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

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Historical Clothes Reviews and Historical Accessories: Addy's BeForever Meet Outfit and Accessories

It's the all-new Addy-Meet Review, starring Addy Walker.
Oh, Addy. My first and forever American Girl. As soon as I saw her BeForever revamp, I knew that she was going to top it all and threw money at AG for her and her things. She's winning the game better than anyone with what she's been getting, including Samantha and her Goddamn Gazebo. Yes, I have innate bias and I don't even care that I do, because Addy needs and deserves love. Addy is the best character and written with a massively poignant character arc since she didn't get her stories mealy-written or the teeth torn out like some characters--Samantha, your potential was so great. People who claim otherwise or don't give her her props and shit on her need to get a clue and a half and get the racism out of their souls.1 I've yet to get her tweaked books other than her Journey book, but I'm aiming for that eventually. And not just hers, but all the others. Again. Even if I have them which I do, The BeForever Books added text and tweaks, as I saw messing with Samantha's for a bit in the store, and that's just enough change for me to desire a whole new set. The life and struggles of a bibliophile are many and take up lots of shelf space. If they offer the books at Costco again, I'll likely bite down for that as the best bargain of a box set.

But let's not dwell hard on that. This is a clothes review, not book blather, and clothes review means clothes cuteness. Since Molly's out of the game for the forseeable future and not likely to come back any time soon, Addy's taken over the blue color2 and that includes her meet clothes, since we're doing color coordination now. Gone is the classic cinnamon pink dress and cap toed boots that I reviewed some time back; now when Addy is given brand new freedom clothes, Miss Caroline hooks her up with a whole new fancy set: a blue calico bell-sleeved day dress, white drawers, white stockings, and black button side shoes.

I was almost ready to buy a whole new second Addy to get the new outfit and still may get one later on to help push the Addy love. But AG smartly offered the new outfits for all the revamped girls on launch day for a flat rate of $36, and I was lucky enough that there was one left in stock at AG Seattle when I went to the BeForever launch that I snatched right up. Fates with me. The boxed new outfits--which will each get their reviews as I get to them--don't come with any hair ribbons or decs in box, so if you want those you will either have to call in and order them or get a new girl, and I have blue ribbon around the house everywhere so I just clipped two of those to get her hair in the new style. But you get everything else. Her accessories also were revamped; she still has her cowrie shell necklace that means a lot, but her bonnet has been revamped with a new black plaid ribbon and she has given up the kerchief for a practical quilted tote bag for the low cost of $24. Yes, it cost me $60 plus tax to outfit her in her meet set again, and I don't even care because it's Addy. There's sets on eBay, and they cost varying amounts, but don't buy things from eBay that are available to you standard. I took these pictures right after she got her new set--the same time I took the ones for Josefina's review--but it took a while to get to. My review also includes the new Mini-doll, since I have one of those too.

Before I get into the review, news up. Yes, I know about the upcoming Fall BeForever Character on the docket and her three books, as well as the upcoming Journey book for Josefina. But until I have more details, I'm not going to speculate. I don't like speculation that can't be confirmed.  That's how you say wrong things. And one last Josefina thing--I recently got her older rebozo, so go back and look at her Meet Review to see it!

Same bonnet style, different bonnet trims.
Bonnet: Addy still has a straw bonnet, for the respectability of wearing hats in public like one did in the Civil War Era. It's got the same basic shape as her old style--the cottage bonnet style, giving her very little change in hat shape unlike several other girls' revamps in style. But it comes with several more upgrades than her older hat.

Bow to the side.
The bow and ribbon for one. Her original hat has a cotton calico ribbon; this has been replaced with a taffeta-esque black gingham ribbon with black trim on the side. It holds a tied bow a lot stiffer than the older cotton ribbon. Also, we're tying ribbons to the left now, not the right. The ends are still V-cut. I like that black more because it feels like it'll go with a lot more outfits than the blue one because of the neutrality of black and white verses dark blue calico.

