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

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Clothes Reviews: Winter Magic Outfit (2004)

Marisol would like to inform you that it's still winter.
And then I didn't post for four days. The first of the year sometimes leaves me very worn out. I've been sorting my AG things--I got a lot of things last year that no one saw, and trying to figure out things to review over the course of the year. Also, my brother and I went to the AG store yesterday and I confirmed how much I don't like Wonderbread the Ballerina to my face.1 Many people have taken down the lights and trees and all the shiny bits and made things boring again, and started to make New Year's Resolutions--generally about some arbitrary need to lose weight that will peter off just in time to gorge on chocolate for Valentine's Day. (Things that are never my problem nowadays. Allergy powers activate.) I try to make New Year's Resolutions, but they mostly consist of "draw and write more," "discover more of the world through the internet," "take more pictures of my collections and dolls," "love me and all my black woman awesome" and "try not to let the depression win this week, but not hate me when it does."

Though one of them this year is to post more on my AG blog. Especially reviews, snark, Magazine Monthly, and Crafting Creatively. And we're starting with--more fancy holiday outfit reviews! Never a bad time for fancy outfit reviews. Today we're doing one of the first modern holiday sets I ever had--the Winter Magic Outfit. The outfit--one of the paired fancy sets--came with a white fur detachable collar, black velvet top with beaded decor, white tulle skirt, black ankle strap shoes, and textured tights. It was paired with Winter Magic Accessories--and you know me pretty well, I don't always have the accessories. This set came out a year before I got Addy and retired before I had any moddies so I only learned about it after it was gone; it actually didn't fancy out the box, and you just got a standard American Girl Today box.2 Originally, all my moddies were going to have crafted dresses, but now I reserve that if possible for created historicals.3 However, once I got Marisol and was assured that she was a dancer, I decided to get this set for her and got it in a private purchase for a touch under the original cost. eBay costs are pretty sensible at about $10-15 over face. 

I still haven't taken Marisol's hair down from her fancy hairstyle I got months ago at the AG store. It's too cute.

Fur fuzzy bits on collars.
Collar: The outfit has a white round fur collar that goes around the neck and fastens behind the head. We're getting this out of the way early because reasons you'll see. Like all of AG's stuff, it's not actual fur. I think they specifically state with Kaya, for example, that all of her animal products are simulated because some people shit themselves at the idea of leather. I don't. I'm cool with vegans and vegetarians, but the second you give me shit about drinking milk and liking leather we may come to blows. Leather is sexy and fur feels nice and if you get between me and my food I'll eat you and complete the food chain. When tucked around the neck it covers it completely.

A fuzzy white doughnut of neckwear.
The collar is completely separate from the shirt, and when off looks a lot like a white doughnut.

Closure. And Tag.
The AG tag is in the back near the closure; it closes with velcro. Sometimes. The velcro is the non snag kind, which should work but often wiggles loose on me.

Now the reason I got this out of the way early is because I don't like it. Well, not as it stands with the outfit alone. It seems very out of place and tacked on to the rest of the components. AG pimps the holiday wear as a complete set that costs upwards of $70 sometimes, but not everyone is going to get the accessories--not just on the secondary market, but initially. Images of the accessories show that it would look good with the set, but I'm not ever really getting the accessories--somewhere in this house I have a white muff (and if I don't, I can make one) and the earmuffs are not my tastes. I might like it better if I didn't have to have a separate set to complete it. I actually have something that it would match well with that you'll see in my Winter Holiday Fiddly Bits Review, but with the outfit itself it merits a C-. Onward.

Interlude: sans collar.
Interlude: The outfit, sans the collar. See, it works without it.

Top. Nicely set.
Top: The top is a long sleeved black velvet top that comes up to the neck. Nggh, velvet. Pet all the velvety things. This is one of the few Special Holiday sets that isn't a dress set. AG tends to often do dresses nowadays and, while holiday sets aren't really mix-match I still like separate components. For example, I could see this over plain white jeans for a more casual or dressed-down holiday look.

For the record, I separate tees, tops, and blouses into unique categories. A tee is a casual shirt generally of shirt knit, often with logos or images screened or ironed on. A "top" can be made of fancy or casual fabric, but is a little more dressy than the tee and almost always has no decor; if it does, it's embroidered or attached on instead of just screen or overlay and more abstract in design. Blouses always button down the front. And that was your "Neth's Arbitrary Distinctions" for today.

