To Dress or Not to Dress

Beauty springs out from the simplicity of each piece, so dressing is not required. In fact, by collectors, dolls are most commonly presented in their natural, carved state, so all can see the charm that has been displayed in the craft. If you do choose to dress your doll, it’s traditional to cover the parts of the doll that have been painted (modest undergarments!).

Santos are frequently dressed for religious purposes, and many collectors like to mimic the fashion. Santos cage dolls were historically used in holiday celebrations and religious processions. The Santos were sometimes grandly dressed and decorated. It wasn’t uncommon to dress the dolls in crowns and elaborate gowns that were created for the special holiday or event. This inspired more details in the construction, including movable and jointed arms and legs, to more easily dress the dolls. Some Santos dolls are one piece carvings, others are articulated mannequins, and some are even jointed and attached to a caged frame, referred to as a bastidor (Spanish for frame).

Today, some Santos collectors dress their doll in gowns, dresses, robes or scarves, complete with crowns, wreaths, and sometimes even with scepters,      or halos and wings. The doll can be sprinkled with jewelry, or simply just hold a sprig of dried herbs or small dried flowers across her arm. If you have a cage doll, you can place trinkets or objects inside the cage, like birds nests, rosebuds, smaller dolls, crowns, doll heads, bird figurines, trinket boxes, ornate jewelry, or dollhouse objects.

Dressed or undressed, Santos dolls will match beautifully with antique decor, vintage decor, religious relics, European, South American, Central American, or Shabby Chic decor. It will also fit in with an ultra modern decor as a softer touch. If you don’t blink, you’ll even see one in the movie Twilight.

We’d love to see how you have your doll displayed! Email your photos to . With your permission, we’ll share it with our readers and link to your blog, if you have one.