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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Historical Clothes Reviews and Historical Accessories: Kit's Christmas Outfit, Aviator Doll, and LE Mini Doll

Merry Christmas from Kit Kittredge!
There are no major holidays today. Well, there's a feast day for a saint but I'm pretty sure there's a feast day for a saint every day of the year so we're going skip most of those for sanity's sake. Instead we will talk about traditions, briefly. Everyone has one or another for the holidays, even if they don't say it. Some people throw the tree up as soon as the turkey is cool, some wait til the first of December, some wait until a week before. Some get the tree out of the house as soon as everything is over and some wait til the first. Some people insist on Christmas morning in pajamas, or not opening presents before the whole family is there, or opening in semi-private. Some do new pajamas on Christmas Eve. Some let the kids tear through everything first before the adults, and some go around in birth order and one at a time until everything is open. For years, we opened everything at midnight, had a blast until about two in the morning, went to sleep, woke up, and then went to my paternal grandfather's for Christmas dinner and gifts and all that stuff from them. And by the time I was six or so, I recognized that the toys and gifts from "Santa" were the ones from Toys from Tots, because I grew up poor enough to qualify. That's why, in part, I try to donate to them every year--and try to do something name brand. People who do the cheap, off brand toys because they think poor kids don't notice are jerks and should choke on a stocking.

Nowadays my traditions consist of remembering to put up the tree--this year there's only the tabletop one, since I'm in a transitional phase--my husband and I hitting up Cyber Monday Sales to get TV series we like on the cheap, and me blowing about a hundred or so bucks on AG's Cyber Monday because half price AG stuff is the goddamn bomb. I'll probably make more when I do finally sprog out, but that's pretty much how it's going. Yes, I'm going somewhere with this. Let me babble.

Kit Kittredge had her own traditions too--Christmas waffles, lighting up the tree, and her mom and her going out with Ruthie and her mom to downtown Cincinnati for the whole the day after Christmas and going to lunch at a fancy restaurant and a show. She was thrown for a loop during the course of her books because of the impact the Depression had on her family--for one, the power bill was hard to pay, presents were scarce, the phone bill wasn't even paid, and there were borders in the house. And she was pretty pissy when Ruthie's solution to "I don't have a new dress to wear on some fancy date with you, baby, I got real problems" was "How about you wear my old one from last year and we'll pay for the whole date?"1 And rightfully so, because Kit's issues were deeper than a new dress, seeing as they were looking at eviction. But, like AG books often do, everything was wrapped up nice by the end and she and Ruthie kissed and made up and gave each other gifts and were back together at the end--and then in Really Truly Ruthie Ruthie, not wanting her girlfriend2 to lose her house, went on the train to Kentucky and got the money from Aunt Millie. On that note, fuck Uncle Hendrick's rich old selfish ass. Selfish people like him are the reason we're in the shit we're in right now. But politics. Anyways, after they make up, Kit accepts the red dress as hers, and she and Ruthie still go out on their date the next day.

Margaret Mildred "Kit" Kittredge was released in 2000, the first Mattel released Historical. So if you ever hear someone talking about how AG was so much better when it was PC and all characters after Mattel suck, and then claim that Kit was a PC character, they're a stupid moron and you have my permission to throw mini dolls at them until they shut their face. I actually was very reluctant against Kit because eh, blond dolls are so not my thing. But then I read her story and warmed up to her because if there is one thing I can ID with from my childhood, it's wearing old clothes and struggling to pay bills and threats of evictions and people thinking their charity is accepted when it's half assed or really condescending as fuck. I ain't too proud to beg, to modify the meaning of the TLC song. But some well-to-do-people think anything they give you is to be appreciated because they were generous enough to give anything at all, and that's how you get pumpkin pie filler and endless rice along with mock-Barbies with cracked legs and yo-yos that break four minutes later. But I digress. Kit joined the gang in 2007 when I moved to where I am now--her last family left her behind, and when she saw the new folks moving in also involved people her height, she became part of the recently renamed AGGiB.3 Here, she's what I call a 50% Modern--she bounces back and forth between her 1930s clothes and modern clothes, and likes a computer over a typewriter. So--even though they wouldn't be Wiki refs--you might see her in a modern set here and there.  What can she say? Jeans are nice.

