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

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Clothes Reviews: Isabelle's Separates (2014)

Marisol has, of course, always been the better dancer.
I have bitched, and bitched, and bitched about Isabelle Palmer, GotY 2014 AKA Wonderbread the Ballerina. Just search my archives, you'll know it to be true. I have bitched about her face, her hair, her whiteness, her ugly clothes covered in sparkle barf, her stupid creativity center, and her books--I'm struggling to get through Book Three because gods, does everything go her way all the time. "Look at me design clothes and dance in everything and my favorite dancer ever in the world gives me one on one time and everyone thinks my clothes designs are sooo fucking special and blah blah blah eeeen~" I'd bitch about her movie but it can be summed up as "gods, Isabelle is the entire center of everything and the best part of the movie was Jade calling her out on her self centered bullshit."1

So yes, I hate Isabelle with the fire power of Mega Charizard Y using Fire Blast. But, like Chipotle Mayo, McSeattle, and EnviroLanie before her, I am not above jacking her shit for my own dancer needs. Or reviewing them for yours. I'm not a monster, after all. I'm just one hell of a hater. Over the course of the year, I've gotten Isabelle's Coral Sweater for $14, Isabelle's Rosette Leotard for $10,  Isabelle's Tutu for $14, and Isabelle's Legwarmers Set for $12. (I'm still debating the Wrap Sweater and dismantling her Metallic Chaos Theory Set.) I have also been able to obtain her most simple ballet shoes without having to buy that entire dance barre set for $10 and so here we will call them Isabelle's Practice Slippers. Total cost of this mix and match set? $60. I'd bitch more but all of Addy's BeForever newness (sans the two-book volumes) is in my house and waiting on review. (If you haven't noticed, my site icon is now her BeForever image. Thinking of sticking it on the side somewhere.) Come December, all this shit will pop out of stock bit by bit, get retired Dec 31st, and Wonderbread will take her place in the archives as we prep for 2015 and I get to raise my hopes only to have them smash into the pointy rocks of racism when they give me another white girl for a Connect Four Years of Failure. Plus we'll get all the fun of on the Facebook page loaded with ignorant ass parents complaining that they didn't order her in time so now Giftmas is ruined, or asking for her to be restocked.2 You got three months, maybe less, maybe more when it pops up as a sale item. Get on it.

Marisol, the resident Dancer of the AGGIB, is here to show off how all this looks 200% cooler on her tan skin. Also, partially through we get some modifications because fuck your design style WonderBread, that's why. Since these items are sold separately (with the exception of the tights and shoes), they will be reviewed and graded separately, then get the end overall feels. While the closest I have ever gotten to dancing is the Get In Shape Girl Workout Bar playset3 I sorta love the sport-slash-art of ballet and read hella books about it.

Yep, that certainly is a sweater.
Sweater: The Coral Sweater is made of thin sheer coral knit cloth, sheer enough that leotards and tanks are visible underneath. During long hours of rehearsal ballerinas have down time between sets, and they can quickly get cold standing around in their tights and leotards. Items like sweaters and legwarmers keep their bodies warm and their muscles warmed up. Often these are the wrap style sweaters so they can come off easy, but we're doing it different.

Coral is actually a color I care for greatly, so that's a plus in its corner. 

Necking it.
 The neckline is wide, but not off the shoulder wide, allowing the straps of leotards to peek out.

Warm arms for warm dancers.
The long sleeves go down to the wrists and have a simple hem. Well, the cuffs actually go past the wrists.

For the "fashionable" glove look.
Because the design is that you are supposed to pull the end over, covering your hand with the bulk and letting fingers and thumbs stick out.

The inner seam has a hole just for this purpose. I can't stand thumb holes in shirts, because I either wear gloves or stuff my hands in my hoodie pocket like a proper resident of the PN-Dubya. If my sleeves reach over my hands, I don't cut holes to let my thumb stick out. But the sweater looks just fine with this hole pushed up, if a little tight along the wrists.

Off center hem.
The bottom hem is asymmetrical, and higher on the right side than the left.. (The picture's blurry, but the Cousins are holding up my corner, so no picture retaking right now). I really don't care for asymmetrical hems. They bother me when I wear them, because I feel like one side or the other is too short or that something's been stretched out of shape. At least it's not the mullet hem where it's short in the front and long in the back, fashion what are you even up to. This is not the worst hem I've seen, though.

