A 1980s Fashion Paper Doll Ready to Rock the Board Room

A 1980s fashion paper doll coloring page with a mix and match wardrobe of professional working woman's clothing of the era.
A 1980s fashion paper doll printable with a mix and match wardrobe of professional working woman's clothing of the era.

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I fell in love with the 1980s power fashion clothing as I was looking through these old catalogs. So, clearly, the thing I needed to do was draw a 1980s fashion paper doll ready to take over the board room.

The mix and match options seemed really cool here, because so many pf these clothing pieces were designed to match with the black pencil skirts and black trousers, specifically pleated ones. Pleated trousers are super comfortable, so I can get behind that. One perk of this was that just doing two bottoms and then five tops gives a lot of options which I think is a big part of paper doll functionality- which is a passion of mine. This paper doll has 11 outfits, which is a lot for 9 pieces of clothing.

Listen, some people contemplate how to make the perfect pulled pork bbq, I think about how to make a functional one sheet paper doll. We all have our hobbies.

Patrons can, of course, mix and match these with last months’ 1980s paper doll. I don’t think my workout paper doll really mixes well with these, but Jazzercise clothing was super fun to draw.

A few other thoughts- one thing that really struck me about 1980s clothing was how color was used. If you look at the black and white sweater (original here), it’s really the way the shirt is color blocked that makes it 1980s. The pattern could be today, but something about the color blocking really dates it to the decade of the 1980s.

So now Amethyst is ready to go rock the corporate world in huge shoulder pads!

Honestly, the 1940s and the 1980s are both super into the giant shoulder pad thing and I try to get it (I do), but I just don’t. I guess if I’m going to draw a 1980s fashion paper doll I just need to get into the whole shoulder pad thing, but… Oh well, I barely understand modern fashion. I just like drawing paper dolls.

1980s Work Out Madness

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Sometimes when I go through old fashion catalogues, I notice something and then I need to draw it. When I started working on my 1980s paper dolls I ran into a classic problem- the 1980s wasn’t that long ago. While a lot of clothing looks dated, a lot of it looks like things you could wear today (with maybe different hair and less blush). However, one thing stood out as distinctly 1980s- leotards and leggings for the Jazzercise workout craze.

Seriously, I could have filled a whole paper doll book with these looks. They were wild. A few of my favorites were the 1983 Sears Spring/Summer collection which included puff sleeves (why?). The 1988 Sears Spring/Summer Catalog which features some super high cut silhouettes. And my personal favorite, the 1984 Sears Fall/Winter Catalog with its actually flattering color blocking. Montgomery Ward seems to have mostly sold these looks for kids, like in this 1985 Fall/Winter catalog. I didn’t have access to enough Montgomery Ward or JCPenney catalogs to see if they got into the same styles, though I suspect they did.

The 1985 Sears Fall/Winter collection was the inspiration for the color scheme and several of the pieces for this paper doll. I liked the oddly spring feeling colors and I thought they were more fun than the black and dark tones people associate with workout gear. Ruby, the paper doll here has make up, because clearly everyone in the 1980s had perfect lipstick while exercising. (I look like a half-drowned puppy after exercising, but that’s just me!)

One thing that struck me as I looked at these was that they weren’t badly designed, by which I mean there was effort being given to making them flattering. The use of color blocking and the V going down the body are actually slimming on most people. The belts would have called attention to the waist which, again, can be flattering on some people. However, I do think there’s a bit of a problem because leotards in shiny polyester are never going to be a great look.

While I was too young to really remember the Jazzercise craze, I do remember my middle school in the 1990s did a step-aerobics class for gym for a few days and I loved it. I loved that I didn’t have to do a team sport (which I was awful at) and I loved the music. I wonder if there are still step-aerobics classes in this world? Maybe I should go find one. I don’t see why gym classes in the USA are so obsessed with team sports. Not all of us want to play basketball, darn it!

I digress.

I know it has been a while for my patrons on the “1980s fashion” request front, but I hope this paper doll gets us a little closer to some 1980s fashion fun and there’s another 1980s paper doll forthcoming with a more professional wardrobe.

More Italian Renaissance with Sapphire

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So, when I do historical clothing sets, I’ve learned drawing two takes about the same amount of time as drawing one. Of course, the downside is that I always worry if I make a mistake then I’m likely to repeat it. I’m not 100% sure about the waist lines on these, but that’s okay.