Like Josefina before her, Kit's Christmas Outfit (or Kit's Holiday Outfit, because she technically wears it post Christmas proper) was released with her Fall 2000 along with her first three books, so that you could have her all cute for the holidays--and like Josefina, I ordered her holiday wear in 2007 so she could look her very best for Giftmas in the new place. The set consists of the red dress, a red polka dotted hairbow, white net stockings, and black t-strap shoes. Originally, the Scottie pin was a separate piece, but now it comes as a button permanently attached to the dress and that's the version I got. Or, it was attached. You'll see. I paid $24 dollars for it but, again, prices rose and the cost is now $32. Unless you've got a hard on for the Scotty pin with the magnet and can't mod it yourself--and it's really easy to do if you're not incompetent--there's no reason to bother with eBay. It almost never shows up with everything, and most of the time it's just the dress. Don't do that to yourself. Order the dress from AG.

Fun fact? Every AG character had a unique letter in the ordering codes before a revamp in about 2007. And they were really easy to break down when, if you were anything like me, read the catalog voraciously. For example, Josefina's Christmas dress had the code "JCO"--Josefina Christmas Outfit--and Addy's Lazy Susan Table and Chairs was "AF" - Addy's Furniture. Since Kirsten already had a monopoly on the letter K, Kit got "Q". Told you Kit was bisexual--she's queer.

This review will also include the Aviator doll and--like Josefina--the LE Mini-Doll.

Dress: Red. Cause Holidays.
Dress: The dress--as I articulated above--was, in story canon, Ruthie's dress from the year before, fixed up for Kit to wear on their date to downtown Cincinnati. I personally find it hilarious that AG markets this as Ruthie's generosity when Kit's reaction to getting Ruthie's old dress was "well, fuck you, bitch." It's a very red dress with princess seams and a bit of a flair, and in a style very reminiscent of the early 30s.4 Unlike Samantha's cranberry number, it's unabashedly, boldly, boomingly red. It's also a little shimmery with a slight rough texture --I suspect they were aiming for rayon or faux silk. (This would not be polyester. Yes it's made of it as a doll dress, but authentically polyester wasn't even invented until the 40s.)  And as we have established time and time again, I do love red. Not as much as blue, but it's up there in my liked colors.

Bodice and collar.
The bodice is tight to the body with what are called princess seams--instead of two piece bodice with a placket/button up a or a plain one piece front, the bodice is made up of a center panel and two sides both front and back, which makes the seams go down from the shoulders and over what would be the breast of an adult woman. Princess seams have been a theme for centuries and are generally very flattering to all body shapes. There is a white asymmetrical collar that starts small on the left bodice seam, wraps around to the back and then comes down to a point on the right side of the dress near the other bodice seam. It's not my favorite part, personally, but that's just because I get annoyed by asymmetry. Even if I don't like it, it's accurate, and it's a nice contrasting color to the bright red of the dress.

Pin it on the dog.
The larger side of the collar has a black Scottie dog pin of plastic with a red bow at his neck--Scottie dogs being popular because of FDR's Scottie dog. If this had been a separate piece from the collar nowadays, I'd give it its own section. But nowadays, the pin is actually a button that comes stitched to the collar with a shank back. I don't know if this was because pins were getting lost everywhere--or, more likely, the moral panic about magnets because children were putting them in their mouths, eating them, and then causing bowel perforations and dying or getting really sick. Magnets are not food. But it was part of that time where AG was reforming everything into a less dangerous mode, so that's what it does now and so the pin can never be removed.

Literal pinning.
Well, it can't if you're not willing to tear things up a bit. The "pin" is tacked on with a loop of white thread and as soon as I got the dress I popped the thread out and ran a safety pin through the back, thus making a removable pin again. If you are careful and skilled with a seam ripper, the pin will come right off. You could also cut or file the shank off and attach a small pin back so that it's actually a pin again. I will probably do that next time I swing by a craft store. Because seriously, magnets are a bit too much for me and I won't lose a glued on pin back.

Fancy sleeves.
The sleeves are pretty close fitting to Kit's arms starting at the shoulder and down to the wrist.

Cuff and hands up.

The cuff is a slightly flared out winged edge that comes down over the wrist and hand. Don't flip them up. That looks dumb and unfashionable.

Belted flair.
The belt at the waist--which is only at the front--is of the same fabric as the dress, with a red rectangular plastic buckle. The belt isn't tacked down except at the sides, but the buckle is tacked to the belt so it can't be slid around.

Skirt and skirt panels.
The skirt comes down to just a little above Kit's knees and has significant flair out. The princess seams of the bodice come down to the gores of the skirt, and part of the skirt flaring out is the added panels between the skirt/bodice seams.