Tagging her shit.
The sweater is tagged with WonderBread's Logo and the AG stamp. Don't care for it but I'm not sure I can seam rip it off neatly, so "Isabelle" around here is a brand of dance clothes. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Back shut.
The back closes with low snag velcro. B-. I like the color and I adore sweaters, but the off kilter hem and thumb holes are irritating. At least I can easily cover the thumb holes. The hem's just there, uneven, unless I tuck it in something. And who in the fresh hells is tucking sweaters into pants?

For all your white leotarding needs.
Leotard: The leotard is made of pale cream style stretch knit, for those clean body silhouettes that are required in ballet practice and performances. Marisol needed a white leotard4 so I got this finally. It's not white white, more of a cream color. Or eggshell. Something awesome like that. There was a little lint stuck to the front I only saw partially through. That red line is not part of the design.

Many ballet classes require a specific ballet leotard color for your level of dance or insist on everyone in class wearing the same color, rather than let people pick what they want. I remember specifically from the Sweet Valley Twins series that Jessica got her ass chewed out by the ballet instructor for wearing purple to class because she was supposed to wear black, and me laughing at her ass.5

Princess Seams.
The leotard has princess seams which are probably one of my favorite seam designs for dresses and design. A princess seam is a long seam down the front of a shirt or dress that runs from either the shoulder or arm, over the point of the bust, and then down to the hem. This shapes a garment without the need for darts, results in no waist band most of the time, and makes for a slimming, sleek silhouette. Princess seams can be seen in clothing all the way back to European Renaissance times, which is likely where they get their names (though they weren't named until the 1880s, thanks, Moni). I love the hell out of princess seams. They're not easy to sew, but fuck do they look good!

Gathering implies breasts.
At the top of the bodice is slight gathering for an accent. If your doll had boobs instead of a tube for the body, this would be in the valley between them.

Sparkle rose shit.
On the right side comes an attached rosette made of gold metallic tulle. Because Wonderbread uses sparkles in all of her decorating. I only kept it on long enough to do the review. You'll see.

I can see your arm cup, Marisol.
The straps are cut as part of the bodice. There is visible arm cup, but not as jarring as spaghetti straps. I'll live because sleeveless leotard.

Basic leg holes.
The leg holes are basic non fancy elasticized openings. Flush and smooth.

Closing up the back.
Up the back, we close with Velcro. The princess seams do not extend up the back, alas. A--A+ with the rosette off. The only complaint I have is that rosette, and I take care of it good.

Tights. Whatchu want of them?
Tights: Unless ballerinas are dressed in a performance costume that has colored tights, she usually is expected to wear pale pink, light colored, or skin tone nylon tights, so that an instructor can look down the line and assess students easily.  These are the pale pink style, and aren't much special from any other AG tights. Same stretch, same elastic waist band, same neat toes. Marisol's glad to have more dance tights. B. 

For keeping those legs nice and comfortable.
Legwarmers:  With the tights we get two sets of knit legwarmers: pink coral and metallic silver. Gotta keep those calves nice and warm. The first set we're looking at are coral, and perfectly match the sweater. Since I spent all but the first ten months of the 80s existing7 I gained a stupid love of legwarmers and bright colored layered socks, and you can't tell me shit about legwarmers being anything but wonderful. I super love that they match the sweater, and is most of what got me to fold for the sweater, no lies.

Stepping on them.
Here we've got Marsiol with them half on her heels for that lazy dancer look. They stretch well over the shoes and stockings.

Silver sparkle.
The silver ones have metallic threads running through them. If you make me pick between silver and gold, I'll jump for silver, so these are really cute. These also fit nice over the tights. Since they don't fully fit Marisol's Dance aesthetics, I'm actually giving these to Kimmy.

Off the leg.
The silver ones are shorter than the coral ones, but that doesn't detract from their appeal, and they will work good in my 80s looks. I give them both an A. 

Decent ballet shoes!
Slippers: The slippers are basic pink ballet slippers. Again, to match the full line of a ballet looks the slippers are almost always pink. Classes are finally allowing skin tone slippers, but if you want the little girl in ballet look you give her pink. Whatever.

Ribbon back.
 Rather than have tie on laces, AG has gone for elastic ribbons. They are sewn so that the loops, when put on right, will look tied around the ankle. Take your time and don't rush, and they'll look good.

The toe is gathered under to the sole, and the shoe knit fits well over the foot and tights.

Insert "Dancer's Sole" joke here.
The soles are pink leather; the right one is stamped with the AG logo. Yes this is shot upside down. I wasn't flipping the picture the right way for a foot logo.