The paper doll is wearing a shift with a gathered neckline which seems to be the style in Italy. It’s a lot more fitted than these would have been for layering reasons. There’s some debate from my research in what women wore under these gowns. There’s not a lot of evidence for stays, but there’s no way to get the smooth line shown on the bust in these portraits without some sort of support either built into the bodice or underneath the bodice. If you look closely at side of the pink gown, you’ll see there’s a fold between where the armpit meets the shoulder and that suggests there is something under the bodice; however, I have not been able to find any evidence on what that undergarment might have looked like.

Later, there’s this Venetian Woman with Moveable Skirt from the 1560s and there might be a set of stays there or it might be an artistic choice to continue the bodice after the skirt is lifted. It’s tough to know. I tend to think it’s likely stays, because the work is erotic art and there’s nothing erotic about a bodice (or is there?). When I do a Venetian set (and I plan to do that someday) I’ll use that as my base design I suspect. However, we’re not working on Venetian clothing today. Today, we are in Florence.

Both of these dresses are again based on portraits. Both sitters are probably from Florence, based on professional folk’s assessments of the paintings. Lucrezia Panciatichi, for example, was the wife of Bartolomeo Panciatichi, a Florentine humanist and politician. The other sitter there’s some debate over, but her clothing does look like that which was worn in Florence according to folks who know more about this than I do which isn’t I grant you a high standard at this point.

Despite the few small changes I might make to these in the future (and my annoyance that I couldn’t seem to track down a full length portrait to get skirt shapes right), I’m super proud that I did these despite feeling like I don’t “know enough” to do them well.

I will say that I want to do something later in the 1500s from Venice, as I mentioned, because the Venetians had these wild shoes called chopines which were platform shoes so high that women needed help walking in them. They’re so strange and I want to draw them, but I need to do more research on the clothing that would have gone with them. More research!

So, if you want to get to vote in my next paper doll content poll, join us on Patreon.

Early Italian Renaissance Dress with Topaz

An Italian Renaissance paper doll with two dresses from the 1530s to color and play with.
An Italian Renaissance paper doll with two dresses from the 1530s based on paintings of the time period.

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I have a pretty bad tendency to get super tangled up in myself. For the last few years, my Patrons have been requesting two historical time periods in every poll- the 1980s and Italian Renaissance. In my whole costume book collection, I only own one book on Italian Renaissance clothing and it’s a translation of a 1590s text, so not the most useful when trying to do overview research.

What became abundantly clear to me as I did my digging into the topic was that styles in Italy were not standardized across the entire country, as we know it today. At the time, Italy was a collection of city-states (it remained this way until it unified around the 1870s), so every area had its own fashion which makes things super confusing.

Plus, since most of these are taken from portraits of the period and the identify of the sitters isn’t always known, it’s nigh impossible to be certain where the paintings were painted. Is that lady wearing Naples fashions or those from Rome? Who knows?

Anyway, I got myself all wrapped up in my worry about not being “right” that I avoided drawing anything claiming to be Italian Renaissance for two years. Finally, I realized I was being ridiculous. So, I looked through all the paintings I had collected on my Pinterest Board devoted to Italy. I read what I could find and then I set to work. Here’s what I know- These dresses are based on those in two portraits.

The dress on the left is based on Portrait of a Lady by Pier Francesco Foschi. Dress on the right is based on La Bella by Titian. Both painting date from the 1530s.

Pier Francesco Foschi (1502–1567) was an Italian painter active in Florence. It’s possible the lady in this painting is also from Florence. There are other examples of this dress style here and here. Since those are also unidentified, it’s impossible to know exactly where this combination was being worn. The fur trimmed sleeves, black trimmed bodices, raised waists, long gridles, and high collared camisoles seem to be the common elements.

Meanwhile, on the right, Titian was a Venetian painter whose work is well regarded. The person in this painting is unknown, so the area this style of dress was worn is also unknown. Titian worked all over Italy, which adds to the confusion. The low neckline seems to be somewhat unusual for this period, as most dresses I saw had something filling in that space. In my rendition, I think I made the waist too high, but that’s neither here nor there.

A few things I noticed generally, unlike Tudor dress which is super stiff, the sleeves and skirts of these gowns fall more softly. I wasn’t able to find any full length portraits of these dresses, so I am guessing they fell to the floor without knowing for sure.

There’s some debate if these dresses were worn over some sort of stays. I have no idea, but I do know the flattened bust of these dresses wouldn’t have been possible without either some sort of support in the bodice of the dresses or underneath them. It does seem like wide open necked shifts were often worn and are referenced in several books I have.

