Essential Elegance: Fashion Paper Doll Celebrating Minimalism

A black fashion paper doll celebrating minimalism with a 15 piece wardrobe of contemporary styles. Let me start with something wonderfully basic about my paper dolls: I do not believe paper dolls should be frumpy. Okay, maybe if that’s the theme you’re going for, than I suppose they can be. However, I think paper dolls about fashion should, you know, actually be fashionable. So, if I am going to draw fashion paper dolls, I am going to try to actually pick a fashion style and go for it.

Way to many “fashion model” paper doll sets end up with rather horrible outfits. I mean, I get it. They are for kids and, let’s be honest, kids have ideas of fashion that are a little unsophisticated. Being not a kid, I feel like fashion and paper dolls should combine to make something delightful.

And, of course, fun to play with.

All this brings us to Monica who is rocking a fantastic wardrobe of minimalist pieces from the Fall Fashion magazines. I’ve done one minimalist fashion paper doll before- Mia Goes Minimalist. I think Monica’s outfits are a little more fancy than Mia’s were.

A black fashion paper doll celebrating minimalism with a 15 piece wardrobe of contemporary styles. Free to print and color from paperthinpersonas.com

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I suppose if you weren’t feeling minimalist, than these could also fall into the futuristic fashion category (especially the dress on the far right). I confess that dress, which I think was in InStyle, inspired the whole paper doll set. Not gonna lie. I just wanted an excuse to draw it.

I do feel like I’ve drawn a few of these pieces “before”, but then I suppose since I’ve gotten to something like 200 Marisole Monday & Friends designs, if things didn’t feel familiar than I would be doing something wrong. (Also, how many ways can you draw a pair of simple trousers? Not that many.)

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day to everyone in the US! I’d say this paper doll was thematic, but I really don’t think she is.

Anyhow, I’m always up for feedback in the comments and, of course, do please support the blog if you love it through Patreon.

Prima Ballerina: A Ballerina Paper Doll in Color

logo-aa-ballerina-colorSo, one of my first jobs while working in library school was to assist with the digitization of a massive collection of costume design drawings from a group known as the Motley Group (not to be confused with Motley Crue). This let to me eventually finishing my library degree and going onto a degree in Theater History with an emphasis on the history of technical design work.

All branches of theatrical design are about communicating information to the audience seamlessly. In Romeo and Juliet, for example, it is traditional to costume the warring families in different colors. Romeos family might be all in reds, oranges and yellows while Juliet’s family might be in greens, blues and purples. This is useful, because it communicates with the audience immediately which character is associated with which group- important in a play with about 20 characters. Opera and ballet also have costuming traditions. In a medium where people don’t speak and the plots are often rather odd, identifying characters by their colors and style is even more important.

So, when I was selecting colors and costume designs for my ballerina paper dolls, I was well aware that there were traditions that I needed to take notice of. I did my best to keep these costumes fairly “traditional” with the exception of the Firebird. I didn’t like either tutus or the unitards that seemed to be common, so I went with something a little more contemporary.

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Working left to right, the first costume was from the ballet Coppélia- usually costumed in a “folk” style which is also often used for the first act of the ballet Gisselle or any ballet where there seems to be milkmaids and/or county fairs. Next is a costume for the Waltz of the Flowers from the Nutcracker. This is a costume I entirely invented when I didn’t like any of the versions I was seeing online. For my firebird, I chose to do a more modern costume, rather than a traditional tutu. If I was going to costume something no in a tutu, the firebird seemed like the logical choice. Monica is dancing the part of Odette in Swan Lake- next week’s paper doll, Mia, will have a costume for Odile. It is traditional that the part is danced by the same ballerina, but I wanted to split up the costumes across two sets. For Swan Lake, I settled on a traditional sort of costume with some feather detailing and a headdress. From Sleeping Beauty, Monica is dancing the part of the Lilac Fairy. Obviously, her costume was going to be lilac.

