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

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Historical Clothes Reviews and Historical Accessories: Julie's Meet Outfit and Accessories

All of Julie's Meet Stuff. None of the Julie.
Julie Albright was the first historical launch I was actually in fandom/alert for, coming out along with Ivy Ling in 2007. The lead up to her release had a chunk of the fandom kinda flipping out about her. The seventies were considered historical? Oh noes, that meant that the middle-aged white women collecting AG were old, and there ain't nothing more whiny than middle-aged white women that have been informed that they are no longer "twenty-nine"1. Considering the fact that the target AG audience wasn't around for an era that didn't have equality in women's sports (though it was getting fixed), a lot of rights we take for granted, the internet, and even cassette tapes--yes, the Seventies were historical in 2007 and every day they get more historical. I, being born right at the start of the Eighties, completely missed the era. The closest I got was the fashion cycle of the mid to late Nineties when platforms and bell bottom pants came back into style. Oh and that my mom was in her college years in the Seventies so she can tell me a lot about some of the stuff from there.

I like reading Julie's books--Divorce! Women's Rights! The Bicentennial! Fairness in sports! Chinese New Year! However, I don't have Julie proper. As much as I like the Josefina mold and Julie's clothing, I tend to ease away from blond girls in my gang. I had originally planned to get her to reform into a Pre-Platinum Lizzie2 but I got one as a gift. "But you have the whole meet outfit," you say. Yes I do. Because AG and people sell meet outfits separately from dolls, and that is what I did--got her meet outfit in separate chunks.

Like Julie, her meet outfit and accessories launched with her in 2007. Julie's meet set consists of a multicolored long turtleneck, white peasant overshirt, two-tone bell bottom jeans, a braided and beaded belt, pink panties, and platform sandals. Her meet accessories are a shoulder bag purse, crochet lace hat, gold name necklace, and bicentennial quarter. In the most technical sense, Julie's Meet outfit costs $110 and comes with a bonus Julie doll and book; however, "replacement" parts can be purchased separately, even directly from American Girl. The meet outfit--dual shirts and pants-cost $20, the belt $4, the shoes $10, and undies $3 for a total of  $37 bucks. The meet accessories cost $20 bucks. I was gifted the undies by someone cleaning out their doll stock collection for free, and got the meet outfit sans belt for $32 off eBay. I then ordered a replacement belt and added in her accessories at full price (not including taxes and shipping.) So I paid a little lower than standard at a total of $56.

--and all of the Otters. Far out, man.
When I reviewed Felicity, I put my foot down that around here, historical clothing sets and accessories are for Historical Characters--when I choose to have them. While girls in my gang like Addy, Josefina, and Kit will always be modeling their own gear, Historicals I don't and won't own will get their clothes and things modeled by designated moddies who love that era of clothing. Since I don't have Julie, Otters will be modeling this set and the many, many seventies clothes I have and have made. Some quick data on Otters: her real name is Amber Kathleen Flynn, but no one calls her that, not even me--they call her after her selected animal patronus.3 Otters is probably one of my signature gang members along with Naomi and Addy and is one of the "oldest" in the gang at 13 1/4. She is my badass snarky nerdy goth bohemian blatantly pagan girl--she even had her own series that I plan to pick back up, Otters Teaches Paganism--and I have adored her since she joined the gang even if the person that gifted her to me is damnatio memoriae4. Basically, if you know me as a AG fan, you know that I am the one who has Otters.

Overshirt. Peasant style.
Overshirt: The overshirt is a white semi-sheer cotton crinkle-gauze peasant style. The early seventies still had hold over from the "fuck you and your tight clothing" rebellion from hippies, focusing on loose "natural" soft clothing such as Mexican peasant blouses and swishy skirts. This would later be smushed out some by the Attack of the Blatant Polyester, but Julie's era is early enough that she doesn't have so much poly-me-ester. The shirt has a circle yoke and fluttery sleeves and comes down over the top of the jeans and the turtleneck.

Look at that bad-ass embroidery.
The yoke has a v-dip near the front and, while the rest of the shirt is sheer, the yoke is double lined. Around the front is a set of decorative triple-looped emblems done in daisy chain embroidery work and brown knots. I'm a little disappointed that the embroidery is only on the front, but I am pretty sure that was accurate. The blue and brown contrast is nice all on its own, coupled with the white background. You can't see the embroidery from the inside because of the double lining.

Shirt and belt.
The fabric is a really nice crinkle cloth. Because of the sheerness of crinkle cloth, the overshirt really doesn't work alone. It could probably stand alone with a white or colored tank top/tee under it, but not without some sort of shirt under it.

