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

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Clothes and Accessories Reviews: Grace's Baking Outfit (2015), Accent Braid Clips (2014), and Chic Bun (2013)

Baking, braids, and buns. Not those kind.
Oh, American Girl, I can't quit you even when I'm cussing you out and mad that your representation is lacking in the GotY line. Especially when you put things on sale. I will pay shipping to save decent amounts on stuff and store my things away to play with later. Right now and probably up to the 12th or so--it's rumored we're getting new stuff then--American Girl is clearing out stuff with a sale, the Snow Much Savings Sale, and doing sales in the store as well that I plan to take advantage of today in some part. The sale was initially loaded with WonderBread stuff upwards of half off, including the girl's sets.1 But even if they weren't selling stuff, I'd stay--because I want them to do better, and part of having a voice in complaining is saying "look, I buy your stuff, please try not to suck."

The last major sale was during Cyber Monday '14. It was kind of a clusterfuck--if by "kind of" you mean a massive one. But it resulted in me getting quite a few outfits, books, and the last few dolly weave sets I didn't have for half off: the Chic Bun for $10 (down from $20) and the fairly new Accent Braid Clips for $7.50 (down from $15). I initially thought about getting the bun for Marisol's color, but ended up getting it for Sonali because I knew that matched. The accent clips are back up to full price, but the Chic Bun doesn't show as available anymore. And if you remember my post right after V. B. Buttercream's launch, I got Grace's Baking Outfit as soon as available all while complaining that they so could have so gone with a doll of color. More details on each of those as I review them. Outfit--let's do this.  

Formerly ButterCream's, and now Sonali's and the other's Baking Outfit.
Grace's Baking Outfit is part of the whole "Grace is a baker and also she goes to Paris have we mentioned Paris--PARIS" collection that is being pimped hard this year. The outfit comes with a blue printed t-shirt, an apron-styled dress, leggings, flats, and a headband for $34; it'll hang around until Dec 31st when it will either go away forever or end up in overstock and sold in an 2016 early "take it away" sale. The outfit is on eBay because everything is on eBay, but seriously it's been only five weeks since the set came out and it's not going to start going out of stock before November at the earliest. Don't pay high costs. Seriously I'm going to need someone to explain to me like I'm two why people are paying inflated prices for something that can be bought off the website and is in stock, unless they live somewhere that somehow can't get AG stuff sent to it.

Sonali is once again slaying all these buttercream heaux and rocking this shit. To the review.


Headbands: Now in elastic for all your basic needs.
Headband: The pink headband is made of decorative iridescent stretch elastic.  Headbands, like quite a few 80s things, are back in fashion, but this one has a practical side given the whole baking aspect; that is. If your hair is long, you'd probably want to pull it back as much as possible. Not just to prevent stray hairs falling into batter and ingredients, but to keep it safe from fire and stoves.

Knot a Bow.
There's no sewing on the headband; instead, a knot is tied double and then the ends are cut at an angle. I could probably untie it, but that would defeat its purpose as a bow.

Around the head.
The elastic stretches around the head easily; I put it on by pulling it around her neck, and then pulling the rest of her hair through and over before pulling it up. Note that Sonali is not wearing this around the crown of her head and has her hair pulled through, because she is not an infant being forced into strict gender presentation before she can even hold her head up.

Now as a ponytail holder.
On a whim, I decided to also twist the headband to see if it worked all right as a ponytail holder. It has to be looped quite a few times, and I didn't pull it tight. But it looks fine and can add a second look for the super long haired girls. The only unitasker should be the fire extinguisher. [/Alton Brown].2 Overall, a B. It's not exactly upper craftsmanship, but it adds a cute pink touch to the outfit.

Cupcakes, so sweet and tasty!3
Tee: The tee is a light aqua cotton t-shirt. Grace's entire collection seems to be a mix of pink, blue, dark, baking, expensive, and Paris. I actually took the majority of these pictures after the apron dress ones, but I'm reviewing top to bottom, like I was taught even if descriptive essays are and will always be bullshit.4 It's a rather lovely shade of blue and this shade of blue is why I snapped up the set so quickly and so eagerly. I love that misty sort of sky aqua blue.

Neckline loose and lazy.
The neckline is loose boatneck style, but not super deep. Just enough to show off the neck channel. Here you can see the whole thing is seamed in matching thread that only contrasts against the pattern. We'll talk about that in a bit. The looser shirt collar is really nice.

