Tag Archives: Paper Dolls

The Desire for Style


What is it in human nature that drives the desire for attractive clothes, hair, shoes, jewelry? How innate is this desire?

Proverbs 31 describes the virtuous woman: “She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.” (Thank you, http://www.biblegateway.com)

Silk and purple are far from being simple, plain clothing. Tapestry is labor intensive but stunning.


Then Jesus said in Matthew 6:28 (Amplified):
“And why should you be anxious about clothes? Consider the lilies of the field and [a]learn thoroughly how they grow; they neither toil nor spin.”

What I believe the Lord is teaching us here is that it’s no sin to want or wear beautiful clothes, that it’s actually considered a virtue for a woman to clothe herself thusly.

It becomes sin when we obsess and become anxious about it.

What a relief! Because I do like pretty clothes. I don’t have very many due to … what? Laziness? Lack of planning? The Proverbs 31 woman seeks wool and flax and works them willingly with her hands. I need to do more of that because I can sew. I’d never win a 4-H competition but I can put together a garment. Hopefully I just need more practice.

This line of thinking began today after reading Robert Avrech’s May 10, 2010 post, Friday Fashion. (He doesn’t have a direct link to that post; just go to his website and page down to it.)

Mr. Avrech is a Hollywood screenwriter and he describes the change that comes when a plain looking actress is dressed and coiffed by movie studio professionals. The transformation even changes how the actress feels about herself; she becomes much more self confident.

Freda & Stella Sexton, 1917


And that reminds me of something my mother used to say: casual dress leads to casual behavior. I grew up during the late 1960s – early 1970s and jeans and a t-shirt were fine with me, even for church at a time when that was considered a little too radical.

But now there’s been a lot of water under my bridge and I not only see her point, I agree with it. I’ve noticed that when I dress up, I behave more lady-like. My husband dons a suit and he becomes Mr. Debonair.

This subject fascinates me – in fact, there are 22 entries under Fashion in my Categories list. And as I mentioned before, what someone wore on a particular occasion usually sticks in my memory. On Saturday my sister and I were talking about the Christmas trip back home to Oklahoma that she and her husband made in 1965. I recalled her outfit when we picked them up at Tulsa International Airport: a royal blue suit (skirt and jacket), made of a wool-like fabric.

Dorothy Provine Paper Dolls
The news about Dorothy Provine’s death last week reminded me of her paper doll. Included in the set were some costumes from her television show The Roaring Twenties. I just loved them. Ebay usually has a set of them and you can go here to see them.

Girls just naturally want to have and wear pretty clothes. Paper dolls fulfilled that desire by making it much more affordable to have lots of changes. The creator of the Barbie doll observed her daughter playing with paper dolls and changing their clothes. Her idea was to make a doll with a big wardrobe which could be attained one piece at a time, by marketing them separately from the dolls.

The Thoughtful Dresser

Back to Mr. Avrech’s post: he mentioned a new book by Linda Grant titled “The Thoughtful Dresser“.
If you click on the link, you can read a few pages from the book. I found it very interesting and hope that the rest of it lives up to my expectations because I’ve put it in my cart.

Miss Grant tells of a requisition for lipstick for females liberated from a concentration camp. How puzzling.

Lipstick? They needed so many things!

Why lipstick? It was an attempt to restore their human dignity.

Which reminds me of a documentary, Steal a Pencil for Me
. (Available for free viewing at hulu.com). It’s the story of a man and woman who survived the Holocaust. Of course, the very subject matter is deadly serious. How could it be otherwise? But the featured couple are wonderful, uplifting people and survived with a joy for life.

The tie in to fashion? Manja Polak tells of her style efforts in the camp: she had taken with her a few hair curlers. Even though she was unable to wash her hair, she used the curlers every night. In the midst of the squalid conditions, she did what she could to beautify her appearance.

What a lady!

She’s still lovely.

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Filed under Actresses, Fashion, Holocaust, Paper Dolls

Betsy McCall Paper Dolls, Part II

McCall's magazine, December 1963

McCall's magazine, December 1966

McCall's magazine, December 1967

For a larger image, click on the picture; if a magnifying glass appears as you run your cursor over the enlarged image, it will enlarge one more time. I think the final enlargement will be about the size of the original in the magazine and is good for printing. I recommend using cardstock, or at least adhering the doll to something stiffer before cutting out. Regular typing paper will be about the right weight for the clothes. Also, I’ve had trouble getting a good print when using draft on paper dolls, therefore I now use a higher quality setting for printing.

