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

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Clothes Reviews: School Stripes Dress (2014)

Tyanna Lewis, looking funky fresh in the School Stripes Dress--with add-ons.
Fashion trends cycle. And while some people complain that this happens too much--generally when what they wore comes back in for the next round--it's always been a thing if you look back through clothing history. Men's clothing settled down around the early 19th century into the suit and pants set until a shift to a more casual look in the mid-to-late twentieth century that said "screw having to wear suits everywhere"; even with the flip to casual tops and pants men's clothing still hasn't done many major changes since about the 60s other than extremes in fashion and stand out subcultures. However, women's clothing styles changed and still change pretty frequently and often have an influence calling back to an earlier time. The Federal/Empire/Regency1 fashions gained influence from the idea of the ancient Greco-Roman period, and the idea of loose, free flowing clothing as opposed to the rigid corsets and firm, powdered formality of the earlier Colonial period. The empire waistline dresses of the 1960s see influence from the Empire era. The 70s had a lot of faux peasant influences and pioneer trends emerging from the bicentennial of the US. There has been at least one Victorian resurgence, not even counting the Goth subculture. And as my mom let me know through my entire high school career in the late 90s, the wide bell pants, midriff tops, and super high platform sandals that I perfected walking in were pretty much the same things she wore when my older sister was a tot.

This is a lot of words to say that yes, the 80s are back in fashion for young girls and it's now my adulthood joy to cringe at the return of floofy skirts, skinny leg jeans, oversized shirts, lace headbands, and leggings being worn as pants. And while I half cringe at this, on the AG side it doesn't bother me at all and I want more of it. Because I have two 1980s Historical Characters--best friends Kyung-Mi "Kimmy" Kim and Tyanna Lewis--and the resurgence in 80s clothing means I have build up a decent wardrobe for them from off the rack wear. For about a year or so, Target had a line called Play Wonder that with mix and matching could pretty much evoke the the 80s; I got enough to really built their wardrobe up, along with some older not quite 80s but close early moddie clothes. There's a few things I'd like to make that will require use of my old fashion designer sets, the sewing machine, and watching a lot of Punky Brewster and early Full House, but Kimmy and Tyanna have a pretty good style between the two of them and they're distinct in what they like to wear.

So when I saw the School Stripes Dress in the most recent releases, I was pretty much like "yep, that's pretty damn 80s, let's get it." I picked this up July 4th at AG Seattle while doing my part to celebrate the US by buying shit, so this is one of my rare "it's still out to get" reviews--this one just about two weeks after release. The set costs $28 and is one of the smallest modern AG clothes sets released; not including the charm, it has a striped long sleeved dress and a pair of pull on flopped tennis shoes. No headbands, no bracelets, no socks. Pretty damn basic. I'm not even looking at the eBay prices. The set hasn't even been out for a month. Just get it from AG direct, drag it.

Tyanna was picked to premiere the set; they both don't mind skirts but Kimmy is currently in her meet set.2 Tyanna Janelle Lewis--who joined when a friend in the AG community wanted to send her to a new home and knew I was looking for her for Kimmy's best friend--is bouncy, musical, fashionable, and more sensitive and less absent-minded than her best friend. She's into studying space and science (especially the solar system3), Girl Scouts, the best of  black 80s music (Pointer Sisters, Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Prince, etc), video games, being part of the gifted program at school with her best friend, dancing, and art. Her braids are not as fine/thin as I'd like, but I'm working on them--and on adding pony beads to the end. Since the outfit alone is not 80s enough for my or Tyanna's tastes, I've added on some components I will point out rather than just review the set alone, though my final thoughts will be sans what was added on.

On with the review!

Stripes going as many ways as a multisexual.
Dress: The dress is a one piece double sleeved t-shirt knit dress that simulates layering. Layering in the 80s was not so much for warmth as it was for fashion; wearing a smaller shirt under an oversized one or long sleeves under a short top was all the rage. And of course, leggings under almost anything that leggings could go under. T-shirt knit--or jersey knit--became a huge fashion thing in the switch from clothing being closer to "formal" in public to "casual." Not to mention, the 80s had a very prominent athletic clothing surge where workout clothes became fashion wear. So we got sweatshirts everywhere regardless of the temp outside, jersey knit dresses and tops, bodysuits as tops, spandex for all, leggings, sweatbands, legwarmers, tennis shoes away from the sports arena on a wide scale, and so on. 

