Little Girl Dresses: Too Short … or Normal?

This has been bugging me a lot over the last six months, and I need to sound it out. Please, can someone set me straight about the proper length of little girl dresses?


Ready for school: this dress shows her butt when she reaches up!

You see, Toddler (3.5y … wait, 3.75y already!) loves wearing dresses – so much so that she would wear a dress to bed if she could (wait, that’s a nightgown … I guess she can!). She actually owns more dresses than pairs of pants or shirts. Yikes.

Anyway, except for the two long maxi dresses, they all seem quite short on her. Most of the hems hit at least 3 inches above her knees. While they look nice on her, the hemline necessitates something worn underneath because when she reaches up tall the cusp of her butt shows.

Since she’s a kid, she sits cross-legged a lot, especially in preschool, and leaps and rolls and flops around all day long. That’s a lot of underwear showing, and I am pretty uptight about keeping that under wraps in public!

Toddler loves tights, but she can’t pull them up 100% by herself yet, so for preschool she has to wear pants or “biker” shorts (in summer) under her dress. She fights me on that, but I insist.

Yet I am annoyed that I have to insist on this. Should little girl dress hems be this short? Is this a new thing or am I out of whack here?

Little girl dress, by Carters, with lots of layers

We like layers around here … and pink!

I’m sorry, but I just can’t have my little girl exposing her lady parts, even if covered up in underwear, to anyone. Are the pants overkill? (Granted, it’s only May – but a quite chilly May still … only 53F right now!)

Why can’t the dresses be at least at the knee, or preferably a little lower? These are our little girls … can we wait until they’re 18 until they reveal thigh? Is that too much to ask? Just a little innocence for my little innocent?

But what did the dresses in, say the 1950s look like? Thanks to Google:

Okay, so there’s a (really adorable) mix here: some are as short as the newest Carter’s dresses (sometimes I curse you, Carters…), but others hit the knees. What gives?

Also, what did parents use to put under these dresses? Bloomers? Shorts? Nothing?

Please, set me straight: are dresses too short now, or are they just as they’ve always been? Am I just a prude? An overprotective prude?

22 thoughts on “Little Girl Dresses: Too Short … or Normal?

  1. Totally with you on this one. Amélie also loves wearing dresses. She’s almost 3, but is stubborn enough to be able to pull on tights by herself. But they’re too warm for summer! I either make her wear shorts (in the summer), leggings or tights under her dresses because I find them super short as well. Otherwise, I buy a size up so that they reach the top of her knees.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I agree as well. Aadelyn is really petite and dresses that fit her frame tend to be short. If we are at home, I let it slide, but when the time comes for school she most certainly will wear something underneath. I kept last years leggings to use as capris under dresses this year. It’s a shame that we have to worry about it at such a young age.
    Having worked in schools and preschools, it is most certainly appreciated when they have shorts/cover underneath a short dress. Darn criss-cross applesauce!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Dresses have been short for some time, but I’m in agreement with keeping things covered. Have you ever watched The Brady Bunch? The youngest girl, Cindy, wore *incredibly* short dresses to suit the fashion of that period. Ruffly bloomers were often used under those types of dresses. But even boys wore super short bottoms then. The snapshot of little JFK Jr saluting is a prime example.

    My girl wears pants and shirt maybe once or twice a month and pantyhose or leggings are out of the question lol. She is ALL ABOUT dresses. I don’t worry too just about it unless we’re going to a playground or to a friend’s house to play. I insist on shorts underneath for those times.

    I’ve found that the cotton knit dresses from Walmart and Target tend to have longer skirts.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ahh, I remember Cindy’s dresses! She was always dressed overly cutely, wasn’t she? Oh yes, JFK Jr and those short shorts…. Good memory!
      Glad to hear I’m not the only one with this viewpoint. 🙂 Yes, I’ve noticed Target’s tend to be longer (unexpectedly, as I’ve read about the furor over their short shorts), but I haven’t shopped at Walmart lately. Great tips!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m tracking with you. I dont think theres any hard rule (and if there is, I don’t know we typically do around the knee and we always wear shorts underneath. However if is a shorter dress, I just let her wear it like a long shirt and put a cute pair of jeggings under it. great discussion! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. The cotton dresses we get from Target (which are the only ones BG will wear as she hates the frilly stuff) fall below the knee and don’t show much when she’s tumbling about. She did have on a shorter dress last week that her dad picked out that showed off her diaper when she got in the floor (and when she pulled the bottom over her head, sigh), which I wasn’t comfortable with. Nothing prudish, I just don’t think showing off her “underwear” is any more appropriate than me showing off mine.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Haha, good point that really no one should be showing off their underwear, whether they’re 2 or 32. 😀

      You know, we do have a Target dress that is longer, yes. Good point there… I feel like the Carters ones are the shortest. I will have to be more careful the next time I buy….

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I am in agreement with all the young ladies of your chat line. I like the undershorts or ruffly over underwear. I too hate the short dresses, really for everyone. I see too many things I shouldn’t be seeing out there!! Cute thighs do not mean you need to show those girl parts off, keep ’em wondering!
    It wouldn’t hurt to tell these companies that we would love longer dresses, they need to know they can increase their market share by doing what the customers want. ‘We want longer dresses’!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Of course we agree. 😀 So true about being modest… True for many things in life, eh? Very good point about putting our money where our mouth is and giving them feedback. I think I will tell Carters how I feel, as I think they are the worst offenders. I linked to them in the tweet that goes along with this point, so that’s a start. I’ll send them a letter. Thanks for the idea!!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I think dresses have stayed the same but maybe it’s that gender norms have changed, some. And Skirt lengths haven’t adapted to just as super active girls. I mean I wasn’t around in the 50-70’s but all the stories I hear or photos I see are of little girls sitting nicely playing dolls or playing tea. And that was encouraged. It’s possible that now we’re more likely to encourage girl to run out and play soccer. Or reach to the highest shelf because she can do anything! Maybe that’s a silly thought but it’s a theory.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I think you’re really on to something!!!! I was sort of thinking it earlier, but didn’t put it into words like you did so clearly – thank you. They did just sit and play quietly; it was discouraged to jump around and “play like boys.” My mom used to tell me stories of her gym classes (she was born in ’53), and they barely did anything, and that was just gym!
      Now we do encourage our girls to be just like boys in every way, especially activity-wise.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I agree with you 100%. I’m sure to encounter these same frustrations with Bridget if she’s anything like her mother who wouldn’t wear pants till 3rd grade. I think more value should be placed on modesty and our girls should be able to wear the pretty little dresses they love without being so exposed.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Definitely shorts, or leggings under!!
    When I was a girl, I wasn’t allowed to wear pants at all, except when it got really cold- not often in FL. But, I still had to wear my dress over the pants!
    Little girls, should learn to be modest as babies even, then they will know what modest is, as they grow!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Pingback: “My Best” Series: Top Artwork and Craft Projects For Toddlers and Preschoolers | welcometothenursery

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