Opal in the 1950s

A 1950s fashion paper doll in period underwear with three pairs of shoes. She can wear any of the Jewels and Gemstones paper doll clothing including the 1950s outfits.

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Thoughts on Today’s Paper Doll
I love 1950’s fashion. So, clearly I wanted to make a 1950s fashion paper doll. I think it is one of the most beautiful eras of women’s clothing and probably that’s because I have a very 1950s figure myself. I tend to look good in 1950s dresses. Besides that, I think it’s sort of the last era where there’s really an idea of dressing for an occasion. There’s very clear lines in what is “casual” and what is “formal” and where things can be worn.

While I very much don’t want to live in the 1950s (I like that I can’t be fired from my job for getting pregnant), I really do love the idea of having outfits for different activities. Maybe it’s because I never feel like I know what to wear to anything and would love it if it was more clear cut.

I chose Opal for the model, in part because I never saw non-white historical paper dolls as a child and I try to be more diverse, especially in my historical paper doll creations.

Inspiration for Today’s Paper Doll
Okay, let’s start with shoes, because I love shoes. The sources for these shoes were all from the Met except one pair. So, these shoes, these ones and these ones all come from there. The middle pair is the outlier and it comes from LACMA and these are the source image.

Now, let’s talk underwear. Our 1950s fashion paper doll, Opal, is wearing a girdle and strapless bra combination. In order to make sure she could share clothing with Sapphire from the 1950s, I matched the shapes of their underwear. Opal’s girdle is based on this 1950’s American one and her brassier is based on this 1950s French model, both from The Met.

Opal’s hair is a nod to Ava Gardner’s short hair style (she had a few) which you can see here and here. I’ll confess I don’t think it came out quite as I’d hoped it would.

Specific Source Images:There’s a lot here, so here we go- this girdle, this brassier, these shoes, these shoes, these shoes, these shoes and this hair.

Learn/See More
On the Blog: More Jewels & Gemstones paper dolls & More 1950s Fashion for Paper Dolls
Around the Internet: Claricia Psalter from the Late 12th Century

Last Thoughts
I wanted to collect up all the 1950s paper doll dresses I’ve created for the blog and put them together, so you can easily grab some clothing for poor Opal here whose just in her undergarments. If you’re a 2 dollar and up Patron, there’s two more- a suit and a day dress both from the 1950s.

1950s Fashion Paper Dolls for the Jewels & Gemstones

Do you like the 1950s? Let me know in a comment. It is one of my favorite eras. Do you have a favorite decade for 20th century fashion?

1955 Summer Dress With Hat and Purse

A lovely Mid-1950s Summer Dress with hat. The dress is from Vogue in 1955. The hat is from Montgomery Ward in 1950. The purse is from Sears.

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Thoughts on Today’s Paper Doll
There’s a few silhouettes one tends to associate with retro 50s fashion. There’s the tight waisted, full skirt look (like this) or the narrow fitted suit look (like this). There’s also a few variations on this and one of those variation is the dropwaist version of the full skirted look.

A dropwaist is when the waist (aka seam where the bodice meets the skirt) is lower than the natural waist on a person. A highwaist is when the waist is raised above the natural waist, but below the bust. An empire waist is when the waist of a dress is located right under the bust.

More than you maybe wanted to know about fashion terminology. I digress.

Inspiration for Today’s Paper Doll
Summer is coming rapidly to Alabama. I love the Fall in Alabama and I like the Winter. I could leave the Summer without any sense of guilt at all. It’s hot and humid and my allergies are exploding. Ugh!

Anyway, I always think women in retro spring fashion ads look so wonderfully cool and calm and it probably sucked living in Alabama in the 1950s when air conditioning was rare and petticoats were common. None the less, I loved the concept if not the reality.

Specific Source Images: Vogue 8596, Montgomery Ward Spring/Summer 1950 hats pages and Sears (I used Everyday Fashions of the Fifties As Pictured in Sears Catalogs)

Learn/See More
On the Blog: More Jewels & Gemstones paper dolls & More 1950s Paper Dolls
Around the Internet: Closet Historian regularly posts images from vintage catalogs in her collection and they are fascinating.

Last Thoughts
I’ve done two more 1950’s paper doll dresses and shared them with my Patrons. They are a 1950s suit and 1950s day dress. Join Us on Patreon if you’d like to support the blog (and get more paper doll content!)