Prima Ballerina: A Ballerina Paper Doll

logo-aa-ballerina-bwFor years I avoided drawing a ballerina paper doll. I was asked a lot, but I always shied away.

Mostly, because the idea of drawing tutus frightened me. I work in ink. Ink is great for a lot of things, but I have always struggled with transparency and tulle (that stuff they make tutus out of) is known for both its transparency and its texture. That alone was enough to scare me.

Then, on a fateful day last year, I had no choice. I had to draw a tutu for a contest winner. I hated the outcome of my first tutu attempt, but I swore I would tackle tutus again.

I learn to draw tutus (and I still am learning), I have had to learn to let go a little of my natural instinct for controlled linework. I’ve had to embrace the risk of messy linework. That’s been a struggle and while my tutus still aren’t perfect, they are getting better.

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So, for my ballet costumes, I chose to do some classic ballets that I love. The characters are Swanhilda from Coppelia (or Gisselle before she dies, either way), The Waltz of the Flowers from The Nutcracker, Odette from Swan Lake (though if you color it black, it could be Odile), the Firbird from The Firebird, and the Lilac Fairy from Sleeping Beauty. I chose Monica for this set, because I was thinking about Misty Copeland and also that I’ve only seen one African-American ballerina paper doll before. That would be one doll in Dover’s book- Ballet Dancers. So, here is a second African-American ballerina paper doll. She’ll be in color next week.

Enjoy!

Jazz Age Baby: A 1920s Fashion Paper Doll

Marisole Monday & Friends Paper Doll Logo. Monica with her 1920s clothing is featured in this post. Back when I started this blog, it was the dead of winter and I was going stir crazy in a one bedroom apartment surrounded by snow. Today, the sun in shining and the weather is lovely and I am still at this nearly six years later.

Time does fly.

Okay, so way back in 2011, I did this paper doll called Art Deco Goddess. I was full of ennui when I wrote that post. It is both melodramatic and whiny. Not to suggest that I’m not capable of being both melodramatic and whiny at my age today, but try to at least steer clear of being too melodramatic and whiny.

Anyway, I just thought of it, because Art Deco Goddess like Jazz Age Baby are both 1920s fashion paper dolls and this one can, of course, share clothing with her predecessor.

Jazz Age Baby, however, owes a fair bit to the hair of Josephine Baker and a bit to the fun wardrobes of ladies of the twenties.

A black 1920s fashion paper doll with five dresses, seven hats, and two pairs of shoes. Free to print and color from paperthinpersonas.com
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Now technically, Monica should be wearing stockings and a garter belt and slip and all sorts of 1920’s underwear, but I thought another paper doll might want to borrow her shoes or she might want to get to be fairy or in jeans and so I did not give her period underwear. I’m pretty much okay with this choice. I rarely give my historical paper dolls period undies.

Hope everyone has a lovely Monday!

Jazz Age Baby: A Paper Doll with 1920s Fashions

A black paper doll coloring page with twenties fashions including five dresses, seven hats and two pairs of shoes. Free to print and color from paperthinpersonas.com.People who have been reading this blog for a while already know this, but I love twenties fashions. I love the hats. I love the shoes. I love the stylized art deco drawings of the hats and the shoes. Seriously, this era is among my favorites for children and women and men (though less so for men, gotta confess.)

Nevermind the fact that as a woman with serious hips, I would look awful in these styles. I don’t want to wear 1920s dresses, I just think they are beautiful on other people. (Mostly people made of paper who wear whatever I want them too, because I am their creator.)

One of the lovely things about paper dolls is that I can enjoy clothing that I would never want to wear myself.

I think part of what appeals to me about the 1920s is that people had outfits. It was not an era of mix and match clothing like we have today. People had outfits where hats matched their dresses and gloves and bags. I love the idea of matching outfits, as I have mentioned before. My obsession with trousseaux of clothing is well documented throughout this blog.