The top stops right at the waist. No long tuck-ins here.

Front designs. Ooo, Shiny.
The front of the top has a beaded, embroidered design. It's a loosely interpreted artistic branch that starts at the bottom and blossoms into a tangle of vines and leaves, accented with beads and sequins.

Close up. With lasers.
The thread used is a silver metallic thread done in daisy chain loops, and here and there the accents are done with small white pearl beads and iridescent round sequins. Note that my camera did the laser-light thing off one of the sequins. Glinty sparkle shines, y'all. I love accented and well done embroidery work. One of these days I will have an embroidery machine, and I will use it to do more than embroider names on doll clothes4 or pony eyes for plush. (I make pony plush. I then hand paint the eyes and cutie marks, because I like the look and blending precision I can get painting on a plush directly.)

The sleeves are wrist length and completely unadorned.

Velcro back.
Of course, like 90% of AG things, it velcros up the back. A. It's pretty, it's black, it's velvet, and it's got awesome decor.

That is how you ballet the shit out of a casual skirt.
Skirt: The skirt is a cream or winter white multi-tiered chiffon/georgette ballet style knee length skirt. Now you can see why I jumped on this set for Marisol like I did. The skirt is what drew me to the set even before the top did. There's a current trend of girls wearing tutus but those are a lot more neon, a lot more ugly, and borderline 80s.5 This is very much a more casual, toned down ballet skirt. Most people, when they think "tutu" think of the stiff, sticking out kind. But several tutus actually drape down like skirts, hence me calling this a ballet skirt. I clearly need to do a tutorial on making decent ballet skirts instead of people who think that tying ribbons to a headband makes one. (If "elitist" means "not the laziest mommy crafter on the dolly blog circuit" then fuck yes, I'm an elitist.)

The waistband is slightly elasticized knit  that gathers the top layer of chiffon to the waistband. Yes, top layer. To get the nice drape on this skirt, there's not just a bunch of long lengths all gathered o the waist.

Layer two.
Lifting up later on--from waist to knee--shows layer two, which starts about an inch down so what would be at about the hips.

Layer three.
Layer three starts an inch below layer two and goes down to the knee as well. (There's a stain on my third layer. Should wash that out.)

And the back of all this.
All three layers are sewn to a cream knit skirt backing with a thin hem that, overall, is pretty narrow. I adore that the skirt wasn't just three layers all to the waist and was tiered like this.

None of the georgette layers are hemmed and are left raw, but the fabric is such that it doesn't fray.

Waist closure.
While the skirt in theory could have been a pull on, here it has a velcro closure for ease of putting on. A+. Gods, do I love flippy swishy skirts.

Tights. But with aesthetics. 
Tights: We've seen so many tights in modern sets that it can get a little boring, as my dismissal of them in reviews can attest. Elastic waistband, come down to cover feet, c'est la vie. But these are a little more unique.

A pattern! Who likes variety?
See, these have a pattern! Be still my heart. They're knit in such a way that makes for vertical line and arrow texture that points upward. See, it's possible to have non-boring stockings. I love the visual texture, and these look like they'd not only be warm but pretty. So these get an A, for not being boring tights that can pretty much go with everything. Put an effort into the stockings and socks and I'll care about it.

Shoes, cause your feet are neat.
Shoes: We complete the set with a pair of black patent leather ankle-strap shoes. These are mostly toe, in the patent leather part--there's no real back to the shoes, which you'll see. I generally hate AG mules shoes before 2005, but these succeed at not sucking by having black elastic ankle straps to keep them on.

Toe-light sparkle.6
The toe of each shoe has a rhinestone broach with seven square rhinestones mounted to a backing. Top to bottom it goes two-three-two. Complimentary, but not too much.

Back of the shoe. Technically.
The back of the shoe is kind of not there; it's made up of the crossing ankle strap coming down to the sole of the shoe. I think a back heel part would have been nice to help keep the heel of the foot sliding off the back some--I really have to stuff Marisol's feet into the shoe to not have her heel hang off the back--but for a fancy shoe it's better than mules.

Shoes off.
The inner sole is white, and off the foot the elastic keeps its shape well. B-. As I said, I wish there there was a heel component, as the shoe would feel a lot more solid that way. 