Panel close up.
They're not pleats; they're actually added in triangular panels that start at about the hip. There's one on each side and two in back and front, adding six panels to the whole skirt part of the dress and thus making for a nice, wide skirt. It's a really intriguing style.

Back.
The back of the dress has no decor like the front--boo--but the collar is visible at the top. The whole thing velcros up the back. The dress gets a A-. I love the color and contrast and the princess seams--especially the flair--but I really don't like the attached pin as a permanent thing or the asymmetrical collar.

Hairbow: Spotty and Dotty!
Hairbow: The hairbow is a double backed ribbon bow with white polka dots all over the ribbon itself . It's a little similar to how Nellie wears hers, but with less 1900s superbow going on and adds lovely contrast without being matchy matchy.

Barrette.
The center knot of the bow wraps around a silver clasp bracelet that is then put into Kit's hair, clipping back the right side of her bob. The back of the ribbon does not have the dots. The clasp, while not wholly authentic, is better than some bows I can cite in Kit's collection. The hairbow gets an A. I got no beef with you, hairbow, and the barrette is semi-accurate.

Net stockings.
Stockings: Behold, Kit's bloomers. If I want to be terrible to her I'll find some faux flour sacks and really make her some awesome historical bloomers. Moving along.

Kit's holiday wear came with its own stockings--in fact, Kit was one of the first historicals to start to get shoes and socks with every outfit. This is likely because she started out with buckle sandals and no socks, and those don't exactly carry through to the school fall and holiday winter. She's donning thigh high white net stockings--much like the ones that came with the Starry Night dress.

Thigh highs.
They're not tights. They look like it when her bloomers are down, but they're a pair of separate stockings, and look best when you pull them all the way up to the thigh. Kit is not a flouncy girl, but she clearly likes her stockings up to heaven's gates. I think they're really cute under her dress and have been known to use them with other outfits. A.

Kit has some of the best shoes.
Shoes: Kit finishes off this outfit with a pair of patent leather black t-strap shoes that are just--I love these shoes. They're so cute! Like, I love these shoes the way I love Josefina's shoes, because they're just so damn useful! How useful are they, you ask me? Kit doesn't just wear them for the holidays, they're that useful. I keep them out to match some of the dresses I've made her myself, because they go so well with her casual, no fuss style of dress. Other than Josefina I have not gotten so much use out of a pair of shoes.

Side shot.
No muss, no fancy flippery, no flounce. Practical black shoes with a bit of a heel and velcro closure. I don't know if they actually used to buckle or always had velcro. I don't care. They're perfect. A+. I love these shoes. I'd wear these shoes. Do they make these in my size that aren't worn by dwoppy people? They do? SUCCESS.

*~*~*

Amelia Earhart, in doll form.
Aviator Doll: Kit's holiday doll is an aviator doll made to resemble Amelia Earhart, the famous pilot who went missing in 1939 so who was still making a badass name for herself in the early 30s. The doll comes in a non removable brown tweed and brown faux-leather aviator outfit and when available, cost $16. AG apparently hates historical dolls for dolls now since Julie's tanked, so eventually everyone's got retired except Kaya's, and this one was retired in 2012. Mine was a gift in a Giftmas swap several years back. On eBay, people are asking upwards of $50 which no. 

Face.
The muslin doll has an embroidered face with grey eyes outlined in black, black eyebrows, and pink stitched lips. Her hair is a soft curly yarn in a blond color, and close cropped. The buttons on the coat are embroidered knots, the belt is an attached leather band, and underneath the jacket are a maroon, grey, and navy striped tie and attached shirt and collar. Over the hair are a brown aviator helmet and leather flight goggles. Some pictures show the goggles up. I don't move them.

These are some weird hands.
The leather gloves over the doll's hands move partially, but underneath them and the jacket are very slightly stuffed arms. They feel really flat, and I'm probably going to tack the gloves in place to prevent that weird look.

Flight boots.
There are leather boots that are stitched as part of the leg on the pants; the design of the doll made for round feet. The doll has its charm, but there's several visual flaws to me that make her not one of my favorite dolls for dolls. C+. Don't pay more than $25 for one if you don't already have her. $50 is almost halfway to a full sized AG.

*~*~*

A mini-Kit is called a Kitlet. This is canon.
Mini Holiday Doll: Mini Kit--who is now being called Kitlet--was released August 2011 with an abridged copy of Kit's Surprise and cost $24. Again, got her at some point before the year ended since I got everyone and the shelf too. I don't even see much of her on eBay--the one I saw was for $35. I think she was one of the last ones I bit down on and bought. Her dress is much less fancy--she only has the leftmost seam for the collar, her skirt has no goring, and her sleeve cuffs are just part of the sleeve. One can't expect that much detail in a mini, but I have dissappoint. 

