American Girl, keep giving us Dolls of Color for Girls of the Year.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Clothes Reviews: Mix and Match Outfit and Accessories (1995)

Michi's taking it back to the Original AGoT Meet Outfit.
Lemme take you back. Way back. When the internet was just a few meager computer connections and AOL was the wave of the future. When cellphones were huge and hideous. When I was just starting high school and already had breasts. When Pinky and the Brain, Animaniacs, and Fresh Prince of Bellaire was on the air waves, and I was rocking out to TLC, Jodeci, and En Vogue. Back into time to 1995.

American Girl (still being called Pleasant Company at the time), after massive success with Felicity, Addy, Samantha, Kirsten, and Molly--and the shifting from Our New Baby to Bitty Baby--decided to launch a new line: The American Girl of Today. Billed as "You're a Part of History Too!" it threw out the idea that girls could want to write and create their own Historicals of today--even going so far as to include writing books in the six book style series--and tell their own stories. It was a success in tons of ways, and has lasted ever since. While the modern line has changed names numerous times, shifted to a more "companion" style focus, and it has since taken over AG in many ways, the modern line had very humble beginnings. 

And of course, the brand new American Girl of Today came in clothes contemporary for the style. The first Meet Outfit was called the Mix and Match Set, and naturally was never available as a separate set because if you were buying an AGT, she was coming in this: a t-shirt, overshirt, vest, leggings, panties, scrunchie, and black flats. So if you want to kind of guesstimate the cost, it's probably have been about 30 bucks. The Accessories--purse, hat, lunch ticket, money, library card, and mini magazine--were $20. Michi is displaying this set for me--partially because she likes the old school sets and partially because she came in one of the older sets. (Not this one though. What she came in is next.) This outfit lasted from 1995 until 1996, so not very long. 

Consider this the first of a multi-part series on AGT Meet Sets. Because through many channels, I have managed to get the main outfits of every Meet Outfit they've had, and a lot of the complimentary accessories. So first the accessories I have, and then the outfit itself.

Insert many, many Blossom jokes here.
Hat: The hat is a blue denim turned up hat that was, no shit, really the height of fashion in the mid 90s. I had an outfit with this hat but, because I hated them, never wore it. Nowadays a lot of people call it the Blossom Hat because the TV show Blossom made that shit super popular. It was part of the Meet Accessories, continuing the still ongoing trend of expecting buyers to buy the hat, necklace, purse, and what have you separate from the doll itself.

The front of the hat is tacked up with thread by the bow, so it can't flip down. The back is fully free to flop or be rolled up, though. The whole brim is trimmed with fabric printed in the AGoT logo. You're going to see this fabric again. The denim part is quilted in rows that add a little visual texture.

Flower Power.
The center front of the hat comes decorated with a plaid bow and a plastic sunflower. (Yes this is where I realized that there was a white thread on the center of the sunflower and picked it off.)

Hat Lining.
Inside is the hat lining--matching the brim trim--and the cloth tags. It's not often you're going to be seeing the inside of a hat, but it's a nice touch. You can see the pattern of the fabric is the AGoT logo and orange swirls on a magenta background.

The hat gets an B-. It's a beautiful hat, and it really takes me back to being fifteen. The minus is because it won't match everything it goes with, and is dated like anything. But in the context of the outfit, it's perfect.

Purse-wallet combo. In the 90s we didn't have time for unitaskers.
Purse: Before we start in on the purse, I have a confession to make. This isn't the purse that came with the Mix and Match Set, it's the one that came with the First Day Outfit, and I only realized that looking at an eBay Auction. But fuck, it's close enough, and I can't be assed to hunt down the original simply for the lining variation. If it bothers you too much, just imagine the purple lining is the same print the hat has, or gimme the purse. Anyways.

The purse-wallet combo has a thin faux leather strap that is intended to hang either crosswise or off one shoulder, a snap front closure, and is made of crackle looking vinyl. It's actually fairly small for a purse, but given that leggings don't have pockets it is more than sufficient for the purposes of holding a doll's important stuff.

The purse is lined, with one clear vinyl pocket and one half tucked one. There is also--though I didn't snap a picture of it--a back pocket on the outside.

Half Pocket.
The half pocket is good for holding smaller things. But only if you don't want them to slide out because when the purse is closed, everything not held in might tumble out the side. There is also a pocket behind it, which might be a better storage if you don't want things falling out all over the everything.

Vinyl pocket.
Vinyl pocket for IDs and other things you want to see immediately. The meet accessories didn't come with IDs, but if you want to make one for your girl, there's a pocket for it.

And the purse, closed and close up.
The front of the purse has a little AGoT logo, which was everywhere on AG stuff to help it mark.