The shade under the many stripes--heather gray--was all over the place in the 80s, as sort of a contrast to mutes some of the bright neon colors. The stripes go in multiple directions, and I'll go into more detail on each striped part. The sort of hodge podge not exactly matching style is one of the main things that makes this outfit feel so 80s to me. Oh, folks matched in the 80s--but a lot of "matching" was deliberate mismatching, such as stripes with spots, things going every which way, silk with leather, pastels with neon, casual with formal wear. It was an awkward and cute time for fashion. 

The bodice is cut low into a drop waist--another very 80s thing. Drop waist skirts started as a trend in girl's clothing in the turn of the century, carried through the 1920s with the very slim silhouettes before going back out during the Depression, and had a comeback in the 80s with the resurgence in Edwardian style clothing. Hence why Samantha's style of clothing was hella popular for girls to wear at the time of her first release.4

Wide neckline and pink stripes.
The neckline is wide and curved, trimmed with the same fabric as the main bodice, which has thin bright pink stripes over heather gray running horizontally. Wide necklines allowed for off the shoulder looks so that bra straps or tank tops could peek through. White people had a lot of awkward tan lines in the 80s.5

The functional U-shaped pocket on the left breast side has the same heather gray background, but the stripes are bright blue. The fabric is cut on the bias, so that the stripes run diagonally. 

Short sleeve.
The short, almost cap sleeves are of the same blue striped fabric cut again on the bias so that the stripes run diagonally to almost match the pocket.

Long undersleeve.
Under the short sleeves are longer lavender sleeves to simulate a wrist length t-shirt underneath. My flash makes the color look more "blue" than it really is. In the girl sized outfit, the tee is actually separate, and I think that would have added tons to the outfit to have it made like that. Actual layers on dolls can be very bulky, and it might have been more difficult to get the shirt on under the dress. So I don't like it, but I know why it's there and what it's supposed to look like. I prefer to push them up Tyanna's arms. Everything was pushed up or pushed down in the 80s.

Skirt. Well, Skirts.
The skirts--both of them, more of the layering--is only about mid thigh. The 80s was the era of the mini skirt--very few people wore long skirts, and going past even the knees was a bit of a push unless you had to deal with a school dress code. The only people I really remember wearing long skirts in the 80s were the Pentecostal girls in my schools. Most of the time your skirt was tight, short, and denim to contrast against your oversized t-shirts and tops. These are short circle cut skirts, which are some of my favorite style of skirt, and have no trim on the hemline.

The top skirt has purple stripes cut on the bias again. However, they are going the other way from the blue stripes on the pocket and sleeves. Contrast everything. At least purple, blue, and pink work together as colors.6

Shiny hearts.
On the right side of the skirt is a screen print foil metallic purple heart made up of  flowers, hearts, paisley shapes, and stars. I tried to get a straight-on shot of it. Paisley was slightly dated unless you were Prince,7  but the logo is pretty on point. Logos were everywhere, not just on the center of your shirt. Speaking of which, the girl's shirt has this as a logo. Grrr.

The 80s was when logos for the brand you were wearing became a huge thing; you wanted everyone to know what brand of anything you were wearing. So companies like Guess, Swatch, Adidas, Reebok, and Nike started making huge logos so that people could flash their brand. That reminds me, Kimmy needs a set of zipper legged Guess Jeans.

The second skirt underneath the first is the same plain lavender as the longer sleeves, and is also circle cut and simply hemmed.

I took a flashless shot to show the shade of lavender on the skirt and sleeves the best I could. Pastels against neon make more of that contrast thing happen.

AG Logo.
The American Girl logo patch is bright magenta with purple text and sewn on the lower right front hem. You can also see that the stripes don't fully match up on the sides. Not enough to irritate me, though.

And like 90% of AG clothing, it velcros up the back. B-. Very 80s and I'm loving the contrast, but AG you should have given me the shirt. Bitter.