Double trims.
Rather than have the ribbon pleated on the bottom edge, it's just straight sewn. It would have looked a little cuter pleated to me. But this is made up for in the fact that Addy's new bonnet has trim not only on the bottom but the front.

Bias trim.
There's black bias cotton trim both on the front edge and the bottom edge now; the older bonnet had trim on the back bottom edge but not the front. Moving up in the world, Addy.

Same woven pattern.
The rest of the hat in shape and design is generally the same to the prior one, with straw spiral woven into a bowl hat style that is then cut off at the bottom and trimmed with black bias cotton tape.

Hats off!
The hat now has the longer ribbon on the right, so we're tying our ribbons the other way to have even. Again, try not to do it under the chin if you want super cute ribbon tying. The AG tag has now been moved to the other side inside, but you still can't see it once the hat is on.

Old vs. New.
The older bonnet next to the newer shows that the differences are mostly in the ribbon and trim; enough that I felt fine getting a second set of accessories. The older ribbon is fraying slightly on the edge, so it might get Fray-checked soon; it's also got hella wrinkles. I gave the classic bonnet an A and I'm giving this one an A as well. Cute style, with some noticeable upgrades.

Cowrie Shell Necklace of Story Importance.
Cowrie Shell Necklace: Addy, as I predicted way back when, keeps her cowrie-shell necklace on black cord; unlike Kit's compass necklace that was crammed in to her accessories, hers has deep story significance. There's been some tweaks, but unlike the hat I feel these aren't as good. Not terrible, mind, just not as good.

The center seam is now an indent instead of a full grove, making the cowrie shell a solid piece of plastic. It knocks some of the realism off. The cord is still hitched through a hole at the top.

Old vs. New.
With the older set next to the new, you can see the solid center of the new and how the shallow indent stands out next to the actual full groove of the older style. Black paint would help add to the illusion of depth on the shell; I'll probably do that to mine later on. There's also subtle shading around the edges of the older shell, helping add to the realism.

Yellow line.
The back of the shell still has marbled color variation and a thin yellow line on the back. It's slightly lighter than the original, but it doesn't look artificial.

New on the left, older on the right.
With the necklaces side by side, you can also see that the newer one has sort of a grey sheen overall; it's slightly duller than the cream color of the older one.

 The shells are roughly the same size; the cord is now thinner on the newer necklace as well.

The new one also adjusts with basic slider knots that adjust so the shell can hang at mid to upper chest, not all the way down to her waist. A- --nice enough, but with some significant detraction that make me like my older one more. I'll keep using my older one--which Addy practically doesn't take off. The new one will find purpose, though--perhaps one of my black moddies will wear it.

Toting things around!
Tote: Addy has given up the ol' kerchief from the runaway, and the half-dime3 and water gourd with it. We've been cut down to three items--headstuff, "jewelry," and a purseling style bag. Oh, don't make that face, AG started that with Kaya and did it for Rebecca and Caroline too. It's a lot less little extras, though I'd miss the half-dime if I didn't have one. Now instead of hauling around a kerchief, Addy has the cutest little quilted rectangular tote bag. It's just about the size of the one that came with her old school supplies4 and loops around her wrist for carrying many little things like lose change, school stuff, and sewing things.

The design is many little calico scraps connected together. While not actually pieced together from scraps--I shudder to think of sewing all that together in actuality on a tiny scale--it's made to look like it's made of scraps of calico and sewn together in zig-zags with yellow "thread." Waste nothing, yo. Fabric is expensive.

Handle your shit.
The tote has two short handles, and around the edges of the handles and top edge of the tote is yellow topstitching.

Damn you cute lining!
Inside, the tote is lined with the exact same fabric as her blue dress. When me and my buddy found this out we squealed so much. It's just the right accent to match her outfit. Inside of course, are the standard AG tags. A--I wanted Addy to have a full on purse instead of her kerchief and I got it. I'm so loving this tote.

Speaking of dresses...

