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

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Clothes Reviews: Blue Jean Basics II (1999) and the Liebster Award

More blue jean basics, now with Kanani.
While March was hit and miss for decent weather, April comes in here in the Pacific Northwest--or at least, the part I'm in--with fairly good weather. I've planted new strawberry plants in the garden,  my old one has come back from winter sleep still healthy, and I think my avocado trees are doing very well.1 I'm hoping for longer days and sunshine and continued blogging. Let's jump on that continued blogging bit and do another review--and a bonus at the end. 

By 1999,2 the American Girl Today Line was actually doing pretty well. They were on their third meet outfit, had a decent wardrobe, and while they were not the juggernaut that they are today, they had a pretty good foothold as an AG line. And after the pitiful showing of 1997, '98 and '99 were actually pretty good for clothes and accessories. One of the sets that came out was a sequel, as it were, to the recently retired Blue Jean Basics: Blue Jean Basics, Part II--also known as the Jeans, Shirt, and Shoes, because AG was fond of having double names for everything. For the same cost as before--$22--the set came with a white long sleeved top, pale jeans, purple socks, and black lace up shoes. (No belt in this set.) eBay searches will get you both the '95 set and the '99 set, with this set being a little rarer to find than the first one. Still it goes for anywhere for $20 to 30; I paid above retail at $29, with an extra $5 for the socks. Much more than that is ridiculous. And while I don't think my socks are authentic AG ones--I got mine separate--they're purple socks, and they'll do.

Kanani, like Mellie in the last review, had this set on before the holidays.

Long sleeved shirts for super comfort.
Shirt: The shirt is a turtleneck style--a white knit ribbed fabric shirt with long sleeves and a high collar. Since the shirt's supposed to be basic, there's not a lot to be said about it overall.

The high turtleneck collar has returned--but is more like an accurate turtleneck as it's been folded over. It comes up to Kanani's chin. Good thing she likes high collars.

Striped shirts. Well, three stripes shirt.
There are three stripes integrated across the chest: top to bottom they're purple, red, and black. All three together are only about 3/4th an inch, so 1/4 an inch each. I like it as a design without having to be something too eye catching. It stops the shirt from being too plain.

The wrist length set in sleeves are unadorned and have no cuff. Or even a hem. Unusual, but it works for the overall look. I'm glad the stripe isn't over the shirt sleeve; it would have looked terrible that way. The long sleeves are fitting for a more fall look.

Hem. Well, shirt edge.
The bottom hem of the shirt isn't hemmed either, but the way the fabric is closed off means it doesn't unravel.

Back closure. Mostly.
The back closes with Velcro, but again doesn't go all the way down the back. I really don't like that this was--and in some ways is--a trend. Close it all the way down the back, damn it! A, still. The rest of the shirt works.

Jeans. The drive of the set.
Jeans: The naming component of the set, the jeans, are plain light blue denim. They're a thin style of denim; full denim can be very thick on a doll. Take that into account if you ever upcycle old jeans into doll clothes.

Pretty fly for jeans.
Since there's no belt, these get a silver snap closure and velcro fly. Now why couldn't they have done that the first time?

There's side pockets, actual functional ones. The stitching to outline the tiny internal pocket is just that--stitching. No actual tiny pocket. But actual pockets at the hip matter. There's white topstitching all around; I've decided to note that here.

Back loops.
There are also belt loops, in case you want to add a belt, all the way around. But no back pockets.

Bottom cuffs.
The jeans have a little bit of a flare. I like flared or boot cut jeans, and not just as a '90s thing. Skinny leg jeans drive me up the wall. A little flare makes for a good fit over pants. Maybe it's the Texas in me. A. They might be missing back pockets, but they have details that make for more realistic jeans when standing alone.

Again, with the weird colored socks.
Socks: AG, continuing the weird colored sock thing they started before, gave the set purple socks. At least these match one of the stripes in the shirt? Still, busting out odd colored socks when you generally can't see them is a bug for me, and this is from a person that loves bright colored socks. B. They do fit under the shoes after all, and I can deal with purple for a set better than bright ass yellow.

Chunky black shoes. Ah, I love the 90s.
Shoes: We complete the set with thick black leather lace up shoes. Oh, 90's how I love your thick soled chunky black shoes, cause you could stomp the shit out of things with them.3 They're a little like mini Doc Martens. I'm not sure if they're real leather, but I'm not vegan so even if cows died to make doll shoes it don't bother me.

The laces are black cord, running through burnished bronze eyelets. They tie on firmly.

Padding and lining.
The inside upper edge and tongue are padded a little, as was the style of the time. The entire inner lining is black as well.

Soles you could stand a doll on.
The thick dark rubber sole has grooves, dents, ridges, and the American Girl logo in the thinner part of the sole between the heel and the toe part. Stomping their way to an A+.


Overall Feel: This set definitely has a more fall/cool weather feel that the set before, and actually comes together a lot better. The shirt could have used some hemming, but it won't unravel, and these jeans are more accurate than the ones before. There's a lot more details that make the set feel a lot more like real clothes than some sets do. This one not only mixes up nice--as I'll discuss--but it looks good as its own set alone. The shoes are probably the best component of the set overall.

