|Jamming for bed, the 1950s way.|
...And then I had a random encounter with a curb. I rolled for dexterity to save my balance, hit a two out of twenty, tripped hard, fell even harder, and both scraped my palm and felt shooting pain in my leg. I caught my breath, got my package and went back home, and inspected the damage. And wow that was a lot of blood and a wide ass cut. A temp patch up and a painkiller later, I waited for the Bae to get home from work and hoped it maybe wasn't as bad as I thought it was. I was wrong. He took one look at the cut and put me in the car and made me go to the urgent care center. This is where the doctors looked at my cut and made faces at it before injecting me and poking and flushing things out with others and three hours of my Friday evening was spent in the urgent care center, including a book reading. All that is to say that there are probably six to twelve stitches in my left knee,1 it hurts like a son of a motherfucker to walk anywhere or flex my leg too much, and I'm not going to be doing any kneeling for pictures for at least two weeks. Fuck you too, gravity, you whore.
But I did have some older pictures I took beforehand, even if I wasn't planning this review to be Ellie's debut. So Ellie will just have to accept that her debut on the blog is going to be her in her pajamas. She's cool with this, considering she came with me to the Urgent Care center. If anyone understands healthcare needs, it's Ellie.
Ellie--Maryellen Larkin, but around here she much prefers to go by her nickname--wasn't initially going to be a Historical Character I cared for. The 1950s are the most overhyped nostalgia era ever for obnoxious white Baby Boomers, who want to remember the time of their childhood as a wholesome, perfect era of American Greatness when people didn't think about segregation, sexism, racism, or oppression and they didn't have to think about others at all. The Fifties get overly wrought down to the surface aesthetics: poodle skirts, records, jukeboxes, bobby soxers, roller skating diners, television spread, drive in movies, ponytails, white rock and roll, families with father knowing best and mother in pearls and heels, etc. Basically all the fluffy feel-good times with none of the understanding or discussion about the sociopolitial issues that plagued the time. But like Caroline and Kit before her,2 Ellie's stories endeared her to me--she likes comics, science, does art, and supports vaccinations (having been disabled by polio). I basically went through a set of Five Stages with her:
1.) Denial: "Damn the 50s! And damn her! She's hazel eyed, she's white, she's got the classic mold, her name is meh--there is nothing special about her. I'm not getting her."
2.) Bargaining. "That outfit's nice. And that one. I'll just get a few of her things for Edith. Edith can wear her clothes. Dorothy too. I don't need Maryellen."
3.) Anger: "I've read the books and why is she such a charming character?"
4.) Sadness. "eeeen I wasn't supposed to like you eeenn i am cry eeeeen"
5.) Acceptance. "Come on, Ellie-jelly. You're the newest member of the Gang. Meet Edith and Dorothy and be friends."
So I ended up getting her as my 35th birthday gift to myself along with some of her clothes, making her the fastest from "I hate you" to "let us snuggle and be friends" since Kit. This included her Pajamas at the standard cost of $24: a top, bottoms, and flat style slippers. A later trip I picked up her Hairstyling Set for $20: a set of twelve rollers, instruction card, storage bag, and sleeping bonnet. The eBay costs are not even being considered on this post. Go to AG, Go Directly to AG, do not pass eBay, do not spend $50. Seriously, it's been five months. Girls' variations on the pajamas exist for those that can fit into them; I am not one of those people.
Hairstyling set first because Ellie had her bonnet on and I took her curls down as I was taking the pictures.
|Sleeping caps keep your hair curlers in.|
Ellie, being ten years old, would likely not do all this elaborate curling all the time unless it was a very special occasion--she liked to swim and would fuck up the hair--but we'll let it slide. Should she, though, she'd need the night cap. This one matches the pattern of her pajamas, which we'll discuss when we get to them. I believe her curlers were already out when I took these shots, but her hair is all tucked up.
|Bow the bow.|
|All the hair covered.|
|Off the head.|
At the time they sold for a ten pack for about sixty cents, which would make them $5.31 for ten relative to today's prices. The new, modern ones on the Spoolies site are made of heat resistant silicone, come in a pack of twelve for $18 from the site,5 and can even come in glow in the dark for more cost. Older ones were made of rubber and might fall apart with regular use today. Ellie's are probably straight up plastic of some form, though they could be silicone.
|Instructions. That's not Ellie.|
|How we do this.|
1. Set the curler on the head near the scalp, the flat end down.
2. Wrap the hair strand around the stem of the Spoolie.
3. Smush the top bowl down, making the angry little mushroom and closing the Spoolie.
4. Several hours later, take the Spoolie out and enjoy your wild curls!
It's very important, lemme tell you, to set the stem down and then wrap the hair around it. If you try to use them like traditional rollers--that is, twirl them up and then clamp down--they often slip out and untwist.
|I'm surprised they held on so long.|
|Curlers in for a little bit.|
|They did the job.|
|From the front.|
|Full of curlers.|
Might as well mention it. There's a guy in the American Girl collecting communities who creeps all over this style of pajamas, and wigs me the fuck out as well as several others with his slimy ways about little girls, so several people are avoiding having these pajamas for their Ellie. But let's try to divorce creepy old white guys with severe issues left unchecked from this8 and talk about the history.