First Holiday Dress times.
And, because I feel like it, the interlude of Marisol's first Giftmas as part of the AGGiB--then the AGGiR, as this was taken back in my first apartment in WA state. At the time I pulled her hair back with two matching cream bow ponytail holders. I still have one of them, but most of the time use it with my ballet wear.


Overall Feel: I adore this outfit--the velvet top and swishy skirt compliment each other magnificently. And the cream and black look is very lovely without being pink. I love muted holiday colors. The shoes could use improvement, but only a little, and the tights are magnificent and add visual variety. It works best without the collar for me, but works okay with it if you like that.

Cost Value: The original cost was pretty good, and comparable to the $30+ that AG holiday wear goes for nowadays. I paid a little less buying it in a private purchase. It's wholly possible to get a set for around $30 dollars or so on the secondary market. And you want all the components. Yes, even the collar. Just because options.

Timeliness/Datedness: Not too much! The skirt might be a little mid-2000s, in that apparently the trend for a ballet skirt nowadays is to look like someone threw a mas of tulle into a vat of neon Rit Dye or tying fistfuls of ribbons onto a waistband and thinking you did something with it right. But  wouldn't date it because of that. The rest seems fairly loose in time. It's a modern look, but a modern look that works.

Mix and Match Levels: A titchy bit. The top could go over white jeans (or dark blue, I wouldn't go too light) and the skirt might go well with other fancy tops. But when mix and matching this set, take into account it's fancy wear. The shoes might even go with other holiday wear that has black shoes, such as the Starry Night Outfit.

Final Grade: A-. A cute, feminine look without being an explosion of pink. 


1 That will be the next post today or tomorrow. I'm making up for taking time off by yelling. Seriously, the Seattle Store rearranged everything to give Wonderbread an entire wall. Bitch, I hate you.
2 The second name for the Moddie Line.
3 Naomi still has hers--she'll be showing it off later on after some AG made stuff.
4 The shit I see on eBay and Etsy, man. 
5 Don't get me started on the ribbon tied to waistband ones. How utterly tacky and cheap looking.
6 You'd better not have a problem with my pony puns.


  1. Neth! Four days without new posts felt odd. This is my favorite blog :) I have to admit, I have been looking forward to your posts about Wonderbread the Ballerina - er, Isabelle - and the new stuff. Isn't it a bit pathetic that there have been 13 girls of the year by now, but not one African American, not one Native American, not one full Asian - not even one dark haired white girl with dark eyes - but FOUR blondes? (Five if you count McKenna.)

    1. May I ask why some people don't count McKenna as blonde? I certainly wouldn't call her a brunette.
      Ash-blonde most accurately, I think...

    2. My theory is that if they call her brunette, they can claim more "variety" in the line. On the Wiki we class her as blonde.

    3. When I went to the store last weekend, I said to the saleswoman, "Another blonde? We haven't even had a girl with brown hair in a while!" and she said, "McKenna!"

    4. I agree, McKenna's definitely blonde-- dark "dishwater" blonde, yes, but blonde. So is Nicki. I could see someone maybe saying that they have "light golden-brown" hair, but I definitely wouldn't call that brunette. In fact, my McKenna is sitting right next to Elizabeth at the moment, and her hair is barely darker. Yep, blonde.

      I can't wait to read your rant about Wonderb-- ahem, "Isabelle," Nethilia! :)

      --Kate :)

    5. You know, after posting I remembered a friend of a friend who had what I called dirty blonde hair (and no offense meant-literally thought that's what it was called), but who had always considered herself brunette without any blonde at all. It looked like she had wide blonde highlights done.
      I guess my point here is that maybe it's one those honest misconceptions, like people who don't like Miracle Whip.

      I will continue to think McKenna and my friend's friend are blonde though.

      Because they are.

      And Miracle Whip tastes good. Dissenters are crazy.

  2. It is indeed pathetic. And also racist. Let's call it what it is.

  3. Hello! I like the stockings and the skirt of this outfit very much, very well made! Here in Belgium we don't have American Girls of course, it's mainly through reading your blog and searching further on the internet I got to know them. Addy especially is a doll I would like to own, but it costs an arm and a leg to have things sent form the U.S.A. Anyway, I wish you a lot of doll collecting fun in 2014, and a lot of inspiration for many great posts!


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