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

Monday, March 28, 2016

Historical Clothes Reviews and Historical Accessory Reviews: Samantha's BeForever Meet Outfit and Accessories

Nellie: Pretty in all that pink.
I continue to gush and gush about how much I like the BeForever revamp, in great contrast to a great many older AG collectors who grew up with the original looks. There's some bits I don't care for--there's not much that has my undying love without at least one thing to complain about1--but overall, it's been a good thing. And when AG went for the relaunch, they relied on their regular fall back for all-new historical product launches and first tries. Yep, that's right. They reached back into the Historical Character vault, pulled Samantha out, shook her off and gave her an all new look. Same brown hair and brown eyes, but nothing from her prior collection came with her, not even her meet outfit and accessories.

And for that I'm glad. I never liked her original meet outfit or accessories. Oh, the underwear and black stockings had their usefulness, but the dress was mediocre at best and blech at worse and helped highlight the idea of turn-of-the-century sepianess and dull colors. And don't get me started on those pitiful ass plastic ugly shoes2 or the high neckline that had to cover up that poor ugly white body the first three started out with. It wasn't even shown in the illustrations until the 1998 redraw. Away with it. Now Samantha comes to you in a much more pink set: a pink lace and dotted swiss dress, bloomers, white tights, black Mary Janes, and a velvet ribbon on a ponytail holder that that I don't have. Cause while all the new BeForever outfits come separately for about $36, they don't come with any of the hair decs. Either buy a new doll, clip your own ribbons, or see if you can obtain replacements for the hair clips. The accessories also transmogrified: a headband, velvet purse, and "locket" necklace for the standard accessory cost of $24. This was sold out the day of the BeForever launch--and also, I was getting all the Addy I could get--but later trips to AG got me a set to put on gang members such as Marisol and Nellie. So far there's no reason to touch eBay to get a set--even when it's not sold separately anymore, there's always the possibility of stripping a Samantha to get the hook up, though of course that's the more expensive option. There's also a matching sundress and headband. If you're like Zagat Editor Molly Moker you can fit in the set. I am plush and fat and can't do that.

With Nellie around, she can help share the Edwardian reviews with Marisol. She does an excellent job.

Headbands for gender differentials.
Headband: Samantha has tossed her velvet and ribbon hat aside to replace it with a lacy headband, not unlike the one that came with her hard to find but I have it Velvet Dress. This is one of those meet outfit components that gives me fits, if I want to be truthful. This is because it reminds me less of Edwardian aesthetics and more like those horrid lace headbands people put on babies to make sure all and sundry know that this baby has been defined as a "girl" at present.3 Those things are ugly and I won't put them on anyone.

But ugly as it is, research shows it is historically accurate. Kind of. While most girls were wearing hug floofy head eating hairbows--the kind I love to put on Nellie--headbands were actually a thing. I was able to find an image of headbands on girls in the Edwardian era here, but they appear to be less lacy thin things that go under the hair and down to the back and more wide and around the crown and on the satin side. Still, it's enough to not be totally inaccurate.

The bow part is a gathered tulle rosette with both dark pink and light pink petals--five of each for a total of ten. Then centered again with a pink satin rosette, with a center of three white pearl beads.

Kitchen life.
The main body of the headband is a lace tube with elastic to stretch at the back. There's an ego-tag attached to it, but it's easily covered up so I didn't hack it off.

C. Historically accurate--loosely--but weak. I really think this is one of the components that got the shaft in order to put a hat with her Hairstyling set. 

The pocketbooks.
Purse: Samantha has a new purse to carry her Indian head pennies and handkerchiefs around in, even if she no longer has either: maroon velvet body with a golden clasp and small wrist chain. Up until the BeForever Relaunch, nearly every historical came with a purse, pocketbook, waist pouch, or carrier of things of some sort--even Addy, though she got shafted into a handkerchief. With the revamp, everyone who had made it through got a tote or purse, including Ellie and DeeDee once she's out. 

