Nostalgia is a look at what we loved, way back when. Teri is a journalist who enjoys writing about life and the cool stuff of yesteryear.
Sweet Sixteen Barbie
The year was 1974—the United States of America was a busy place. In 1974, Americans reeled over Watergate, the scandal, resignation, and subsequent pardon of President Richard Nixon. 1974's top movies included The Sting, The Exorcist, Blazing Saddles, and the Godfather: Part II. Radio stations played hits by the Carpenters, Queen, Barry White, Paul Anka, and David Bowie. Pocket calculators hit the stores, the average income was nearly $14,000 per year, a new car could be purchased for under $4,000, and drivers paid around 55 cents per gallon for gasoline.
When Barbie celebrated her 16th birthday in 1974, Mattel released a special promotional doll. Sweet 16 Barbie wore a pink “Swiss" style dress (with white dots). Some of the packages included blue denim shorts and a yellow tank top (with the Sweet 16 logo).
And in 1974 ...
Barbie Doll got a Sun Valley look — the package included a doll, orange and yellow jumpsuit, matching jacket, skis, mask and ski poles. Barbie and her friends — the Sports Set dolls — showed off their “sporty” look; sailing, camping, swimming, etc. They came in hard packaging or “baggies” that hung from display walls.
Barbie’s 1974 Fashions
Like the previous year, Mattel released Barbie clothes (in the Best Buy or Get-Ups ‘N Go packaging) in numbers; no longer using specific names to describe (most of) the ensembles. Barbie, Steffie, Kelley, P.J. and the one-of-a-kind Babs doll had many choices!
In addition to a few repeats from the 1973 season, there were six Sears Department Stores exclusives, a Sew Magic Add-On card (#7850), Knit Magic kit (#7830) and various Barbie outfits that were released in other countries.
Best Buy Clothing Line
The Best Buy line of 1974 consisted of pants, tops, dresses and skirts but most of the outfits did not include shoes, purses or other accessories.
- (#7746, 1974); wide-legged palazzo pants in red tricot sewn onto a white bodice. The white lace trimming fell over another layer at the neckline. Lace circled the waist.
- (#7747, 1974); two-piece summer dress in a dusty-rose color. The maxi skirt was gathered at the waist — it fell below the knees with white lace-trimmed braid at the ruffled hem. The top — adorned with white flower appliqués — was sleeveless; its spaghetti straps were made of the same white lace braid.
- (#7748, 1974); two-piece suit in red with a multicolored floral pattern. The skirt fell above the knees. The jacket had long sleeves with white lace that flourished at the cuffs. Barbie Doll wore a white, lace-trimmed dickey underneath the jacket.
- (#7749, 1974); ankle-length, light-blue sundress — the blue was actually in a very thin pinstripe pattern. The sleeveless dress had a long ruffled hem at the bottom and a wide swatch of cloth around the waist (with a pinstripe pattern that was opposite from the rest of the dress). A white, knee-length apron (which tied in the back) covered the lap area. The apron was trimmed in lace and rickrack braiding.
- (#7750, 1974); two-piece set in royal-blue with a white geometric and dot pattern. The long-sleeved jacket had a white collar that was trimmed with blue stitching; it sported two red shank buttons and a black ribbon. The bodice was fashioned with a white strip of cloth (blue stitch trimming) which ran vertically to the waist. The outfit included a white vinyl belt with a square buckle. Skipper Doll had an ensemble just like this one (#7772). A variety of these skirt and top suits (with different patterns) were made in various shades of blue.
- (#7751, 1974); dark-blue “denim” jeans — the package included a sheet of decals that looked like patches. The accompanying halter top was white with a type of Hawaiian print of various flowers; their colors matched the decals. Ken and Skipperhad outfits that coordinated with Barbie’s — (#7771 for Skipper and #3387 for Ken).
- (#7752, 1974); three-piece sweater outfit in turquoise. The A-line skirt had a wide front pleat and a pocket on each side. A gold chain belt circled the waist. The short-waisted, long-sleeved turquoise knit sweater had a white “fur” collar that fastened with a hook at the bottom hem. A sleeveless knit shell (with a back button) matched the sweater.
- (#7753, 1974); this outfit came in various shades of brown — a long fleecy ankle-length skirt that matched a long-sleeved, wide-collared jacket. Its vest-like bodice was trimmed in white “fur” in the front and back. The jacket’s waist had a “built in” belt strap and buckle. Barbie wore a gold knit shell underneath the jacket.
- (#7754, 1974); sleeveless, pink satin “baby doll” nightgown with sheer white lace — the armholes were cut into the bodice. A sheer ribbon tied around the neck. The nightgown had a strip of material down the front with two buttons. The matching robe was made of terry cloth; it had pink satin trim around the collar, at the sleeves and down the front of both flaps. A satin belt circled the waist.
