The world of high fashion is not only important with people; it’s also signifiant in the vast world of Barbie doll collecting. Let’s face it: The joy of dressing is an art-even if it’s dressing up a Barbie doll. Doll designer fashions can bring in “BIG BUCKS” today!
When the first Mattel Barbie doll came out in 1959, she also came with an assortment of fashionable outfits and accessories. Approximately 22 outfits were offered for sale in 1959. The first Barbie doll was sold wearing a striped black and white bathing suit, but of course, she needed a wardrobe. Charlotte Johnson (from the Chouinard Art School in Los Angeles) was hired to design Barbie’s clothes.
These “first” Barbie doll outfits cost approximately $1 to $5 to purchase in 1959-1960, but today they can be worth over $700 if complete with accessories. The couture ensemble called “Gay Parisienne” featured- a dotted-swiss navy blue taffeta, “bubble dress,” matching hat with veil; a lined, white fur stole; gold velvet clutch purse; graduated pearl necklace and stud pearl earrings; long white gloves, and navy blue, open-toe high heels. This outfit is one of three original Barbie outfits discontinued in 1960; thus they’re extremely collectible in the Barbie collecting arena.
The other two discontinued outfits created in 1959 were called “Roman Holiday #968” and “Easter Parade, #971.” (Note that each Barbie outfit was given a number. From 1959 to 1963, her first outfits were marked with a 900 series of numbers and a title. In 1964, Mattel added a 1600 series of numbers for Barbie’s outfits. Although these outfits weren’t first-runs, they can be just as valuable because fewer quantities were produced.
(Please note the red arrow pointing to a tiny brass make-up compact in the above photo.) The compact is only 3/8″ in diameter, but is considered the “holy grail” for Barbie doll enthusiasts if you can find an original compact-not a replica. The compact has an engraved “B” on top; is hinged and even has a mirror inside. The compact alone can sell for over $500!
EASTER PARADE #971
Here are six more vintage Barbie doll ensembles that are worth over $400 if found with the original accessories (complete), in excellent condition, and not a reproduction.
1-1966 Barbie “Shimmering Magic” #1664
2-Barbie 1972 “Hot Togs” #1063
3-1964-1965 Barbie “Magnificence” Evening gown set #1646 and 1676
4-1964 Barbie “Poodle Parade” #1643
5-Mod 1968 Barbie Sears outfit set “Travel In Style” # 1544
6-1966 Barbie’s “Pan Am Airways Stewardess” #1678
Here are some quick tips to help for identifying original 1959-1960s Barbie outfit sets:
- Make sure the outfit has a label with a white background and black lettering and is marked-Barbie TM by Mattel and the copyright-© or the ™ symbols. Not all pieces will have this label, only certain pieces of the set (e.g. sweater, jacket, dress, shirt).
- Bottoms of original high-heel shoes will be marked “Japan” on one of the shoes and will have a tiny hole in the sole of the shoe.
- Locate and find the original Mattel fashion booklets that came with a Barbie doll purchase; they’ll show in detail, Barbie’s outfit sets, and are a help for identifying the tiny accessory treasures.