Shirt without the belt.
The overshirt is really loose when untied and blousons out. I really don't like the look of the shirt without some kind of belt to it, though this could be a look in and of itself. The shirt and sleeves have simple turned under hems.

Back closing.
And of course, like most AG things, it velcros right up the back.

Can't hurt the overshirt.
And the shirt alone. As you can see, the fabric is sheer enough that the AG tag is visible through the fabric. While modern AG stuff tends to have visible patches proclaiming one's love of a certain brand of clothing, this is not the case in historical stuff. It spoils the historicity.5

The overshirt gets a B+. I love the loose fit, authenticity, and the embroidery is frigging adorable, but the sheer fabric makes it a little less matching than I normally go for in my AG stuff.

Belting it.

Belt: The belt is a long braided faux-leather belt that is intended to tie over the overshirt. Part of the back to nature hippy feel of the 70s was wearing a lot of handmade or crafty items, which extended to clothing. The belt is something that could easily be made by a kid.

The belt actually ties, rather than being hooked or something such as. This might be because of the thinness, but I love that I'm not having to clip-hook a belt and get to knot it myself. The ends are sewn so that they don't unbraid, and leave a fringe.

Belt off.
The belt is long enough to easily go around the waist without being tight when knotted. I love the simplicity--decorative, but not too much. Also, the overshirt looks bad sans belt.

Cat o three tails.
At the end of the loose ends three beads have been looped and tacked on--orange, lavender, and light blue. The extra thread keeps them from sliding past the knotted ends. In theory, the belt can also be a headband, because why not? A. I like natural loose belts.

Turtleneck, for those cool breezes off the bay.
Turtleneck: Under the peasant overshirt is a multicolored striped turtleneck shirt made of standard stretch knit. Unlike the overshirt, the only thing that really screams seventies about it is the fact that it's got all the bright colors in it--things got a lot brighter with the explosion of artificial dyes and the like. It's a little crinkled from having the belt over it, but normally hangs fairly straight. Also, unlike the overshirt it can stand on its own as a shirt.

The turtleneck part of the shirt. Bonus close up of Otter's pendant.
The turtleneck goes all the way up to the neck and covers it, like actual turtlenecks. It has a slight roll over at the top that can be lifted but since it's tacked down in the back won't look so good. The colors, while bright, aren't garish like the 70s can get with its outfits. The colors blend into each other even while standing out.

Sleeve action.

The sleeves are long and simple hemmed at the cuff. They can easily be pushed up or left down.

The hem is simple as well, done the same way as the cuffs. Also, the thread is a muted purple that doesn't stand out. I just love it when I have to search for the thread because it means the color was picked well.

Back--that came out blurry.
The back is where I get annoyed. Since the velcro stops high, the shirt flares out at the back and so doesn't look as good. I would have much preferred more velcro to close the shirt up proper. A-. Great and versatile shirt, could have used more velcro down the back.

These could have belled out even more, trust me.
Jeans: The jeans are two-tone bell bottom style jeans--light blue and dark blue denim with a basic fly and waistband.

Before we get too deep into the little details, some history on women and pants--or, Neth Babbles At You About Clothing History. For centuries, women weren't allowed or were actively discouraged from wearing pants. There were a lot of reasons: The Bible Says So and women were dressing like men is a sin, women are too delicate for pants, seeing girl legs meant that men would think of what was between women's legs and get all sexy-thoughts and that was so impure, blah blah blah. Even because men believed that if women had fabric on their crotch, they'd get too stimulated--that's right, cloth between the legs was assumed to let women get off sexually on it. This expanded to even drawers--most women after they began to wear corsets all the time wore split-crotch drawers that left the butt and crotch open to the air. (Which was also because of corsets being laced over drawers, and one couldn't get out of all their clothes to go to the toilet so the split let you go.) Women dressing like men was considered scandalous--and furthermore, religiously wrong.

Bloomers became a thing in the late 1800s to the turn of the century, but were still considered an issue and most women and girls stuck to skirts. Skip forward to WWI, when women took on wearing pants to do the jobs that men left while off blowing shit up. Pants shifted into lounge wear and grub wear, but it was still expected that a woman wear a dress or skirt in proper wear, and that a lot of pants or shorts were supposed to look a lot like skirts anyways. The same thing happened during WWII, when women again put on the pants and the men went to fight. This can be seen with Kit and Molly, who have pants and shorts in their collections, but a lot of their actual casual wear and meet outfits include dresses and skirts. And it was expected that girls wear dresses to school--no slacks, no trousers, it was skirts and dresses and you could be sent home otherwise. My own mom could only wear slacks for her senior year in high school, on certain occasions, and that was the spring semester. Then, with the passage of Title IX in 1972, it was ruled that schools couldn't make girls wear dresses and skirts to school, so girls started being able to wear pants to school--and jeans had started having a rise in the Sixties, so with the more casual look, jeans became a thing that is and continues to be.