Addy Walker's Badass Blue Beforever Dress.~
Dress: Gone is the basic double-pink long dress, bar buying the classic set. Addy is now styling and profiling in a gorgeous blue short-sleeved day dress. While older women were expected to cover collarbones and arms in most day to day wear--generally up to the throat and down to the wrist--younger girls were given a little more freedom and so could get away with short sleeves and boat necklines while still keeping to the wide skirts popular in the era. The dress is again given to her by Miss Caroline, with the story text tweaked to match.5 The style actually fits more for being a gift in South Carolina; while it's a little cold for the Philly weather, probably, it makes sense that South Carolina in the late summer to fall would have shorter sleeved dresses. The dress is made of bright blue print calico.

History time! The cut and style of a dress in eras past was not what made a dress expensive or cheap anymore than this is true today. It's the materials, cloth, and trims that generally determine the "richness" of an outfit in a past era. Working and poor class people would try their best to have the same style of fashion if they could make or simulate it, albeit of cheaper cloth or recuts of older fabrics. Not to mention that with the invention of paper patterns by Ebenezer Butterick6 later on, styles were available to many more people (though women's clothing was not in patterns until about 1866). Much like my mom bought bell bottoms for me and my older sister at thrift shops on the cheap and seamed them in to fit the slim lined aesthetic of the 80s, people would take older clothes and update them to fit the newer silhouette of fashion. (It's why some older work clothes are hard to find, because they were either used to rags or changed to fit new looks or cut down for the next person in line to use.)

All that is to say that if you complain that Addy's dress is too "rich" for a poor ex-slave to have, I'll just smack the bloody taste out of your mouth and send you to pick it up later.

The bodice is cut as a semi rectangle. This allows for the dropped sleeves that were widespread of the era.

The neckline is trimmed with black grosgrain ribbon. All the ribbon on the dress is black grosgrain, so I'm mentioning it now so that I won't have to say it over and over and can just say "black."

The open boatneck shows off some of the cloth body. I'm less bothered about doll collar necklines than doll middles and shoulder joints. Go figure. 

Bodice gather.
The bodice is slightly gathered at the front to a semi-centered point.

Short sweet sleeves.

The sleeves are bell sleeves that flare out slightly and stop at the middle of the upper arm. It's possible, if you wish to make a set of undersleeves, to tuck those up and under for a second look to the dress. Things to do later.

Sleeve edge.
The edge is trimmed with black.

Shoulder bows.
 On the shoulder seam are pinned two black bows with V-cut ends.

The waistband is a slightly wide middle band, trimmed on the edges with black.

Back band.
The waistband trim goes all the way to the back.

Under the band.
It's attached on the sides and at the back closure, but not across the actual waistband seam; I can slip my fingers underneath loosely.

Underneath the seam of the bodice and skirt is a basic gathering to each. Just make sure it's scooted down into place when the dress is on, so the waist seam isn't visible.

Swirly whirly print stuffs.
The print's a mix of stylized flowers in blacks and whites and dots all over. My flash makes it look pretty bright, but it's a bright lovely blue--that sort of sapphire color that matches my wedding ring. Gods, does the color just pop against Addy's skin. The skirt is a single piece with no side seams.

Hem trim.
All around the bottom edge two inches from the basic skirt hem is more black trim, all the way around the edge to the back where it meets.

Back closure.
The back closes up with matching blue velcro. A+. Gods, is this a beautiful dress. I love the pink one and always will, but I love this one just a little more. C'mon, blue.

Drawers are different.
Drawers: Addy's drawers, unlike Josefina's, have had a noticeable change in form if not function. They're still long knee length drawers of white cotton, but the trims and cut have changed. You can also see that I don't use the crinoline and chemise AG advertises that was swiped from the NOLA girls. Addy around here wears just a simple white cotton ruffle-edged petticoat and on occasion a chemise I made for her under some of the other higher necked sets.

Where her older drawers had a v-front decorative panel, there is no longer one; they're just a simple gathered waistband all the way around like Cécile's. Alas, V-front, we knew ye well.