Anyway, shoes were snagged from a few different places like here and my favorite- Stepping Through Time by Olaf Goubitz. Of course, from Stepping Through Time focuses on Netherlands and this is Italian, so… mileage may vary.

All in all, while there’s things I would change for next time, I’m okay with that. I have one more Italian renaissance foray to share and I just got a few books on order about the period from the library so… there may yet be more of this to come. I’m sure after I’ve done more research, I’ll approach it differently, but I didn’t want my own need to “be sure” get too much in the way of finishing some new paper dolls.

And if you’d like to get to vote on future polls about “what I should draw next” join us on Patreon.

A 14th Century Fashion Paper Doll With Citrine

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It has been a while since we had a Jewels and Gemstones 2.0 paper doll, hasn’t it? It feels weird to have taken a two week break from them, but here we are.

So, I actually had this drawn last year, but I needed one more piece of clothing to fill out the set, so I had to draw some last minute shoes which delayed it’s debut until now. But I technically meant this to go along with my 14th century Pearl set. While I never meant for the 14th century to become such a common time period on this site, every time I draw another 14th century paper doll set, I feel like I learn more about the period and get better at rendering it. And I like the learning aspect.

So, Citrine here has two patterned dresses, a veil, a hood, and an extra pair of shoes. The paper doll’s shift is based one illustrated in Roman de Giron le Courtois (fol. 87v.) at the National Library of France from around 1370-1380. I’ve used the same one for my 12th century and 13th century paper dolls, so they can all share clothing. Shifts are not the easiest thing to find reference images for in this era, let me tell you. Her shoes come from Stepping Through Time by Olaf Goubitz (my usual shoe source for anything this early.

The dress on the left is a sleeveless surcoat (unlike a sideless surcoat, sleeveless surcoats didn’t have huge armholes). I based the pattern on it from BNF Arsenal 3481 Ci commence li livres de Lancelot du Lac (fol. 65r). However, I’ve noticed these lines and dots patterns show a lot in medieval manuscripts and I don’t know if that is because they were easy to paint or if that is because they were commonly worn. The sleeveless surcoat shows up all over the place in early 14th century manuscripts. Here it is in Français 761: Artus le Restauré (fol. 25v) from between 1325 and 1350, in BNF Français 1433 Le Chevalier au Lion (fol. 67) from 1300-1350, and in BL Yates Thompson 13 The Taymouth Hours (fol. 107v). I think it is reasonable to say the style was super popular.

The dress on the right is a patterned surcoat with buttons which I sometimes see referred to as a Cotehardie. I don’t know enough to know if that term is correct (it is for men, I know). I was inspired to draw the pattern, because Roman de Giron le Courtois is full of these elaborate patterned dresses. The text is Italian and I wonder if that is why. Anyway, was the specific inspiration for this one was Folio 44v and Folio 75r. I have no idea what the manuscript is about, but there’s a lot of decapitated heads in it. In case you’re wondering, medieval manuscripts use Folio rather than page number, because most of them lack numbered pages.

Now that I’ve done two 1300s Jewels and Gemstones paper dolls (see Pearl here), I feel like I should do something from the 1400s, which is not a period I know as much about. However, the only way to learn is to try and so I guess I’ll add that to my to do list.

On Patreon I have a poll right now about the next time period to tackle. So, if you join us there, you can vote.

Diamond with her 1960s Mod Dresses

An Asian 1960s fashion paper doll coloring page with her 10 piece mix and match wardrobe of mod inspired fashions. Print her to color and play!
An Asian 1960s fashion paper doll with her 10 piece mix and match wardrobe of mod inspired fashions. Print her to color and play!

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When I think of the 1960s, these playful swing dresses come to mind. They really don’t show up until the second half of the decade, but they are so iconic. I knew when I decided to so some 1960s sets that I wanted one to be mod styles like these. My other two themes are sophisticated (see Sapphire from last week) and a beach summer set which was a Patreon piece.

There are, as always, a lot of different sources for today’s dresses. Working left to right, the orange dress was inspired by this Bill Blass dress designed for Maurice Rentnerfrom the Met. The blue dress is from Simplicity 7852 in 1968. The red and white dress is from Simplicity 6405 dated 1965. I did not draw the matching coat which I sort of regret. Coats that matched slip dresses were certainly a trend I noticed. The mustard dress is based on an illustration by Creators Studios, a New York design company. The pink dress is from Butterick 3398 from about 1966.

Her flower shoes are here from Charles Jordan in 1965. Her other shoes, hats, and purses are from John Peacocks’s 20th Century Fashion Source Book.