- (#7755, 1974); “peasant” dress of calico-print, red and white. The skirt was dark-blue with a floral pattern (white, red, yellow, green). It was attached to a white blouse (sheer with short, puffy sleeves) and a red vest that covered all but the top breast area. A long white slip with an eyelet-trimmed ruffled hem was worn under the dress. Francie and Skipper dolls had outfits that coordinated with this one (Francie; #7769, Skipper; #7773).
- (#7756, 1974); the “Pepsi Generation” was going strong this year; Barbie Doll wore an outfit with the company’s logo. Other than airline uniforms (American & Pan Am, for example), Pepsi-Cola was the first company to team up with Mattel in order to create product-marketed clothing items for Barbie. This outfit had white bell-bottom pants and a long-sleeved red jacket — the jacket had Pepsi’s white-lettered logo stamped all over it. A red sash (with white lettering) was attached to the waist. The outfit came with a matching sun-visor cap, plastic hamburger and brown soda bottle (there wasn’t any logo on the bottle but chances are … it was a Pepsi!) This outfit matched others for Ken Doll (#7761), Francie (#7766) and Skipper (#7770).
- (#7757, 1974); long-sleeved evening gown made of red crepe. The floor-length dress had sheer rose-colored nylon ruffles at the cuffs and down the front. The pink nylon neckline was ruffled. Two pink flowers were pinned to the shoulder.
- (#7813, 1974); two-piece outfit in soft tricot — the wide-legged pants were red with white polka dots. The matching halter top tied around the neck and had a gathered waist.
- (#7814, 1974); ankle-length maxi dress in bright-orange tricot. It had short, loose sleeves. The bodice gathered in several spaced horizontal lines down to the waist. A high ruffled hem trimmed the dress’ long skirt, which also sported a flower and yellow ribbon at the waist.
- (#7815, 1974); oh, so very ‘70s! Brightly-colored plaid suit in reddish-pink, yellow, blue, white and green. The jacket sported a wide, white collar. Both the skirt and jacket had elasticized waistbands.
- (#7816, 1974); short nightwear set — the sleeveless hot-pink tricot “baby-doll” top featured sheer, bright-pink nylon from the abdomen to the hem. Nylon ruffles accented the neckline and there was a bow at the nightgown's empire waist. Matching panties completed the set.
- (#7817, 1974); summertime fun! Mini dress — the short skirt had vertical stripes of various colors; light-blue, dark-blue or purple, green, chartreuse, yellow and red. The skirt had a matching waistband with angled stripes. The dress’ red halter top tied around the neck and around the back. The outfit came with a matching hat— the brim and crown were bright red with a striped ribbon sash.
- (#7818 and #7819, 1974); light-blue chambray bell-bottom jeans with red stitched trim. Barbie Doll wore a sleeveless red tank top with the pants (#7818). The outfit matched a mid-length light-blue chambray coat (#7819) with red stitching along the pockets, down the front, at the sleeve cuffs, collar, hem and belt trimming. Three red buttons adorned the bodice and a gold buckle was attached to the freestanding belt. The package included a three-corner scarf (red with medium-sized white dots).
- (#7820, 1974); stepping out for the evening, Barbie Doll wore a floor-length red gown with shoulder-capped sleeves. It was made of nylon, gathered at the waist and had ecru-colored lace trimming at the hem. The matching red jacket with its sheer sleeves was trimmed with the ecru-colored lace at the lapels. A satin ribbon tied at the waist. The package included a white comb and brush.
- (#7821, 1974); two-piece outfit in red and ecru plaid. The sleeveless dress had a cream-colored blouse with red stitching at the armholes, collar and down the front. Three red buttons accented the bodice. The blouse was attached to the skirt (red, patterned with cream-colored plaid). The "boxy" jacket matched the skirt. A red hat came in the package.
- (#7822, 1974); blue pants with an orange windbreaker-type jacket. The jacket had blue shank buttons and blue stitch trim. An orange hat (with a clear vinyl brim) came with the outfit.
- (#7823, 1974); Barbie Doll could choose which pieces to wear from this set — it contained blue chambray shorts (with red stitching), an A-line skirt (blue chambray with red stitching at the hems and pocket), a sleeveless tricot blouse with red elastic waistband (red and white vertical stripes) and a blue chambray shoulder bag (red stitching) with a red and white scarf tucked into it.
- (#7824, 1974); a "peasant" dress in off-white with long, lacy sleeves that matched the inset of the bodice. The dress was trimmed with two vertical lines of turquoise rickrack which twisted around the neck and ran down the front of the skirt. An off-white lace apron (with turquoise rickrack trim) wrapped separately around the waist.
