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

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Off Brand Reviews: Carpatina's Vintage Pink Party Dress and Sophia's Ankle Strap Dress Shoes

Ellie: Pretty in Pink.
So here we are in February, and I'm both in a great mood about some things, "seriously? seriously?" about others, and in a "at this rate I will burn it down and leave no trace" about others. The stitches are out of my knee, but the other day I tumbled over a chair and bruised my upper arm on a table and can't really lay on that side when sleeping--which happens to be the side I want to sleep on. So we're at neutral. I made a cute quick fleece blanket and some AG clothes for the gang, and plan to cut out and make more and try to sew more often. AGC's Secret Snarker is underway, and I've finished mine for my giftee--I hope they1 adore it. There was a short release on Thursday the 11th. I'll try to get it tomorrow, likely--it's a very short release. All Moddie and Bitty Shit, and y'all know how I feel about Bitty Shit. There's some good dates on when Melody will be out, and I'm still saving up for her and her stuff in my tip jar. So excited!

But first, a quickish review.

This likely isn't news to most people, but not everything in my AG collection is by American Girl, LLC. There's some people who are strict AG purists and won't buy anything that doesn't have an AG tag in it, but I ain't ever been one of those people and I ain't ever gonna be. If I can find cute things for my gang--or even new members of the Gang--outside of American Girl proper, I'm going to go for it if I think it can work with them. Hell, a lot of people do. Etsy thrives on it. I've been working on a blogger post about saving money when collecting AG with tips on what I've been doing. Alas, it's been something of a plod. I will finish it sometime, but even without finishing it I can start to talk about some of the other companies with good stuff.

One of those is Sophia's Doll Clothes, a manufacturer of quite a few AG basics--shoes, socks, generic outfits, tights, the like--and various outfits and furniture components. I don't order from them directly so much as I order off of Amazon. They sell both directly to consumers and to wholesalers, so you can likely find someone selling their items on places like eBay, or with handmade outfits as extras. I've got some pieces here and there--mostly shoes, and notably a very nice doll hairbrush.

Another company--and one I simply adore and could gush about forever if I wanted--is Carpatina. Carpatina is probably my favorite outright non-AG seller of fine American Girl and Other Gang Member clothing. The company and brand has been around since 1998, and started to offer dolls in 2002, designed by some of the designers that helped make Stardust Classics.2 Not only do they sell clothes for AG sized dolls under their Girlfriends Collection, they also sell clothes sized for their 18" Slim dolls--sizes such as Magic Attic, of which I have a few--and have recently branched into offering patterns in both sizes. While I've yet to buy a doll from them specifically (Julia is my most likely bet when I do pull the trigger, unless they come out with a beautiful dark skinned doll) I have gotten some outfits from them, and I plan to go back.

This December, Boom and I were doing what we do best--chattering about doll stuffs between Hamilton squee--when she got super squee over Carpatina's Vintage Pink Party Dress.3 This was as an alternative to Ellie's birthday dress, which we have both declared Too Hideous to Get. Look, authentic or not, it looks like a tulle nightmare and I won't fucking do it, even if it's in the books. Ellie, when she almost doesn't get to wear the Green Nightmare at her birthday performance, almost wears one of her older sister's pink prom dresses in is place. And well, this is a pink party dress. So it's even slightly canon. After picking out some nice shoes--namely, the Sophia's Ankle Strap Dress Shoes in pink to match--we both ordered sets and I got mine as a post-New Years gift on Amazon. Well, it arrived on the 31st, but my office was closed and the package delivery guy decided that dropping my package at my door was clearly dumb, and making me wait two days was the smart thing to do. Because Reasons. Anyways. The dress was $12.95 and the shoes $6.95, for a total of 19.90 plus tax.4 Good deal, considering most AG Direct sets go for $25+ nowadays.

Ellie gets two reviews in a row. It happens. I wanted to do something pink for Valentine's Day. I also didn't do a second body shot of the dress. Alas, it happens.

