I have prepared this buyers guide to hopefully provide some useful information to new players to the vintage barbie outfit collecting market.
Some of the things you should look out for when purchasing vintage barbie outfits can be summarised as follows.
If the item is being offered as a complete outfit check that it actually is complete and that none of the little accessories are missing. It is often easy for inexperienced collectors to overlook a set of earrings handbag or belt that should be included with a complete outfit. I have found the Sarah Sink Eames books to be absolutely invaluable to anyone starting out in collecting vintage barbie outfits. Her books are a terrific investment and I can thoroughly recommend them.
Check that the shoes that are included with the outfit are correct. Shoes can be easily confused and it is important to check that they are in fact the proper ones.
Make sure that the outfit is a genuine vintage and not a vintage repro outfit. It is no use buying a repro outfit to include with your vintage collection as although they are a lot less expensive they are not of any real value to vintage collectors.
It is also a good idea to check that the accessories and shoes contained with a vintage outfit are not repro. I have had the unfortunate experience where an outfit I purchased was vintage however the seller had included a repro belt instead of the genuine one. This was a genuine mistake on the part of the seller in that they thought that the belt was the genuine vintage item. This however is certainly something that you need to be aware of and take close notice of in any listings. It is handy to be familiar with any specific markings that differentiate between vintage and repro items and again the Sarah Sink Eames books will tell you what to look out for.
If the items have any stains or marks on them obtain as much information from the seller about these as possible. The fabrics that were used in the vintage outfits were all very good fabrics however you have to be aware that some stains such as ballpoint pen grease and the like may not come out of the old fabrics and because of the fragility of the fabrics they may not be able to be dry cleaned. After all the fabrics are over 40 years old and they must be treated with respect. I have found that gentle handwashing in a woolwash or detergent for sensitive skin is the best to rid items of surface dust and grime but I would certainly guard against using bleach or harsh detergents as the items may disintegrate which would be extremely disappointing to say the least.
I also find that buying items from a smoke free home is a good idea as many fabrics will retain the smoky smell even after being cleaned.
I hope that you have found this guide to be helpful if you are just starting out in the incredibly satisfying area of collecting vintage barbie outfits. The attention to detail and workmanship in these outfits has to be seen to be believed.