From Barbie's beginnings in 1959, little girls clothed their Barbie dolls in a range of ensembles. No less than 22 outfits were offered in that introductory year, from a collarless Chanel-style jacket with matching sheath skirt to a satin-and-tulle bridal gown. Indeed, fashion was such an important aspect of the doll's marketing that noted clothing designer Charlotte Johnson was hired away from her teaching post at Chouinard Art School in Los Angeles to complete this critical task.

Most of the outfits offered in 1959 were still available in 1960, making the three that were discontinued (Easter Parade, Gay Parisienne, and Roman Holiday) extremely collectible. Of the six new outfits added in 1960, Friday Night Date was one of the best sellers, thanks to its charming blue corduroy jumper with felt appliqués, pair of soda glasses with cotton standing in for actual fizz, and a black serving tray bearing the Barbie logo. The straws that accompany each fizzing soda glass, two tiny pieces of solid white plastic, are particularly valued among enthusiasts for their rarity.

After that initial year, Barbie’s style changed annually and came to represent a living catalog of the most popular fashion trends of the second half of the 20th century. Her clothes came and went, and in the early years were often out of production before orders could be shipped to some regions of the U.S., which made ensembles such as Plantation Belle and Busy Gal (complete with striped blouse, black rimmed glasses, and fashion portfolio) difficult to obtain.

Barbie’s first run of outfits designated each piece with a name and a series number. From 1959 to 1963, the 900 series (901, 902, 903, etc.) accompanied each descriptive title. Beginning in 1964, Mattel switched to a 1600 series. Though newer, the 1600 outfit series is actually just as difficult for collectors to track down as the original—fewer quantities of each outfit were produced. Among the rarest of the 1600 series are Satin ’N Rose, White Magic, and Skaters Waltz, a wintry ensemble of nylon tights, pink felt ruffle skirt, and fuzzy white mittens.

More than anything, the condition of the Mattel label determines the value of a vintage Barbie outfit. Made from a selvaged white ribbon with black thread spelling ‘Mattel’, and held together by a weak adhesive that did not stand up well against children’s play, labels deteriorated easily. What’s more, Mattel placed the label wherever Barbie’s outfit provided the most visibility for the brand, which was usually a highly vulnerable location.

From the 1960s on, the production of Barbie outfits and accessories exploded. Outfits for every imaginable contemporary situation accompanied the doll, so long as it was wholesome. In 1962, the introduction of separately sold fashion packs, which provided color-coded accessories ranging from a pearl necklace to red slippers, made even more combinations of in-vogue ensembles possible. Barbie also started taking vacations that required exotic dress, including the Barbie in Mexico and Barbie in Switzerland models, complete with black mantilla and white eyelet lace bonnet, respectively.

Vintage Barbie and her clothing line went out of production in 1966. In 1967, Mattel introduced Mod Barbie, a decidedly more hip version of its predecessor that did away with the...

One of the more iconic versions of Barbie from this period is 1971’s Malibu Barbie, which utilized the face of Stacey, Barbie’s new friend from Great Britain. Malibu Barbie’s first outfit included a powder-blue one-piece swimsuit with a yellow-lined high neck and a yellow beach towel. The original Malibu Barbie was produced from 1971 through 1977, and is the final Barbie considered truly vintage by collectors.

In the 1970s and ’80s, the influence of celebrities and pop culture distracted from Mattel’s focus on fashion and style, as seen in the Superstar Barbies. But in recent years, Mattel has returned the doll to her high-fashion roots, as fashion designers as esteemed as Betsey Johnson, Isaac Mizrahi, Kate Spade, and Christian Louboutin have created everything from handbags to pumps for Barbie.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Dollreference.com

Dollreference.com

This densely packed index of antique and vintage dolls claims to offer over 10,000 images of dolls from the 1800s … [read review or visit site]

Vintage Dolls of the 50s

Vintage Dolls of the 50s

Rhonda Wilson's collection of 1950s dolls, organized by name (Ginny and friends, Littlest Angel and friends, etc.) … [read review or visit site]

Kaylees Korner of Collectible Dolls

Kaylees Korner of Collectible Dolls

Kaylee's extensive collection of vintage dolls from the 1930s to 90s. Click the balloons to browse. Though Kaylee s… [read review or visit site]