Slouchy shoes.
Shoes: The shoes are flopped over purple and grey striped tennis-style shoes. First of all, in the 80s you would not have worn the sides so down as this. We wore them high up the ankle, puffy, and often with Velcro straps on the top--and if I could find those style of shoes for Kimmy and Tyanna I would squeal with delight. Le sigh. I'll let the slumped sides slide, since it was the height of fashion to not tie your shoes properly8 and have oversized tongues.

Sides up!
But the sides can fold back up, and for the majority of this review that is exactly how I kept them. The sides of the shoe are purple and grey striped--the grey is a darker grey and the purple is more of a plum style. Match the dress? I think not. The edges are top stitched in plum thread.

Gimme some purple tongue.
The tongue of the shoe is solid plum, and the toe is white rubber. The laces are three sewn in cords of white elastic, so there's no tying on. AG is currently in a trend of saying "fuck you" to actual tying shoelaces if they can get away with it. 

Shoe off and high.
The shoe off and up gives a bit more detail to the shape; it's very high ankle, which is why I think with a little modding on my part I can really 80s them out if I so choose. The front edge under the toe and back heel have slight ribbing, but the sides are smooth.

Peace, Love, and Butterflies but not in that order.
On the outer sides of the shoes are black print logos: a solid heart, a heart winged butterfly, and a peace sign. While these are logos, it was also considered pretty radical to draw on or otherwise decorate your shoes to make them your own. Especially with puff and fabric paint. I am planning to buy Kimmy and Tyanna some doll Keds in white and a pack of fabric paints and go to fucking town.

The lining--visible if you decide that flipping the sides over is your thing--is a pale lavender that doesn't match the skirt at all.

Waffle Sole.
The soles are white and waffle textured. B. They're all right, but I really hate floppy sides so I will likely never display and play them that way.


80s interlude! Put on some Tiffany and Debbi Gibson and Let's Get Physical!9

Getting electric with the leggings.
Back when I first got Kimmy and was working out her wardrobe, a buddy sent me some really 80s things for her, including four sets of spandex leggings in hot pink, lime green, dark blue, and electric blue. The electric blue work perfect for this set. Once I can get my hands on a serger I can make more of these; most leggings available for AG aren't 80s enough. There is very little that screams 80s Girl more than throwing leggings on under everything.

Teddy bears.
The Target Our Generation sets often comes out with some very outlandish socks, and I've gotten some nice ones for the 80s girls. These are lavender with blue bears on the side. The blue matches the leggings and dress stripes and the purple matches the shoes and all of it is pretty bitchin'.

Flop bow.
And finally, Tyanna is wearing a pink satin ribbon that came from somewhere and is tied with a floppy bow. She's more prone to headbands where Kimmy is a fan of her little side pony.

And that is how you 80s the hell out of this outfit. Go forth and get funky wit' it.


Overall Feel: Wow, the 80s are back, and this outfit reflects it. The dress-shirt combo with its stripes going every which way both matches and is mad contrast, and the short flippy skirt is probably my favorite part. The layered look is always awesome, but it's just that--a look, since doll clothes get really bulky when you put shirts under dresses. The shoes are not my favorite part of the outfit, and I'm likely never going to let them go floppy much if I can help it. They look better up for my use.

Cost Value:
$28 for a dress and shoes with no extras is kinda on the eeeesh side of costs. I'm not one to generally bitch about costs rising on AG stuff because gas ain't a dollar and AG outfits aren't less than $20 for most sets, but AG really should have added more to the set. Even a headband would make me less irritated. I got it over the Bright Stripes Outfit because it fits my needs and I think the other is utterly hideous and can't be redeemed to my gang. As it stands, I'd advise maybe waiting for a sale to knock the cost down some. 

Well first of all I'm using it as 80s clothes, so take that into account. It's very trendy for now and very trendy for then, and that's kind of not a good thing. I'm sure in a few years when the fashions swing out of the 80s resurgence and to another era, this will become very dated.

Mix and Match Levels:
Not exactly. Since the dress is a one piece, there's no layering on anything, and the shoes are really sort of unique. I've already mixed it up with some 80s stuff, but that's about the most you can get--leggings under, add some hair stuff and some different shoes. But the dress is going to be the main part of any set.