A black paper doll coloring page with twenties fashions including five dresses, seven hats and two pairs of shoes. Free to print and color from paperthinpersonas.com.
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So, let’s talk about sources… One of the interesting things about twenties fashion is that, in the United States, 1923 is the date before which things are out of copyright. That means that things after 1923 begin to fall under various copyright extensions and other rules. Libraries often steer clear of digitizing works that are post 1923, because of concerns about copyright violation. So, I tend to rely on books more than digitized documents for my post-1923 fashion history needs.

To be honest, I don’t recall exactly what I used for this paper doll set, but I know I at least looked at these, as they are part of my history book collection. I know a few of her dresses come specifically from Classic French Fashions of the Twenties.

Sources:

Atelier Bachwitz. Classic French Fashions of the Twenties. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2012.
B. Altman & Co. 1920s Fashions from B. Altman & Company. 4th ed. New York: Dover, 1998. Print.
Blum, Stella. Everyday Fashions of the Twenties as Pictured in Sears and Other Catalogs. New York: Dover Publications, 1981.
Lussier, Suzanne. Art Deco Fashion. Boston: Bulfinch, 2003.

For those who have missed my other forays into 1920s fashion, you can find them all under the 1920s tag.

Frocks and Gowns in Color

logo-frocks-gowns-colorSo, this is going up a little late today. Sorry about that, but life got crazy this weekend. I want to talk a little bit today about coloring last week’s paper doll and a little about diversity in the paper doll world.

So, when I color a paper doll set, I start with a pallette. I knew I was going to be giving Monica a fairly rich brown skin tone, so that opened up and closed down certain color options. For example, I tend to avoid putting brown colored clothing on brown colored paper dolls, unless the tones are really different, since it can blend too easily. Since she was going to have a rich skin-tone, I decided that bright and color dresses made a lot of sense.

The strapless gown with the belt was based on this gown by Andrew GN and since it had a red top and a pink bottom, that informed the blues and the greens as contrasting colors in the other gowns.

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I’m a big believer in paper doll diversity. I think it is really important to have a variety of concepts and skin-tones and, ideally, a variety of concepts in a variety of skin-tones. Truthfully, I tend not to think of my paper dolls in terms of ethnicity, but in terms of color. It it less about, “this paper doll is African-American” and more about “this paper doll is a dark brown with red undertones.”

I used to think I was the only one who thought this way about paper doll skin-tones until I read this post from Julie over at Paper Doll School. I was comforted to find out that we both tend to think in terms of “color” not in terms of ethnicity.

The result of coloring things, perhaps?

What I do know is that no matter how I think about skin-tone, it is crucial to me that I offer readers of all backgrounds and colors paper dolls that reflect them. People should be able to see themselves in the toys they play with.

Yes, I know a lot of my readers are adults, but adults play with toys, too. At least, they should. 🙂 I do.

Frocks and Gowns in Black and White: A Paper Doll

logo-frocks-gowns-bwThis is the first Monica paper doll of 2015! I think she looks stunning with this collection of fancy dresses, both cocktail and more formal. I wanted to try the spiky hairstyle that I used for my post-apocolyptic paper doll again.

I find with paper dolls that I tend to do a formal gown set every year or so. In 2014, I did this set of vintage evening gowns and a set for Mia in 2012.

As a kid, I liked drawing evening gowns and I like to think my paper dolls lead the sort of high style lives where they would need fancy dresses. Plus, we are coming into Prom season, so it seems fitting to draw some prom worthy dresses.

Though, I must say, the older I get the less I find prom dresses to be anything other than gaudy. There are a few exceptions, but they are rare. I did a prom paper doll set back in 2010 based on the dresses I saw for sale in that year.

Monica’s evening and cocktail dresses are all based on real gowns except for the one on the far right with the flower. I totally made that up.

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Interesting PTP fact: The first paper doll set ever in the Marisole Monday series was Glamor Girl with formal gowns. That was way back in 2010.

My few of my other formal gown paper doll sets have been At the Big Gala, Red Carpet Elegance, and Flowers and Jewels.

As always, enjoy the paper doll and feel free to tell me what you think about her.