Thursday, 23 November 2017

All dolled up

Once upon a time, when I was a right little madam little girl growing up in the late 1960s, I badly wanted a Barbie doll. 

In fact, I guess it was not so much the doll I wanted, but her fabulous wardrobe!




Several of my girlfriends had Barbie dolls and some had Ken too, as well as Barbie's little sister, Skipper. 




The really lucky ones had vinyl carry-cases, which had space for a doll as well as a rail for  the doll's clothes.




I think it's fair to say that the green eyed monster had me firmly in its grip!

I begged and begged my Mum to buy me a Barbie doll, but she wouldn’t budge. She said Barbie had an ugly face, but I suspect it was the fact that Barbie wasn't exactly flat chested which was bothering her ...

In 1970, when I was nine years old, my Mum finally succumbed to my constant nagging and accompanied me to the village toy shop to choose a doll. 





In the end, I did not get Barbie, but Barbie’s friend P.J., who sported a fringe and two pigtails tied with beads. A true child of her time!

In the above photo you can see the boxed P.J. doll, which I bought a couple of years ago. The one I had as a girl was non-talking but otherwise looked the same, except for a different outfit (see below).

I tried pulling the string at the back of her neck (just reachable through a hole in the back of the box), which should get her talking, but I guess the years have taken their toll as she is mute.



Here's the doll I got (not my photos), so that you can see the outfit she was wearing: a hot pink bathing suit with a lacy skirt and an orange vinyl belt.

Isn't her eye make-up gorgeous? And note that she has real eyelashes too!



With the doll came a booklet showing the latest fashions, which I pored over religiously and knew by heart. In fact, when I came across this very booklet when I started collecting over thirty years later, I recognized all the dolls posing in their different outfits as if I’d only seen them yesterday.

Ok, so now I had a doll, but it wasn’t much fun without clothes. My grandmother, who was nifty with a needle, made her some dresses, but they were all of the same basic and frankly speaking boring model. Very creative, she wasn’t. Needless to say, P.J. looked a right frump in them. 




So, the nagging began again, this time for a real Mattel-made outfit.  My Mum, knowing from experience that I wouldn’t let it go, actually allowed me to go to the toy shop on my own. 




In my mind's eye, I can still see the shelves lined with exercise books and paint boxes - the shop doubled as a stationary shop - and smell the lingering scent of crayons. If I close my eyes, the scene is played out in front of me: there I am, not yet ten years of age, tiptoeing up to the counter at the very end of the shop and timidly making my request, and the candy-striped boxes brought out by the shop’s owner for me to choose from.



After much deliberation, I chose an outfit called “Dreamy Blues”, which is the gauzy ruffled dress you can see P.J. modelling here.

On a side-note, this is not the actual doll I had as a child, nor the dress, which first got passed to my little sister and then to the girl next door, but not before poor P.J. had had her hair bobbed.

I was lucky enough to find the doll on Ebay for next to nothing when I first started collecting.




For Christmas, my grandmother, who I guess was getting tired of sewing doll outfits, bought me another set of clothes, called "The ZigZag Bag", consisting of a pair of bell bottoms, a shirt with a wild zig zag print and a red sleeveless jumper.

Up until the early 1970s, all the outfits had names, and quite a lot of the late 1960s, early 1970s ones really sum up the era perfectly. 




What do you think of "Pajama Pow!" (1967), modelled here by Growin' Pretty Hair Barbie, who sported an updo hairstyle and had a retractable ponytail?




This one is from 1968 and called "Zokko!" (with exclamation mark!), and the doll modelling it is a Twist 'N Turn Barbie with the delightfully named hair colour "Chocolate Bon Bon".




One of my favourites is "Smasheroo" (1968), modelled here by Barbie's ginger haired friend Stacey, whose talking version spoke in a British accent!

Oh, and if you think of the colour pink when you hear the name Barbie, you’d be quite surprised to hear that pink did not feature all too prominently in Barbie’s Pre-1973 wardrobe.




Lemon yellow and silver lamé (lah-MAY, as Sheila would say!) were combined in this outfit called Silver Polish (1969).

The doll modelling it is another one of Barbie's friends, called Christie.



Another Christie, whose hair has oxidized to a funky red, is modelling this wild yellow jumpsuit, called "Caribbean Cruise" (1967), while a ginger haired Living Barbie (with movable hands) is wearing a tunic and bell bottoms called "Mood Matchers" (1970).




Here's Stacey again, a blonde version this time, wearing an orange sleeveless dress with a separate lacy top, called "Disco Dater" (1967).





I'm ending this post with Barbie's friend from 1972, called Walk Lively Steffie, who is wearing an outfit from 1973 called "Simply Summery". Look at those gorgeous purple shoes.