Get-Ups ‘N Go Fashions
In 1974, four Get-Ups ‘N Go fashion sets were repeated from the 1973 season and seven new ones joined the product line. A few of the outfits centered around Barbie’s activities — others were dressy ensembles.
- (Skiing, #7787, 1974); red nylon ski pants, nylon jacket in red and white checkerboard print — the jacket had a red ribbed-knit collar, sleeve cuffs and waistband. The package included a red nylon cap, white ski boots, red mittens, blue skis and balance poles (with blue accents).
- (Beach, #7788, 1974); Barbie was ready to hit the beach in her red, white and yellow floral bikini! The matching red wrap cover-up dress, with its scattered white flower print, was ankle-length. It had a wide, white “sailor” collar trimmed with red ribbon and a matching belt (with a yellow buckle). The package included: snorkel, yellow swim fins, face mask and a red water-skimming board (with a floral design).
- (Wedding Day, #7839, 1974); Barbie Doll loved to get married! This dress was made of white satin with sheer nylon ruffles at the yoke, neck and bottom hemline. The sheer lace-like material also made up the long sleeves, which were gathered at the wrists. The outfit included a tulle veil with a white satin headband, a pair of white squared-toe shoes and a bouquet of three white flowers attached to yellow tulle. The wedding ensemble coordinated with Ken Doll's (Get-Ups ‘N Go) groom’s outfit (#7836) and Skipper Doll’s (Get-Ups ‘N Go) flower girl (#7847) dress.
- (Party Dress, #7840, 1974); floor-length satin gown — it featured silver brocade material from the waist to the hem. The attached turquoise halter top had a red flower accent at the bust line. A matching silver brocade jacket (with a wide, white, fake-fur collar) featured a turquoise closure on a gold-tone buckle. A satin turquoise clutch bag and a pair of matching open-toed shoes came with the outfit.
- (Party Separates, #7841, 1974); Barbie Doll could choose from an assortment of pieces in this satin and lamé party ensemble — it was the pink and silver look. Included: pink satin pants; a pink A-line short skirt; a long-waisted jacket that was pink with a wide collar (silver lamé and pink flowers) — the jacket wrapped at the waist and tied with a satin belt; a pink satin bra top and a silver lamé maxi skirt (that matched the collar). Pink open-toed shoes came in the package.
- (Tennis, #7842, 1974); this tennis ensemble included several pieces: a short, sleeveless, white tank-top dress with red and blue fabric trim at the neckline; a matching jacket with red trim at the cuffs and hemline; white short panties, red tote bag (with white polka dots) and matching sun visor; white socks; gray plastic tennis racquet; yellow tennis ball and white tennis shoes.
- (Party Dress, #7843, 1974); long tangerine-colored satin skirt with a gold lamé waistband top. The brocade-like lamé-patterned jacket had a tie at the waist. The jacket featured different colors in the lamé pattern (green, orange, aqua, purple, pink). The outfit included a tan “fur” stole (backed in tangerine-colored satin) and gold clutch purse. Orange squared-toe pumps completed the look.
(Barbie’s Sweet 16 Fur Fashions, #7850, 1974); this kit — with its fabrics, clothing patterns, trims and instructions — contained materials to make a two-piece suit, long dress trimmed in “fur” and a short dress (in red).
(Knit Magic, #7830, 1974); this plastic knitting machine came with materials to make dresses and a furry hat. The set included several skeins of different colored yarn, trimmings and instructions.
Sears Exclusive Sets for 1974
Barbie Babysits (#7882. 1974-1976); apron, loose-fitting sacque jacket, christening gown, bunting, bonnet, plastic cradle and accessories and of course, the baby doll!
In 1974, Sears Department Stores produced a number of pieces without stock numbers. One package included: a yellow and red calico "peasant" maxi dress with black braided trim; blue denim pants, jacket and white halter top and a two-piece suit — its short-sleeved blouse (off-white with floral print and a black ribbon tied at the neck) was sewn to a tangerine-colored knitted vest. The skirt matched the vest.
Another Sears clothing set for Barbie Doll featured three outfits: pink nightgown with a dotted, floral-printed bathrobe; chocolate-brown fleecy coat with tan-colored “fur” trim (and a matching hat) and an ankle-length "peasant" dress in green with floral print on the skirt and bodice. The dress had blue trim around the armholes, a red swatch around the waistline and long, white sleeves that were trimmed in red rickrack.