Also, congrats American Girl Collectors on two years of successful boarding! The members there have in many ways restored my lost faith in AG collecting communities. Love y'all~

Pink is the style.
Dress: Before I go into the details of the dress, it's always a good time for history. Post World War Two, the dickering back and forth on which color was the "girl's" color--before then, really it depended on whatever the parent felt like, and both pink and baby blue were acceptable for children of either gender5--finally solidified into pink. By the 1950s baby boom era, pink was solidly the feminine color, among the many things that were very Female Coded in order to persuade women to stop trying to be equal and enjoy domestic life. Pink was all the rage across the nation. In part? Because Mamie Eisenhower, the First Lady of the time, was all about pink everything. It was her favorite color, and while she would occasionally aim elsewhere with colors, she eventually always drifted back to pink. As she was the leading lady in America, women imitated her fashion to appear more fashionable and with it. So you got pink bathrooms, the pink kitchens, pink everything to the point the color was called Mamie pink. And pink floofy wide skirted lace dresses? Oh gods yes So feminine! Pink all the things, pink ladies!6 When I was a kid, I was pretty anti pink, even in the 80s, and was more of a blue kid. While I am not as anti-pink as I used to be, it's more in my middle fave colors. I don't hate it, but if I can go for a cool blue color instead, I'd do it.

Now, to the dress bits. The dress is a pink lace and satin calf length flared dress. Mine was a touch big on Ellie, so I turned it inside out and took it in about a quarter inch for a more tailored fit. The bodice outer shape is a one piece with the sleeves part of the bodice.

Collar and top.
The lace is semi-sheer, which is acceptable because a child would wear a proper full body slip with petticoat under her party dresses if they were sheer. However, I don't have a full slip for her yet. Give it time.

The boatneck neckline is trimmed with pink satin bias ribbon.

Cap sleeves.
So are the armholes. The design of the one-piece bodice leads to very short cap sleeves. Part of the 1950s New Look was to aim for an illusion of a narrow waist, and this style of bodice-and-sleeve would help the look along with the wide skirt.

Underbodice under top bodice.
Underneath the bodice is a second bodice, so that the dress isn't just sheer all the way across the lace bodice.

Underbodice alone.
Pulling the bodice down shows a satin underbodice, lined on the other side, with a sweetheart dipped line. It's a touch low on Ellie, really. We gotta get her a pink slip.7 Turning it inside out also shows that the shoulder seams are straight done. Messy. I would have preferred French seaming or overlock serging on the shoulders; it's present on the skirt. That would have improved the look inside, I think.

Around the bodice are two pink velvet ribbons--one at waist, one at underarm height--with center front bows made of of the same velvet ribbon. Y'all know velvet is one of my fave things. These go all the way around to the back. They're twisted a bit, but that's me and not the sewing.

Lacy lacy lace.
The main overdress is of a pink lace with an overall floral motif woven in; a touch stretchy, but not out of shape. The floral motifs are pretty big, more than an inch, and if this was a solid print I'd wince. But since the motif is muted by being lace and pink backed up by pink, it doesn't appear out of scale or hideous. This is what I mean by breaking the rules--but you have to know them first.

The skirt. Ugh, sorry for the blur.
 The skirt is wide and fluffy, helping with the whole narrow waist and wide shoulders/skirt look. The skirt is gathered and has side seams instead of a long rectangle gathered to a waist skirt style.

More ribbon, yay!
The bottom hem is plain, but near it are two more lines of velvet pink ribbon all the way around.

Backing the lace skirt, like the bodice, is a satin pink skirt.

Petticoats on petticoats.
Underneath that is an attached at the waist white tulle petticoat with double layers and a yoke upper. And under that I've put Ellie's petticoat.8 Poofy on poofy. This skirt poof. The Carpatina ego tag is sewn to the back of the petticoat seam.

Snap it up.
The back closes with three silver snaps--one at the neckline which is dipped a little in the back, and at each of the ribbon spots. Velcro would snag like a bitch motherfucker, so their going with snaps was a good choice.

I give the dress an A. The only reason it's not an A+ is because I had to take it in, the inner bodice is a touch low, and the raw edges on the shoulders.

Shoes make the dress, and these make the dress.
Shoes: We complete this set--almost--with a set of Sophia's pink ankle strap shoes in patent leather. Is it real leather? Probably not, it's just vinyl, but in the 50s it would have likely been 100% dyed animal skins with lacquer, so I'm calling them leather. Sophia's sells these in black, white, pink, and lamé gold. I'll pass on the gold ones. (ETA: the also come in cream and navy. Thanks, Boom!)

