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September 22, 2011

Vintage Barbie Tutorial

By Sara In AZ

Gosh y’all, I sure do love me some vintage Barbies! I have ever since I was a kid in the 70s. When I was living in Tennessee, back then, my friend Tiffany had her Mom’s old Barbie dressed in this black sparkle-y lounge singer outfit. I was obsessed with this doll. I am not kidding you. She was like no other Barbie I had seen. She had legs that would not bend and make-up to die for. It just did not compare to my tanned Malibu Barbie and her polyester outfit. In my 8 year old mind I thought you could just go on up to the toy store and buy one of these Barbies off the shelf. Ummmmmm, no little Sara, that’s not how it works.  🙂

Thus began my love affair with antique stores, garage sales,  and vintage Barbie.

I have had to sell some of my vintage Barbie stuff over the years when I needed money, so I would not call my vintage collection huge for how long I have collected Barbie. Gosh, I guess it’s been over 30 years now! Yikes!!!!

I don’t really avidly buy vintage Barbie these days. I will buy her if it’s a deal I just cannot pass up. Once I found an old Barbie for sale at the Texas antique sales for only $20. She was in great condition with some original outfits – totally could not pass that up!

Ruth recently went to an estate sale that had some vintage Barbie stuff advertised. I asked her if she could check out the Barbie stuff when she went. I knew she did not really know tons about vintage Barbie so I tried to give her a little overview. Unfortunately, all the Barbie stuff was sold by the time Ruth got to the sale, but she thought the overview I put together was pretty interesting. I thought y’all might be interested in a little Barbie history too, so here goes!

The first Barbies manufactured were ponytails. They all had this style of ponytail with the curly bangs in front. This particular doll pictured below was manufactured in the early 1960s, as she is more tan and has the more firm bangs. The very early Barbies were all very pale skinned and had softer hair available in either blonde or dark brown/black hair. The later versions of ponytails and other hairstyles included a red hair color.


 Here is another version of a ponytail Barbie. This doll is called a Swirl Ponytail Barbie. She was manufactured more into the mid 1960s. These dolls came with side-swept bangs and a little yellow ribbon tied at the bottom of the ponytail. This Swirl Barbie is wearing an outfit from the early 1960s called After 5.

Here is a blonde version of a Swirl ponytail. I just LOVE those big white lips, which are totally original! This Swirl Barbie is wearing an outfit from the early 1960s called Winter Holiday.

A side note, all vintage Barbies originally came with the black wire stands, the earliest dolls came with black plastic pedestal stands with a wire top.

Here is a different version of Barbie manufactured in the early 1960s. This style is called the Bubblecut. The Bubblecut hair was pretty firm and really cannot be combed out.  This red hair Bubblecut is wearing an outfit called Solo In the Spotlight from the early 1960s.  This was the sparkle-y outfit I had seen all those years ago on my friend Tiffany’s doll. I always adored this outfit and was so happy when I finally found one!


Here is a blonde hair Bubblecut with awesome big pink lips! This doll is wearing an outfit from the mid 1960s called Barbie In Holland. She even has little plastic shoes to resemble wooden shoes!

All of the Barbies previous to this picture had hard, non-bending legs. These last 2 dolls were some of the first Barbies available with bending legs.

This bend-leg Barbie is called Color Magic Barbie. She came in two different hair colors and with the special magic hair coloring solution that came with her you could change her hair color back and forth. There was the Golden Blonde doll shown below whose hair you could change to Scarlet Flame,  and there was a doll with  Midnight Black hair that could change to Ruby Red.  

This Color Magic Barbie is wearing an outfit from the mid 1960s called Black Magic.

This bend-leg Barbie is called an American Girl Barbie. They always came with the bobbed type hairstyle, however it could vary in length. American Girl Barbies are probably some of the most popular and expensive Barbies to collect.

