It's no secret that it's been a tough time for toys, which probably explains why a toy maker would try to expand its appeal. Mattel (NYSE:MAT) is trying to build off the strength of its Barbie brand to delve into several other products, including clothing for adult women that could launch this fall. Barbie clothing for grown women? That sounds bizarre at best.

Considering the difficult environment for toys, it makes sense for Mattel to try to use one of its strongest brands to its advantage. Barbie is a name that just about every little girl knows by heart, and many grown women recall as part of growing up, considering the Barbie doll first hit the scene way back in 1959.

Recently, Fool contributor David Meier mentioned the cool factor of Bratz dolls, distributed by Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick Hasbro (NYSE:HAS), as a possible barrier to Barbie's popularity. Mattel claims Barbie is the "No. 1 girls brand," with $3.6 billion in retail sales in 2003. So, Barbie may have even more trouble ahead than just her recent and long overdue breakup with Ken, considering they dated for 40-plus years.

New initiatives from Mattel include Barbie entertainment in packaging, including music and movies, as well as perfumes for children and young adult girls. The perfume will be available in Federated Department Stores (NYSE:FD).

Sure, entertainment makes sense for the young and tween crowd that might like Barbie merchandise. Meanwhile, though, the Barbie-themed, adult-sized T-shirt will be on the racks at Nordstrom (NYSE:JWN) (with a retail price between $40 and $60, no less). Later this fall comes the launch of adult clothing. (Mattel already has a Barbie clothing line for adults in Japan, although American pop culture icons tend to do well there.)

Sometimes it's hard for me to imagine that the Barbie brand is still so strong after all these years, though Mattel's worked to keep the doll's image modern. She's given little girls a way to playact their dreams of growing up, through scenarios from going to the prom to beach vacations to becoming a rock star.

So, what does the brand mean to women who are all grown up now? While Barbie fragrance and trainer cosmetics for young girls make sense, I think the clothing line means Mattel's forgetting one important thing: Grown women don't play with dolls... or relate to them, either.

Are you desperately searching for something to wear, and you know the Barbie clothing line's not for you? Talk to Fools about wardrobe issues on the What to Wear? board.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.