Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Barbie - The Mirror of Fashion - 1960s

I was cleaning out a cupboard recently when I came across my old Barbie and her wardrobe shoved in a bag. I was given her in the mid 1960s. She must have been one of the earliest Barbies on the market. Here she is:

I could never bear to part with her and in time I handed her down to my daughters. They never really liked her. They thought she was ugly with her short red hair and preferred '90s Barbies with long blonde locks. She is starting to look a bit worse for wear. Her eye make-up is definitely in need of a touch up. I remember trying to do this with Texta, but it just rubbed off the rubbery eyelashes.

 My sister had Midge, Barbie's cousin. Here she is:
Her hair was much easier to style. However, I think my sister was
jealous of my Barbie's more glamourous looks.

One Christmas my sister and I received a wardrobe of beautiful hand made Barbie clothes from Father Christmas. They were all expertly made, and the garments were all lined and finished with attention to detail. The little Chanel suit was decoratively top-stitched. Even the stovepipe pants were fully lined.

The red lurex evening ensemble was always my pride and joy. I couldn't imagine a more glamorous gown, and with a matching evening coat! I do think the red clashes with her hair, but before it started shedding sparkly bits this was a very special outfit.

This fur coat was also very glamourous, and of course fully lined. There was once a pillbox hat to match, but sadly it's lost. I was always frustrated trying to get hats on over her boofy hair. Mum showed me how to use a pearl ended sewing pin as a hatpin, but more often that not I skewered her head. This tended to detract from the glamour a little.

We also had this corduroy number. I think this was Midge's coat because the hat actually went on her head, not like Barbie's jaunty side angled '40s look.

Another little jacket. Once we had a matching skirt.

We also had quite a few knitted clothes. I think my mother and grandmother made these, whereas Mum had bought the flash ones at a fete or somewhere. Even a knitted evening dress!
A casual number

We had a lot more of these but I gave some to my sister to keep  for her Midge, in case she had daughters. She is an anti-hoarder, so I doubt whether she still has them, but I must check with her. I'll bet her daughters thought her Midge was ugly too.

A hoodie

We even had a few store bought clothes, but these weren't as well made and tended to fall apart.
Store bought leopard skin coat and hat

A store bought party dress

My Barbie also had a special interchangeable head for wearing wigs. We had three wigs, but only the ugly red one survived. The blonde and the brunette were loved to death.

Wig head and red wig with a bald spot!

This wig looks more like a hat

The wig head is responsible for the unfortunate split in my Barbie's neck - taking those heads off and on all the time. Due to her neck injury, Barbie no longer changes her head.

I recently told a friend about how much I loved my dolls as a child, and she commented that she hadn't been much interested in hers. Weeks before our birthdays and Christmas our mother sat up late at night while my sister and I were asleep making clothes for our dolls - my sister got a fairy doll and I had a bride doll, as well as my beloved baby doll, and of course our Barbies. My friend commented that no wonder I loved them, she probably would have too if she'd had those.

I washed, ironed and mended all of the old Barbie clothes. Today, my husband caught me dressing Barbie and photographing her, and looked at me quizzically. I even bought some little Barbie hangers so that I can store them safely for future grand children to play with. They'll probably think my vintage Barbie is ugly too, but I like her much more than the modern blonde Barbies without style or personality. I look forward to playing vintage dress ups with some young ladies over the next few years.

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