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

Monday, August 10, 2015

Clothes and Accessories Reviews: Swim Shirt and Shorts and Sailboard Set (2015 Summer Store Exclusives)

The Dog Days of Summer with Kanani.
Overall, summer is not my favorite season, to be honest; that would be fall, where it's cool but not cold and I can wear hoodies and jeans, enjoy the looks of back-to-school and the cheap supplies, wait for my birthday, and watch the trees change color. There's just a few weeks left before Caroline leaves and lets Maryellen Larkin take her place. I actually think I might like the little redhead, what with learning that her books include a pro-vaccination message and that she at one point had polio. I've preorded her books on Amazon along with Josefina's journey book for one big reason: they're up to half off or more right now, making them super cheap. No, really. That link leads to the Journey book, but you will probably be able to pull the others up, and at the time of this post they're each coming in nearing half off. And Amazon pre-order price guarantee means that while you might pay less, you won't pay more than whatever the cost was when you place the order. So if you want to save more money for other things, here's your chance.

As hot as it gets up here in the PNW, it gets even hotter in Texas and down south, which is at least one reason I'm kind of glad not to live there anymore among other things. 1 But it's still summer, and that means dealing with the hot on some level. Alas, I don't really live by a coast or beach anymore, so I have to go out of my way to go to one which is about the only thing I miss about where I used to live. July and early August is known often as the dog days of summer. Especially with shitty global warming making it hotter than standard. The Dog Days are called such because way back yonder in the past around the Mediterranean, early astronomical observers put the hottest summer days roughly twenty days before and after the period when Sirius and the Sun went into conjunction. And no, that's not a Harry Potter joke. Sirius is the Dog Star, that's where the whole "Sirius Black is a animagus with a dog form" thing came from.2 Still, there's some nice things about the summer.

Out of all my gang members, I'd probably say that I like to put Kanani out for beach and surf pictures the best more than anyone. It helps she's one of my prettiest modern girls, and that in her books she's learning to paddleboard. So when I picked up the Swim Shirt and Shorts this summer and later the Sailboard Set, I decided that Kanani would be the one to display it. I got the pretty brilliant (I think) idea to also take the pictures outside near the pool, since I was also taking pictures for the postcard exchange that LillyMaiden was doing through her blog. Hence these pics being outside. I was pretty good at not getting people in the background.

The Sailboard Set--a sailboard with a life vest--was released this summer as a store-only item, like the Beach Cabana Set before it; the only place to buy either is and was at the stores directly. While the initial offered cost was $68--way too much in my opinion--it dropped to $48 soon after and then went on sale for $38. I got it after the first price drop. The Swim Shorts and Shirt are exactly what they say on the tin--a rash guard style shirt and swim shorts, and started to be offered early this summer through AG Places only as a Purchase with Purchase. I'm pretty sure I've explained how those work to y'all, but to remind those who forgot and teach those who didn't know. A Purchase with Purchase is an outfit or accessory set, often only available at the store, that is able to be purchased as a low-cost bonus when a minimum amount is spent before taxes--generally, $50 are spent to get an outfit for $14, which is how much this one cost. While quite a few outfits have been unique, there's also been cases where outfits are older retired back stock such as old meet outfits, leftover GotY stuff, or straggling old items. It's always something modern, though, so don't go looking for some BeForever stuff. Originally PWPs (for short) were limited to winter sets most of the time, but lately there's been a special summer set. These will probably be gone by summer's end if they aren't already--I haven't been to the store in a month--since they're store exclusive limited, and then the prices will of course, go up.

I'm going to warn you, though, in the process of taking these pictures I managed to fuck up one of the review items. Not grossly, but enough that I'm kind of miffed. If you saw it when I took the pictures on AGC you already know. Long story short? I fucked up my shit so that you are warned against doing the same.

Clothes, then accessories. Dive under the cut for the reviews.
Kanani in her swim shorts and shirt.
First up, we have the swim shorts and shirt. Here they are by themselves.

