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

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Clothes Reviews: Marisol's Spotlight Outfit (2005)

Enjoy the spotlight, Marisol, and enjoy the Spotlight Outfit.
Marisol Luna was Girl of the Year the same year I got my first AG: 2005. So naturally, I skipped her in my mad scramble for Addy. She was later gifted to me by an ex-friend, who I've since fallen out with.1 But that doesn't stop Marisol from being one of my most beautiful gang members--I've thought she was gorgeous since I got her. She came in her near complete meet outfit; she's an MCM doll and has the black x on her ass to prove it. I have made a slow creep of getting most of her LE clothes that appealed to me, and am practically done. Marisol was marketed as a dancer, even though her story more dealt with moving issues and her love of dance and ballet folklorico--a traditional Mexican dance style that I, growing up in Texas, fell hard for. Swishy swirling skirts wee. In fact, Marisol here has a folklorico dress I made myself. I think it was a gross oversight that she got a bunch of common dance style clothes but no folklorico dress. That is why I had to make the set myself--and will make a set for Josefina. Damn it, AG. Moving on.

One of her more beautiful outfits is the Spotlight Outfit, which is basically a ballet performance set. The outfit originally came with a mesh and stretch leotard, a "lace" and tulle tutu, purple tights, purple iridescent toe shoes with tying ribbons, a stretch choker, and six pairs of stick on earrings. The original cost was $26. My set that came with no tights and earrings cost me a bargain at $16 last December. Costs range on eBay from about $26 to $50, ignoring stupid prices. The few times it shows up, of course--Marisol was one of those first three LE girls that didn't get her and her things hoarded like the new girls do now for resale. Not only is Marisol here to display her own outfits, but she is our resident dancer girl and wears her dance outfits with gusto. So you'll see a lot of her when I do any dance outfit reviews. Any of them. It's her niche.

A few things I'm gonna point out before we jump in: 

1: The tights aren't AG authentic. I just happen to have purple tights that work well with her ballet outfit. Not like AG tights have much variation, and there will be authentic tights in later reviews.
2: The tiara is not from her spotlight stand set, cause I don't own it. It's from me spoiling myself and her at AG Seattle and getting her hair done. So the tiara cost me $25, and came with the added bonus of watching Marisol get all prettyified for thirty minutes or so and chattering with the stylist about dolls.
3: Fuck stick on earrings. Even if I had them I wouldn't use them. Marisol will be getting her ears really pierced in a Crafty Crap post. They are graded F and I don't even have them.

Leotard: The basis of almost all good ballet sets.
Leotard: The leotard is a plum purple one piece leotard with black mesh overlay and bead and lace trim. If you're doing ballet, you kinda wear a leotard, or something performance quality. The color looks dark because of the mesh over it; the authentic color of the leotard fabric by itself is only seen in the lining. The main body is double layered like this. It's stretch knit so as to hug tight to the body. A leotard should fit like a good glove, and move with the body (theoretically). It's not a color that's going to really play nice with others--but it doesn't have to, as it's for a set performance.

Neckline: Beaded for super sparkle.
The neckline is trimmed with fine indigo lace and small iridescent seed beads along the front and over the shoulders, right near the seam line. The neckline can look twisted when off, because the beads don't lay flat. Sparkle sparkle, as they say on the SA forums.2 You can also see the close up of the mesh overlay. It's stretch so it moves with the knit underneath.

Sleeve. And fuzzy trim not caused by camera.
The sleeve is unlined--just the stretch mesh--and trimmed with lace. The lace on mine is very ragged, probably because the outfit was used, but from a distance it's not distracting enough to irritate me. At most I'll trim it up with very small scissors.

The leg holes don't need a fancy.
The leg holes are zigzag hemmed and with no trims. No one's going to be looking at your thighs and hips once the tutu is on, anyways, and they would get in the way of dancing.Also, the leotard is thick enough that there is no panty line or tight distraction. Nice and smooth.

Back dipping low.
The back dips low enough that Marisol's neck strings almost don't stay tucked. It closes with black non snag velcro. I kind of think it didn't have to dip so low--not out of any needed modesty or anything, but more because it makes it hard to tuck the next strings away. It's slightly off center, but that's my error, not the leotard's.

Lining shows reality.
Off, the leotard shows the real color of the knit--a plum color. I suspect this outfit was supposed to evoke Sugar-Plum Fairy feels, since The Nutcracker is a well known ballet. Don't think ten year old girls would dancing that role outside of a child's production.

A-. The leotard is wonderful except for the fuzzy lace--but that's age--and the low dipping back making it hard to tuck away strings.

Insert "tutu something" joke here.
Tutu: The tutu is a multi-skirted one, with dark lace and mesh over iridescent satin over a couple layers of soft tulle attached to a waistband. It's wholly separate from the leotard itself. It's not a stiff tulle, so the tutu hangs soft and loose. Still, it can get crushed. Store in a lightly packed drawer.