Cost Value:
While costing the same amount as the set before it, it feels a better value, even without a belt. This is because the shoes are super sturdy and the set has more detail. $30 is a bit on the high side for it, and if I was going back, I'd hunt up a lower cost set. Flip off people asking $40 plus. It's not a common set, but it comes up often enough I'd think. And make sure the set has the shoes, shirt, and jeans--and if you can find a pair of socks, go for it. Or get it without. They're purple socks, they won't wreck the set if they're not there. 

Not in my eyes. The jeans aren't too high and while there is a bit of a flare to them, they don't scream late 90s. (Though they're too wide for the 80s.) I'd say the shoes can be dated--the thick soles are a 90s thing. But then again, if you don't give a fuck, put them where you want!

Mix and Match Levels:
Like the set before, it's very much a mix and match set and adds variety to a person who likes mixing it up with their doll wardrobes. The shirt and the socks might be the hardest part to match with other things--the shirt might go with a skirt and definitely with other jeans, but not much past that. The jeans are general enough to go with anything, and same with the shoes. 

Final Grade:
A+. I like this set better than the first.


Hey, I won an award! Go me! 

Bonus to the post!

Several weeks ago, A Peek in the Pantry awarded me (and several other people) the Liebster Award--a fun little go-around where you answer eleven questions asked of you, and then ask some other people to answer eleven that you offer up. I'm generally not in enough circles to be awesome, so getting this was a nice surprise for me. And if you like food and history, add A Peek in the Pantry to your regular readings!4 I've been getting lots of meal ideas from the posts there. Now to answer what I was asked:

1. What is your favorite historical time period to learn about?
--Texas History when it was a country all its own. This is partially because of the studies I did in 7th grade, and because while it was a messy period it's one that I think doesn't get a lot of focus. Second would be the Civil Rights Era.

2. If AG told you you could design everything about their next historical character from appearance to time period to book series, what would you do?
Look out world, Edith Anderson is about to bust out as the Civil Rights Doll y'all have needed forever! And as a bonus I'm getting my writings published by AG direct, and all the money will be mine!

3. Do you have a favorite Disney movie, and if so, which is it?
You'd probably think it'd be The Princess and the Frog, but that's only my favorite Disney princess. My favorite movie has been, since the day it came out and I saw it in the theater, The Lion King. I even saw the musical last week as it's touring through Seattle, and got mind tingles from the opening notes. The songs are personally powerful.5

4. DC or Marvel?
Argh, I'm the worst at classic comics, even though I have a regular subscription to many things at my local comic shop. I'm going with Marvel only because they've been publishing the Stories of Oz that I've been collecting.

5. What else do you collect besides dolls?
My Little Pony, Mattel High (Monster and Ever After), Tiana/Disney stuff, Africana, video game swag, general stuffies, and Pokémon paraphernalia.

6. What's your favorite TV show?
Oof. I don't watch as much TV as I used to, thanks to the internet--I get more pleasure from that. I really like The Simpsons, even twenty-four seasons in, and have seen every ep so far. After that would probably be Futurama, which I also have seen all of.

7. What's one book that really influenced your life?
Don't laugh, but D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths. The first time I saw Athene's image, something in me awoke and even though it took a few more years to listen to what She had to say to me, She was the first Goddess that made me actually feel loved.

8. What was your favorite toy growing up, and do you still have it? If not, are you looking for one to add to your adult collection?
My Little Pony. I only had a few of them, but I loved them all. I don't have the originals from my childhood per se, but I have them all back--and the complete Satin Slipper Sweet Shop, which was one of the best playsets for me ever.

9. If you could be any animal, what would you be?
Real? White Tiger. Imaginary? Pegasus.

10. Is there anywhere on Earth you don't want to visit?
From what I hear a majority of Russia is not a good place for a queer black woman so...

11. Who is your overall favorite fictional character and why?
Ergh, hard choice. Addy is one of the best in the world, but so is Louis from The Trumpet of the Swan and Sailor Pluto from Sailor Moon, and Ozma from the Oz Series, and Rarity from MLP:FiM and...I can't just pick one!

The people I'm tagging to get the award:
And my eleven questions: 

1: What bugs you/pisses you off about the majority of toy collecting communities?  
2: What's your favorite collection thing you've gotten in the last six months to a year?
3: You've got unlimited funds to launch your own toy or doll company. Design your signature character and their back story.
4: You now have a flamethrower and the ability to wipe any doll line out--past or present--just because you don't want it around. Which one do you torch?
5: What's a topic you could totally geek out about for hours?
6: What's the last book you just couldn't finish, and why?
7: What's the last movie you watched that felt like a waste of film?
8: You have become a super hero, faster than that thing, stronger than that other thing, able to do that thing in a single thing! Alas, we all have a weakness. What's your kryptonite?
9: What's your least favorite fandom, and why?
10: You've got a time machine. It only goes backwards and to right now, and you can bring one thing to the present with you and take one thing back. What do you take back with you and what do you bring forward?
11: Everyone knows favorite colors, that's easy. What's your least favorite color and/or color combination?
Extra Credit: Do you want me to answer my own questions?


