Types of China Doll Dresses

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Women were constantly changing their clothing so it was only natural that dolls also reflected clothing styles.  The rule of thumb is thinking about dresses is that the dresses became tighter and fancier as the day moved on.

NOTE: For discussion purposes, china doll dresses had fitted bodices.  The sleeves varied with fashion in fullness and style as well as the skirt being more or less full, depending on the season and current style.  At times the skirts were full all the way around, other times less in front and more in back (bustle influence) and then finally form fitting and fuller toward the hem.


  • Starting out with the morning, a lady wore a wrapper. This is a dress that does not require a lot of under-clothing support of petticoats and corsets.  The dress is looser fitting to allow the wearer movement in doing chores around the house.  Fabrics would be more functional as in cotton or wool.


  • A typical day dress would be floor length with long sleeves and a neck-line that was fitted around the neck or a high collar. The dress is worn around the house, again, made with functional fabrics like cotton or wool.


  • Stepping out to do some shopping or a walk the walking dress would have a slight train and ankle length to allow for walking without tripping. The fabric would have been functional or more fine. The dress could also be an upgrade from the day dress where collars and cuffs are added as well as a cape or bertha.  A hat would have been worn. Full undergarments would have been worn under the dress (drawers, petticoats, hoops, corset, bustle).


  • Moving into late afternoon or evening, the dress would be more of a gown with finer fabrics with fancier trims. Sleeves would be shorter to reveal more of the arm and necklines were not as tight. The dress would be tightly fitting.


  • Going out in the evening to dinner, friends, a play or concert, the dress would have been more extreme.  Made of the finest of fabrics and trims, the neckline might reveal the breasts, little or no sleeves and have a lengthy train.  The finest the wearer has in jewelry would have been worn.
NOTE:  Because china dolls do not generally have standard size bodies, all dresses are custom made to measurements provided by buyer, therefore prices reflect the extended time it takes to make a custom item and antique materials used in the fabrication.
CLICK HERE to view a complete set of clothing a china doll or parian might wear.

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