Barbie Doll wore a long red gown — the satin-like lining was covered with a sheer red overlay and the bodice was sleeveless with a wrapped cummerbund at the high waist. The matching cropped jacket featured white “fur” around the collar and at the sleeve cuffs. The package included red shoes, a red choker adorned with a white flower and a red princess phone.
More 1974 Barbie Doll Separates
Sears released a variety pack of mix-and-match pieces: white pants, skirt, sleeveless blouse (with a high collar and pointed lapels) and shorts — all with red-trim stitching; navy-blue chambray pants, long skirt and sleeveless blouse; white shawl with a chambray ruffle; red and white checked pants, skirt and halter top. The outfit's matching blazer had a button attached to the collar and a white flower on the lapel. On the back of the package were illustrations of the many combinations that Barbie Doll could wear these “wardrobe staples.”
A variety of sporting goods items gave Barbie an active lifestyle. The package included: orange swim fins, mask and snorkel; pink skis with poles and boots; a tennis racquet, ball and tennis shoes; yellow and plaid golf bag with two clubs and a couple of balls; blue sunglasses; a red and white striped jump rope; exercise manual and cord; (plastic) barbells; brown knee-high riding boots and matching cap.
Barbie Doll Outfits in Europe
Barbie Doll was world-famous — so were her clothes! Seven ensembles and six mix-and-match separates were released world-wide; some of the fabrics had been used on previous outfits. One set contained blue pants, two pairs of yellow and lace panties, a flowery long-sleeved blouse, red skirt, blue shorts and a white blouse with multicolored dots. In the Mix ‘n Match Fashions separates (Europe, #7988), Barbie wore a red, white and green plaid skirt (and scarf); pale-pink slacks with a white belt; sleeveless red and white floral blouse (and white belt) and navy-blue halter top.
- Tanti Pois (1974); multicolored palazzo pants and sleeveless shirt-dress — it had a red belt. Barbie wore a bright-red, full-sleeved blouse underneath the shirt-dress. Accessories included a blue vinyl belt, purse, red hat and red “chunky” shoes.
- Coordinato Giovanne; red “jacket dress” with a blue bodice, horizontally-striped multicolored tank top, dark-blue pants, red panty hose and shoes.
- Moda Maglia; long-sleeved turquoise dress, white “fur” vest with floral accents, chain belt, turquoise shoes and purse and a multicolored printed hat.
- Nozze Felici; wedding dress in white brocade with long sleeves and matching fur at the cuffs and neckline. Accessories included a white tulle veil and flower bouquet (with long grosgrain ribbons).
- Party Elegante; wide-legged, multicolored floral lamé pantsuit with an orange satin jacket. Orange shoes and a purse were included in the package.
- Pelliccia Sportiva; brown knee-length skirt and jacket — the long coat was trimmed in faux fur. The outfit came with a coordinating blouse, brown knee-high boots, a matching purse and wide-brimmed hat.
- Prime Pioggie; various pieces — a yellow coat with gold beaded buttons, orange and yellow houndstooth pants, houndstooth skirt (with yellow waistband), orange blouse and yellow knee-high boots.
- Primi Freddi; pink jumpsuit with a long, faux fur vest. The vest was adorned with three rows of braid. A “furry” shoulder purse, pink shoes and a pink turban finished off the look.
And into the Mid-1970s
Barbie and her friends changed clothing, hair and body styles. They became more active and imaginative. In 1975, there were 45 new outfits for Barbie in addition to new dolls, including Mattel’s Olympic Gold Medal Winners (gymnastics, skiing, skating and swimming). In 1976, more than 40 new outfits were added to the Barbie line.
Mattel’s teenage fashion model was as popular as ever as a new generation of Barbie dolls … and Barbie doll lovers … was born.
© 2012 Teri Silver
Teri Silver (author) from The Buckeye State on March 05, 2014:
I'm sorry but I cannot offer advice on exact pricing on particular items; price changes with market demands and is also based on the condition of the piece. I suggest watching the auction boards (like on eBay, for example), -- they are usually pretty good at determining value based on what people will pay (also based on the condition of the item). Also, there are books available that offer guidelines for what an item is worth -- if the information is current. But guidelines vary too and it's always possible you'll have a seller who just wants to turn something over quickly. As a collector myself, I know how exciting it can be when you find something you really want. Take a deep breath and use your head. If the item is in adequate-to-excellent condition, decide for yourself what you can afford to purchase. Some things can be negotiated and you never know what's out there.
Annette on March 04, 2014:
I have the chance to purchase "Party Elegante" but have no idea what is a fair price for it. Can u help? Here is my email: email@example.com
Thanks in advance,
Sherry Hewins from Sierra Foothills, CA on June 22, 2012:
Wow! I never knew there was so much to know about Barbi's clothes. Some of them look familiar though. Thanks for the memories.