Monday, August 7, 2023

Boudoir Dolls


Happy Monday!

Sometimes things are just dormant in your memory banks until you see something that wakes them up.  I was looking up something else when I saw this ad:

Actually this part of the ad captured me: the chaise lounge and the doll.

My Nana Elsie had a chaise lounge in her bedroom.  And when I was small, she had a doll on her bed or the chair.  And then because I am old, I couldn't remember if those kinds of dolls had a name...until I took a shower one day and "boudoir doll" jumped in my brain.  Actually, I think the doll I had you all name "Elsie" (here) was probably her boudoir doll.

And I remembered that on the other side of my family, my great-grandma had one in her bedroom too.  It was always on her bed and looked more like this:

1940 ad.

And because it's what I do, I wondered where and when these dolls originated.  Turns out they were a fad that became popular in the 1920s.  

The dolls were different then, long faced and lean long bodies:

One blogger explained that the phenomenon was likely because of World War 1 and that "the result of the fact that the war had destroyed social and economic traditions ‘youthful survivors found no ‘grown up’ established world of custom to fit back into so they continued to be the children they were before the war.'"  That good article is here.

Most doll historians suggested that the boudoir doll craze was popular in the 1920s-1930s but ads I found indicate that boudoir dolls were advertised into the early 1980s.

There were contests for the most beautiful boudoir doll:


And often the dolls were given as a gift for folks who bought a piece of furniture, often a hope chest:


And lots of patterns were sold for outfits for the dolls:



Most were marketed for grown women:

It wasn't until the 1970s that I found an ad for the doll being referred to as something for a child and "a beautiful addition to your child's room decor."

It occurred to me that one of the reasons this has escaped my memory is because it is so not fashionable to have a doll in a person's bedroom anymore.  Modern and minimalist decor dictate these days.  Most people my age and older will tell you that the younger generation is not interested in the "stuff" we have in our home.

Do you remember using a doll as an accessory in your bedroom?  Do you remember an older adult having one?  

Have a safe and happy day!


  1. I had two boudoir dolls. The first was large, the 32", composite head mentioned in your article. She had a white satin dress. My dad won her for me on the Atlantic City boardwalk. Had to be prior to 1948 as my twin sisters were born then and we didn't go anywhere after their arrival. The second I fell in love with at a toy store. She had a felt face and body and a beautiful light green organic dress.

  2. I never remember having a doll as an accessory, but I do remember dolls with crocheted (or maybe knitted) skirts in bedrooms.

  3. I wonder if part of the allure was that your could call your bedroom a boudoir. It's kind of exotic. It reminds me of the Sheik films from the silent era. I remember these dolls, I just never had one. I just had my stuffed dog on my bed. My sister had a Whimsy doll that was a beauty queen and she kept it on her bed. It was a caricature doll called Miss Take.

  4. I don't recall boudoir dolls but the illustration reminded me of the dolls with flouncy skirts (crocheted, whatever) used as toilet paper roll covers. I don't think I ever saw one in person, though. I never had dolls in my bedroom after I aged out of playing with them.