Shirting around.
Shirt: The shirt--also known as a rash guard--is a coral and pink lycra swim shirt. Basically, it's a shirt made of swimsuit style materials. They're designed not only to prevent rashes from abrasion (hence the name) and sunburns, but to get wet. Basically, it's a top designed to stand up to the rigors of getting wet all the time. These are assumed to have been invented in Australia. Good job, Aussies. Have some Vegemite. Swim shirts are a slightly less fitted version, and more designed to help prevent people from getting burns. Again, it's a shirt that's a lot less adverse to getting soaking wet than a standard t-shirt. Still, do not put doll in water. AG's done rash guard style tops before with Jess's Two in One Kayaking Outfit and the Two-in-One Surf Swimsuit.

Coral panels.
The front panel and sleeves are a coral pink, cut almost like a princess seam. The high necked collar is a flat rolled collar with no trims or additional decor;  one does not want any sort of collar when swimming because that's just more shit to get wet and flop about. And yes, I don't like swim skirts on my swimsuits either.3 It's boy shorts, thigh cuts, swim shorts, or fuck you. 

Sleeves is basics.4
The sleeves are elbow length and set raglan style. Raglan sleeves have the characteristic of extending in one piece fully to the collar rather than being set in like standard sleeves. This leaves a diagonal seam running from the underarm to the collar, giving the top a much more casual look and a looser armhole. It's used a hella lot in sports and exercise wear. The standard look of a baseball shirt is almost always a raglan sleeves. It's also really easy to use to knit a sweater because, if done in the round, it means that the only seams are small ones grafted under the arm, which is why a lot of beginner sweaters have raglan sleeves. The style of sleeve is named after Lord FitzRoy Somerset, the 1st Baron Raglan, who is said to have worn a coat with this style of sleeve after the loss of his arm in the Battle of Waterloo. Thanks, Wikipedia! I didn't know that but now I do and I'm passing the learning on to you.

The panel on the sides of each shirt under the arm is done in pink lycra. The colors work well together. The whole shirt is sewn in coral thread, and against the pink it makes a nice contrast. The bottom hem is basic and unadorned; again, no one wants extra flippery bits while trying to get their swim on.

Rep your brand.
 On the right sleeve is a blue American Girl logo patch sewn flush. Rep your brand.

Back closure.
And like most AG things, it velcros up the back; while people shirts are just pulled over the head, AG have big bobble heads and unbending elbly bones so a lot of things are made to accommodate the fact they can't just pull shirts over the head. B+. It's a nice basic swim shirt.

Swim shorts for short swims. Or long, no one's judging you.
Swim Shorts: To go with the top are a set of pink lycra swim shorts or trunks. In contrast to the top, the shorts are predominantly pink.

Swim trunks, have, of course, been around for a long time. While generally assumed to be the domain of men, swim shorts can be worn by pretty much anyone who wants to wear them. Fun fact! When swimming started to become super popular around turn of the century, it was just as obscene for adult men to go around topless as it was women, so swimwear was often made in one piece. It was only about around the 1930s that swimwear for men started to allow going topless, though it was still semi-frowned upon until WWII shortages made it a touch more acceptable for men to go about without tops to their trunks.

Falsify that fly.
The front seam has a false fly that is basically just a zigzag seam to simulate where a fly would go.  There's no velcro and the shorts just pull on and have an elastic waist.

The scalloped edge hems are trimmed in coral that matches the top.

Flamingos are everywhere.
On the left leg is a pink and coral stylized flamingo standing in blue and light blue "waves"--just three lines to give you the idea. A lot of AGs' summer stuff had flamingos on it, hence the fandom calling it the Summer of the Flamingo.