Museum of Childhood

Museum of Childhood

Embrace your inner child on this website from the Victoria and Albert Museum, filled with high-quality images and i… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Ooak Handmade Vintage Barbie/silkstone Fashion By Roxy-" Summer Day " 13pcsOoak Handmade Vintage Barbie/silkstone Fashion By Roxy-" Calypso " 11 PcsOoak Handmade Vintage Barbie/silkstone Fashion By Roxy- "bordeaux"Vintage Mod Barbie Rare Sears Exclusive Silver 'n Satin Lame DressVintage Barbie Ken Skipper Francie Huge Clothes Lot *tlc* - Vintage & ModVintage Tammy Pepper Ideal B & W Label Clothes Accessories Shoes Nice Lot!Vintage Barbie/francie/skipper/pepper Clothes 1960'sVintage Mod Barbie Rare Sears Exclusive Silver 'n Satin Pink Satin CoatRhtf-vintage Barbie 1966 Outdoor Art Show #1650 Turquoise Felt Hat-exc SleevesVintage Barbie Japanese Exclusive Outfit Nrfb ModVintage 1960s Barbie Pak Beau Time Best Bow Dress With Bow Tagged Francie Doll Bridge Bit 1967Huge Barbie Francie & Friends Dolls & Clothes Lot. 14 + Near Complt. Outfits! Large Early Vintage Barbie Clothes Lot - Beautiful & Near MintVintage Francie/becky Outfit: #3445 "zig Zag Zoom" NrfbVintage Mod Barbie Rare Sears Exclusive Silver 'n Satin Silver BeltVintage 1963 Barbie Gold And Navy Lame Sheath Dress, Shoes, Clutch And More!Vintage Barbie Japanese Exclusive Outfit Nrfb ModVintage Barbie Outfit: #1647 "golden Glamour" Nm CompleteVintage Barbie, Clothes And Case LotVintage Francie Clothes Lot - Near Mint/beautifulRare-no Play-vintage Barbie 1966 Outdoor Art Show #1650 Nylon Dress-exc SleevesVintage Barbie Pink Formal Sears ExclusiveVintage (1965) #1640 Barbie Original Matinee Fashion Hat Dress Jacket TlcVintage Barbie Pan American Airlines Stewardess MintVintage Barbie Case Barbie Ken Doll Vintage Clothing/ Accessories Large LotVintage Barbie Braniff Shoes For Pucci Airline OutfitsOriginal Francie Outfit By Mattel BarbieVintage Barbie 1962 "career Girl" Outfit #954 - Near Mint & Complete1967 Barbie & Stacey Clothes Fashions *twinkle Togs Outfit* MibFun Lot 360 Pieces Vintage Barbie/skipper Doll Clothes, Some Tagged, Huge Lot. Vintage Barbie/silkstone "champagne Bling!" Ooak Handmade By AnnVintage Barbie Beau Time Dress #1651Vintage Mod Era Skipper popover Jumper & Lace Dress #1943 (1967)Vintage Barbie Shoes Closed Toe Pumps (3 Pairs) JapanVintage 1963 Barbie Sealed, Mint On The Card, Blue Knit Dress SetHuge Lot Barbie Francie Ken Clothing Accessories Dolls Babies Golf Vintage-mod+Vintage Barbie Tlc/parts Lot Htf Reception Line & Busy Morning DressVintage Tutti Birthday Party Clothes And AccessoriesVintage Barbie And Francie Assorted Clothing Lot Of 8Vintage 1964 Mattel Skipper School Days Outfit Complete NiceHtf Vintage 1962 Redhead Bubble Cut Barbie "tm" Original Box-please ReadVintage Barbie Bild Lili 1960 Silkstone? Style Jacket Skirt Hat Shoes Purse OoakVintage Barbie Bild Lili Clone 1960 Style Hostess Coat Gold Jumpsuit Shoes OoakMinty Vintage Barbie #1600 Lunch Date Dress And Japan ShoesVintage Tnt Barbie Doll And Huge Mod Clothes Lot 14 + Many Complete Outfits!Vintage White Barbie Pointy Spike Heel Pumps Shoes Japan Vintage Barbie "commuter Set" #916( Tm Version),hat~jacket~skirt~shirtsVintage Francie Outfit: #1265 "hip Knits" Vg/excellent CompleteVintage Barbie #937 Sorority Meeting Outfit - Excellent Near CompleteVintage Barbie Hat "only" For Commuter Outfit #916Vintage Barbie "plantation Belle' Outfit #966 - Excellent & NcSkipper - Confetti Cutie - Repro And Color VariationVtg 60s Mod Barbie Francie Silver Cage #1208 Outfit Dress Shoes Purse Stockings Huge Lot Of 160+ Vintage Handmade Barbie Clothes Tux Nutcracker Ut Cheer Dress +Vintage Skipper Outfit: #1938 "beachy Peachy" VgVintage 1959 1960 Mattel Barbie Doll Commuter Set Outfit #9161964 Vintage Barbie Candy Striper Volunteer 889 Htf Accessories 12 PiecesMaddie Mod & Barbie Mod Era Lot Of ClothesVintage Mod Barbie Cool N Casual Rare Sears Weekenders Jacket Variation!