Sleeves.
The sleeves come down to three quarter's length. Nice because they wouldn't have to be rolled up during baking or cooking. I like three quarters length because they can always be scrunched up to the elbow with little bulk.

Items part of the Grace Collection by American Girl.

Like WonderBread before her, Grace's stuff is labeled heavy with her name; another thing that around here will simply be a brand of clothing. Saige's stuff didn't have this, I'm pretty sure. It's a recent development. I'm slightly annoyed by the branding of GotY stuff with the character name, but at least the ones on this set aren't too bad. This is on the right sleeve and in the same color as the shirt. In theory this could be seam ripped off, but I'll let it stay.

Printy print cupcakes.
The print on the shirt is a unique design of cupcakes and squiggle ribbons tied into bows in a doodle style. I absolutely love it. It's not obtrusive or too overt, and the print is such that it looks good under something and over something. It looks like the kind of print that would be worn in real life clothes. Not to mention, it's perfect to embody Pinkie Pie.  First the skirt for Applejack and now this top for Pinkie Pie. American Girl is making my pony dolly cosplay way easy.5

When the set was first displayed online, it appeared to be wholly upside down. American Girl, I don't even know how you did that. That's a special kind of fumble on the roll.

Hemline.
The hem is a simple hem like you see on most tees and tops. nothing fancy. It's under the jumper anyways.


Back.
And the velcro closing up the back. This one goes low enough that there's minimal bottom gap. Also pretty awesome even if not on purpose--the back lines up with the front. The lines line up all around, which makes me think that it was mostly deliberate. A. The Tee is probably the best part of the whole outfit.

Keeping your clothes clean with style.
Apron: Over the tee and the upcoming leggings is an apron-styled jumper dress. That's English "jumper" as in a style of girl's dress that has shirts worn under it, not British "jumper" as in knit thing worn over shirts and called a sweater here. I'm going to call it a jumper the whole review because there is no way on Gaia's and Shaymin's Green Earth I'm typing out "apron jumper dress" a bajillion and a half times.

In the first book, Grace receives a an apron as a gift from Colette (the summer intern at her uncle's pâtisserie) that's black with pink polka dots; her cousin gets one that's orange with pink dots.  So there's some book precedent. The pink dots are small and in good scale. I tend to like polka dots--not as much as I like a good plaid or other print, but it's pretty nice. The pink adds a little color and brings out other pink elements.

Apron toppage.
The top of most jumpers are a lot like a set of overalls, even with clasping straps like them. In this case--to help push the baking aspect--this is designed like the top of an apron.

Inner lining.
The back is lined with the same fabric as the front, including the dots.

Heart dot! Cause I'm cool like that.
On the upper left breast of the bodice is an embroidered light pink heart that's crossed at the bottom, Grace's personal logo. (Almost everything she has has a heart on it.) Because of the mix of print and heart, a pink dot can end up in the center of the heart. I managed to get one that centered the heart perfectly. Go me, I didn't even try too hard! If you can get one like this, that's pretty awesome. But don't dig through them all at AG Place and insist on one like that for you. That's being a jerk.

Waistband.
The middle of the jumper has a pink waistband. The front part lays flat, with no gathering at all.

Tied up in a bow. 
On the left side is a black and white striped grosgrain bow tacked on well; the ends are V-cut. I'm so glad the bow isn't pink or blue. It adds a lot of contrast in its compliment. I'm also glad that it's not in the center of the waist like the one on the meet outfit skirt, because dead center front bows are so gagworthy to me.

Shoulder straps over the shoulder.
The two shoulder straps are very thin and don't tie around the neck, which makes this more "jumper" and less "apron." 

Backside.
The back of the jumper is nicely decorated. I like it when American Girl remembers that they are working with clothes that can be seen from all sides and so should look good from the back and not just the front. That being said, please refrain from taking pictures of the jumper on backwards like you have no home training or sense of how to dress yourself or your girls. Just take pictures of the back.

Center bowing.
Between the two straps are a pair of pink bows with center knots. These can slide to one side or the other. Please refrain from making them do that. They're sewn right into the straps so if you hate them and want to take them out you're going to be doing a lot of unsewing. I don't hate them, so no worries for Neth!

...and down to the band.
The straps go down to the waistband, where they hook closed. 