Useless fact I can never forget: The distinctive pink flamingo color develops thanks to a highly selective diet which primarily consists of organisms such as shrimp and algae that are high in pigments called carotenoids. The stuff pretty much filters through their bodies and settles in their feathers and everywhere to makes them that color. Without that diet, flamingos are sort of pale and colorless, so flamingos in zoos or other forms of captivity are fed special diets to make sure they maintain the color because much like orange oranges, that's what we expect of our flamingos. Carotenoids are also found in foods like carrots and watermelon. So don't eat a diet consisting of nothing but carrots. Not only will you die a lot from malnutrition but you will turn orange and people will stare at your corpse.

Rep your brand some more.
The same blue patch on the right sleeve is on the right upper hip. B+. Much like the top, the shorts get the job done and look fairly okay doing it.

Life vests for everyone.
Life Vest: The set comes with a blue and coral polyester life vest--more accurately, a buoyancy aid--to help keep your girl afloat when she tumbles off her board into the water. 5 The blue matches the patches on the swim set, helping to tie this together as a set.

Kanani uses her head. No matter how cute your swimsuit is, no matter how good a swimmer you are, no matter how dumb you think they are to wear: if you are doing water sporting out in large bodies of water other than maybe casual swimming in a pool, surfing, or some mild wading, put on a fucking life vest. It will help keep you from drowning, and your bloated drowned corpse bobbing to shore tangled in seaweed is not a cute way to end your life. Buoyancy aids are designed specifically so that those in them still have wide mobility to move arms about while they sport, so you have no excuse. Practice water safety.

Real buoyancy aides have thick foam padding in order to make the person wearing it float. Since this is a doll's set and not intended to go into the water or save anyone, there's only a thin false foam padding inside.

The front clasps shut with plastic blue release buckle clasps sewn to coral woven straps in loops.

Open claspame.
The clasps click shut and open up easy. If something comes up where you have to shed your vest fast, buckle clasps can open quickly with one hand by just squeezing the sides and still hold fast when shut.

Strap a do.
The straps only go to the sides of the life vest, but are seamed down the whole way so as not to be loose. Real buoyancy aids often go around the whole way so as to be adjustable.

Sea star.
Over the left chest above the straps is a blue outlined image of a starfish, or sea star. Sea stars are called starfish in common vernacular, but they aren't fish; they're echinoderms like sand dollars, sea cucumbers, and several other things named after what they resemble. While the popular image of a starfish is only five limbs, starfish can have lots of limbs--up to fifty, depending on species. As long as there's (generally) radial symmetry--matching bits around the radius--it's a starfish.

American Girl Brand Buoyancy Aids: Do not put doll in water.
The back has the American Girl Logo printed on in a darker blue. There is also a subtle checked pattern all over.

See my vest, see my vest, it is not gorilla chest.
The inside is lined the same as the outside, and is smooth.

We mean it this is not a personal flotation device.
Inside, along with the long tag, is text in three languages (English, Spanish, and French) telling folk that A) This is not a lifesaving device and b) don't put this or the doll wearing it in the water, goddamn it. Companies have to put the "this is not a lifesaving device" disclaimer on anything that floats on the water potentially or looks like it could including beach balls, floating lounge chairs, and water wings. So don't put this vest on your cat and toss them in the pool. Seriously. Don't be a dumbass.

A for including this.  Don't put your doll in water. No matter how tempting.

Let's go surfing now!6
Sailboard: And now the part that names the sailboard set that, the blue and pink sailboard. Sailboarding is also known as windsurfing, though "windsurfing" has been tried to be claimed as a trademark. For a while in the US it was successful but ultimately fell through and so both terms refer to the same thing. Basically it's a mix of sailing and surfing, and the wind is used to help navigate the board through the water. I don't do it, though it looks interesting and kids as young as five can learn how to sailboard. The sailboard does not come assembled and has to be snapped together, whereupon it will not come apart anymore. Well, it probably can but I'm not trying to find that out.