Also, if you’re thinking- Well, I wish I had a 1950s paper doll to wear this stylin’ 1950s dress, I’ve made a version of the ever delightful Sapphire in 1950’s underwear. So, you can print her, but, as always, this dress will fit any of the Jewels & Gemstones paper dolls. Retro 50s fashion is so popular right now.

Suit From the Mid-1950s

A fitted suit from 1956 with bucket hat and matching necklace. Free to print from paperthinpersonas.com.

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Thoughts on Today’s Paper Doll
When I think of the 1950s, I think of suits and dresses. Sure, pants and shorts existed, but I always think of crisp suits and soft dresses. So, I knew I wanted to do a suit or two.

There’s really two fashionable shapes for suits in the 1950s. One is tight and sleek. The other is a fitted bodice and a full skirt as in Dior’s New Look.

Personally, I love both.

Today’s suit though is of the tight skirted variety.

Inspiration for Today’s Paper Doll
I was really intrigued by this pattern from Advance, because I am always am fascinated by the idea of separates in the past. It’s an idea that has been around for as long as I think women have been getting dressed. You can see the concept as far back as the 18th century when different jackets would be paired with different skirts. I suspect you could trace it back further, but I never have attempted too.

Specific Source Images: Advance 8114

Learn/See More
On the Blog: More Jewels & Gemstones paper dolls &  more paper dolls from the 1950s
Around the Internet: Since I mentioned Dior’s New Look, you can read more here .

Last Thoughts
My lovely supporters on Patreon will be getting another suit on Friday. So, be sure to check that out if you’re a patron.

Additionally, I am considering doing another 100 day project this year. Last year, I drew 100 dresses and took pictures of them on Instagram. You can see them all here.

Summer Dress from 1951 with Hat & Purse

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Thoughts on Today’s Paper Doll
Vintage clothing, like the 1950s, are fascinating to me, because really women’s clothing hasn’t dramatically changed in the last 80 years or so. So, I think what makes the 1950s really the 1950s are the accessories- the hats, purses and gloves that women don’t wear anymore.

Inspiration for Today’s Paper Doll
I wanted to draw a summer day dress when I stumbled across these digitized images from Montgomery Ward Spring Summer 1950 catalogs posted by the Closet Historian. Basically, I wanted an excuse to draw one of those fantastic straw hats.

Specific Source Images: Simplicity 3572, Montgomery Ward Spring Summer 1950 catalog and this purse from the Met.

Learn/See More
On the Blog: More Jewels & Gemstones paper dolls &  more paper dolls from the 1950s
Around the Internet: Check out the Vintage Pattern Wiki for more 1950s and other vintage pattern goodness.

Last Thoughts
Because I might be a tiny bit OCD, the green in today’s dress matches the green in the sandals from this set.

Patreon on Friday will also be a 1950s dress. Also, I think this is a collab Friday, but I haven’t even drawn mine yet. I should get on that.

Sapphire & The 1950s

A curvy black paper doll with historical underwear from the 1950s and three pairs of shoes. Her underwear and shoes come from various museum collections. Her short black hair is styled based on black actresses and singers of the 1950s.

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Thoughts on Today’s Paper Doll
Some themes I know I want to explore from the very beginning of a paper doll project and this was one of those themes. I knew I wanted to do a 1950s paper doll.

I love 1950s clothing. Also, historical paper dolls are what I mostly collect and were my favorites as a child. So, it is a win-win all around for me.

Inspiration for Today’s Paper Doll
I really wanted to start with a basic set of underwear (strapless to accommodate evening gowns) and four pairs of shoes. I wanted the shoes to be mix and match-able with the dresses I designed around the same time (I’ll be sharing those later.)

One of my favorite tricks for hair from this era (or any time in the last 90 years) is to chose from actresses in Hollywood. Not only did actresses set the hairstyles of their time, but they are often more racially diverse than models in magazines or catalogs (until 1970 when that improves a bit).

For Sapphire’s hair, I based her style off the hair styles worn by Dorothy Dandridge and Leana Horne in the 1950s. Dorothy Dandridge was an actress who died young, sadly. Lena Horne was a wildly successful singer who did some acting, but mostly was known for her singing.

Specific Source Images: These shoes, these shoes, these shoes and these sandals all from The Met. This corset from the V&A. Photos of Lena Horne and Dorothy Dandridge (Here’s the same hair again on Dorothy Dandridge in 1954). I like it when I see the same hairstyle on several actresses, because then I know it wasn’t just a quirk of one woman, but something several women chose to wear.

