Want to keep the childhood Barbies you played with—and not tuck them away in a box? Why not “restyle” them to make them display worthy?
What is “restyling”? It doesn’t have to be anything major. For our purposes, some 80’s toy Barbies were restyled in very simple ways to make them look more like collector dolls that may be shown in a display case. No hair re-rooting or face painting was done. In fact, the rules were to not make any permanent changes to the Barbies so that they could be brought back to their “childhood state” at any time. For example:
- The dolls were to be kept in their original basic condition. No hair was to be taken out, re-rooted or cut.
- No face painting. Any “make-up” added would need to be removable.
It works best to use Barbies whose faces have more of a “classy” look, so they resemble the more refined faces of collector dolls; but that is admittedly up to you. (For these purposes, “collector dolls” are the more expensive Barbies not meant to be played with but rather displayed in cases.)
How to Restyle a Barbie Without Permanent Changes
There are then three ways to really change the look of the dolls:
- Obviously, the clothing. Collector dolls on display generally have fancy gowns or unique outfits. New glamour gowns to dress up older Barbies could possibly be one-of-a-kind outfits (aka “OOAK,” often found on e-Bay), gowns from official collector dolls (also found on e-Bay) and even Barbie fashions from childhood that are a bit more on the fancy side.
- Accessories (jewelry, shoes, etc.)
- Hairstyles and “make-up”
Without further adieu, here are examples from all three of the gown categories, plus some hair and accessory makeovers.
Dream Date P.J. in a Gown from Chocolate Obsession Barbie
E-Bay is a great place to find gowns by themselves that were originally adorning collector dolls—and this is a great way to dress up a childhood Barbie that is still in good condition. In this case, a gown from Chocolate Obsession Barbie was used. It also came with shoes, tights/pantyhose and a shawl, though the shawl was not used for the restyle.
Dream Date P.J.‘s face very much lends itself to a “collector doll look.” To make up her lips (and the lips of all the restyled Barbies on this site), peel-off nail polish was used. (Important note: There is no guarantee that this will not change the mouth once peeled off, so do this at your own risk; see here for more info on the madness behind the method.)
Her hair is simply brushed smooth and held at the very bottom with an invisible elastic to keep its shape.
The only extra accessories were some gold hoop earrings from e-Bay.
Peaches n’ Cream Barbie in a OOAK White Dress
Peaches n’ Cream Barbie has a more tan complexion than most Barbies, so this white OOAK dress makes a striking contrast to the skin tone. The outfit, which actually is a white satin dress underneath a fancy robe-like covering, was picked up years ago from someone who creates doll clothes and sold them at a church boutique (you may find OOAK outfits at the most unexpected places). Unfortunately, I have no idea what the name of the seller was, but they made beautiful doll clothes.
The hair was curled with large doll curlers and set with human hairspray.
Accessories include a white purse (e-Bay) and earrings fancied up by some adhesive sparkly stones (such as these ones) from Hobby Lobby. The adhesive stones were cut, and made into dangle earrings by sticking fishing wire on the back and attaching those onto an actual Barbie earring. The adhesive on the back of the top stud can stick to a real Barbie earring (though it admittedly looks a bit bulky if looking up close).
Magic Moves Barbie in an 80’s “Twice as Nice” Barbie Dress
Sometimes, the very Barbie dresses that are made as toys can actually make a beautiful display-worthy gown. Such is the case with the gown on this Magic Moves Barbie; the gown is a genuine Barbie “Twice as Nice” reversible fashion dress.
Her hair withstood the test of time pretty well and kept most of its waviness, however it was slightly curled and set with hairspray.
The cummerbund-like belt is actually a satin ribbon bought from Hobby Lobby or Joann’s sewing section. It was easily cut to size and secured at the back with Velcro. The shoes were from a large set of shoes purchased from e-Bay and painted red with acrylic paint, as was the purse.
And for the last detail, if you need collector doll-type stands for your restyled Barbies, just search e-Bay for “Barbie straddle stands” or something similar.
More restyled Barbies will be posted later, so be sure to subscribe!