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”)

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-" Tessa " (14-pcs)Vintage Mod Barbie, Tammy, Mady Mod And Friends Clone Doll Clothes Paisley PrintVintage Barbie, Tammy, Bild Lilli, Babs And Friends Clone Doll Clothes Dres Lot Nr Mint Vtg 1967 Mattel Barbie Skipper Doll #1942 Right In Style CompleteVintage 1960's Barbie #1616 Campus Sweetheart Outfit Nearly Complete!! No Shoes!Vintage Barbie Clone Maddie Mod? Mego? Blue Gold Brocade Metallic Diamond DressVintage Ken Outfit: #1423 "ken-a-go-go," Nm, CompleteVtg 1969-70 Mattel Barbie Julia Doll Mod Outfit #1753 Candlelight Caper CompleteBarbie Clothes Lot; Vintage: #1651, #943Vintage Barbie "golden Girl" #911 (1959-1962) (htf, Mip,nrfb) Tammy Doll Clothing 1963 Original Package Barbie Family Clothes Not Opened! Vintage Barbie/silkstone "sheer Summer!" Ooak Handmade By AnnVtg Barbie Francie 60s 70s Clone Doll Clothes Lot Bellbottom Hippie Set Vintage Barbie 1960 Brunette Ponytail #4 Stand - GoodVtg 1968 Mattel Barbie Doll Outfit #1844 Extravaganza Complete#1547 Glimmer Glamour Gift Set Dress Tlc Sears 1968 Htf Mod Vintage Barbie Vintage Barbie Midnight Blue #1617 (1965) Doll Not IncludedVintage Barbie Outfit 1960's Sophisticated Lady # 993 - New In Box! Must See!Fun Lot Vtg 1960-70s Mattel Barbie Skipper Doll Shoes & AccessoriesFun Lot Vtg 1960-70s Mattel Barbie Skipper Doll ClothesVintage Barbie 1963 Lame' Sheath In Metallic Gold & Navy Brocade-excellentNr Mint Vtg 1970 Mattel Barbie Skipper Doll #1733 Rik Rak Rah CompleteVintage Lot Of 1960s Barbie Clothes Vintage Barbie Fashion #1615 Saturday Matinee Skirt, Jacket, Hat, Shoes Vintage Barbie 1965 Holiday Dance #1639 Striped Gold Lame' Gown-near ExcellentVintage Barbie Sized Clone Dress W/ruffles Cute!Lot Of Vintage 1960's Generic Barbie Doll Clothes - Pants Coats Dresses SwimwearLot Of Vintage Barbie Doll Clothing Black & White TaggedVintage Barbie Dreamy Blues #1456 (1970) Complete!!! Nrfb Fabulous!!!Superstar Barbie Photo Fashion Pj1972 Mattel Barbie Steffie Pj Outfit Dress Hat Sealed Mint Nos Nice!Vintage Ricky Saturday Show #1502 & Little Leaguer #1504 ClothesLarge Lot Vintage Barbie 1960s Clothing Outfits Shoes Accessories Solo SpotlightHtf Vintage Barbie 1964 Garden Tea Party #1606 Red Print Cotton Dress-near ExcVtg 1965-66 Mattel Barbie Skipper Doll #1911 Day At The Fair CompleteNr Mint Vtg 1970 Mattel Barbie Doll Outfit #0030 Cool Casuals CompleteVtg 1969-70 Mattel Barbie Julia Doll Mod Outfit #1752 Brr Furr CompleteVintage Barbie & Midge Clothes Sparkling Pink Skirt Jacket Hat, Shoes & BookletsVtg 1969-70 Mattel Barbie Julia Doll Mod Outfit #1754 Pink Fantasy CompleteVintage & Mod Era Barbie, Tammy, Mady Mod And Friends Clone Doll Clothes Lot Vintage Barbie Stacey Skipper Malibu Pj Bathing Suit Lot Tnt Swimsuit Coverup Vintage Barbie & Bigger, Tammy, Bild Lilli, Babs Friends Clone Doll Clothes Lot 1960 Vintage Barbie Ken Doll With Clothes Coats Shoes Accessories Case Huge LotVintage Barbie "garden Tea Party" Outfit #1606 - Nm & CompleteVintage Barbie: Skipper "what's New At The Zoo"™ Outfit #1925 - Mint & CompleteVintage Barbie Clothing Lot & Its Cold Outside #0819Vtg 1959-61 Mattel Barbie Doll Outfit #966 Plantation BelleHuge 5 Pound Bag Lot Of Vintage Barbie Clothes Vintage Barbie Q OutfitVintage Barbie Skipper Young Ideas Htf Outfit Pieces Exc-nm Sears ExclusiveSuper Rare 1963 Gold Barbie Silk SheathCute Vintage 60's Mattel Barbie Dog N' Duds W/accessoriesVintage Barbie: Francie "orange Cozy"™ Outfit #1263 - Htf & Near Mint Vintage Barbie 1959-64 Tagged Suburban Shopper Outfit #969 Excellent & CompleteRare Version-vintage Barbie 1963 Swingin' Easy #955 Light Green Dress-near ExcRare Barbie Francies Sporting Set # 1044 Jc Penneys ExclusiveHuge Vintage Lot Of Barbie And Ken Clothes Accessories Early 1960's 72 Pieces 6 Old Vintage Open Toe Japan Mules Barbie Doll Shoes Mustard Brown Orange Lot +Old Vintage Mod Groovy Barbie Doll Clone Hong Kong Outfits Dresses Clothing LotVintage Skipper Clothes All Spruced Up W/accessories # 1941 Hard To Find