Off the foot.
 Off Marisol's feet, you can see the light inner lining and the loose elastic ribbons. They hold their shape well and will tuck nicely with her other ballet things in her dance trunk.

A+. This is probably the best thing out of that entire barre set and I'm pissed that, bar knowing the tricks, you have to pay for the full set. If AG has any sense they will sell just these kinds of slippers with their next ballet set. 

Floofy gold tutus.
Tutu: The tutu is made of thigh length tulle. Unlike all the illustrations of it, it does not stand out stiffly at the waist and sinks down a little, so is a bell style as opposed to the pancake.  Doesn't bother me, that's how a lot do it. Again, Marisol has a lot of tutus in various styles but she didn't have a--well, she didn't have one that matched her--okay, she didn't have this one and I'm a sucker for a tutu in ballet wear.

And then, looking details up, I laughed a mighty cackling laugh. For "tutu" is a french word that is an alteration of cucu, which is itself a reduplicated form of cul. Which means butt. Yes, we've been calling the ruffle tulle skirts around dancers's middles for ages because the French were going "hee hee hee we can see your ASS girls~"

Hee hee hee butts. 

The waistband is plain white elastic, and there are no snaps or closures. Pull it around the waist and let it settle.

Ragged edge.
The edges are left unhemmed. Tulle is rarely hemmed for tutus or most things since it doesn't fray.

Layers and layers, like onions.
There are four layers alternating between light small white mesh and a larger, gold mesh; the bottom gold layer is slightly smaller. The gold mesh is the same that makes up the rosette on the leotard.

The whole look.
And with the whole look of tights and leotard. B. While it's not a color scheme I personally like, it's not a bad tutu. (heheheheh butts.)


Interlude before the end: Trying other shit and pics of the stuff.

All white.
Swapping the pink slippers out for the toe shoes that came with the Ruby Ballet set make for a nice clean look. I am a fan.

Off with ye, rose!
But that rosette's gotta go. It's just got the one seam, so pop!

Lining under it.
Under the part for the rose is sewn in cloth backing for stability. I'm not snipping that out, so it'll just be there.

Flower free.
Flower free. I can live with lining better than the rose. I didn't throw it away; It's going to be turned into a hair clip or ponytail holder, to match the tutu.

Wonderbread is in a tutu and leotard much like her Rosette Leotard and Tutu on the cover of Book 3, To the Stars, Isabelle (the book I'm choking to get through). Along with her sparkly toe shit ass slippers from the Dance Case, which I refuse to get because I hate those slippers.

In the illustrations of said book, one scene shows her with the sweater, leotard, tights and leggings (both on at once). She is again wearing those sparkle ass shoes. I hate those shoes so much.


Overall Feel: When put together, they do make for a great dance set. I knew that I would get the leotard and tutu before the end of the year and got the tights early on, but other images of the coral sweater gave me eventual love for it. The wrap top is up in the air at present. The separate pieces aspect to the dance wear is actually hella appealing, because I didn't have to get pieces I don't want in Marisol's dance colection. Like that wrapped, twisted dance top. The fuck is that shit.

Cost Value:
Each part is about 10-14 dollars, so two parts to make a full outfit will run you into the $30 or so range. My whole setup cost $60, which is on the high side, but I did manage to get the shoes I so craved. If you already have tights and don't care about legwarmers, then skip over that set since I know you can probably find another set of tights for cheap. Come end of the year people are going to double the prices, and paying that much is ricockulous. It's just dance wear.

It's ballet wear, so in theory it should be near timeless. Ballet wear has sort of had a steady feel for some time now in the modern era: leotard, tights, slippers. However, the things like thumb holes and metallic tulle really give it a now feel, and those are going to show age later I think. Still, the parts I got are going to work well for my girl.

Mix and Match Levels:
Since that's the whole purpose of the separates, they mix and match well. Outside of that, they will work with other ballet sets I have, and I can mix things in and take stuff out at will. The metallic legwarmers have already been donated to the 80s. Will they work with other casual wear? Yes and no. I can see the improved leotard sans rosette under a wrap top and with jeans or some other bottom, and the sweater over jeans or skirts, but it will still have a dancer's feel. If you're going for that, like I often do with Marisol, it shall be fine.

Appropriateness to Character: Wonderbread is a ballerina, and these components show in her books. So I'll give her that. But that's the only thing she's getting from me, damn it.

Final Overall Grade:
A-. Get the stuff before it's gone, if you have a dancer in your gang.