Learn/See More
On the Blog: More Jewels & Gemstones paper dolls &  more paper dolls from the 1950s
Around the Internet: Check out The Met and The V&A, both of which have great costume collections. Also, check out my 1950s fashion Pinterest Board.

Last Thoughts
I had a lot of fun creating a “set” of clothing for Sapphire, so tune in for the next few days. I’ll be sharing 1950s fashions. It’s going to be super fun.

Want an extra paper doll or dress each week? Than join us on Patreon.

A Fitted Dress from 1956 for the Ms. Mannequin Paper Dolls


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Today’s Printable Paper Doll Inspirations: Vogue 8972, A Sewing Pattern from 1956A paper doll dress based on a pattern cover from 1956 for the Ms. Mannequin paper doll series in grape purple.

A paper doll dress based on a pattern cover from 1956 for the Ms. Mannequin paper doll series to print and color.

I’ve written before that part of what I like about drawing from fashion magazines is the simplicity of it. You see a shirt. You draw the shirt.

Thanks to the Vintage Pattern Wiki, I can apply a similar feeling to drawing vintage historical paper doll clothing. There are hundreds of vintage pattern covers in the Vintage Pattern Wiki, so if I feel like drawing 20th century clothing than I find it doesn’t take a lot of energy to track down something I like and draw it. I just pick a decade and start looking.

I’ll openly grant that this isn’t exactly the best research practice, but it’s fun and I like picking out things to try to recreate.

Today’s dress from 1956 comes from Vogue 8972. The Vogue pattern company began as a feature in Vogue magazine. In 1909, Conte Nast bought Vogue magazine and the pattern company was formed in 1914. This was around the same time most of the other big name pattern companies were getting started as well.

It might be confirmation bias, but Vogue patterns, even today, seem to be more couture styled than others.

When I chose to draw Vogue 8972, I thought it was an afternoon or dinner dress, but the pattern isn’t specific. I chose to make my a grape purple, because I like purple.

I am a little concerned that I might have made the skirt a bit shorter than it should be, but fashion figures have such freakishly long legs it can be hard to tell where the skirt actually stops.

There’s a few other patterns from the mid-1950s with similar narrow skirted silhouette are McCall’s 3461Vogue S-4627, Simplicity 1678, McCalls 4615 and Advance 8368. There are dozens of others, but those were a few I thought shared traits with today’s paper doll dress.

Well, what do you think of the 1950s? It is a favorite fashion period of yours? Let me know in a comment.

Need a paper doll to wear today’s outfit? Pick out a Ms. Mannequin Paper Doll Here

The Mini-Maidens Visit the 1950s and Drink a Cocktail


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Today’s Printable Paper Doll Inspirations:Cocktail Dresses of the 1950s, Specifically this one and this one

A pair of black and white paper doll 1950s cocktail dresses. The top dress is based on a Vogue sewing pattern and the bottom dress is based on an example from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Both are available to print and color from paperthinpersonas.com.

Today, the Mini-Maiden paper dolls are getting a pair of 1950s cocktail dresses. The top dress is based on a Vogue sewing pattern and the bottom dress is based on an example from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The style of skirt on both dresses is called a “barrel skirt”.

Central to my life philosophy is this: You can choose to look at the bright side, or you can not, but I try to look at the bright side. Which means, mostly, I try to see the things I am proud about in a paper doll set rather than the things that bug the heck out of me.

I succeed in this about 83% of the time, which isn’t bad, really.

So, when I see the floral print, I am trying to focus on the things I like about it and not the things that sort of annoy me. I am succeeding, mostly.

Meanwhile, both these cocktail dresses are based on the same basic silhouette. I’m always on the look out for styles that seem to show up repeatedly in the same time period. That indicates that they were common, rather than unusual. I loved the pattern on the illustration on the Vogue pattern envelope, so I tried to recreate something like it on the top dress.

I think my success was strictly mixed.

Moving on from my angst over the floral pattern, I actually am pretty pleased with these two cocktail dresses.

What do you all think? Floral or not floral? Let me know in a comment.

Meanwhile, I’m still running a sale on the blog’s Etsy Store. There a coupon code good for 25% off an order of 4.00 or more until the end of March. Use the code: READER2017

Or if you’d rather become a Patron and see behind the scenes, then donate through Patreon.

Need a Mini-Maiden paper doll to wear today’s outfit? Pick a Mini-Maiden Paper Doll Here.