Who’s up on the latest fashion trends, cuts the best figure, and puts together the best looks? A paper doll. A generations-old toy, dress-up paper dolls owe their origins to 18th century France, where they had movable limbs and were akin to puppets. A London company produced the first commercially available paper doll in 1810, and the product appeared in America two years later. With the 1920s came the advent of ready-to-wear collections and the rise of celebrity culture, and thanks to these developments, paper dolls grew in popularity, often bearing the faces of movie stars, book characters, and socialites. From 1930 to 1950, paper dolls experienced a golden era, as paper proved affordable during the Depression and remained available in World War II’s ration economy. Paper dolls remain popular today; they’re mess-free, imaginative, and portable. One can choose among retro dolls reminiscent of those from the 30s and 40s, fashion-focused dolls with expansive wardrobes, and anthropomorphized animals with better accessories than many humans. Browse our selection of the best paper dolls below.
1. Great Fashion Designs of the Sixties
Dive into the outré world of 1960s couture. This set comes with two dolls as well as 32 garments from mod designers like Saint Laurent, Balmain, Courrèges, Dior, and Givenchy. Each outfit comes complete with a hairstyle and shoes for a full look.
2. Authentic Shirley Temple Paper Dolls and Dresses
A classic toy, Shirley Temple paper dolls have delighted kids for generations. Reprinted from a now-rare 1937 edition, this 20-page book includes two Shirley Temple dolls and 16 full-color outfits you can dress the beloved child star in—everything from sundresses to riding breeches to pajamas.
3. Melissa & Doug Fashion Sticker Collection
This paper doll set includes hundreds of clothing and accessory stickers that you can use to dress up 80 young girl figures. Featuring princess-, fairy-, ballet-, party-, beach-, and sleepover-themed pages, this book is built for hours of fun.
4. Klutz Marvelous Book of Magical Horses
Let your imagination run wild as you dress up both fairies and horses with this book. Adorn the horses with punch-out wreaths, horns, manes, and saddles and the fairies with wings and fashions. With themed backdrops and double-sided sticky dots, this book is a complete play kit.
5. Dressing Your Octopus: A Paper Doll Book For Domesticated Cephalopods
Self-described as a collection of “octo-Victorian” dolls, this volume has fairy-tale meets steampunk vibes. It is whimsical and quirky, featuring a slew of beautifully drawn octopus figures and accessories in its 112 pages.