Baby doll pajamas became a style in the 1950s--I haven't found any images or patterns for any earlier than that. They carried on for years and made a major resurgence in the 80s, and I owned a set of summery ones that I adored wearing as a kid. They were popular with both girls and women, considered light and generally summery in style, and were intended as loungewear in some places--often though with a robe over them, because you just didn't show that much of yourself to anyone, family included. AG doesn't do robes and cover ups anymore, so Ellie will have to wait for a matching robe from me.
|Cap and ribbon.|
The cap sleeves--very short--are short hemmed and trimmed with ribbon.
There's also side bows above the side slits on the top.
|Bloomers! But only for the sleeping.|
Because Ellie's books have no illustrations except the cover--new style only!--there's no images to show. But there is historical precedent, and I'll give that over to you.
If you do an Etsy/eBay/vintage pattern search for baby doll pajamas, you'll likely find tons of patterns from the 1950s and ahead. This is Butterick 8251, and view C is the closest to Ellie's pajamas--the major difference being a more puffy sleeve. The short top and bloomer bottoms are the same style, though.
Retrowaste shows some great slippers from the 1950s. The 1952 children's styles show a style semi like Ellie's in View P, but even those have some dots on the sides. But man, the furry and fur-trimmed ones and animal styled ones are lovely! We could have had it all.
Spoolies! Actual factual ones, in the exact same style as Ellie's. These are pink--pink was a big damn thing in the 50s--and made of solid rubber. Sixteen for 79 cents.
Overall Feel: I adore the style, print, and lay of the pajamas, especially the comfort of the summer style, and don't regret getting them with Ellie when I got her for my birthday. I got the hair set later on because I liked the Spoolies and sleeping cap, and because it's one of the few sets that actually doesn't seem tacked on like most of the other hair sets are to the meet sets as a last minute thing--it feels like these were developed together. I'm hella delighted by the Spoolies, can't say it enough. I'd complain more about the sets being so matchy-matchy--all the fabric is the exact same--but the 50s liked doing that, so that's how it be and I'll deal.
Cost Value: $24 is the standard for pajamas now, and hair sets vary--this one is a good cost to me. Hell, this is probably the best of all the available hairstyle sets,9 given that the set is properly useful and not just an add on to a meet outfit that feels out of place with with "pretend" components. The curlers actually work, there's no bows on scrunchies, and there's a lot of components for the cost. I could have used more curlers to roll her hair, which is the only part I feel scrimped out on, along with the generic ballet flat style slippers. You can wait for a sale or a discount if you're not feeling it, but I'd get them both again if asked. eBay what no they're five months along just go to the source.
Authenticity: Yep. Baby doll pajamas were super popular, sleeping caps were the best way to keep hair did when you were sleeping in curlers, and the print is super accurate. And the Spoolie curlers--well, learning those were real and can still be bought in some form just made my day.
Appropriateness to Character: Very much so. They're accurate, and given that Ellie comes from a very warm climate, suitable for muggy nights in Florida. No book references, mind, but they work for her and her style. I'm very glad they're not coated in lace and ruffles either, and just have some simple trims. Femme but not frilly. Don't let creepy people dissuade you from the rightness of these.
Final Grade: A- for the pajamas, B- for the hairstyle set. Fifties fantastic!
Now I'm going to take some painkillers. My knee. Ugh, fuck. Don't get into a gravity fight with a concrete curb, you will most likely lose and the concrete is very hard.
1 I haven't counted. The doctor covered them and I will check when I can uncover my injury for a bandage change.
2 Kit became part of the gang. "Caroline" in a form.
3 Black women still use sleeping caps frequently, especially satin ones. I don't mostly because I toss and turn so much that they come right off, so at most I use bandanas.
4 Not the 80s style waves. 50s curls were supposed to look loose and natural.
5 Other costs include $30 for 24, $9 for 5, or $33 for 24 glow in the dark ones. There's also other, cheaper brands. Do some research.
6 Process: Open Freckle Article on AG Wiki, go down Moddie list, manage to eliminate all but one.
7 I bought the set secondhand--and mostly use the carrying basket for a sewing basket because I can do that.
8 I will rant more about that particular slimeball later. Every time I think about his "contributions" to the AG fandom I want to push things over into fires.
9 Yes, even better than Addy's. I have the older pink set, I'll probably get the blue one, but overall I don't feel like they add anything to Addy's meet sets at all whatsoever.