Antique Doll Dress Styles

Antique Doll Dresses– Standard Styles

Examples of Antique Doll Dress Styles for dolls. Searching on the internet, on eBay and doll sites, and even doll supply houses—it is clear that most people describing antique doll dress styles– that is, dresses specifically for antique dolls. don’t really understand which style is which. For example, I just bought an antique doll on eBay, and in her description, it said she was “wearing a drop waist dress.” This dress did not look like a drop. Not on the waist or anywhere else.

What she was wearing was a “Dropped waist” style dress. Why is ‘drop waist’ wrong? Because the term is dropped– meaning the waistline seam of the dress, where the skirt attaches to the bodice, is dropped lower than the natural waistline so the dress is accurately described as having a dropped waist. To call it “drop waist” makes no sense. Does the waist look like a drop? Here is a dropped waist style:
antique doll dress styleClick images for larger view

There are “Waisted dresses.” This means the bodice and skirt are separate pieces that have been sewn together to form a seam at the natural waistline. Here is a waisted style dress:
antique doll dress style

There are “Shirt-waist style” dresses. These dresses have a bodice that buttons down the front, which looks like a shirt—but the skirt is sewn on and attached so it looks like the bodice is “tucked into” the skirt, as a shirt or blouse would be. Here is an example of a shirtwaist style:
Antique Doll Dresss shirtwaist style


There are “A-line” style dresses. This means the dress body is cut in one piece from the shoulder to the hemline—straight lines with a little flair at the bottom, so viewed from the front or back it is shaped like a capital A, the bottom of the legs on the A being the hemline of the dress. The A-line style dress does NOT have a separate skirt sewn on. Here is an example of antique doll dress styles in an A-line:
Antique Doll Dress A-line StyleClick images for larger view

There are “Princess style” antique doll dresses. These are similar to A-line but are curved in at the waist to give a more natural figure shape. They are still cut in one length from shoulder to hemline, usually with several panels, but sometimes just darted, to give a better shape. Princess style dresses do not have a separate sewn-on-skirt. Here is an example:
Antique Doll Dress Princess style

There are “Empire Waisted” dresses—many people confuse a yoked dress with empire waisted. The empire waist is cut with a bodice that goes over and stops just below the breast area. The skirt is attached just below where the breasts would be on an adult woman. The skirt can be gathered or straight, but is always a separate piece on the Empire waisted style dress. This is a popular style for antique doll dresses. Here is an example of one with a slightly gathered skirt:
Antique Doll Dress Empire Waist style

There are “Yoked” dresses. In the yoked dress, the yoke is typically cut to rest just above the breasts. About half the armhole is cut into the yoke, the rest of it into the skirt. The skirt is gathered onto the yoke before the sleeves are set in. Here is an example of a yoked dress, also a very popular style for an antique doll dress:
Antique doll dress yoked style

There are “Straight” dresses. These dresses are usually cut with extra fullness in the front and/or in the back. The fullness is then gathered or tucked to form a normal size neck opening. The dress does not flare at the bottom like a Princess style or an A-line dress. This style of antique doll dress was often seen on early antique composition dolls. The dress just hangs straight, like this example:
Antique doll dress straight style

Sometimes yoked or straight dresses will have a belt or sash added at either the waist or below the natural waistline, to pull the dress in and make it more fitted. The belt or sash is not attached, just tied around the dress as a separate piece. The dress then may appear to be a “waisted” dress, or “dropped waist dress”, depending on the placement of the belt or sash. It is neither of these—it is called a ” straight dress with a belt” or a “yoked dress with a belt.” Below is an example of a straight dress that has been belted to give the appearance of a waisted dress, and  a yoked dress that has a belt added to give the appearance of a dropped waist dress:
Antique Doll Dress straight with belt            antique doll dressed yoked with belt

These are the standard Antique Doll Dress Styles for antique dolls and children of their era. This post was written by JoAnn Morgan