New trim too.
The trim is also different--larger eyelets with floral gathered style dots and a scalloped edge. They're still different from the trim on Kirsten's, Cécile's, Caroline's or Marie-Grace's so you shouldn't get them mixed up. My underwear post still remains relevant, though I'm likely to go back and edit the full shot of these in. Addy and Julie are the only ones that got new drawers or underpants in the revamp. A, though I wish the V-panel was still there.

White stockings.
Stockings: Addy has also ditched the black ribbed stockings for plain white knee-high stockings. They're still thick and stay up fine, but there's no texture to them at all. They get the job done, but if they'd had some more to them than just being there I'd like them more. B-. I'm probably going to mix it up with the stockings from Addy's Shoes and Socks Set.7

Classy boots for classy free girls.
Boots: Goodbye, leathery black cap toed boots! Now Addy's walking the streets of 1860s Philadelphia in black canvas semi-fancy button up boots. These are something like high button boots, though not the fancy scallop edged style that Samantha has as a rich girl of the Edwardian era.8 For one, these are closer to buttoning down the front than fully along the side. Button-up the side shoes came into fashion in the Victorian era, and much like fancy shoes and plain work ones, the difference between cost was materials.

Toes and buttons.
The cap-toe is still done, but in the same canvas as the shoe. There's a side seam--straight--with four black shank buttons on the edge. They are just for show and don't actually close the shoe up. AG doesn't do that anymore, and my hand cramps thank them in ways.

Shoe off and front.
The front has a seam as well, down the center. While shoes as late as the 1850s were made on single lasts that allowed the same one to be used for both a left and a right shoe sole, shoes were generally designed in such a way to have a left and a right, especially women's and girls' shoes. After decent wear, shoes were molded to fit one foot or the other.

Back closure.
American Girl has for some time been running velcro up the back seam to close boots, and these do the same. While I don't care too much for the velcro on Mary Jane style shoes--buckles are nicer!--on boots they've been fine for me. They're much better than me trying to figure out how to button tiny buttons like I have to every time I bust out Sam's summer shoes.

The soles are brown plastic with a slight heel. Ugh, AG heels. At least these are not as bad as others and Addy doesn't seem so off balance in them. But I could have lived without. Accurate, but irritating. A. Not a plus for the heel, but otherwise very cute.


Mini-doll, complete with glare.
Mini Doll: With the BeForever revamp, mini-dolls were also revamped in huge, not just outfit ways. All the girls except Josefina were redone, and she should be on the way soon. (She'd better be.) With my complete lack of impulse control and desire to compare mini-Addy to my other mini Addys, I went ahead and got her. 

I took a terrible picture of the box. Live with it. The mini box now has a display showing the mini BeForever book in the window as well as the doll's face, as well as saying there's a mini-doll and a abridged copy of the first volume of the books that come with the doll. Now you can see it all! 

Inside is a plastic cover to hold the book up and your mini doll, for doll recursiveness. You can probably already spot something right away, I'm getting to it. Like the old Minis, Mini-Addy has a painted face and eyes and rooted hair. They completely redid the design for the minis, so there are slight face differences.

Mini book.
The mini book is the cover and first few chapters of Finding Freedom (also known as the first three Addy central series together). It stops partially through Chapter 5 but I'm not cranky about that. I don't have mini books to read tiny text. The book is smaller than the older meet book, but that one was truncated too. So.

Mini doll alone.
The mini doll is outfitted much like her larger counterpart, in a blue dress and the rest.

She has rooted hair in pinned up braids that are trimmed with blue ribbons. Not textured, but it looks gorgeous anyways--and I'm never taking mini-Addy's hair down. It's too cute, and gives me something to look at when I want to do Addy's myself.

Things are changed to fit the smaller scale. The print is a smaller version of the blue day dress and does not have the tiny dots. The bodice isn't gathered and the black trims along the neckline, sleeves, and waistband are satin-stitch embroidery. 

The shoulder bows are still present, but are now satin ribbon. 

The bottom ribbon trim is also satin thin ribbon.

She's got on white drawers--funny enough, the trim is a lot like the older style drawers.

Tiny shoes.
White stockings--not as high. And little black boots with three black thread embroidery dots as buttons and velcro up the back. Black soles, though.