Final Grade:
B-.  Honestly, almost a C because if how little you get, but I like it for my uses. If it'd included more components--like a shirt or a headband or something in addition to the outfit, I'd bump this up to a  solid B. I just feel like more could have come with it.

Next time: Tyanna doesn't have this many pets.
Next time on AG Outsider Reviews: Pet Reviews! I've somehow managed to get my hands on four different style AG modern pets, and they can all get a little spotlight.

Especially that kitten. That kitten is cute as hell.


1 There are three names because it depended on what was going on politically in the Western countries. Federal: the Federalist party was the major influence in American Politics,  Regency: over in England King George III was too out of his damn gourd to rule, so his son Prince George ruled in his stead as Regent. Empire: Napoleon Bonaparte was conquering a lot of shit and building an empire. So all three terms can cover the era, but if you want to be most accurate talking about Caroline, she's Federal period, not Regency since she was living in the US. I'm educational!
2 This means Tyanna got to review before her bestie. Soon, Kimmy, I promise.  
3 Pluto was still a planet in the 80s, and most people are down for Pluto remaining one. Like me. Science can march on all it likes but I'm an astrologist.
4 And now that the 80s are back in fashion so is Samantha. Hmmmmmmm. I'm not saying it's marketing, but it's marketing.
5 I didn't tan much noticably as a kid both because I'm medium to dark skinned and because I spent a lot of time inside. I was anti-social before the 'Net. The net actually made me more social because I'm not obligated to be only stuck to the people in my area to make friends. 
6 Insert Bisexual pride here.
7 Music jokes.
8 Good for me since I didn't learn to tie my shoes steadily until I was 10--which by then was the 90s.
9 I know the song is by Olivia Newton-John. And that it's about fucking.


  1. Too cute! I had a closet full of those drop-waist t-shirt dresses when I was a kid.


  2. Tbh not a big fan of this dress. I like your idea how everything 80s comes back in fashion but somehow AG doesnt quite get the hang of latest fashions, such as multi-layered denim skirts, high boots, fluffy tutus and zebra print that I see now on so many girls. the latest AG releases you reviewed in your last post were hideous as for that "bright stripes outfit" with the striped jacket thats just smth for a 30 y.o. not a little girl. really disappointed in AG.
    btw really curious about your 80s clothes collection from Madame Alexander. do those clothes even fit on AG? could you maybe publish some snapshots of Tyanna wearing those? she`s such a pretty doll and the historical character you developed is kinda similiar of what I had in mind for an 80s girl. if they ever release one, I thought she should be really into the 80s music, and also into weird old time electronics. if only AG released smth like this! with old fashioned videogames and stuff. maybe you could write an email to AG about releasing an 80s african american doll?

    btw when will you review kaya`s new outfit? I hope you got it like you wanted cause it was a spring release and Im not sure how long it will last.

    1. The Madame Alexander clothes fit on AG; most 18" sets will fit on AG, though not always all aspects. I'll likely end up posting pictures of them in a review situation with Kimmy and Tyanna.

      I don't e-mail suggestions to companies because, having worked customer service for a major corporation, I know that companies can't take unsolicited outside ideas for anything, not even in jest, or acknowledge them beyond saying "we can never use this". And there have been people who have complained that a company have ripped off their ideas.

      I'll probably do Kaya's new set soon; I got it right after it came out and it's likely not going to be around much after the revamp.

  3. This is my favorite of the new releases, thanks for the review.

  4. Chellie from my group wants this dress (Chellie = 90% tomboy, but can occasionally be persuaded into a skirt, provided it doesn't cramp her style and nothing itches). I'm glad to get the details on it in depth before making any purchase, so thanks for this review!

  5. Pee Ess: Do you mind my asking what doll Tyanna started her life as? I'm guessing AG #50, though I could be wrong...and if you rewigged her, all bets are off! (heh) Anyway, she's very pretty and makes a good model.

    1. She is a #50, only modified in the sense she now has microbraids.

  6. Hey, no foul language!

    1. Go read the damn sidebar and don't tell a grown-ass woman how to talk.


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