet little pair of Mary Janes.

Dress 5: Gilda & Pearl Literal Lingerie

Harling astutely pointed out that this babydoll slip is basically a twin to the dress Carrie wears on Sex and the City when Samantha tries to style Carrie for her book cover shoot. Crystal says it reminds her of the dresses from Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion. Either way: yes. Styled with jeans or shorts, what would otherwise be simply a sexy negligee (which is actually how a babydoll dress is defined when you ask Google, FYI), becomes a very fun bonus layer.

The beauty of these dresses, we realized while shooting today, is that it’s not really the dress that makes these outfits so fun—babydolls are a pretty simple sack-like silhouette for the most part. But that’s exactly why this exercise was so enjoyable for us: it’s all about how you jooj the dress with accessories and your own imagination.

Photos by Louisiana Mei Gelpi.

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