A Brief History of the Plastic Fantastic World of Barbie Fashion 💮

A Brief History of the Plastic Fantastic World of Barbie Fashion 💮

The Original Icon

Imagination, life is your creation! - this line in the iconic song, Barbie Girl by Danish-Norwegian Europop band Aqua is perhaps the most reflective of the original idea behind the Barbie doll. 

Developed in 1959, Barbie allowed children everywhere to dream big - want to be a doctor? Try it out with Barbie. Astronaut? We've got the outfit. Fashion Designer? No problem. Kids were able to dress Barbie however they wanted and play out a future they dreamed of.

Fashion Queen

1959 - From the very first outfit, Barbie was fashion-forward. Her first appearance - Original Barbie - saw her in a 50s style white and black striped swimsuit, black heeled mules, cat-eye sunglasses, and classic 50s Bettie Page-style bangs

1960s - Stepping into the swinging sixties, Barbie was ready to take on the fashion world, help those in need, star in the spotlight, and study at University, amongst many other endeavours
  • Busy Gal Barbie saw a smart red pencil skirt suit teamed with a chic red and white striped shirt with bow detail, a back belt to cinch in the waist, open-toe heeled black mules, on-trend black cat-eye glasses , gold hoop earrings, all topped off with a navy bonnet-style hat
  • Registered Nurse Barbie wore a smart, long-sleeve knee-length button-up white dress teamed with a chic navy cape, staple black cat-eye glasses, white open-toe heeled mules, and a white hat. She also had a diploma to accompany her outfit
  • Astronaut Barbie saw a futuristic all-in-one grey/silver spacesuit with gold details. With the excitement of the space programme building during the 60s, Barbie was in space long before men landed on the moon!
  • After 5 Barbie served a more Audrey Hepburn-esque outfit, with a chic double-breasted fit-and-flare black dress with a slight off-the-shoulder white collar, a large white hat, white gloves, and the signature peep-toe black mules
  • Twiggy Doll was the first Barbie based on a celebrity, and of course the first celebrity would be the top fashion model of the 1960s - Twiggy. There were four outfits designed for the Twiggy doll including a metallic minidress, yellow check scarf, rose floppy hat, and a knit jumpsuit

 1970sBut she's got a new hat! - Smithers, The Simpsons, Lisa  vs. Malibu Stacy. You've guessed it - the 70s saw the drop of Malibu Barbie, as well as Superstar Barbie, Ballerina Barbie, Beautiful Bride Barbie and more

  • Malibu Barbie was the ultimate surfer girl with long hair, sunglasses and a one-piece swimsuit. She had two besties in Malibu Christie and Malibu P.J, both in similar one-piece swimsuits
  • Superstar Barbie saw an elegant and glamorous sleeveless hot pink gown with pink boa, sleek and shiny voluminous blonde hair and matching pink heels
  • Gold Medal Barbie rocked a US flag-inspired one-piece alongside her signature golden blond hair. She was created as a promo item for the Olympics

1980s - As well as featuring as the subject of a Warhol artwork, Barbie took on more roles during the 1980s but more importantly, this decade was when the Barbie line was diversified - rather than being 'friends' of Barbie (like Christie and PJ), Mattel released a more diverse collection including African American and Hispanic Barbie dolls - actual Barbies, not just her friends

  • CEO Barbie showcased the revolution of the working woman, going from office-wear to party-wear in the ultimate day-to-night outfit. For the office she wore a dusty pink power suit, and when turned inside out changed into a hot pink top and miniskirt combo
  • Great Shape Barbie in true 1980s style wore a long, blue leotard with multicoloured legwarmers, pink pumps, a blue sweatband - and of course, a pink Walkman
  • Crystal Barbie oozed 80s glamour in her floor-length, sleeveless holographic white dress with frill and matching boa, and sparkling necklace and earrings

1990s - Not only was Barbie's little sister Kelly released during the 90s, but this decade also saw the release of the best-selling Barbie to date - Totally Hair Barbie. The 1990s was a busy decade for her - it was the first time Barbie ran for president, and has been in the running every election year ever since

  • Teacher Barbie wore a very school-themed pinafore style black dress with apples, rulers and numbers printed on it, over a long-sleeved white blouse with red tie. The blouse featured puff-style sleeves and a high-collar
  • Share a Smile Becky was the first Barbie to use a wheelchair. She wore pink pastel capri pants, a blue denim mini-skirt and matching denim vest with a white graphic tee underneath, and her wheelchair was very 90s with a pink and purple colour scheme
  • Totally Hair Barbie rocked a pink, yellow and blue long-sleeved mini-dress teamed with hot pink heels, earrings and hairband

Barbie's influence on fashion continued into the 2000s and is still super popular today. Barbiecore has been the fashion choice of celebrities and every-day folk for decades (think Britney and Paris Hilton in the early 2000s), and with the release of Barbie, it looks like the trend is set to continue for many more decades to come 💮🦄

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