You will notice that my sailboard is bare on the cement. Yeah. About that. That's where I fucked it up. Not to the level of doll in a microwave like when I was nine or doll on overpass like one woman,7 I openly admit that this was my fail to pass the win on to you. When I took my board out to take excellent pictures I assumed that, while the thing could not go into the water (natch), it could maybe sit on the side of the pool for photoshooting, and so I stuck that sucker right on the ground without a single fuck given. I picked it up and moved it around, snapping good angles of Kanani on the board and making sure that it wouldn't fall into the edge of the pool because I was right on the edge of the pool. Then I flipped it over to start snapping pictures of the base.

And that's when I saw I'd scuffed that motherfucker right the entire hell up.

I didn't keep it pretty long enough to take pictures at all.
We're talking noticeable scratches and scrapes all across the bottom of the board. And not even like little scratches. Well, little relatively, but pretty deep and nasty given the size of the thing. There's warnings not to put the board in water, but I assumed--wrongly--that it could at least sit on cement long enough for a photoshoot. I chose poorly. It doesn't ruin the display quality of it for me, since this was the bottom, and I never plan to resell it so it doesn't ruin the value. But now I know to take a towel next time I photoshoot, and my fuck up passes the educational value on to you. We can't all be perfection, nor do we want to. I did get supplies to try and paint over the streaks, but it looked really streaky and terrible, so I wiped it off and let it be. What I might do is later get some turtle wax or something and clean it up like that.

Or just let it be fucked up. I'm an adult, I can handle my fuckups.

It's just a little scuffed, it's still good, it's still good.
The bottom is still fairly nice to look at, scratches notwithstanding. The bottom has a design of star fish--one big blue one, one little blue one, a medium coral, a small pinky peach, and a very
small on a light blue background. The edge of the board is a dark coral. It definitely fits Kanani's aesthetic.

There is the disclaimer at the top in three languages that the sailboard and the doll don't go in the water. You can also see more of my scratching fuck up there too. Le sigh. I have learned my lesson.


The top of the board is a plain light blue with a darker blue, slightly rougher area for the doll to stand.

Hook in and ride!
And to help her stand her best, there are light blue plastic foot holders to tuck her feets in welded to the top. They hold the feet wonderfully--Kanani didn't slip out the whole shoot.

So that the board doesn't tip over from the weight of the sail, four silver metal studs are stamped on the opposite end of the board from the sail.

Sail post.
At the front, along with the American Girl Logo in white, is a white rotating mast post to snap the white sail mast into. Once the sail's in, it can rotate around, adjust angle, and lay flat, but it can't really come back out. It might of I ran a blow dryer over it, but I've already mucked my board up enough ta very much.

Sail away with me.8
The sail is what makes this a sailboard and not just a board. It's a huge pink gradiated sail--darker coral pink at the top fading into paler at the bottom--and made of pink polyester and plastic, with the edges and mast tube a solid coral pink. A real windsurfing sail is made of monofilm (clear polyester film), dacron (woven polyester) and mylar, with sensitive parts reinforced with kevlar mesh. Since this is not being made for sporting, it's just likely polyester cloth and thick plastic. There's a big clear window; the sail is made this way because since you have to face the sail to work it, the window is to see out if the sail's not just clear all over.

Number's up!
At the top is a large number "12" in lighter screen print.

Just below that are two screenprintedstar fish.

Sail handle.
The sail handle is white plastic, and slightly curved out from the sail. There's two curved coral trims at each end, and you can see the third starfish on the sail just below the window.

Handle. And starfish.
At either end of the handle (or boom) are coral hand loops to tuck doll hands into so they can "grip" the sail and hold on. I like the way the loops are integrated into the handle.

The sail is reinforced with four plastic tubes sewn into the sail to help it keep shape and reinforce it. These are called battens, and the tubes of cloth they're in are called batten pockets. Long thin strips of stuff used as reinforcement is where the term "batten down the hatches" comes from--you put thin wood over the hatches so they don't go flopping about.