This is graded a C. It's an okay little purse, but it doesn't hold much more than what was offered in the meet accessories and cumbersome to put on. I'm likely to do with it like I do with 90% of my doll purses and cram it in a drawer to almost never come out to play.

A dollar is what I need.
Dollars: Something that's actually carried well through the years and continue to be in meet accessories. Three one dollar bills that looks semi realistic and in scale to the doll. They all have the same serial number. However, they're getting a B-. Because seriously, they're paper dollars. I can't say I'm going to be flipping over chairs for doll sized dollars. Accurate, but not interesting.

Remember when library cards were paper and easily counterfeited?
Library Card: Rather than your AGT having an actual ID card, she got a small paper library card. This card carried all the way to the Urban Accessories. The funny thing is that at a point in my teen years I lived in a area called Pleasantville, and it had a public library. It's a generic enough name for a library. There's a line to write the doll's name, so that she too can check out books and forget to return them for weeks and weeks. I, however, think that avoiding a town altogether would have been a touch better. So you get a C, card.

Time for lunch!
Lunch Tickets: Ah, lunch tickets. I never had anything like this personally, because I was on free lunch for years. From what I can tell the edge tickets could be ripped off and thus given to the lunch lady. A spot for the name was there, just like the library card. I think lunch tickets are actually pretty boring, so I give them a D.

Necklace, Magazine: N/A. I don't have either one. if I ever come across it I'll review the shit out it, but I don't have it. 


See my vest, see my vest, made of real--wait no
Vest: The vest is a basic denim and plaid trimmed vest that comes to about waist length, and matches well with the hat what with being made of the same shade and style of denim.

The trim is nice and neat at the edge, of a simple plaid. It's not on the armholes, just the outer edge, and come to a connection on one side.

Back of the vest.
The back of the vest is plain. It does have a little v-up in the back, adding a little charm and realism in fit.

Patch again.
On the front left is the AGoT patch. Be warned, it's not sewn on so it can be peeled or rubbed off. I have my tacked down with fabric glue after it tried to make an escape.

Not really a pocket, just playing one.
A strip of plaid trim is sewn on to simulate a pocket on the lower right. 

Return of the Lining.
The lining is the same print that trimmed and lined the hat; the AGT Logo girl with orange background swirls on magenta lining. The vest was put together extremely well, so that--

Vest Reversal!
--it could be reversed. It looks really nice on the reverse, actually, and makes it so either side looks good with the hat. I really like that. The lining doesn't match the plaid trim at all, which makes things a little overly busy when reversed, but it can be shaken off some.

Damn tags!
However, there's one major flaw in that the tag will stick out on the left underside on the reverse side. Take that into account. An B-, the minus being for the tag on the reverse and the awkward plaid/print combo. But those are only the major issues. The vest is adorably useful, but slightly dated. 

Super Shirt!
Overshirt: The overshirt is a plain white large oxford style shirt with long sleeves. It comes down to the hips and curves up on the sides. The fabric is a little sheer, like a real oxford shirt.

There are four buttons on the front for decor, and underneath on mine there is soft velcro. From what I hear some shirts actually have snaps, not just velcro. Both shirts I own have velcro, so if there is a wild snap-closing shirt out there I've never seen it. Either way, it works. The buttons being on what would be the left of the placket, aong with the bottom curve, indicate that this is indeed a woman's shirt. Little details.

The collar is small and unobtrusive. The button is on the left side of the collar, so that when the shirt is fully closed up except for at the top, it looks like it's buttoned properly.

Long sleeves.
The sleeves are down to the wrists and a touch oversized.

They close off with velcro and have buttons to simulate a realistic closure.

Open shirting it.
The overshirt fits well over t-shirts; in fact, when the outfit initially came on the doll, it came with the t-shirt under it. Plus it can also work as a shirt all by themselves--say, a school uniform or a plain top. It's utterly versatile and can work through the ages and maybe even back a few. Plus it drapes so well. I am going to have to put this shirt over and under many things--and I already have, as it works for a 80s look too. The overshirt is beautiful and gets a solid, happy A+.

Intermission: Magenta Overload!
And in the middle, we have the magenta overload with the t-shirt and leggings.

T-Shirt: Simple and clean.
T-Shirt: The T-shirt is a plain, lightly ribbed magenta knit with a semi-high neckline.

The sleeves stop at the upper arm and are neatly hemmed.

The back opening, of course, makes no sense. Or maybe too much.
The back opening closes up with velcro. It's split all the way up the back, and the edge is serged. It can flip inside out, leaving a rough looking edge.

Despite the rough edge, the shirt gets a perfect A. It will work outside this outfit and with it. Take into account that without the overshirt you get a disturbing monocolor thing with the leggings.