Skirts off.
Off, the skirt appears to be a one piece, but is actually fastened in the back with snaps; the back is hemmed and folded, but when on the skirt looks whole. Here we can see the first layer very well.

Wibble wobble tutu fruitu thing.
It isn't fastened together in the back, and opens to become a twisty skirt when off. I can't really get it to lay flat, so this is the best you get.

The first layer is an elaborate embroidery patterned with a repeating pattern of swirls and flowers over mesh; it's lacy without being actual lace. The mesh is the same dark mesh that's on the leotard. In a pattern of spots are attached purple sequins--several caught my flash and went sparkle sparkle glint.3 At the edge is the same lace pattern that trimmed the neckline and the sleeves, only it's embroidery. I really adore the first layer; it's so eye- and light-catching.

Attempts to catch the waistband's soul on camera were thwarted.
The waistband is a low point of the tutu. It's got a velvet-feel ribbon that comes to a formed bow on the back. Under one side are snaps. These only moderately hold the skirt on and have been known to pop open time to time on Marisol. I have often gotten irritated to the point I safety pin it. The waistband also twists like mad on and off Marisol. Frustrating as hell, man. I'd have been happy with a closed band, rather than having to fight this one every time I dress Marisol up.

Purple Iridescence.
The second layer of the tutu is a purple iridescent satin, sort of like opals are. It's simply hemmed, nothing fancy, and makes a good background to the mesh. It also matches the shoes that are coming lower in the review. And boy, does it reflect light like no one's business. I love the way it looks dark purple from one angle and light purple/lavender from the other.

Tulle in tangles.
Under the iridescent layer is the final set of layers--six layers of alternating lavender and black tulle with raw edges. They stick together. I have picked them apart here and there, but they stick back. Oh well. It's understructure, it doesn't have to be pretty. It's attached to a thin band of the second layer iridescent satin.  Still, the sticking is a bother. The tutu is an A--very well done, though that damn waistband gives me fits every time I put it on Marisol.

Tight break!
Tights: They are N/A for AG authenticity, but as Mari's wearing them they get a section. These are super thick lavender tights that have seams on the inner legs and up the front and back. They have an odd seam that goes right across the instep near the ankle, but with ballet shoes on no one sees it. Carry on, tights. You will feature later in a Meet Outfit review.

Toe Shoes. One of the most authentic sets.
Toe Shoes: Before we get into the shoes, I shall point out something important I learned from reading ballet fiction and watching many shows and getting my learn on.4 Ballet shoes do not lace up the calves. Never. You tie them around the ankles and you leave them there and you do not fuck this up. I will make sure in every review to not fuck that up because oh god it pisses me off on levels. Granted, I didn't tie the shoes perfectly right; instead of front wrapping I back wrapped, but they are still more right than up the calf like fucking Roman sandals. Ahem.

The toe shoes are boxy purple iridescent toe shoes made of the same fabric as the skirt second layer--iridescent purple satin--and with top stitching and attached plum satin ribbons with front cord bows at the throat of the shoe. The toes are boxy and, if AG could flex their ankles and stand en pointe, they could balance on the ends. Not that ten year old girls are generally good candidates for actually dancing pointe work. The front cords on real toe shoes would be a drawstring to adjust the shoe to a good fit for the dancer's feet. Here they're decorative, and I need to tie them to look better. These would probably be considered demi-pointe shoes, as there is no shank, and would make sense for a ten year old learning the techniques to go en pointe

How do you say "the side" in French?
The side shows the shoes are put together with a distinct side seam, like real shoes. There is also a lot of top stitching and a faux channel the adjusting cord would go through.

Backs, and my lopsided bows.
The ribbons are long enough to wrap around two to three times around the ankle. Actual shoe tying would result in a neat little knot that then would get tucked in the side for the smooth look. But I was tired. Bows this round, babies. Also, note the back stitching. Very well put together, these shoes. AG hasn't done great ballet shoes in years. I'm hoping next year's girl brings back toe shoes if this dancing thing is a thing.

Off the feet.
Off Marisol's feet, they keep nice shape and form. The inside "box" is lined with something good and stiff, and softer at the back. The white inner sole is very stiff but flexible. No foot staining.

Dem soles, man.
The soles are hard pleather soles with cross hatching over the front. See, because that's the part that would touch floor and generally has some roughness to the shoe. The front fabric is gathered well under the toes. I have to wonder if AG had someone who really knew their shoes put the basic pattern for these--and kind of hope they do the same for Dancer Next Year.

The shoes are so an A+. I cannot get over how lovely they are and how many little bits are authentic to actual demi-pointe shoes.