Velcros.
The straps close with a square of black velcro. The hook part is on the strap. Be careful and don't snag on the hair.

Loop and waistband.
The loop side is on the waistband; in the back, the waistband is elasticized.

Skirt. Swishy.
The skirt goes all the way around and, from how I know my clothing drafts, this is a half circle skirt--where if you laid it out it would make half a circle with a hole in the center. So half doughnut, but no one calls it that, we call it half circle. There's a seam up the back but no other seams on the skirt.

Hem.
The hem is again, just simple with no frills or trims at all. Just tucked under and seamed.

This is going on weird, yo.
Because of the design of the jumper, it needs to go on by being pulled over the legs, settled at the waist and over any shirts and then the straps stretched over the head and hooked to the waistband. It's complicated and means that hair can get messed up, so get the outfit on first and then fix the hair. A---the minus is because of the wonky way it has to go on. But if it had been straps at the neck it would have been even dumber.

Leggings. Actually thick enough ones!
Leggings: Unlike the thin ones that come with Wonderbread's SparkleDress of Doom,6 the baking set comes with thick pink knit leggings with an elastic waistband I didn't snap a shot of.

No skin showing.
The fabric is thick stretch jersey, a little similar to the waistband of the jumper. Now these are good 80s leggings: pastel and thick enough to be bottoms all their own instead of made of snagging stocking stuff.

Clothing tags, so everyone knows your brand.
And like the shirt, the Grace label is attached; a pale pink on the left side. B+. Nice job leggings. This and the top could be an outfit their own if the top were longer. As it is they can be bottoms to something else and will be dead useful.

Not a perfect look.
In fact I tried it. A longer shirt would be needed. Bring back hip length t-shirts! They cover your ass.

Moving on.

American girl, branch your shoes out.
Shoes: For footgear--cause rare is the modern outfit that doesn't come with it--we have basic light aqua ballet flats. To be honest, I'm getting more than a touch bored of the myriad of ballet flats that seem to be coming with any and all outfits. They seems to stick ballet flats or sandal variants with almost everything. C'mon, give us more creative shoes! A sneaker or a mary jane or mules or boots or something, anything else. Geez and crackers.

Bow toes.
These at least have a spot of difference: a set of black string bows that reflect back to the print on the shirt. Without this touch, they wouldn't have any change from the other types of shoes other than color.

Lining.
 Same plain white lining like any other shoes.

Sole.
And same black sole. Except they've added "American Girl" to the bottom and I haven't noticed. They compliment the outfit, but I'm starting to get tired of ballet flats with everything. Are they the only shoe little girls are wearing? I doubt it. Give us some damn foot gear variety. C.

*~*~*


Since we don't get inner illustrations anymore, the only drawn shot of the set is on the cover of Grace Stirs It Up. But it's important enough to get top book billing, at least. When the movie comes out, I'll see if it's displayed there; chances are it will be. But other than that, this is the only illustration.


And for girls, an apron with tie on at the wrist and criss-cross back straps. Sorry, kids, you'll have to get the outfit under it yourself.

 *~*~*
Overall Feel: This is a damned adorable set. The only parts that miff me majorly are the awkwardness of getting the jumper on by design--but as long as you do the hair second, then it's all right--and the quite boring ballet flats that seem to be with any old outfit lately. But the t-shirt more than makes up for it--blue and cupcakey--and I love the jumper bar the awkward way of putting it on. The leggings are nice and thick too, and with the headband help push pink without being too overpoweringly pink. I'm a touch disappointed they didn't make the shirt in girls' sizes; it would have been super cute.

Cost Value:
$34 is the going rate of outfits lately, and is the same cost of Chipolte's Mayo's Sweater Outfit (which I bought at full cost) and Wonderbread's Sparkly Attack Dress (which I ain't pay that much for). This one comes with a lot of components, more than some others. I think it's worth the cost for the components. Get it from AG Direct while it's still available. Don't buy it on eBay while it's still fresh. Just...c'mon son, it's out til November at least. When you do have to get it on the 'Bay, make sure that everything is there. Maybe skip the headband, but even the shoes should be present. If you can't get it with shoes, then have the rest.

Timeliness/Datedness:
It might date itself overall in the future, but right now it's a lot more timeless than some other outfits that have been out (*coughWONDERBREADcough*). The shirt is likely to be classic enough for any time that has t-shirts, and the leggings can go back to the pastel glory of the 80s.