"Pin."
No pin for Kitlet--she gets her Scottie dog just screen printed on.

Bow.
Her bow is sewn to her head and feels a little too big for her. 

Tights. Mrrgh.
And she doesn't even get net stockings, just white tights that replace her underwear altogether. But they at least didn't mess up her shoes. C-. Small scale does not have nearly the charm of the larger by any means. 

*~*~*


Historical stuff ain't fun without references. Kit's holiday outfit features on the cover, natch, of Kit's Surprise--she was the first to get the second ed book covers with the colored spines, so there's no "older" style. Why they show it with plain white tights instead of the awesome net stockings, I'll never know. On the newer covers she's still shown in her holiday wear, albeit from the hips up. 





This is what the dress looks like in book, when Ruthie offers it for Kit to wear and Kit is like "you bitch, don't give me your cast offs and expect me to just be grateful." Ruthie calls her proud and stubborn, and even if Kit is, I can ID with her frustration over being made to feel like Ruthie doesn't pay attention to reality and her own levels of privilege. Sorry I can't think about the ballet, baby, I'm trying to not lose our house and I have chores to do and shit.


Kit also got the second ed paper dolls, which were still somewhat like the first edition ones. Here she's got thick white ribbed stockings with her dress. Can we get some consistency, AG?




Kit's dress was available a short time as "Kit's Christmas Dress for Girls" for $80. Aw look she's even got her own Kit with her, cute model. By the time Kaya came around, they stopped making extra sets for the girls outside of PJs.

*~*~*

Overall Feel: This dress gives me mixed feelings. It's a great color and a bold style, but asymmetrical things throw my Libra balance off. And while I understand the reasoning of changing the pin to a button, I still get irrationally pissed when things are made too safe for kids lest they suffer pain. I jabbed myself with pins all the time as a kid, and I learned to, you know, not jab pins into me. The magnet elimination was fine, but I'd have rather had it swapped into a pin. The stockings are lovely though--what can I say, net stockings are kickass--and the shoes are way, WAY too cute to be kicked only to the holiday season. Use them year round! The aviator doll has some cute aspects, but I really don't like the flat arms and the weird way the aviator clothes feel too big for the doll. I do give it credit, though, for looking like someone and having plot relevance. The mini one does not have nearly the charm of the larger one, so if you missed her don't feel too bad about it.

Cost Value: $24 dollars is all right. $32 is all right. eBay is not all right unless you just are unable to live without a separate pin and you have to have that, and then you had better not pay more than $35 and the outfit had better be complete. With the LE, if you didn't get her and for some reason you have to have her, pay the standard $25. She's not worth more. The Aviator doll was a gift and I adore her, but if I had to get her now on the secondary market, Kit would not have her. $50 is a stupid price to pay for her. Pay no more than $20.

Authenticity: Yep. The dress is accurate to early 1930s clothes, which were still coming off the 20s in fashions. There's never a bad time for princess seams, gored skirts, and wing cuffs. And t-strap shoes have been a thing for some time. The collar--though I don't like it--is realistic to the time period. The Scottie dog pin is very authentic what with the FDR tie-in. And rayon--or something like it--is a very good fabric for a 30s holiday set for a ten year old girl. 

Appropriateness to Character: Yes. It features as a major plot point in Kit's books. Though take into account canonically that this is Ruthie's dress from the holidays of 1931, so Kit wasn't exactly pleased at first to get this handed to her and it lead to a very long break up between the two of them before they made up and climbed in the bed with Stirling.5

Final Grade: B-. It's not without its flaws, but it's also not without its charm.

--Neth

1 Ruthie, bless her heart--and I mean that in the Southern sense--spent a huge part of the series blind to her privilege since her father didn't lose anything in the Depression and her family didn't struggle a bit. Sweet, sweet Ruthie.
2 You'd be surprised who I ship. Or maybe not.
3 Okay, the real story is I bought her off Craigslist, and since my rule had been no new debuts before I moved, I took her to my new apartment first before the rest of the then-eight person gang came over. Buy the story, folks, it's cuter.
4 Kit's story takes part in the early part of the Great Depression--the books actually start late Summer 1932. That "years ending in four" thing was dropped early in Mattel's handling of things, and for it I'm glad.
5 Not only is my headcanon is that Kit is bisexual, she's poly and has a thing for Sterling and Ruthie (the thing with Will is a passing friends with benefits thing once they're older). Like I said, we have a lot in common.