Panties continue.
Panties: First of all, you will notice these are not on Michi. This is because they were on Tyanna at the time, and she was wearing leggings and socks and shoes and I didn't want to strip her out of her rad 80s clothing to swap underwear. So deal with it. Moving on.

The panties, much like the shirt, is ribbed magenta cloth.

Bow and elastic.
The waistband hem is a white elastic, with a white ribbon bow in the center.

Worse. Hemming. Ever.
The leg hem, however, is piss poor. Simply serged on the edge, there is no turn in or anything. Very disappointing.

Covering the butt.
They cover the butt, but the bad leg hems mean that the underwear look odd from the back. While they do the job of underwear, they do it poorly, with a rough look. C-. Back to you, Michi.

Leggings, worn as pants.
Leggings: The leggings are made of the same fabric as the shirt and panties. It makes sense given the newness of the line, but it was very bland overall without the breaking up of the overshirt and vest.

More angles.
The leggings don't hug the legs too tightly, and are thick enough to work as pants which is important when doing the leggings as pants thing. (See, way back when, leggings were made thick enough to work that way.) Consequently, they will also work under a skirt, or a long top. The edges are also well hemmed.

The waistband is simply elastic tubed. It looks really nice and smooth. They do merge badly with the top, but if there's something to break them up they will look fine. They get an A.

Velvet shoes make the whole ensemble.
Shoes: The outfit finally completes with black velvet flats. No socks at all. Some outfits initially came with the plain black plastic Mary Janes that Sam and Molly were saddled with, but if you got or can get the black flats they're so much better.

From the side.
The shoes have simple grosgrain trim and a flocked velvet fabric, white inner soles, and black soles. Because of the velvet they are a touch prone to picking up lint, but a lint roller or Sticky Buddy will get that off lickity split.

Back heels.
The back has a strip of leather/vinyl at the back. While they could have done without this, they don't distract from the look. Not to mention they will work with so many other outfits, go back a distance, and go all the way up to today. A+. Extra versatile and extra neat.

Scrunchie: N/A. I don't have it but I am pretty sure I can easily find a knock off.


Overall Feel: I love this outfit way more than maybe is expected. All together it makes a very good meet outfit for what was then a new line, and is authentic to the mid 90s look. It only lasted a year as a meet set, but it is pretty iconic to AG collectors. When I took Michi to the store in the set, it evoked coos and compliments and a person there said she remembered her own AG coming in this set. The oversized shirt is wonderful, regardless of the velcro, and drapes beautifully open or closed. The hat really brings the whole set together matching the vest like it does. It doesn't look very good with the magenta shirt and leggings without anything to break it up, and the vest looks a touch off with the tag when reversed, but that's about it. Once you add the shirt, it's so improved and the shirt adds a spot of undercolor near the collar.  It's a good thing the panties aren't visible anywhere though, because they're awful. The purse and its accessories are authentic but a touch boring. I do like the set up of the purse, at least--though I'd have loved a small backpack purse.

Cost Value:
I probably paid, in total, about $30 to $40 bucks for the set over multiple purchases, which is a little high. But I have one and a half sets of them, so it doesn't feel so bad. The set pops up here and there for about that much on eBay, but the hat is a bit hard to find. I would pay about 50-55 bucks for a set that would include every component and all the accessories, minus Grin Pin stickers (which shall get their own review.) As an outfit alone, 30 bucks is probably good. However if you're searching on eBay, note you might get a bunch of people's crap outfits and the Bitty Baby mix and match set that came out a few years ago, so dig about and be patient.

Altogether the set screams 1995, especially with the hat and vest. However, the items work for several time periods, and can jump forward and backwards several years, especially the shirt and the overshirt. The purse is stuck in the past. The tickets, dollars, and library card hung on for years and years.

Mix and Match Levels:
The outfit is called the Mix and Match Outfit, and it does that to the hilt. Every component--with maybe the exception of the vest and hat--can be mixed into a modern wearing wardrobe and with other items of the time. I even have this set almost fully twice--I have an extra of the shirt, leggings, overshirt, and vest (though my second vest does not have the faux pocket or patch). I've commited the extra shirt and leggings to my 80s clothing for two of my created historicals. The leggings can be a touch hard to work with for a more modern look, but the two shirts are utter gold.

Final Grade:
A-. The minus is for the parts that date the set, but the overall grade reflects the fact that I can use so many of the parts that make it up.


1 comment:

  1. I can confirm that there is a version of the oxford shirt out there that does come with snaps instead of velcro. The shirt that came with my #8 has clear plastic snaps behind each of the 4 buttons on the front. The top button is just decorative.

    One other variation with mine is that the flats are still velvety but they lack the leather/vinyl strip up the back of the heel. The shoes did leave dark marks on the back of the doll's feet, though. It's a very strong possibility that I'm the first to remove the shoes in 20 years, that could have been why.


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