Ankle strap shoes have been around in some form forever and a half, since people figured that if the shoe was tied to their ankle, they would not be lost when being chased by bears. Patent leather has been around since the 1700s; making the shoes patent both made the surface glossy and helped make them somewhat waterproof.  Patent leather is thus called as such because the process once was patented. Originally, linseed oil coating was bonded to the leather to create the well-known high gloss finish. Today, its typically a petroleum or plastic product. 

While Ellie here is going sans any sort of tights or hosiery, a lot of girls would have--to be proper--worn tights or fine socks, especially in colder temps. I may later add some simple white tights under. Pink tights would make for too much pink.

Open sides and strap.
The heel and strap are one piece, and the toe of the shoe another. Both are topstitched around in pink thread. The shoe closes with velcro.

Shoe lining.
Inside, the sole lining is white and there is the Sophia's logo and likely a model number or something. The other side of the upper's leather is unlined.

Moses supposes his toeses have roses.
Across the upper edge of the toe half are five tacked on pink ribbon roses.. They're actually sewn on. Adding to the girly look.

The bottom sole.
The bottom sole is black with a slight heel--not enough to overbalance any doll that wears them. I give these an A. I believe I have a black pair just like these, and will happily pick up the white ones. 

Finally, Ellie is wearing a big pink ribbon around her ponytail that I cut off a spool. I plan to later replace this with satin, but the sale at Joann Fabrics mean that the ribbon section got swept out of all the plain satin ribbons.


Overall Feel: This is much better of an alternative to Ellie's rather garish birthday dress--light and feminine, and still on the nice side. Pink--especially Mamie Pink--is not my fave shade by a long shot but compared to most pinks it's not as offensive as it could be. And Ellie looks good in it. Who says redheads don't look good in pink? You just gotta get the right shade for them. 

Cost Value: $20 for a full set in these AG $30+ Per Outfit times is a fucking damn sweet bargain.  You have to get the components separately in the most technical sense, but if you order from Amazon directly,  they will probably come in the same package. Add about $15 for free shipping if you're into that, and enjoy. Boom and I have even put the components together for you. Let's call it Ellie's Pretty Pink Lace Outfit. (My term now.)

Authenticity: What did I just say over and over about Mamie Pink and the floofy skirt look? Yeah, it's very 1950s. In fact I wouldn't take it much out, unless you're going for a retro look. It really does scream 1950s/Post War Boom styles more than most contemporary outfits Carpatina has. The shoes can move forward, but I like them where I got them.

Appropriateness to Character: While it's not strictly in Ellie's Official AG Collection, a pink prom dress of her older sisters' exists in the book and is mentioned as a dress for her to wear before Davy's mom9 comes along and finishes the Tulle Nightmare. So I'm counting it as canon. On its own, it's very good for Ellie--not too long like some dresses are made for dolls to make a historical look, and fitting to a style I think she'd adore. 

Final Grade: A-. Expand Ellie's wardrobe on a budget!


1 Yes, I know whom it is. The way the matches are done, you know who you gift, but not who's gifting you. But on the off chance they're here reading, I won't give it away by gender, so the singular they it is.
2 I own Laurel the Woodfairy. I adore Laurel the Wood Fairy. She's adorbz, and she will be photographicated for a Casual Friday. Maybe soon.
3 Our Ellies are always looking for things to get each other.
4 But not shipping. I added some bits to get to free shipping.
5 The French went for Pink Girl and Blue Boy early as the Victorian era, hence it being done in the French style in Little Women for Meg to put a pink bow on Daisy and a blue on Demi. More about Pink Vs Blue here: Pink Wasn't Always Girly
6 I could make a Grease joke here, but that musical actually launched in the 70s as 50s nostalgia. Much like Buzzfeed articles talk about the 80s and 90s to their target audience.
7 Wrong pink slip, those thinking about layoffs. 
8 It shall be reviewed.
9 Davy's last name is long and right now I'm sleepy and don't want to look it up.


  1. There are also navy blue shoes just like the white ones and pink ones too! I have them and they are glorious with a handmade navy dress I have. Which I should throw on Elyse and review.

    I love this dress so much, and I'm so glad we both got it!

    1. Ooo, nice! I like the cream ones a lot too.

  2. Pretty! Carpatina really does some fantastic outfits, don't they?

  3. It really is gorgeous and adorable and squee!

  4. holy damn that's a cute outfit! :D

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.


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