Mix and Match Levels:
Very nice. The dress would be the hardest to mix and match to other things but as long as shirts under it are in a good color range for the jumper--blues, pinks, whites, maybe some other pastels--it should be fine. The top is excellent and should looks boss over jeans. as are the leggings. I plan to make a yellow and bright pink dress to put over those and get a Pinkie Pie cosplay set out of it. 

Appropriateness to Character: I may not care for ButterCream, but I have to give her this outfit as something that fits her style. She wears it on the cover of book two and will probably end up wearing a variant in the movie. I think in a few years this will be an iconic set, maybe even more than her meet set. I hope so. Most of her meet outfit is not very cute.7

Final Grade:
B+. Bake away!

 *~*~*

Who loves dolly weave? I DO I DO! Onto it!

Braid snap ins.
Accent Braid Clips: The accent braid clips came out with the Jewel Highlights for an initial cost of $15. Rather than pay that damn much, I got a set on Cyber Monday for half off. Like the other semi-natural sets, these come in Blond, Red, Light Brown, Medium Brown, and Dark Brown. Try to match, unless you're into that wild look of doing what you want.8 I got them in Sonali Near Dark Brown, and think they may work for Tara unless I have to go medium for her. At some point I might be assed to figure out which color matches which moddie and historical for your benefit, but I really have to be assed. So.

One thin, one fat.
Out of the package, we have one thin braid at about eight inches--20.5 cm for my non-US peeps--and a thickie at nine (23cm). Already I can see that it's not going to balance side to side unless I get two packs. They're braided nice and tight and the ends are fastened with clear rubber bands, the same kind I've used for my own braids and styling AG hair. If you want to unbraid these go nuts but it kind of defeats the purpose.

The top combs match the hair color. Makes it so much easier to hide your tracks if you're matching.

How to put your shit in.
The back tells you how to put your shit in, both in French and English. You'll just have to know one of the official languages of the Olympic Games.9 They work like the highlights: 1) Pop open the comb. 2) Raise your hair, slide it in. 3) Snap it in. 4) Hide your tracks.

Braid bits.
Since they were uneven in length and thickness, I put them both on the right side of Sonali's hair for the review. They actually look cute that way, like I did take a bit of her hair and braid it down. If they're going to be uneven they're going to be uneven together, damn it.

No tracks seen!
You can't even see where the combs are clipped into her hair. Because I'm excellent at hiding tracks, yo. They're cute for what they do, but the cost default is wince worthy. A B- for one being shorter than the other and the default cost. They're cute as accents, but paying full price for them is a terrible idea. If there had been two longs and a short, then I wouldn't be so crankyface at the cost. I may get another set, but only on sale.

*~*~*

Bunheads are the rudest people in ballet class.10
Chic Bun: The Chic Bun came out with the Super Ponytail Weave and Braided Headband in 2013. While those two are still kicking around, a quick search of the AG site a few days ago showed that this is not on the hairdo sets page or in stock. So it has been quietly retired. It must have been underperforming compared to the rest.

I had been debating getting one for Marisol when I saw it, but during Cyber Monday I just got it in Sonali. The cost initially was $20--an oh HELL no price--but I did snap mine up for $10. And then it went down to $8 but a lot of the colors were out of stock by then. Damn, I could have saved $2!

The bun comes on a form with plastic under it so it doesn't get squish-crushed. 

Braids for texture.
The hair is tightly woven and sewn onto the mesh form. There's three accent braids on the top--two out to the side and one down the bottom to form a T. Why just three? Four would have looked better and allowed more positioning. They all go to the center, because I know when I put my buns up I make sure to have braids coming out of the center.

More braid things.
Around the bottom edge is another braid to help hide the hairpiece part of the bun. Makes sense, but also adds to the "this is not my actual hair" look.

Combs and nets.
Inside are two sewn attachment combs. One is off center; I have no idea if this was on purpose or a mistake in the wear. You can see, because of my flash, the stitching that holds the hair and braids in place.So how do you get this sucker in? I didn't snap the instructions of the back of the package, so I'll just have to do it without.

Messy bun.
1: Get your girl's hair up as much as possible. The package says a looped ponytail but I did a twisted bun to try and get the hair tight as I could, and locked it with several rubber bands. If you have super long doll hair you need to get as much of it up as possible to cover it up. Make sure the hair is where you want to wear the bun, so if you're doing an updo really sweep that hair up tight.