All that up there basically explains why Julie is the first historical character to have pants in her meet outfit. Because before her, it was historically improbable for pants to be everyday casual wear for girls, and the meet outfits are intended to be casual wear that sort of introduces you to the era. Now, with that all out of the way, let's talk these jeans specifically. They're doll-thick denim with a grain and weight to them. They flare out the way bell bottoms did--though these are not as extreme as some bell bottoms got, the elephant leg pants. In the 70s revival of the late 90s, we had some huge ass bell bottom pants, and even now I still prefer flare leg jeans over skinny leg. I did the 80s once, not ever again on me.

Velcro your fly.
The top of the jeans are pretty bare considering they're jeans--there's no belt loops, pockets, or snaps at the fly. Just a basic velcro fly. The top stitching is nice, though. Still should have had pockets.

Light blue in the front, all together in the back.
The jeans have a two-tone look--light blue on the front inner part. And only the front. The back is all the same dark denim. While this looks okay from the front, I was actually pretty disappointed at this fact. Before I ever got Julie's meet outfit, I participated in a thing called Project Doll Runaway where we were challenged to update a historical look, and I fused Josefina and Julie. And I made actual two-tone pocketed pants. The outfit could use some updating on my part, but still.

Solid in the back.
The back, for a complete look. B, for failure to make the two tone color go to the back and no pockets.

Sandals: Julie comes with platform beige and tan sandals. The 70s look just isn't complete without shoes that lift you a decent height off the ground.6 These have a three quarters-inch sole at the back heel which, on a 1:3 scale, means two and a quarter inch soles. Them are some platforms, I tell you.

Open toes.
The front straps are two tan x-straps, where one is slit to take the other one through it. There's some basic top stitching for visual texture. They're open toed, so Julie better not wear these to chem or bio class on lab days.

Clear straps are the best thing AG added to shoes.
The shoes have beige soles and the all important clear straps, that help keep shoes on feet. Seriously AG, you should have put clear straps on open back sandals years ago.

These shoes have groovy sole.
The shoes have a grooved sole. Because in shoes this high, you want to minimize your chances of slipping and falling on your ass. A+. If I can ever find a pair like this I will wear the shit out of em.

Panty shots are the weirdest part of my blog.
Panties: Almost everyone needs underwear and Julie is no exception. She comes with basic pink panties with a purple butterfly motif. Much like she's the first to not have to wear skirts, she's also the first 20th century girl not to have puffy white underwear. Simpler panties were possible with the widespread of elastic, and these look like underwear on moddies does now. 

And they cover the butt. B. They do their job. Panties!

Hat. That's how you crochet.
Hat: The hat is a lavender purple crocheted thread cap. The grooviness in the seventies was yarn hats. And clothes. And other things. Way too many other things. As I said in my yarn crafting post, the 70s were a scary, scary time for yarn clothing. That being said, the hat isn't ugly. It's really cute.

Properly sized crochet for AG.
The hat is done with seven floral medallions attached to each other--one at the top, six all around--and then trimmed with scalloped edging. Unlike knit, crochet is so intricate that it cannot be reproduced by machine. This means that somewhere in China7 groups of American Girl factory workers are hand making every Julie hat with small hooks. Hope you appreciate that shit when you buy it. The hat is done in crochet thread, which makes for a much smaller, more accurate look. It would be able to be reproduced, but it would take a lot of work.

Tag, you're it!
There's a tag sewn into the hat for identifying it. It shows when the hat is on, but only in the back. Tag to the back, people.

The hat gets an A. I appreciate the levels of work that are put into these kinds of hats, and it's accurate to the era without being annoying hideous.

Oh, that's right, this isn't Otters' set originally.
Necklace: Julie's accessories, like most AG historical girls, includes a necklace. Before the panic of Stranger Danger and the idea that anything with your name on it mean that strangers could talk you into walking off to find lost puppies simply by knowing your name like some sort of magic spell, name jewelry was a hot trend for children. Julie's is "gold" on a chain and spells her name out. Very disco.