For more pages and some Betsy McCall links (some of which are printable), go to my previous post here.

Hope you enjoy them.

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Filed under 1960's, Childhood pastimes, Christmas, Ephemera, Fashion, Vintage Magazines

Betsy McCall Paper Dolls

In 1951 McCall’s magazine began a feature for girls: a paper doll named Betsy McCall. Looking at the page through the years until the last time it was included (I think it was 1995) is a mini-tutorial in late 20th century childrens’ fashions.

But to start, here are a few Christmas pages.

McCall's Magazine, December 1951

McCall's Magazine, December 1960

McCall's Magazine, December 1962

This site features Betsy McCall paper dolls from the first 10 years, 1951- 1961. You can get a printable size by clicking on the doll. Then select a page – this time click on High Quality Image. To enlarge for printing, click on the image again. This will print out about the same size as it was originally in the magazine.

Crunchy Monkey is a great site with a brief history of McCall’s magazine and lots of Betsy McCall paper doll pages from 1975 to 1995.

This page shows several old advertisements and sewing patterns for doll clothes.

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Filed under 1950s, 1960's, Childhood pastimes, Christmas, Fashion, Paper Dolls, Vintage Magazines

A Few Christmas Paper Dolls, Altered

The following are additional pages from my sister’s paper doll altered book from the Round Robin she participated in. More Betsey McCall paper dolls will be posted soon.

Betsey McCall paper dolls, from McCall's December 1951

from Fran's Round Robin paper doll altered book

Fran's book, 2nd Santa Claus page

Lilah paper doll from Mary Englebreit's Home Companion

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Filed under Altered Books, Christmas, Crafts, Ephemera, Fun, Paper Dolls

My Sister’s Paper Doll Altered Book

Fran's altered book cover


A few years ago my sister was in an altered book Round Robin. She chose paper dolls for her theme and she ended up with the most wonderful book!

Here are some of the pages. Unfortunately, I can’t give credit to the individual artists (because I don’t know them), but some of them initialed their pages. My sister did the cover herself.

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Filed under Altered Books, Childhood pastimes, Fashion, Paper Dolls, Using What You Have

Paper Dolls, Fashion, Etc.

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One of my childhood passions was playing with paper dolls.   In the late 1950’s and 60’s, children didn’t have nearly as many toys as they do now.  We only received toys or special things at birthdays and Christmas.  But paper dolls, along with jacks, paddle balls and comic books were very affordable and could be bought anytime at  the neighborhood grocery store.  When candybars were a nickel, most of the paper dolls were 29 cents.

1961 M. W. Christmas catalog Barbie and Ken

Barbie  doll clothes were a little expensive for me, so I only had about 3 store-bought outfits.  My sister-in-law made some for me one Christmas. That was it.  One Barbie and about 6 or 7 outfits.  Very few of the girls I knew had more than that.  So paper dolls were a wonderful way to satisfy that urge for lots of clothes to play with.  And I think playing with them so much initiated a life long interest in pretty clothes.

1963 Barbie paper doll

1963 Barbie paper doll

1963 Barbie paper doll clothes

1963 Barbie paper doll clothes

I’ve always loved pretty clothes and tend to notice what people wear; not in a critical way, so much, but in kind of an appreciative way.  I seldom remember crummy looking clothes (except for my own) but I can tell you about clothes that my friends wore in 6th grade, or what I wore to see “Thoroughly Modern Millie” in 1967 (a pink mini dress with matching coat, covered buttons and pink Mary Jane shoes with a daisy cut-out by the strap).

Okay.  Back to the paper dolls.  I don’t have any of my originals.  One of the stupidest things I ever did was throw away that shoe box full of them when I got married.  I thought, “I’m an adult, so I don’t need these anymore.”  Well, I don’t need them but I sure do enjoy them.  I’ve been able to replace several, but the Lucy ones are beyond my reach.  About 10 years ago I was bidding on them on ebay and I quit at …. well, I won’t tell you but they sold for $135.  And I don’t invest in mint condition, uncut ones.  I prefer the ones that you can tell were played with, and homemade ones are even better.  I never made my own (except out of the Sears or Montgomery Ward catalogs) but I really admire girls who did.

1964 Lucy Paper dolls

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Filed under 1960's, Fashion, Fun, Paper Dolls, Vintage Barbie