For many women, dressing in stylish, feminine clothing and intimate apparel is a way to boost their confidence and make them feel beautiful. Luxurious lingerie is designed to look and feel good, and there are a number of different garments from which a woman can choose to express her personal style. Two of the most popular pieces of lingerie are babydolls and chemises, similar garments with subtle differences.
A babydoll is a short, sleeveless nightgown with thin shoulder straps that is cut close to the body at the bustline. It is usually nipped in at the waist and then flows out more loosely from that point. This cut is designed to accentuate the thighs while minimizing the waistline. A chemise is also sleeveless and features slender shoulder straps, but it follows the shape of the body a bit more closely both at the bust and at the hips.
With all of their similarities, the biggest difference between these two garments has to do with the hemline. A babydoll usually comes down only to the upper thigh. Because of the shortness of this garment, it sometimes is sold with matching panties. A chemise can be any length. Its hem can stop at the hips, go all the way to the ankles or fall anywhere in between.
Chemises can be traced back to the Middle Ages of Europe, when they were made of fabrics such as linen. Today, both chemises and babydolls are made of much more delicate materials. A babydoll usually is made from a light, sheer material such as chiffon, while silk and satin are common fabrics for chemises. Both articles of lingerie may be trimmed with lace or ribbon and accented with ruffles and bows.
Babydolls and chemises are not the only pieces of lingerie made in a similar fashion. There are several garments whose names are sometimes used interchangeably by both consumers and fashion designers. These include nightgowns, a term given to sleepwear in general, and slips, which are closely related to chemises and are worn under dresses. Negligees began as long, flowing garments, but some are now short and very similar to babydolls.