The other side.
The other side is blank with no decor or handles, but is still gradiated. Enjoy my sideways picture. A-. I really would have thought the base could hold up to being put on a rougher surface, but nope. Still I like it and think it fits well with my Kanani.


Overall Feel: I'm putting both sets together since I am likely to display both together. The swim shirt and shorts are super cute and I like the little touches like the flamingo and the trim. Pink isn't my favorite color, but it fits with Kanani and will probably fit with any others I put the set on. While not super fancy, it doesn't need to be since it's just a basic PwP, and those can vary from nice to semi-dull and pointless. The sailboard looks lovely, my fuck up not withstanding, and I'm kind of tempted to paint the whole thing with spraypaint maybe to fix it up. I need to think about it before I do anything else to wreck it. I kind of wish the life vest had come with the PWP instead of the board, or maybe some simple sandals added into the PWP, but PwPs are generally bare bones when offered.

Cost Value:
AG was asking way too much at $68 for the sailboard to start. I suspect they moved more stock after the price drop, and will probably be done with it by summer's end. Don't go paying more than $60 for it unless you're just a huge fan of having sailboards milling about. The swimming set isn't worth more than $20-25 if that once it's retired; it's just a PwP and those shouldn't be too much for anyone. The whole point is that it's a bonus set, not a standard, so don't pay standard prices and most certainly don't go paying like $40 for something someone got as an add on to their purchase. 

Not really. Rash guards and swim trunks have been around a while and aren't going anywhere, and it's pretty sporting. Let it be, mate.

Mix and Match Levels:
Swim wear can be semi-mix and match. I'll probably pair this up with Kanani's swim set to see how it looks that way. It's not so much mix and match clothing as it is mix and match with other swimwear, and that's okay. The life vest can go with any swim set--I've seen it with the current swimsuit. Wear your life preservers and preserve your life. And as long as it's appropriate, wear it free with the sailboard.
Final Grade:
B+. Cute, but not so cute you should pay through the nose for it. And don't make the same error I did. Or put doll in water.

You can however, frame the shot to make it look like it.

1 Other things include giant bugs, hurricanes and tropical storms, mosquitoes, and Republican and conservative power messing up people's lives left and right.
2 Fun fact! Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban came out a month after I got out of high school, and the movie came out a month after I got out of college. So that's no longer a spoiler.
3 It doesn't help them one bit that they're almost always marketed as "cover your thighs and ass, women, because no one wants to see any of it unless you are perfect like a model." Hell no, I'm not wearing extra shit around my hips because you don't like fat people. Look at my fat ass and deal.
4 Kanani, along with all my other moddie girls, got their ears pierced in a burst of fun with a hot needle. Tara and Abbi have AG sized holes I put in with a drill, and the others have standard posts and so can wear earrings I buy cheap at the store. So Kanani is wearing dolphins.
5 More accurately, let's fake it. I do not put my dolls in water, because I'm smart.
6 I reiterate, do not put doll in water.
7 The story, she is a coming.
8 Not SailAway, the mod on AGPT who didn't help at all when I was under super warning.


  1. You should tell everyone your thought's on the leaked pictures of GOTY 2016 Lea Clark

    1. No I shouldn't because I haven't seen images of anything but a mini doll and an outfit.

  2. Hey Neth, someone posted a bunch of links to porn on your review on the school stripes dress, and maybe other posts.

    1. Ah. Yeah, that happens from spam. I'll purge em. Thanks.

  3. Great reviews as always. I'm sure a lot of people will benefit from your board mishap!!

  4. oh gods, I can't wait for that number 7 story. I get the feeling it's gonna be a doozy!

  5. This was a really great review! I think my favorite tidbit of knowledge was on the raglan sleeves (had no idea that's what they were called). Thank you for the warning on the board! I didn't realize it would be so easy to scratch. Mine is still sitting in the box but I'll have to look out for that when I do finally yoink it out.

  6. So cute!

    Don’t beat yourself up about the board. Stuff happens; just turn the page.


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