2: Hook the bottom comb--in this case the funky sideways one--under the bun/ponytail holder.

3: Lift the bun over the hair, and once you know it's where you want it, hook the top comb in.

4: Be Fancy.

....fancy? If you say so.
It's loose with just the two combs holding it in place. When I use it again, I will probably put several bobby pins in as well to help keep it in place so her hair doesn't get snatched out. It's not quite Sonali's hair shade, but it's as close as I can get. But the main thing is that it looks HUGE on the back of her head, and the stiffness of the hair makes it really look artificial and stand out as fake. 

Now with Headband.
I tried to loop the headband from the baking set around the bun, but it looked even worse. So I just put it back on. That bun really is unwieldy. Well, if Sonali goes to a fancy witches' ball with her mom and Aunt Parvati, it can look like she looks her best.  


C-. It's really not that good of a hair piece, and looks much faker than anything else. Yes, even the hair streaks because those aren't trying to look like a natural hairstyle anyways. Don't pay costs for it. At all. Shit, I'm miffed I paid $10 instead of $8. Just get a sock and roll that sucker up and do a sock bun, like we did in the 90s. Come out with a better bun.

*~*~*
Jewel Highlights Intermission.
Before I close this review up, let me do a quickie dot. At the same time I got the bun and the braids, I also got the Jewel Highlights Set on sale for $7.50. But as it's pretty much just like the Bright Highlights Set except in dark purple, green, and darker blue, I'm not going to do a complete review of them like I did before. Just replace the colors from that review. And have a shot of the dark blue streak in Sonali's hair, cause damn. 

Blue on bronze skin, represent!11
Does she look good in everything. Must be the Black and South Indian in her.

--Neth

1 She did so well. [/sarcasm] So well they had overstock and still do. Except no, no she didn't, goodbye you.
2 Good Eats was such an awesome show. 
3 Cupcakes Cupcakes Cupcakes! Also, while you're down here, if you Google "Pinkie Pie Cupcakes", please skip any stories or images that looks like pointless gore. Bronos ruin everything good and wonderful about ponies. Go away, bronies.
4 I will rant for days about descriptive essays and how they fucked things up in my education for years, let me tell you internet. The only thing I hated more than those were how-to essays that made us go into absolute minutiae for every step like we were talking to a literal robot that would fuck up if we skipped a step like "open the jar" or "take the knife out of the drawer."
5 I'm not complaining!
6 Did I mention I got that on sale? I got that on sale. When I review it I am going to rip that dress up figuratively and literally. 
7 I mostly hate the skirt, let's be honest. 
8 I shouldn't really talk, cause I've done bright black and white yarn braids, but I wasn't going for a natural look anyways so.
9 Something I learned back in 1992--the Olympic Games are announced in English, French, and the host country's language if it's not one of those two. Also in the Parade of Nations Greece goes first as the origin of the games, other nations generally go in alphabetical order according to the host country's language, and the host country always goes last.  In the 2008 Summer Olympics, teams were ordered by the number of strokes in the Chinese translation of the team name, which put the US somewhere in the middle.
10 I'm going to have to get and purchase all the Bad News Ballet books. Ah, 90s Girl Gang Books. 
11 Ravenclaw PRIDE.

6 comments:

  1. Excellent reviews as usual! I've never paid much attention to what Grace's outfit would look like without the apron but dang!!!! Okay, Sonali is gorgeous so she makes anything look good, honestly. However, yes this outfit would've benefited from a longer shirt maybe even a little bit of a peplum (?) style blouse to cover the doll privates. Cause no one wants to see doll camel toe. Just my opinion. LOL! Other than that it is cute. I do like that color blue and the pink doesn't bother me. Thanks for sharing with us. :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Audrey (aka Aelindil)February 9, 2015 at 8:55 PM

    Ravenclaws REPRESENT!

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is off topic, but have you seen the sneak peeks of new outfits for the Beforever characters Neth?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I HAVE. Addy stay slaying with her wins, the Buttercream faves could never. I'm going to get Addy's as soon as I'm able to go back up to AG Seattle.

      Delete
    2. I know, when I saw Addy's, I was like "Oh my gosh, I LOVE it, I've got to have it! Can you do a review when you get it?

      Delete
  4. Awww... I wanted upside down cupcakes... Joking!!!

    ReplyDelete

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