Whenever I walk past the display cabinet she is in, I somehow have to think of Vix, who I guess would love this gorgeous halterneck maxi!

The story of how I came to be collecting these dolls, featuring more gorgeous outfits dating from 1959 until the early 1970s (I literally have hundreds) will be for another post.



33 comments:

  1. That's quite a collection. So many different dolls, I never realised they all existed until now. I can see where your love of clothes may have begun :-)
    I didn't really have dolls, I loved my ted though and still have him.
    That last doll does look like Vix doesn't she and that would indeed make a real life gorgeous halter neck maxi! xxx

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    1. Thank you Sally! I didn't know so many different ones existed until I started collecting. It was always about the clothes for me, but lately I've come to realise I inherited my love of clothes from my maternal grandmother. xxx

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  2. Oh Ann this is so wonderful! They are all sooo amazing! This dresses are fantastic. Great to see the Barbie and barbiefashion of the 60s and 70s. I loved to play with Barbie as a child with my friends and we always change the clothes.
    I am looking forward to see more Ann. I wish you a great weekend, very big hug,Tina

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    1. I'm glad you loved this Tina! I've got many more dolls and outfits to show, I just need to get around to take photos, which is a bit of a bother now that it's dark so early. xxx

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  3. who knew that there are so much different dolls?
    and a whole fashion universe for them! not me behind the iron curtain ;-)
    got my barbie very late, with 11 i think, the simplest model from woolworth i think - because we were 3 cousins and granny hat not so much D-mark to spend on 3 dolls wenn she went to BRD for visiting family......
    so barbie came with what she was wearing - pink body suit, red dress, black lace jacket, the 80s! - nothing else. BUT! i made her some stellar outfits :-D hand sewn from scraps this was my first designer collection - my cousins were impressed ;-)
    can´t wait for the next barbie post - and yes - totally vix!!!
    hugest hugs! xxxxx

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    1. I'm sure that behind the iron curtain girls could only dream of Barbie and her fabulous wardrobe. But the whole Barbie thing really went downhill quality wise from the mid 70s onwards. I'm sure you've made your doll a fabulous wardrobe, though! xxx

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  4. Oh my goodness, I'm insane with envy! I wish I could shrink myself down and wear some of those jumpsuits!!!
    Barbie wasn't as popular as Sindy in the UK. I loved my Sindy but her outfits were very British and conservative, lots of grey and brown, knee length dresses and good coats. I remember going round to an older neighbours to play and being wild with jealousy over her Barbie doll's wardrobe (maybe that's where my dress sense comes from).
    I've got that Barbie travel case in red - I use it as a handbag!!!
    I sold all my dolls when I first discovered Ebay - it paid for a holiday so I don't regret it - they weren't a patch on your collection.
    The only one I've held on to is Havoc, The Spy Doll - she was by Mary Quant and she wears a catsuit, bovver boots, a zip-up biker jacket and carries a machine gun. She's ace! xxx

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    1. Your Mary Quant Spy Doll sounds intriguing! I was very jealous too, especially of those travel cases full of clothes. When I first started buying vintage clothes, I often thought "Barbie dress" when I saw something, so I'm probably influenced by her in my dress sense too! xxx

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  5. Oh wow! I love this so much. As a child, I had two Barbie dolls but Sindy was the girl for us Brits; she was a bit dull in comparison. I have collected more Barbies the older I've got...making up for not having them as a child I think! I've even ended up with a pregnant Midge! Love your collection and I have been chasing a Sixties Christie forever!xx

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    1. Thank you Emma! That's exactly it, my collection was to make up for not having them as a girl. I've heard about the pregnant Midge, but never actually saw one. It took me a while to find a Sixties Christie (she is fabulous, isn't she?), and then two came along in a short space of time. I just had to buy the second one because of her red hair! xxx

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  6. Beautiful Barbie clothing! I would have picked the dreamy blues ruffled dress too! Thank you for sharing your memories, and your carefully cared for dolls and clothing. It is so nice to see older toys taken care of.

    I'm not going to lie, I would love to play dress-up with your dolls!!

    Happy thrifting ;)

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    1. Thank you! If you were nearer, you'd be welcome to come and play with my dolls! I do change their outfits from time to time, and often wonder how little girls could have played with them: it's all hooks and eyes and tiny buttons and zippers. No Velcro whatsoever! xxx

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  7. I think I finally managed to fix my "unable to comment" issue. Fingers crossed...

    I was a huge Barbie fan as a kid. It was all about where they were going on their dates, what they should wear and who they were going out with and what car he'd be picking her up in. Ha! Yep.

    You are quite the skilled collector. Your house is like a museum.