Off the neck.
The name plate is attached to a simple gold chain with a clasp. It's got some weight to it--it's not made of plastic. It would work as a bracelet, even on my wrists, but I don't wear bracelets.

It clasps easily enough in the back. While I do like the necklace, it's not going to get a lot of use--Otters almost never takes off her pentacle and no one else in my gang is named Julie. B on its own, D for my collection.

Purse: Continuing the trend, Julie has a purse--a hobo-style faux-suede hand/shoulder bag. It can be carried in her hands or, more likely, over her shoulder. I'm a hit and miss person when it comes to purses, but I like this one a lot. It's not very ornate or fussy.

On the flap are screen printed flowers and leaves, adding a lovely visual bit. The closure is a basic purple plastic snap that holds the bag closed very well.

Strap attached!
The strap is securely attached to the side and has well done top stitching, as does the bag itself. It feels like a solid purse that can be carried lots of places.

Open your purse and say "Ahhhhh~"
The inside of the bag is pretty deep--a lot could go in there, like a coin purse or billfold or the like. I may get a lot of use from it with Otters--she can tuck all kinds of things in there for the carrying around. B+.

Not intended as legal tender--what with being smaller than a dime.
Quarter: Much like the hat and purse tradition, a lot of historicals come with coinage. Molly's points out that copper was being used for the war so her penny is steel; Addy has a half dime to her name when she heads out running away from slavery; Felicity has a bit. And since Julie covers the Bicentennial--200 years of America--she gets a copy of the bicentennial quarter which, with other coins basically was like "AMERICA FUCK YEAH." Nifty little fact--hers has an S mintmark, signifying that it was made at the San Francisco Mint which would have been fitting seeing as that's where she lives and that is where the first coins were minted. 

The back side has a Revolutionary drummer and all the little details of the authentic coin.

As compared to the real coin--which I have been running into for years--it's pretty accurate. Doll sized coinage can't have much done with it but it's awesome, so A.


Seeing as the outfit is Julie's meet outfit, it features fairly prominently in her books and collection. 

Of course it's on the cover of Meet Julie. There's a reason they're called Meet Outfits, thanks. Note that her jeans have the light blue variation all the way for the inner leg. This image is used often, including on the cover of the video game Julie Finds a Way. It's also an outfit in game.

It's a crap picture; I snapped it from the screen. Yes I own the game; it's a pretty crappy game, but it's still part of my collection.


Julie's first issue paper dolls and second issue paper dolls and play scenes include the outfit on the cover, as well as an outfit for her to wear. It also is the cover of her Cooking Studio.

And of course, Mini Julie is wearing it.


Overall Feel: The outfit is very adorable on its own and comes together great. I generally love meet outfits even if I don't care for the character, because meet outfits tend to exemplify the character specifically and if I want to grab the feel of an era, I look at the meet clothing. Julie's outfit has the comfortable, casual feel of the mid 70s. It shows the change  in society that allowed for jeans instead of always making girls and women wear skirts to be formal, and shows the trend of moving towards loose, natural clothing that carried forward to today. Nothing in it feels too bright or overwhelming, and I can see walking down the street in something like this without a second guess--even today with a few changes. The accessories help compliment the set, and the hat is intricately done. While the necklace is not good for my uses, it's great for Julie herself. And eee, tiny coins.

Cost Value: The outfit can be semi-obtained from American Girl without Julie for pushing over thirty bucks, which is more than a standard outfit from AG. But less than buying the doll if you don't want Julie. If you're getting Julie, she comes with the set automatically and there's no reason not to get the accessories with her. You might find complete sets on eBay, and if so don't pay more than AG costs. But the better bet is to try to get a full set from AG direct. There is also the possibility of buying the doll and stripping her, then seeing if others want to buy a nude Julie for whatever reason. Or you can always rewig her and make a decent Elizabeth. Just saying.

Authenticity: Yes. This outfit screams the mid 1970s. The platforms, the bell-bottoms, the crochet hat, the braided belt and hobo bag--all of it is so real. Put on some LPs of disco and a lava lamp and feel the rhythm. And the coin is super accurate for its small size.

Mix and Match Levels: While I normally don't include this in historical outfit reviews, this time it's appropriate since I'm using it more as a mix and match set for Otters. The overshirt is a little less mixable unless there is a shirt under it, but that is easily enough done. The jeans are awesomely versatile even if a little dated, and the turtleneck can be worn all its own. The belt can be a headband. Even the sandals aren't so bad--a little high, but as I said the entire review, the 70s look had a revival in the 90s. So they can do that. Or just don't give a fuck and rock out. Plus, many parts of this set will work with Julie's outfits if you're keeping the set historical--Julie is probably one of the first historicals with a semi-mix and match wardrobe. The outfits sans overshirt and belt is an outfit all its own.

