Doll Junk: Collectible and Crazy Fashions from the ’70s and ’80s, by Carmen Varricchio

1 Nov
5 of 5 Stars. Actual cover may differ.

5 of 5 Stars. Actual cover may differ.

I was provided an advance copy of this lovely book in exchange for a fair review.

As a woman in her late 40s, I was immersed in the Barbie world throughout the 1970s and even into the 1980s. I had only a few and I treated them with utmost care. As well the few “real” Barbie clothes I had. Those real clothes were so treasured and rare that when I turned 14 and started pulling in a bigger allowance, I chose to go to Best Products and purchase some gorgeous new dresses. I no longer “played” with the Barbies, but I sure did dress them up.

I also had a treasure chest of clothes that my mom sewed for Barbie. Maybe it was just the decade of the 70s, but my mom sewed some awesome clothes.  These held just as high a place in Barbie’s life as the Mattel clothes.

But then there were the “other” clothes. The off-brand, the no-brand, the flea market, and the junk my friends’ less talented mothers made. These clothes had their own specific purpose though: they’re the Barbie outfits I let my little sister borrow. The clothes Barbie was allowed to wear when she was a jungle guide through the muddy dammed up gutters of my street.  The clothes she wore when Barbie was playing “the mother” LOL. The clothes she wore when she was Cinderella, or a “poor” woman, or the maid.

So they weren’t really junk, they had specific purposes, and I needed those off brand clothes to complete the stories my Barbies were telling.  And so this book was an AMAZING look back at my childhood.  So many of the outfits in this book look so very familiar, it was a really special trip down memory lane. Just as fascinating are all the different off-brand Barbies that we all had, and they included every single doll I can remember and many more.  From Dawn to the Sunshine Family, to dolls and clothes from all over the world, they are all included here.

It’s the most complete book I can imagine.  There are no Mattel Barbies in this book, so it is not a history of Barbie in any way. But it IS a history of my childhood. It is incredibly complete. If you grew up with Barbie, or if your mother or grandmother did, this would be a very special gift.  I’m sure any Barbie lover would also love this, as it’s almost impossible to collect Barbie as a child without also collecting the “junk”. Well done!

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