The American Girl and Color Magic Barbies were only made for a short time. You always have to check the legs on these dolls, as sometimes the kids over bent them and broke the legs so they no longer work. Other times you will find the feet chewed to pieces. Hmmmmm, guess the feet tasted pretty good huh!


 The prices for any of these types of vintage dolls will vary widely depending on the condition of the doll and how perfect the hair and makeup is and if she still retains her original box and swimsuit. The price can also go up if the doll has more dramatic and vibrant makeup. You definitely have to watch out for re-paints on these old dolls and there are many newer reproductions out there too.

Lastly, a word about Barbie’s vintage outfits. Here is a view of Winter Holiday with all the accessories shown. You can also see the black and white ‘Barbie’ tag in the coat. One piece of each vintage Barbie clothing ensemble will always be tagged with this black and white tag, but none of the other pieces will be tagged or marked in any way.

Here is another vintage Barbie outfit called Singing In the Shower. You can see the black and white tag peeking out from the robe. You can also see there are many little accessories that could get lost along the way, vintage Barbie outfits always had tons of little accessories!

 I hope y’all enjoyed learning a little bit about vintage Barbie! There is so much more I could go into, but it would just be really overwhelming. If anyone has any questions please feel free to ask away!

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14 Responses to Vintage Barbie Tutorial

  1. RetroRuth Reply

    September 22, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Wow, Sara! I can totally see why you would be obsessed with your friend Tiffany’s Barbie! That outfit is awesome. 🙂

    I don’t think my mom had any of her old Barbie stuff left when we were growing up, so we (my sister and I) just had the new stuff. My absolute fav was Day-To-Night Barbie.


    I can vividly remember constantly flipping the skirt back and forth throughout Barbie’s “workday” since I wasn’t patient enough to wait for the official time of her big date. Fun stuff!

  2. Camille Reply

    September 22, 2011 at 11:10 am

    I loved seeing this post. I too collect vintage Barbie, but I also had my own fairly stuffed Barbie case from the sixties. ( Am I giving my age away??) I remember once going shopping with my mother and seeing the Barbie Midnight Blue evening gown set. I begged for it and promised extra chores if she would spend the $6.00 the outfit cost and buy it for me. She did buy it but I had to wait till my Birthday to get it. Last I checked the complete outfit in good condition was worth over $300. I loved it too much for it to be worth that much today, but I wouldn’t sell it anyway. In the last few years I filled in the best I could with the missing outfits I always wanted and have had so much fun doing it.

  3. sablemable Reply

    September 22, 2011 at 11:54 am

    LOL! The red-headed Barbie looks like you, Saraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, right down to the eyeliner!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I had a bubblecut Barbie, circa 1963. She had black hair. Wish I would have kept her, along with Midge, Ken and Skipper. I think Ken’s hair was felt or something rough to the touch, something to imitate real hair. Not certain, though, as my mind sometimes gets fuzzy with age.

    Love the ponytail Barbs!

  4. Becky Reply

    September 22, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Oh, happy memories. My aunt had the redhead bubblecut and I played with her for many an hour at my grandmother’s house in the early 70’s. She lived in her original black vinyl case with pink interior – mirror, drawers, little hangers for the clothes. I remember she had a red and gold brocade cocktail dress and jacket that had real fur trim! My favorite outfit was a pale pink satin ballgown with a short train.

  5. Sara in AZ Reply

    September 22, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    Ruth – Bummer about your Mom’s old dolls. That Solo In The Spotlight outfit is one of my very favorites to this day! I TOTALLY remember the Day to Night Barbie, she was FAB! I can just picture you flipping that little skirt back and forth in anticipation of her big date – work, no date – date, no work………. 🙂

    Camille – Oooohhhhhh, that is so cool that you collect vintage Barbies too! I would love to see pics and show them on the blog here if you are so inclined. That is awesome that you still have your vintage dolls and clothing. Midnight Blue has simply got to be one of the MOST gorgeous outfits ever made, and if it had been around when I was younger you had better believe I would be begging my Mom for it too! 🙂 I would love to have that outfit in any condition. Wow, I did not realize that Midnight Blue cost $6 back then, that was a lot of money for a Barbie outfit in the 60s!