Appropriateness to Character: It's her meet outfit. Of course it's appropriate for Julie. But I still think it looks better on Otters--and for her, it's absolutely perfect.

Final Grade: A. Groovy outfit, baby, groovy. Otters's plans to make this look completely great on her succeeded, and you can't say anything to the contrary.


1 I think holding on to saying one is twenty-anything forever is stupid. Thirty is awesome. It is the age where you're no longer an ambiguous adult and can hopefully quit being told you're "so young" and so can't bitch about shit because you have to be older to understand. 
2 For those not in the know: In Felicity's books, Elizabeth was originally a brown eyed brunette. Then when the Felicity movie came out, they retconned her into a blue eyed light blond--even going so far as to edit the illustrations. I prefer Brunette Lizzie.
3 We do not use "spirit animal" or "totem" here. It's problematic when you're not Native. 
4 Dead to me and beyond.
5 Huh. That is actually a word! But not exactly how I'm using it.
6 Or the 90s. I had a pair of blue platform sandals that, when worn with my big bell bottom pants in high school, had my mom go "why are you wearing the clothes I did in college?"
7 OH GOD AMERICAN GIRLS AREN'T MADE IN AMERICA yeah welcome to most shit not being made in America. 


  1. I have to say I prefer this outfit on Otters more than I do Julie. The colors suit her very nicely!

  2. When I heard you were planning this clothing review, I was afraid you were going to badmouth Julie for being blonde and not to your liking...but you didn't, you played it fair and square. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for that! (Diehard, head-over-heels Julie fan here...sorry if I'm being excessive.) :)

    I have to admit, though I prefer the outfit on its original owner, Otters does rock the 70s look!

    1. I think Julie is pretty in her own way--like, borderline gorgeous. I just don't think she'd fit in my gang,

    2. I see what you mean. I feel the same way about Caroline...she's so beautiful I literally can't take my eyes off her in other people's photos, but she wouldn't fit in my little group.

  3. I love Otters ! The outfit looks better on her!! I just discoved your blog and I have really enjoyed your outlook on things. Keep it up !

  4. On a non-doll-related note, I also have you to thank for inventing a phrase to describe an animal for which one has an affinity, without disrespecting Native American traditions. "Selected animal patronus"--I like that! Do you mind if I use it too?

  5. She's me. Julie that is. With the exception of her being blessed with long blonde hair and blue eyes I so desired (my hair is dark that my mother made me wear it in a pixie cut until I rebelled in the 80's and got the standard bag ogilvie home perm and my eyes are hazel). I swear - and I mean SWEAR that I had that outfit (no the pants are perfectly belled as The big bells of the 60's and early 70's had been replaced by flared bottoms). I was 8 the year of the bicentennial. I love Julie's world for what she has that I did have and didn't but wanted. Yeah I'm old. I'm historical. I hate her new meet outfit. It's more like a millennial representation of what they thought we'd wear. ��

  6. I am actually three years older than Julie, so I feel an affinity for her. Now maybe it's because she's from San Francisco, which has its own clothing styles, but I don't remember having any clothes like Julie's. By the mid Seventies, I think bell bottoms were out. We wore Levis, Lees and Wranglers. I remember crocheted ponchos were a big thing, and that is missing from Julie's collection. I don't remember jeans being two-toned, and the floral inserts on her BeForever meet jeans are just odd, although kids did wear strangely patterned pants see any episode of The Brady Bunch).

    I don't remember wearing patterned blouses, either, but my memory could be faulty (or my youthful wardrobe an epic fail), so I would have to research 70s clothing on the internet. I'll get right on that.

    I am not so enthusiastic about the clear vinyl straps on the sandals. They seem to be the same material Mattel used as shoulder straps to hold up 30th anniversary Barbie's swimsuit, which came out about 20 years ago, if I recall correctly. After Hurricane Sandy, when I was inventorying my surviving dolls and their clothes, I discovered that the vinyl straps on one suit had completely dried out and literally turned to dust in my hands. I worry that the same will happen to the sandals.

    Overall, I think Julie's clothes are a little too complicated or fancy for a ten year old in the "natural look" 70s. Especially her new New Years Eve outfit. Way too sexy for a ten year old.

    I enjoyed your review, and Otters, as always, looks adorable!


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