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Barbie and The Year You Were Born: The Very Vintage 1959 - the Sixties

Judy Ragagli

Happy Birthday Barbie! 


Barbie turns 61 on March 9, 2020.  This day commemorates Barbie's actual birth date when she made made her spectacular debut at the New York Toy Fair in 1959.  She wore a striped black and white strapless bathing suit, black high-heeled open-toed heels, and gold hoop earrings. When I first began painting oils of Barbie, I only painted the vintage Barbies from 1959 through the Sixties.  Many people have asked me why I only paint the vintage Barbies from that specific decade.   I love the hairstyles, wardrobe, and makeup, but, mainly I love the seriousness of her expression.  -She always seemed to know something I didn't.  She looks thoughtful, moody, and sophisticated.  Scroll through the collection below to see what vintage Barbie looked like the year you were born during 1959 to 1969.


Barbie is born!  On March 9, 1959, Barbie made her spectacular debut at the New York Toy Fair.  This day commemorates Barbie's actual birth date.  She wore a striped black and white strapless bathing suit, black high-heeled open-toed heels, and gold hoop earrings.



1960 Barbie featured Barbie with softer facial features.  Her brows softened from the original inverted v-shape to a more horizontal line.  Mattel released outfits that showed Barbie pursuing careers.  Barbie  wears a stylish suit to work as a fashion designer.  She is wearing an outfit titled "Busy Gal." -A red suit and striped blouse complete with a portfolio.  In the early Sixties, women wore matching hats to work.



1961 Barbie takes off as an Air Stewardess for American Airlines.  Her outfit is titled "American Airlines Stewardess."  Barbie has had many careers and Mattel really went into high-gear releasing Barbie in a variety of careers.  Barbie's outfit was modeled after an authentic stewardess .  A sharp navy suit and cap, white cotton blouse, black high heels, flight bag, and flight insignias.



In 1962 Barbie got a new hairstyle!  A new short and stylish Bubble Cut to replace her ponytail.  This hairstyle is very reminiscent of former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy.  Barbie is wearing a classic ensemble titled "Red Flare."  Red velvet flowed out with puffy sleeves into a swing coat which was a classic of that time.  -Matching red velvet hat, white gloves, a gold clutch, and red open-toed shoes complete Barbies outfit.



1963 Fashion Queen Barbie made her debut in a gold and white striped lame one-piece strapless bathing suit with a matching bandana and pearl earrings.  Mattel released "Fashion Queen" with three interchangeable wigs.





In 1964 Swirl Ponytail Barbie made her debut.  The "Swirl" Barbie refers to the hairstyle that "swirls."  Instead of bangs, this sophisticated looking hairdo consists of a ponytail with a sleek lock of hair swept across her forehead.  The hair colors released for the Swirl Ponytail Barbie range from platinum white, white ginger, red/titian, and black.  This style of make-up reiterates the traits of the early 1960's make-up.  Her makeup consisted of sculpted black eye-liner and shades of lipstick ranging from lavender to powdery white. 





In 1965 American Girl Barbie was released.  American Girl Barbies had bendable legs, a chin-length sleek Dutch-boy bob hairstyle, and her face had brighter makeup.  The fashion ensembles introduced for the American Girl Barbie are some of the most elegant and treasured by collectors.  Here, Barbie is wearing "Saturday Matinee."  An elegant two-piece suit with brown fur trim and accented with pearls.



In 1966 Color Magic Barbie came onto the scene.  The make-up on Color Magic Barbie is vibrant and beautiful.  She came in two different hair colors; golden blond or midnight.  Color Magic Barbies hair and clothing came with a color solution that changed to either Scarlet Flame or Ruby Red.  -A gorgeous and truly unique Barbie.



1967 introduced Twist 'N Turn Barbie!   The swingin' sixties had arrived and Barbie welcomed a new transformation and strong demand upon her release in 1967 at the New York Toy Fair.  Twist ’N Turn sported a mod, youthful look.  She had larger eyes and long eyelashes with softer features to compliment her longer hair.  Barbie had bendable legs and could swivel at the waist.  The new Barbie had slightly parted lips and a youthful look to her face.  Twist 'N Turn had five different hair colors; Sun Kissed, Summer Sand, Red/Titian, Go Go Co Co, and Chocolate Bon Bon.





1968 welcomed Christie into the Mattel family, Barbie's first African American friend.  When Christie first appeared on the doll market, she made the bold, undeniable statement that an ebony-skinned doll can be strikingly beautiful too. Unlike her predecessors and contemporaries, Christie was sophisticated, savvy, and up-to-the-minute. Like Barbie, Christie broke stereotypes and became a standard-bearer who permanently altered the American media's multi-ethnic definition of beauty.



1969 welcomed this Barbie in the Twist 'N Turn series.  This Barbie features a Marlo Thomas flip hairstyle.  Her gorgeous face features long eyelashes, wide blue eyes, and bright lipstick shade.  Mod with a "bod" that can twist, turn and swivel at the waist.  French couture was being overshadowed by the new mod styles of London.   -A hot pink and orange mini-dress, white vinyl coat with matching belt and matching white vinyl boots and hat.  Can you dig it?



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