    Sable – Hee! Oh, I wish I looked as good as Barbie! 🙂 That is sad your dolls are no longer with you. Don’t feel bad though, I know how it is and I have done the same thing too. I guess when you are younger you don’t realize what will be important to you when you are older. And you are right on about Ken’s hair being fuzzy! The first Ken’s all had flocked hair. Here is a link, click on the top left pic for a close-up.

    Becky – Glad you enjoyed the post! How awesome that you were able to play with your aunt’s doll. Did you get to keep the doll, or did she go back to your Aunt? I know just the outfits you are talking about. The red and gold brocade one is called Golden Elegance, here is a link
    and the pink satin ball gown is called Enchanted Evening, here is a link
    Both of those outfits are really special!

  6. Andrea Reply

    September 22, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    Awesome post, Sara!! I love vintage barbies, but don’t have any, other than my reproduction teacher one from 1965 (which I have because she looks like me with black hair and cat’s eye glasses, hehe!). I do however, have some of my Barbies from when I was little, which technically fall into the vintage category nowadays, since they are from the 80s!

    Ruth – I had Day to Night Barbie! I also had her fold out condo, which was an office on one side, and her apartment on the other.

  7. Jeanne Reply

    September 23, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Love this post! I still have my brunette bubble-cut Barbie that I got for Christmas when I was 5 (1962). I have the box, too. I was a pretty anal kid and still have just about every accessory, including all the little combs and shoes. I have quite a few cool 60s outfits that I went through a few years back and put every outfit w/accessories in ziplocks to keep them together. I have never priced any of them, though. I just love looking at them.

    One outfit a REALLY covet is a gold lame sheath with a matching gold lame coat that has a fur collar with a matching fur hat. It is SO 1960s. I always wanted the blonde pony tail Barbie, but got the bubblecut. 🙁 In the 80s (I think) they sold reproduction vintage Barbies so I bought myself the blond pony tail with the black sparkly Solo in Spotlight dress. It’s still in the box. I need to photograph all my outfits someday.

    Thank you!

  8. Sara in AZ Reply

    September 23, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Andrea – Thanks, glad you liked the post! I know the repro Teacher Barbie you are talking about and I just love that doll! Isn’t it sad that 80s stuff is now vintage!

    Jeanne – Thank you so much! Its sounds like you have a pretty amazing collection from your childhood. That is very, very rare to have most of the little accessories with the outfits. Good for you! I once bought a Barbie in a case at auction and every outfit in there was complete and mint, it was really amazing and the only time that has ever happened to me. This must be the gold lame outfit you are talking about
    Really a gorgeous outfit! I would love to see pics of your collection!

  9. Jeanne Reply

    September 23, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    Yes, that’s the outfit! I have the purse and necklace and everything. I doubt mine has the “TM” because I probably received it in the early 60s. I need to get my barbie stuff out and play. haha. I have Alan (I never got Ken) and Skipper and cousin Francie. I think I have Skooter, too.

  10. Sara in AZ Reply

    September 24, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Jeanne – Sounds like you have a really great collection! You definitely DO need to get out that Barbie stuff and play! 🙂

  11. Eartha Kitsch Reply

    September 25, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Whoa, Sara! I had no clue that you are a Barbie collector! WAY cool!

  12. Sara in AZ Reply

    September 26, 2011 at 3:18 am

    Hee! 🙂 Wait, I thought you DID know!?!

  13. Leslie Reply

    September 26, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    Looks great! I love these dolls! Thanks for sharing and posting pictures!

  14. Sara in AZ Reply

    September 27, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Leslie – Thanks so much, glad you enjoyed the post!

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