Have I really gone into purse history? No? Well then let's do it.4 Historically, people have always carried things in bags--pouches, totes, bags, waist storage, etc. People only have two hands, and a bag frees those up and lets more be carried about. But the modern women purse style of carrying everything didn't really take off until about the mid 1800s. Before then, while a woman might carry a small handbag here and there with small components, most things could get into pockets--separate tied on bags with slits that hung near the hip and were easily accessible through the dress. Hence Felicity's pocket--and if we were to be accurate, Caroline might have had one as well. Purses were more for evening or traveling carrying than daily carrying of things, and didn't carry nearly as much as they do now--for a long time, the only thing a purse was was a place to keep money. But with the change in silhouette to wider and wider skirts, it was much harder to reach through clothes and access a pocket, and the flow of clothes over increasing petticoats and crinolines helped push the handbag--known as the pocketbook--to the forefront. Early ones were even directly hooked to the waist. By the time of the Edwardian era, a young girl would have carried a purse as a small place to keep things such as calling cards, handkerchiefs, small amounts of money, and perhaps a small craft project to work on while making visits. But not the cross body or over the shoulder kinds of purses--one did not muss clothes that way. Purses were clasped in hands or held on wrist chains.
The frame connected to the body is gold plastic that clicks shut and opens easily with a clasp called a kissing lock. The kissing lock is made of two balls that cross in such a way to stay closed when together and open with just a pinch of pressure. This closure style became popular in the Edwardian era and is still seen on older style purses for retro looks and change purses.

The chain is attached to either side of the frame on small molded triangles; while the frame is plastic, the chain is metal, and just long enough to loop on Nellie's wrist.

Soft frame.
The purse body is soft and velvet--thus allowing in part for expansion as things are put in. The style of purse is a frame or soft-body purse--a fabric body attached to a harder frame. This allowed purses to be of unique sizes, to be made in unique styles, and women would often have purses made from the leftover fabric of their dresses in order to match or take off an older bag and sew a new one on to give a new purse look. Fancy.

Inside is space for the ego tag.
With the purse open, you can see where the frame was attached to the body with thread. There's the usual AG ego tag, but it's small enough that it can be tucked down and still leave room for other stuff. B. It's not a bad little thing, the purse. I like it much better than the headband.

It's not a locket if it doesn't open.5
Heart Pendant: In Sam's stories, she carries an image of her dead parents in a locket necklace around her neck. In her prior accessories, this was turned into a brooch style locket pinned to the neckline of her dress, leaving as many holes in the front of her dress as one desired and not being a necklace because necklaces are on chains. In the new set, we've got the chain and the pendant, so we have a necklace. But it doesn't open. So I'm not calling it a locket because by definition a locket has to open. Damn it. Molly actually got a damn locket necklace. 

The pendant is a gold heart shape of solid metal with a small molded pink five-petal flower with a white center. It makes for nice contrast.

Clasp shut.6
The gold chain sets a length so that the necklace pendant hands at upper chest level and it clasps in the back with a new-style that is being used a lot--two hearts that slide into each other at the curvy bits and then stay together. Thank you at least on this front, AG. The tiny clasps had me in fits to pinch open.

There is also a small gold oval with the AG logo on it, because ego tag.

B-. A nice little necklace, but it's not a locket and don't tell me it is. 

All dressed up with fun places to go. Like trees.
Dress:  Gone is the plaid pleated monstrosity. Now we've got a soft style pastel pink cotton and dotted swiss overlay dress with a standard waist bodice to the knees. Pink was not yet strictly a girls' color at this time, but it was a rather fashionable color and had feminine appeal. Edwardian dress was starting to tone it down from the overly frou-frou styles of prior eras, where a child would be pretty much decked out like a tiny doll, with huge hats and feathers and other bits that pretty much would get torn up in play. A 1907 Ladies Home Journal guide to children's clothing is a little late for the story time line but fitting: it didn't do for children--who should be active and free to play--to be covered in too many ribbons, bows, ruffles, oversized hats, and enough trims to drown in. The fashion was finally becoming loose, flowing clothing allowing for free limbs and not too much of a problem if it became messy in play. Still, the dress has some lace trims and velvet ribbons, just to show the wealth off.

Dumb people will tell you that the skirt is too high and needs to be a drop waist for accuracy. These people are being dumb. Throw paint at them. While some skirts were slightly drop waisted, they came in both styles, and also occasionally in high bodice styles. Shock and awe, clothes varied. 