Choker, or the part I always forget.
Choker:  The choker necklace is a thin dark purple stretch ribbon with a silver and rhinestone bell/flower/drop pendant on a jump ring. I keep forgetting it is part of the outfit almost every time I put it on Marisol. Whoops. The pendant has three small rhinestones right down the center. The later Ruby Ballet Outfit--which I own--has a pendant choker just like it.

I put on my hook and eye shit.
The back hooks shut with a silver hook and eye clasp.

Covers the neck.
It covers the neck seam when on. There's not a lot to say about it. I have to give it a C. It's neat enough, but I just can't remember it's supposed to be there.

Earrings: We had this discussion before the review, try to keep up. Fuck stick on earrings. Even if I had them I wouldn't use them. F for being stick-ons.


Overall Feel: This is an elegant dance outfit for elegant performances, not just for regular practice. I can see a ballet dancer in this for a performance, which means it has succeeded at being a spotlight set. The tutu gives me irritation in the waistband, the choker gets skipped all the time, and the leotard is very low in back which bothers me for next string tucking. However, the shoes are one of the best ballet shoes out of AG ballet outfits I've seen in all the ones I own and so damn authentic. I suspect AG was going for a Sugar-Plum Fairy feel with the purple look and sparkles. The lace on the sleeves and some parts feel a little cut corner, but then again my set was used. I don't expect pristine levels in my AG secondhand clothing, just that it fits and is close enough to complete to not piss me off.

Cost Value: I got a super steal at $16 without tights, since I have tights that are close enough. The original cost was very fair. I wouldn't suggest more than $35-40 for a complete set with choker. Even without earrings. You can do without, or buy some stick on rhinestones at a craft store if you're that desperate for sticky things that get caught in doll hair. $60 is a touch high. More than that is stupid.

Datedness: Ballet doesn't really date itself, seeing as ballet has been around for centuries and centuries. That said this has a very modern feel--I couldn't see all this fluff, shine, and sparkle before the 1940s, and that feels like pushing it. Before then girls didn't really have these kinds of fancy ballet outfits. Well, maybe they did for certain performances. But it still feels rather modern to me. Maybe because of the stretch knit and stiff tulle.

Mix and Match Levels: Not really, no. Everything in it is too fancy for any other ballet sets I have, and won't really blend well. Even if I had the purple tights, they wouldn't go with much. But that doesn't bother me like it should because some outfits should be unique to themselves and I class ballet and dance sets in the "don't have to be swappable" category. So no points lost.

Appropriateness to Character: While I am always irritated that Marisol has nothing in her collection that shows her love of ballet folklorico, she does note that she does ballet in the book and has been for a while. So this outfit is semi-appropriate for her. The early LE girls had very little that matched the book--not until Jess's release did things start to tie together a touch better and items actually have book prominence. This outfit wasn't in the book anywhere. It's appropriate enough, but not cemented well to her specifically.

Final Grade: A-. It has little things that irritate me, but overall I love the outfit and love to put Marisol in it.


1 Long story short, I got stabbed in the back.
2 Judge not where I post.
3 I don't use the word "bling." White people overused it to the point that black folk have given it up.
4 One of those readings? A series called Bad News Ballet, one of the many book series in that wondrous late 80s early 90s rash of "girls doing things" series that came from the BSC hype that passed Bechel tests like it was the new hotness. We as a writing society need to bring back Girl Gangs Doing Shit series.


  1. Now I know that there are at least two goons in the world that play with dolls. Knowledge~
    (I don't really own any AG dolls and never have, but I enjoy your writing style a whole lot. So here I am.)
    PS the ragged lace on the sleeve ends is something I'd personally fix by super carefully melting away the loose threads with a lighter. Just like you melt the ends on satin ribbons to prevent them from fraying, same idea cos I -think- it does seal the edges up a bit. To each their own though.

    1. Oh noes I'm spotted! *duck* Naw, hang out and shit.

      I was debating that but I am pretty sure that the lace is cotton and everything will burn spectacularly if I use fire. Which sucks, cause fire is my friend.

  2. This review is the best, especially since you actually know how to put on the clothes! Being a dancer, it is especially annoying to see pointe shoes laced up to the thighs. They cross once, and then are knotted and tucked in. I wasn't in to AG when Marisol was around, but I did manage to get her and her tap outfit on Ebay. After reading this review, I am determined to get the spotlight outfit too.

  3. Well, as you know *coughcough* I am quite partial to Marisol. And if mine was still her original self, I would be all over this outfit for her, cause I do think it's really cute. If I make an ombre skirt that matched to put with her skates, I may at least try and get the leotard at some point and turn it into a skating outfit.

    Wonderful review as always!

  4. Marisol was pretty enough to begin with, but even more so with the updo!. Now I'm getting the urge to take my #47 to the Salon and shell out the $25....


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