A correspondent writes:
“I don’t know the truth of the matter, but the origin of “all dolled up” sounds to me like a journalist’s invention.
But I can tell you about Valspar. When I was working in Woolwich in the early fifties, a Valspar rep used to come into the office, telling us about the wondrous discovery of this new paint which was “coat on coat” – – you didn’t need an undercoat, just put top coat over top coat to obliterate what was there before and get a lovely gloss finish.
Later on he became a rep for another paint company and told us all about the virtues of the two under coats and a top coat system.
“But you said that Valspar…”
“Forget it. Valspar is p…” ”
I can’t quite make out the last word. Could be passé…
NB: Online Etymology Dictionary gives “doll (v.) 1867, in dialect, “to pet, indulge” (a child), from doll (n.). Usually with up. Meaning “to dress (up)” is by 1906, American English. Related: Dolled; dolling.”