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Guise and Dolls 

There are three things any aspiring Baby Doll will want to consider before Mardi Gras: your dress, your accessories and your attitude.

  The first, according to Antoinette K-Doe, is easier than it looks. "The Baby Doll outfit is whatever fits your body," she says. "We have all sizes of Baby Dolls. I make the old-fashioned Baby Doll dress. But we have some with hats, little short dresses, bloomers showing. Some have heels on, some flat shoes. It's what you feel like. There are Baby Dolls that wear long dresses, short dresses, whatever."

  K-Doe, a seamstress, used to make not only her dress, but outfits for other busy Baby Dolls, such as Charmaine Neville. Since being hospitalized in 2008, however, she's scaled back on the sewing. "I tell them, 'You all have to do it on your own. You come here, we'll still have it. But I can't sit down and make your dresses.' I used to help them hem or whatever. I'm a heart patient now, so I have to pull myself back. They'll (still) get dressed all here (at the Mother-in-Law Lounge), put their makeup on, do their wigs or whatever."

  Accessories typically include a bottle filled with your beverage of choice — for "original Baby Doll" Miriam Batiste Reed, Scotch and milk; for the health-conscious K-Doe, coffee — and whatever instrument with which you can muster a little music.

  "[Reed] said when the Baby Dolls would go out, they would make their little tambourines," K-Doe says. "She gave me the pattern, and I had some guys make some. So we all had our little tambourines. When we get out there, wherever Sunpie (Barnes of the Skeletons) takes us is where that old music happens for the Baby Dolls."

  As for the attitude, well, the Empress says that's up to you. "We don't put a stipulation on it. The only stipulation is, don't come out there with your ass showing. Be a lady. You could have maybe like a diaper on, and pour some mustard in your diaper, but you're still a lady." — Pais


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