Like Marisol, who's looking wonderful~

1 The worst part for me was Renata being cast as a black girl--and all the unfortunate implications thereof. First, they gave her a super bitchy personality which made a White vs. Black dichotomy. Then they went in even deeper with a boo-de-hoo backstory that her (implied) black parents don't come see her dance because they are always going to her older brother's football games and care more about sports than dance. Those black people, they only understand sports! And then having Wonderbread solve all her problems by saying "just talk to your parents so they will understand that dance matters too and not just the sports!" and it working off the bat. White Girls, Saving Black Families from the Sports Since Forever. Also included but are not limited to: making brown!Luisa in the book an Asian girl; spontaneous cafeteria dance offs; and our movie high tension point: does Wonderbread nail a double pirouette on stage at the performance of the Nutcracker ballet? Spoiler: Yes and everyone cheers like she just solved world hunger. The best part of the movie was Jade. Can we get a whole movie with her?
2 This will be among the comments that no doll looks exactly like their princess, that they missed a sale and demand to get in on it, "BRING BACK FELICITY, HOW WILL MY CHILD KNOW ABOUT THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR WITHOUT HER" and "DID YOU KNOW AMERICAN GIRL DOLLS ARE MADE IN CHINA HOW CAN WE CALL THEM AMERICAN." I swear some people need the taste slapped out their mouth.
3 Note to self: Give Kimmy and Tyanna mad 80s workout gear. Let's Get Physical!
4 Between all the ballet outfits out there before, none of them had a basic white leotard.
5 Sweet Valley was not my favorite series growing up. Blah blah blah perfect blond twins and one is serious and nerdy and reading and one is wild and free and wants boys, they live in California and are wonderful and all this wild and crazy shit happened. Also I can't remember a single black person anywhere in that fucking series.
6 You doll can have boobs, but you'll need to take off her head and literally pad her chest. Or buy her a padded bra. Hee, dolly boobs.
7 If you want to get squishy and technical, I was there those first months of 1980 floating around in amniotic fluid.
8 Yes, I'll get it, I won't even lie to myself. 


  1. I enjoy your straight-up blog! You mentioned a trick to getting the slippers without having to starve my kids for two days buying the whole dang barre set. Could you possibly share that tip?

  2. Great review. I happen to be a sucker for finger holes--I am just trendy that way! Ha! I Just wish she would have a PLAIN black leotard in her collection--afterall that is what most ballet classes require. I have been searching for plain pink slippers too and now that I look at these ones they do look well constructed, ugh? May I ask about the secret too?

  3. I have the coral sweater and it is SO MUCH CUTER on Cecile than it is on Isabelle. Your Marisol rocks it too. :D

  4. I would *love* to see '80s workout gear for dolls! That would be awesome!

    And yes, this collection looks much better on Mari than on Isabelle, especially the coral shirt. It works very nicely with her skin (vinyl?) tone.


  5. Thanks, now I have "Let's Get Physical" as my earworm. Ugh!

    Great review as always. The whining about not getting the doll is just beyond annoying. I regret not getting Saige when she was out, but I don't go on and on and on about it. That's what Ebay is for! "Your lack of planning does not constitute an emergency for the rest of us."

  6. Do you know what GOTY 2015 looks like?

  7. Oh dang Mari is so cuuute! btw you probably already know this but here you can get cheaper dancewear for her:

    I know the Our generation outfits got some ugly rubber shoes but the dance clothes aint bad. Than there s dollie and me dance clothes that are quite nice:


    Im pretty sure Marisol would look gorgeous in purple or light pink. maaan Im so jelous gonna get me a Marisol doll at ebay! they should release a hispanic or black doll c`mon man its not funny anymore. is GOTY line supposed to be "the white girl of the year"? Ugh.


  8. Thanks so much for the detailed review of her clothes! I am not a fan of the doll at all either, but i have to agree that her dancer themed outfits are pretty good for the price. Thanks for taking the time to cover all of the details! Your writing is brilliant, by the way :). I can't stand it when they make a character so boring and with no real struggle or conflict. I think in the long run, for me, it makes me feel worse about my own issues, lol.

  9. Why can't more AG reviewers be like you? Everytime one of those mommy bloggers review a doll they all say "She's very pretty, and a good example for girls and blahblahblahbalahahblhah." And the moment one DARES to tell the truth there's an angry mob filled with eight year old girls. Thank you for being alive!

  10. I got ballet shoes with the Sparkle Dress, but they're impossible to get on the doll's foot, so my dolls will just dance bare-foot.


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