1 I live in a place where avocado plants generally won't make it outside, so mine live in pots. And since I live in an apartment, all my plants are in pots. Should I ever get a house, I'll think about ground planting things.
2 When I graduated from high school.
3 Like the patriarchy!
4 Also, she posts a lot more than me. I wish I posted that much.
5 It also reminds me of my daddy.  


  1. When I saw this article this morning I immediately thought of you. I would have loved to be on that plane! :-)


  2. Nice review! :)
    Also, this is totally unrelated, but there's this game on Azalea's Dolls (Snow Queen Part 1) where you can very easily make an Anna/Elsa of colour. I read your tumblr, so I thought you would enjoy this. :D

  3. Here you go, Neth!


  4. Hi Nethilia. Great post and review. I was a teenager in the mid to late nineties and this outfit very much reminds of the time period. Love the little Doc-like shoes. The stripe shirt made me smile because I remember buying these types of shirts. I use to wear flare or bell bottom style jeans also, loved those. :) Honestly, I feel kind of old when I see all the floral print pants, Doc Martens, and ombre lip styles coming back. LOL! It doesn't seem like I was a teen that long ago.

    I think one of the best things about your reviews is they aren't sugar coated or you don't say everything is so cute. That's one thing that kind of bugs me about some of the AG Youtube videos by adults, while I appreciate their reviews and unboxing items I can obviously see that these things are adorable. However, there are more factors than that when I make the choice to purchase items. AG is expensive and if I'm going to throw some of my hard earned money their way, it had better be worth it.

    I was curious about something. Have you heard the rumor about AG retiring Cecile and Marie Grace? I freaked out yesterday because I had plans to buy one of them and they were five dollars off on AG's website, then I noticed all the dolls were. I've never seen anything like that. Any ideas/theories why this is happening? I'm not complaining, any discount is good since shipping, taxes, and doll cost adds up fast, I'm just wondering what they're doing and why dolls are suddenly are on sale. I saw a post on Facebook that in the fall when Samantha returns there will be other changes. I noticed that Cecile and Marie Grace's items are retired and their collection is almost non-existent. I truly hope this isn't the end, they're gorgeous.

    1. I too was a teen in the mid-to-late 90s, so this stuff reminds me of the stuff I wore. I even think I have a pair of shoes like the ones here.

      I really hate sugar coated or shallow reviews, it's one of my pet peeves with the fandom. "A+ Cute would buy again" or "so cute!" doesn't show me any angles, defects, or details. I know most people like AG, but more information is better than less!

      It's rumored that with the revamp, best friends are being removed--Ivy and Ruthie, the only two left. Along with them MG and Cece are leaving as well. MG and Cece have done poorly their entire release (there's many theories on the reason why) and so AG might be wiping them out. I have everything I want for Cece but the bed (and I can live without it) and I'm not getting Marie Grace.

    2. Woah! 4 dolls! Hmmm...I like Ruthie but not enough to buy her (rather have Kit) and I have little interest in Ivy or even Julie. Honestly, the only other historical dolls I like are Addy, Josèfina, and Kaya. Lately, I haven't been all that impressed with AG's stuff for them. Well, Addy has a great collection (or what's left) but Josèfina and Kaya's need some more items.

      I don't think I'll ever get an MAG or a GOTY (unless they make serious changes). Maybe, I'll just stick with the dolls I have. From what I've heard people complain about Marie Grace and Cecile's hair being too difficult for children to manage and that there are a lot of adult collectors that get them. Well, maybe not a lot since the sales are supposed to be poor. I personally like their hair but don't know how to do ringlets or pin curls. I'd probably just leave them on display. Do you ever try anything with Cecile's hair or just leave it alone?

    3. I don't like the AG Ruthie, so I won't be getting her, and I have "Ivy" but not as Ivy. AG's collections have been hit and miss lately--not because of some PC nostalgia but because they've been a little uncreative about what to release and haven't been giving characters a lot of backing.

      Cecile's hair is easy for me to manage. As long as you're not trying to snatch combs through it, it'll do absolutely fine! I think people claim her hair is hard because it's not straight, which has its own issues.

  5. First congrats on the award. Second, I'm honored and will start working on those answers tonight.

    Third as always excellent review. So those are what those boots belong to. I have them, the came with Kit's overall set off the Bay. Thought they weren't her work boots but wasn't sure. Now I know. Still love them because they are something I would wear. As in almost all the time. And I'm a sucker for tiny details (lined inside) and imprint on the soles.

  6. You're very welcome, and thanks for answering! Futurama and The Simpsons are both very solid choices for favorite TV show, they're definitely in my top five.

  7. Thanks for tagging me! I've been very lazy lately and haven't posted anything on my blog, but I'll get to it soon and will definitely answer these!


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