    Suzanne

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    1. Hurray, it seems you managed to fix it. Don't you hate it when things like that happen? My collection was a learning curve, and I've made many mistakes when I just started out. Now I've got it all labelled and stored by year. I even have a - don't laugh - Excel sheet to keep it all under control ... xxx

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  8. I never thought I'd see the day when I envied a doll her outfits but that day has come! What totally fabulous outfits. You are a very dedicated collector and I suggest you pay a visit to one of our 'Antique Roadshows'; I bet your collection would be worth a bomb!

    Have a lovely weekend.
    xxx

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    1. Thank you Veronica. I've stopped collecting, but I'll never part with those dolls and outfits. I do know what things are worth, but never put a value on the entire collection. We do have a kind of Antiques Roadshow here in Belgium, and there was a lady having some of her dolls valued last year. It turned out I knew much more about them than the so-called expert ... xxx

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  9. I remember being desperate for my very own Barbie doll to at a similar age. I was lucky enough to get one when my grandmother went to Australia. I thought I was the luckiest kid alive. My mother and I made clothes. I sold all my dolls a few years ago as I had sons and figured a collector was better to have them. Looking forward to your post on how your collection happened now.

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    1. You were very lucky, Sue! I can understand why you sold your dolls, though. I often wonder what to do with mine. I put so much effort in my collection, sp I don't think I could part with them. Will have to work on that post, but I will need to take some photos first. xxx

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  10. This post is very timely as funnily enough I unearthed my Sindy earlier this week. I have to say though that she is not in good nick unlike your collection of Barbies. The Dreamy Blues (it must be a 'gown' surely?) is gorgeous, most of my outfits came from an East Grinstead market stall or my mother's knitting needles. Not seen Brunette Barbie before, she is very pretty. Btw, have been looking for your Followers button but can't find it anywhere.
    xxx

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    1. That was indeed very timely. I'm sure my P.J. wouldn't be in good nick either if I'd kept her. My dolls are in display cases, and I'm keeping the outfits in ziplock bags. Dreamy Blues can be called a gown indeed. It's rather girly, I think. I'd probably choose something different now. xxx

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  11. I LOVE this post! I had a Barbie and a case (a white one!), and I remember that booklet! I also pored over the pictures and recognize those outfits! I had a "Growing up Skipper" doll - when you rotated her arm around, she got taller (she had a rubberized waist area) and she grew boobs! It was the most bizarre thing. Thank you for the memories - I love all of these dolls.

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    1. I'm glad you love my Barbie post, Sheila. Oh, and I know the "Growing up Skipper". She is just out of my collection range, but I've seen her around. If I remember correctly, the outfits for her came in two sizes ... xxx

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  12. Oh, and I had a Barbie yellow Covette car and a camper!

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  13. woaaaa, such a lovely collection!, those cute little dresses and accessories. Even if I'm not a huge fan of Barbie, I'm really in love with all her fabulousness!. I understand that 'Smasheroo' outfit is one of your favorites, I would steal it to wear it myself!. First time in my life that I find inspiring a doll's outfit!
    So much fun!
    besos

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    1. Thank you Monica! I guess my collection is impressive even for a non-fan! It was all about the clothes for me, though. I only learned to appreciate the dolls themselves after I started collecting ... xxx

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  14. I for one will be watching those Barbie clothes posts. I had the original 1959 Barbie but she was stolen. My mom made amazing clothes for her. So I still have the clothes and have highlighted some of them over the years. But Babs, she is gone. Perhaps I will replace her. I just replaced my missing sterling silver charm bracelet as a Christmas present to myself.

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    1. Thank you Tami! I knew you'd like this! How horrible that yourndoll got stolen. How did that happen? Those early dolls aren't cheap to replace, though. My earliest is the #4 Ponytail ... xxx

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  15. Those are awesome dolls. I wonder if your early yearning for one, and love of the outfits, influenced your taste in fashion? I can picture you in Pajama Pow!

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    1. Thank you Mim! You might be right: when I first starting wearing vintage I often thought, that's a Barbie outfit. If only I could find a jumpsuit as nice as Pajama Pow, though! xxx

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  16. When I saw Simply Summery I thought of Vix too!
    I had a few Barbies, but I preferred Sindy dolls. My favourite was a brunette, I called her Chloe as Sindy didn't match her dark hair in my mind :)
    These dolls and outfits are awesome, I'm going to Google Sindy to see if I can find some of my old outfits.
    I remember the Barbie with the growing ponytail, and a lot of my dolls got a bob haircut or even a buzz cut!!
    What a super post, this really made me smile.
    xx

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    1. I'm so glad my post made you smile, Hazel. You should definitely Google Sindy and see what you can find out. The older dolls and outfits are quite collectable as well. I kind of see why you called your brunette Sindy Chloe though! xxx

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  17. Loved this post Ann. A trip down memory lane for me too. I was a huge Barbie fan. I also had a Mary Quant Daisy doll. She was my favourite xx

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