I have one more paper doll from 2021 that I have finished to share, than there will be a round up post for all the 2021 (though I know it is 2022) paper dolls for the Jewels and Gemstones. After that I plan to take a few weeks off as a treat and we’ll see how I feel. I love doing my Valentine’s paper dolls, so I don’t want to miss that this year.

Sapphire: A Fashionable 1960s Paper Doll for Printing and Playing With

A 1960s fashion printable paper doll coloring page with historical outfist including 2 dresses and 2 suits, along with hats.
A 1960s fashion paper doll with four outfits, shoes and hats to print and play with.

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After I did 1970s sets (one with Sapphire and one with Opal) and a 1950s set, drawing some 1960s paper dolls felt pretty inevitable. The 1960s are a fashion era I like, but haven’t done as much drawing from. I think because my mental image of the era (super 1960s mod dresses) exists and the actual mainstream fashions which were much more conservative. I love the wild mod looks, but most folks weren’t wearing them.

So, today’s 1960s paper doll is Sapphire with a very ladylike wardrobe from mostly the early 1960s, though I didn’t notice that until I was labeling everything. Here’s a few of the sources- her underwear comes from Sears in 1968. Her bra was based on several different years like this one from 1962 or this one from 1964. The pink suit is from McCall’s 6437 from 1962. Her hats both come from my John Peacock book on 20th century fashion, The Complete Fashion Sourcebook.

The evening gown was based on this Vogue 1452 pattern from 1965 designed by Galitzine of Italy. The green suit is from Vogue Couturier Design 1127; ca. 1962 designed by Michael of England. The 1965 Montgomery Ward Spring Summer Catalog was the source for the yellow polka-dotted dress.

You can, of course, see a lot more 1960s fashion references and inspiration on my 1960s Pinterest board. I tend to collect a lot and then pick and chose when the drawing point happens. There will be another 1960s paper doll up soon, as I have a second one finished as well.

Pearl in the 14th Century Women’s Clothing: A Paper Doll

14th century women's clothing illustrated by printable paper doll coloring page with two gowns, veils and a hood. The paper doll wears a shift and has her hair up in braids. Her dresses are two different styles- a fur trimmed sideless surcoat and a cotehardie with pockets.
14th century women's clothing illustrated by a printable paper doll with two gowns, veils and a hood. The paper doll wears a shift and has her hair up in braids. Her dresses are two different styles- a fur trimmed sideless surcoat and a cotehardie with pockets.

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I love historical fashion, I love book history and I love research. So, my medieval paper dolls are a chance to both draw paper dolls and spend way too much time doing research. Best part- I always learn something new. As I finished this super long post about today’s 14th century paper doll, I realized it mighty be a little much for people, so if you don’t want info on braids, sources, and scandalous surcoats of 14th century women’s clothing, stop now and just enjoy the paper doll and her pretty dresses.

One thing I learned since my latest foray into14th century women’s clothing is that I was wrong about how hair worked. I’d always thought that the hair was parted and then braided into two braids. I wasn’t sure what happened after that, but I assumed the end of the hair was tucked behind the ear. I now realize that the braid was actually tucked up under the front of the hairline. This is really clear in some of the manuscript illustrations. Pearl’s hair here is based on this illustration from the  Bodleian Library’s MS. Bodl. 264: Romance of Alexander (fol. 181v). Over their hair, women wore veils or hoods (think like, just the hood part of a coat). There’s a lot of different styles of these that I’ve seen.

Looking away from hair for a moment, 14th century women’s clothing (aka 1300s) involved layers of dresses over a shift. There’s a lot of inconsistency in words used for clothing. I am going to use surcoat for the outer most dress and kirtle for the inner dress. The kirtle went over a shift and then a belt (called a girtle) was often worn over the kirtle. Here’s a paper doll example of that. Over top of all that, a surcoat could be worn for keeping warm or for being fashionable. Some surcoat’s had slits in the front, so women could get to purses hanging off their girtles. This was an early form of pockets. If you had the money, fur lined the surcoats for warmth and fashion. Cotehardie‘s were surcoats with buttons, as I understand it.

Starting with underwear, Pearl’s shift is based one illustrated in Roman de Giron le Courtois (fol. 87v.) at the National Library of France from around 1370-1380. Her shoes come from Stepping Through Time by Olaf Goubitz. Pearl’s dress on the right is a cotehardie (aka: button fronted surcoat) over a kirtle which was inspired by MS. Bodl. 264: Romance of Alexander (fol. 097v) and (fol. 181v) from between 1338-1344, plus this casket lid.