All right, all right, I'll point out what everyone else sees, fine fine fine, twist my arm why dont'cha. 

VINYL. Le gasp.
The dolls, instead of being the strung and cloth bodies like before, are now all vinyl. No strung hips and shoulders--the whole torso is made of the same vinyl as the arms, legs, and head. I didn't snap it but really low on the butt is an American Girl stamped indent and numbers. This means less poseability, since the joints are now standard flange style. But I'm not trying to pose my mini dolls in radical poses. I think the vinyl bodies are much nicer for my needs, especially since it means no long body tags sticking out of the sides that have to be wrapped around before I put on their clothes. Not that I'm changing clothes all the time on Minis.

New on the left, older hybrid on the right.
Old and new quick comparison. My older is a hybrid; she has a button dress which was later phased out and done as embroidery buttons, but is still a Mattel one with painted eyes and rooted hair.9 The newer one seems to have a more open and engaging face, and I like it better than the older style. She also stands up straighter. and her clothes don't seem as bulky on her body. 

But they can swap.
But if you just really can't stand vinyl bodies--or would prefer to have a vinyl in older clothes--they can exchange outfits. This is my shoeless mini-Addy, and I just tested the dress and snapped a quick shot soon after getting her. Enjoy my sweatpants.

A. I generally didn't care for older minis--they seemed slightly off to me, and I only generally get minis of Addy, limited editions, and those for dolls I don't have like Julie and Ivy. (A notable exception would be Cecile, who I have a standard mini of.) But the newer ones are super cute. I'll probably end up getting a few more. 

Tie ins and extra a hoy-hoy!

Addy's now shown everywhere in her blue dress; here she is on the cover of her Journey book, A New Beginning. I was ready to be meh on the Journey books, but they're pretty good for choose your own (always pretty happy) ending. Here she's wearing a shawl over her shoulders and carrying packages. Her necklace is up like a choker. Nah, it won't go up that high, so don't try it, the closest it goes is mid-chest. There's also the Ribbon Print Sundress, which is all the dressing up like Addy with none of the direct cosplay.

In Addy: An American Girl Story, Harriet wears a dress in this style on the Christmas Spelling Bee. She's got white sleeves under the edge and more trim on the hem, but it's otherwise much like it. So now we've got the cute rich dress, Harriet. HAH on you. (Image is sourced to Seattle Children's Theatre.)

I decided to try the older hat and black stockings with her new set. The black stockings work--they're black--but the bonnet not so much. But it can be done if that's your thing.

Addy the day of BeForever launch, in her super cute dress, as soon as I got home.

Got my nails did to match. Well, I did my own.

Since I have not bought a new Addy--and even if I do she'll be repurposed into a modern girl--I did Addy's hair in the pinned up double braids myself. It could be neater, but this was taken after much hat off and on. My Addy tends to have flyaways, just like I do. I also plan to cut her some longer ribbons.


Overall Feel: I said way back when that I was not going to make the new set stand against the old one, and I'm glad I didn't cause the new one is even prettier. Yes, yes, the pink dress is the classic that Addy rocked for twenty-one years and some--but damn, the dress here is just too gorgeous. The stockings leave much to be desired, and the drawers are a little less cute than her older ones at the waist. But the new cute shoes and the utter blue beauty of the new set makes up for those. The change in the hat is a sideways equal move--a little higher with the front trim--and the tote is a move up from the kerchief. She kept her necklace, but I like the older one for its shell realism and will likely not use the newer for my girl. It's the only thing I don't like cause the older one's nicer, but I wouldn't pay stupid costs for an older one.

Cost Value:  To get an all-new Addy with brand new feathered brows and all her stuff now costs $134. It cost me $60 to reoutfit my older well loved shiny-nosed girl, which is less overall but fine for those of us that have Addy already. It's likely down the road that the alone outfit will retire out and then you will need to get Addy to get the set. Don't go on eBay. Don't even look on eBay before then. Don't even look after if you don't have Addy. Just get an Addy. Why don't you have Addy? GET ADDY. Gods almighty.