8 comments:

  1. Oh. Those shoes are amazing. I want a pair in my size. I'd not mind that dress either...

    Also, this.

    But some well-to-do-people think anything they give you is to be appreciated because they were generous enough to give anything at all, and that's how you get pumpkin pie filler and endless rice along with mock-Barbies with cracked legs and yo-yos that break four minutes later.

    This is entirely true. And I kinda wanna bop Ruthie. Srsly now.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Who else do you ship besides Kit/ Ruthie and Felicity/ Elizabeth? I love ships!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, so far Kit/Ruthie/Stirling and Felicity/ Elizabeth are my major ones. Nellie/Sam is a minor one, but Sam is so bothersome that I think Nellie wouldn't be able to take it after a point.

      I do adore, though, that in the last two movies--McKenna and Saige's, though the characters annoy me--that their big fights are acted like angry break ups.

      Delete
    2. YES! I'm not the only one who felt that way in the movies. Toulane had a crush on McKenna and Gabi had a crush on Saige, but the couples were McKenna/ Josie and Saige/ Tessa. (In Saige's movie it was a love diamond rather than a love triangle, because Dylan might have had a thing for Tessa.)
      I've never thought of Sam/ Nellie, but I also like both your major ships (any combination of Kit/ Ruthie/ Stirling), and I ship Linda/ Susan (Molly's friends), Molly/ Emily, Felicity/ Ben, Julie/ TJ and Lindsey/ Josh.

      Delete
  3. I didn't say anything 3 years ago, when I read this post, but I'm saying something now. I'm sorry I'm doing this now, with all of the things happening on AGC, but they've given me the courage to speak up about things.

    When I first read this post 3 years ago, as a 12 year old (or possibly 11--I don't remember), and I got to the line "before they made up and climbed in the bed with Stirling," I was uncomfortable at the sexualizing of these characters, these children. But, I decided not to say anything because I thought, "Oh, it's probably okay, she's an adult, she's way older than me, it's fine." And for a time I really *did* think it was fine, but I'm since realizing that no, it's not okay, and sexualizing children, fictional or not, isn't okay.

    I'm sorry that this may be bad timing, and I'm sorry if this hurts you or anything like that, but I need to speak my mind about this, finally.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's fine you said what you did. But I'm not going to apologize for saying that this many years down the road, because it was less sexualizing of children and more showing a side of my sexuality as a bi poly woman and reflecting that on Kit.

      At the time you read that at 11/12 you were--and I will be blunt--too young to be reading my blog. You're old enough now, but at the time you were not the target audience. Anyone under the age of COPPA is too young to read my blog, just like anyone under the age of 17 shouldn't be sneaked into a R-rated movie. A 16 year old there might be mature enough, but if a 10 year old sees something they shouldn't have in Deadpool the mother needs to handle that. They don't get a refund.

      There are quite a few issues in me having to worry that children under 13 are reading my words when I didn't invite them to. It'd be different if I was aiming for that, but I ain't.

      More on that is a long unpack that this post that is several years old is not the appropriate venue for. But the short of it is that I do not see it as sexualizing children in the way too many people take it, in that any sort of romantic implications among anyone under the age of 18 is automatically filthy. A person of 9-12 can start to explore their sexuality in safe and smart ways, and "climbing into bed" here does not have an unspoken "they humped like rabbits."

      Delete
    2. P.S. The whole point of having the discussions we are having where we are having them and how we are having them is that it's keeping other people stuff OUT MY PRIVATE SPACES, damn it. So don't do this again. First warning.

      Delete
    3. I'm sorry I brought that discussion over here.

      My parents let me be on the Internet as long as I didn't have any accounts to anything. That's how they interpreted COPPA.

      I did interpret that line sexually, but with your explanation and reflecting on it, I see how it could be construed as otherwise.

      Delete

Trolling, pointless bigotry, and hating for the sake of hating will be removed, as will any post screaming "first" because no one cares. Cursing is fine, as I curse myself. I still expect you to act like you have home training. This is not a Free Speech Zone. I reserve the right to delete comments or tell you to piss off. You post, you stand by your words, and all the consequences of those words, even if that consequence is getting your ass handed back to you. Don't come in my space, spit on my floor, and expect me to call it a swimming pool. I can and will cuss your entire ass out. If I told you not to comment, and you comment, your comments will be deleted.

If you are under 13 your comments will be removed; you're too young to be on the internet unsupervised and you know it.