And now, a word about sideless surcoats… (aka: the gown on the right.)

Sideless surcoats are basically gowns with huge armholes. You can see examples in BGE Ms. fr. 190/1 Des cas des nobles hommes et femmes (Fol.35v) housed at the Bibliothèque de Genève from 1410 and this one in Besançon BM MS.677 Fleurs des chroniques from the Bibliothèque municipale de Besançon (fol. 087v) from 1384-1400. This French 14th century tomb slab shows the same style. If you poke around on my 14th century Pinterest board I’m sure you’ll see more.

This fur heavy version seems to mostly be ceremonial. De claris mulieribus in an anonymous French translation (Le livre de femmes nobles et renomées) Royal 16 GV (fol. 02) (my source) is from 1440, but was trying to show things that had happened in the 1300s. By the time the mid-1400s rolled around, only Queens on court occasions seem to be wearing these furry surcoats.

I find that a little ironic, because the sideless surcoat was sometimes called “windows to hell” or “windows to purgatory” when it first showed up. It showed off so much of a woman’s kirtle that it was scandalous by 14th century women’s clothing standards. It’s interesting evidence that extreme forms of fashion eventually become an accepted part of society, even some 600 years ago.

Lastly, our paper doll has veils and a hood. While I am not totally certain about the “rules” involving veils, they were definitely common and I think more common if the woman was married. Her double ruffled veil comes from Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek, Speculum Humanae Salvationis (fol. 37r). However, the large number of illustrations that show women with their hair exposed, so I don’t think it was verboten for women to have exposed hair in this era.

Her hood is based on BNF Français 20090 Bible Historiale de Jean de Berry (fol. 290r) which is from the National library of France. I’m not 100% clear on how hoods fit into the social structure of the 14th century. I can’t imagine wearing one with that fancy fur trimmed surcoat, but then I doubt fancy fur surcoats were worn outside much.

And this is the end of this super long, super involved post on 14th century women’s clothing. If you made it to the end, good for you! By the way, Topaz with 12th century clothing and Lapis with 13th century clothing have the same basic shift and therefore can easily share clothing with today’s 14th century clothing paper doll. It’s a 300 year medieval paper doll trifecta. Yes, I did plan it that way.

The Early Fashions of the 1930s

A 1930s vintage fashion paper doll to print and color with three dresses and two pairs of shoes. She has a coat, a day dress and an evening dress.

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A 1930s vintage fashion paper doll to print with three dresses and two pairs of shoes. She also has two hats and I love her evening dress.

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As often happens with my historical paper dolls, we need to talk about reference images. So, Diamond’s hair is based on the hair of Ann Sheridan in this 1935 promotional photo from Paramount Studios. HHer evening gown came from A Decade of French Fashion, 1929-1938: From the Depression to the Brink of War which I bought for this project. Her underwear is from Simplicity 2288, a sewing pattern from 1930. Everyday Fashions of the Thirties As Pictured in Sears Catalogs provided more source images, because it is one of my go-to 1930’s fashion books.

As I was working on writing up alt-text for my images, I realized this printable paper dolls sort of has a little mini-wardrobe. Since, she has an evening dress, a coat, and a day dress. Plus with the two hats, she’s ready for anything. And, of course, she can share clothing with Amethyst and her 1930s clothing.

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1930s Suits and Dresses with Amethyst

A printable 1930s vintage fashion paper doll coloring page with four dresses, two shoes and hats.

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A printable 1930s vintage fashion paper doll with four dresses, shoes and hats.

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No secret that I adore doing my historical costume paper dolls and the 1930s is a time period I feel like really has two sort of looks happening. The first is a very soft, floral, feminine, lots of little details kind of country look from the feed sack prints of the era. This is not the look of today’s paper doll.

Contrasting with that aesthetic is a sophisticated, shoulder details heavy, suits and jackets of the 1930s. There are still plenty of bows, but the lines are sharper. The dresses don’t feel soft, but almost prickly to me. This is the look I wanted to explore with today’s 1930s vintage fashion paper doll.

A few references- her hair is based on the hair of Gertrude Micheal in this 1935 promotional photo from Paramount Studios, her swimsuit is from the V&A, and one of her dresses is from McCalls 8461. Over on Pinterest, I have more of my inspiration images for this 1930s vintage fashion paper doll, but I also used several books, including A Decade of French Fashion, 1929-1938: From the Depression to the Brink of War which I just picked up and Everyday Fashions of the Thirties As Pictured in Sears Catalogs which I’ve owned for years.

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