Authenticity: Very much to the era. In summers and warmer locations, younger girls wore low necklines and short sleeves until they were too mature to, and by then fashion had generally changed enough anyways that they would be remaking their mother's clothes. Open necks don't mean boys' clothes even if boys wore dresses until age five or so. To reiterate, the trims and fabric make the expense, not the cut of the dress. So it's not too rich for Addy anymore than Kirsten's dresses are too rich for her or Felicity's or anyone else. Stop being a jerk.

Appropriateness to Character: Just like the classic pink set, duh. Addy's new style meet clothes and bonnet are a gift from Miss Caroline and are her first freedom clothes; the cowrie shell necklace is a gift from her mother and beyond that from her great grandmother Aduke. Just don't go putting them on everyone else. Put them on Addy. Maybe Cecile or if you're doing Harriet from the play or if your Addy is more generous than mine is. But slapping them on your blonde girls without an Addy around somewhere is a sin against gods and countries.

Final Grade: A. Addy won BeForever with just two outfits and she stays winning and slaying your faves. 

BeForever Blue Beauty!

1 So many, many terrible people on AGIG. Lots of clueless and melodramatic teenagers. I think there's just cycles of stupid everywhere, and most of it is based in classism and racism.
2 Which is my fave color on my fave girl. Faves all around~!
3 In the books she donates it to the Freedman's Fund, but I still stand by her keeping at least one with her her whole life in memory of Uncle Solomon and Auntie Lula. 
4 Guess what I have and will review later.
5 This is why I have to buy all new books.
6 Yes, like the patterns. Hence them being called such. McCall's is from a magazine named after James McCall. More here under the history of sewing patterns.
7 I now own two sets since I couldn't find my other white stockings from my first set. They're cute enough to have extras.
8 So no, don't steal Addy's shoes for her.
9 I don't like the PC ones with the buggy glass eyes. Eech. Don't want.


  1. I totally agree with you that Addy's stories are the most poignant. Especially now that I have kid...oh, the thought of leaving one behind to escape a horrible situation, and then that child growing up not really knowing me, only hearing about me, and being afraid of me when we finally reunited after months of wondering if we ever would reunite...No other character comes close. I feel very, very sad for the characters of Marie-Grace and her father when she mentions the deaths of her brother and her mother, but since it's set so far in her own past it doesn't have the same emotional gut punch.

  2. Love your reviews as always! As soon as my tax return is in, Addy is coming home.

  3. Addy's already been on my wishlist for a while, but thanks to all your photos here and on AGC and her new BeForever stuff, I don't think I'll be waiting to get her much longer ;)

  4. Shame that the cowrie shell looks so much less realistic than the old one. Still, other than that I love the changes they made to Addy's meet set. Just the dress colour alone would have sold me on it, but the details do look solid, which is great to see.

  5. I love your detailed outfit reviews. And I agree with you about the preferring the new mini dolls. The proportions of the old ones always seemed slightly off to me. I wish they hadn't put the heels on Addy's new shoes.

    Did AG ever use real cowrie shells for Addy's necklace? Mine looks very real. It came with an older Addy I bought on eBay.

    1. I believe the very first editions of Addy came with real shells, much like Samantha came with a real penny of her era.

  6. I bought beforever Addy she is so beautiful. My one and only AG Doll. I love her. Your reviews are very informative. I found some good deals on some of Addy's retired clothing from different websites.

    Plaid Summer Outfit $22.98
    Emancipation Proclamation Dress with Sash $35
    Addy's Striped School Dress 38.00

    I just ordered Addy's Sunday Best Dress and her new Pajamas and slippers.

  7. I bought beforever Addy she is so beautiful. My one and only AG Doll. I love her. Your reviews are very informative. I found some good deals on some of Addy's retired clothing from different websites.

    Plaid Summer Outfit $22.98
    Emancipation Proclamation Dress with Sash $35
    Addy's Striped School Dress 38.00

    I just ordered Addy's Sunday Best Dress and her new Pajamas and slippers.


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