Neckline and collar.
The neckline is a little open and rounded but not too low. Since Sam now doesn't have an ugly white body to cover up, the neckline can ease down from choking hiding neckline style and be a little more open. All around this neckline is a wide lace collar that just hangs free, which is very Edwardian in style. The bodice is a standard shape for a dress--the basic basque dress style with the fitted bodice and gathered skirt that's been around since the 1700s and before--and over the pink cotton is the dotted swiss which we'll cover better at the skirt.

Poofy sleeve.
The sleeve is short and puffy with an elastic cuff trimmed in a smaller but still fancy lace. Like the bodice, it is double layered with dotted swiss over the cotton backing.

Pink fancy dresses with velvet maroon sashes, one of my favorite things.
The waist is decorated with a maroon sash made of velvet ribbon. Only one side is velvet; most velvet ribbons are only fuzzy on one side. Still, velvet. Nethie likely. The sash is only tacked on the sides. It's also the same ribbon that comes on the hair, bow, I think. Whenever Joann Fabrics has ribbons back in stock, I will just get my own. Or go to Michael's.

Skirty skirt.
The skirt of the dress is double layered and one piece gathered with a back seam. It's a single rectangle, not in three pieces. AG has been doing a lot of that lately, as have most doll clothes pattern designers. It makes sense and cuts down on seams, but I personally prefer side seams when sewing because it gives me a direct spot to line up my gathering--side seam to side seam, so I know I haven't been too uneven.

The top layer of the skirt--and the dress as a whole--is white dotted swiss. Dotted swiss is almost always some degree of sheer, and in this case it's basically tulle with little fuzzy soft dots, sheer enough to show off the cloth underneath.

Lace hem.
The hem is trimmed with swirled and scalloped lace; it's the same lace that is on the sleeves.

Plain second skirt.
The skirt underneath--and all the fabric under the dotted swiss--is unprinted pink cotton. Any sort of print underneath the dotted swiss would have made the dress super busy, and not shown off the pattern at its best. So it's left plain, with a basic hem.

ETA:  Some bits on pink here that I've learned from Moniquill who remains super awesome, because a lot of people fuss over Sam wearing a lot of pink now in her collection. Actually, she would have wanted to wear a lot of pink because she would have been ultimately cool. Pink became a popular color in late Victorian and early Edwardian times--specifically bubblegum pink, from newly available coal tar dye. This is actually slightly lighter; the shade they would have worn would have been a bright, garish PAAAAAANK. PAAAAAANK was super fashionable for all people because it had previously been a very difficult color to attain.

Historically, people will wear garish colors as soon as they can get them on them. Wait til I talk about arsenic green.

The back closes with velcro--like most AG clothes--and the sash is loose, allowing it to be tied over the closed back.

A. I much more like this dress than compared to the Plaid Badness.

Bloomer shot!
Bloomers: The only major change in bloomers is that, instead of them being ruffle gathered at the waistband, they're now set to a cased elastic waistband and so are just like Rebecca's. Underpants are like immigrants: they get the job done.7 B+.

Tights. You've seen this.
Tights: Samantha's tights have changed from the black of prior to white. Other than that, no change. There are a million of them in the Edwardian/Titanic drawer and I'm going to have to label them to tell one pair apart from the other. B.

Better, Faster, Blacker, Stronger.
Shoes: Finally. Those plastic lumps are gone. Samantha has gotten decent shoes! They're black patent leather mary janes with velcro closures, and they are much better than what came before. Praise Be to the Clothing Gods, Sam's shoes don't suck ass.

You've seen these style before; just before she got kicked into the vault, these were the kind that came with her Shoes and Socks set. And since I actually have those and pretty much went into full detail on the Play Dress and Pinafore review, I'm going to save myself a lot of repeated descriptions and just link you there. S'alright? S'alright. The only difference is my new ones come with the American Girl Logo stamped on the sole.

A+. As good back then as they are now.


Delicious examples!

The new BeForever Volumes and Sam's My Journey book all show her in her new meet set--including headband. She's wearing red velvet shoes, though. Whatever, the black ones will go with everything.

A search around the interbutts pulled up an authentic pink Edwardian dotted swiss dress from The Barrington House Collection. The skirt is on the long side and there's a higher collar, so this is likely more for a 14 year old girl. But will you look at that the waistband is not at her hips in a dropped waist shut up failures. I love finding direct examples.

I also found an Edwardian postcard of four girls and their dog--which I can't source because all the sources were Pintrest which is not a source. The outfit on middle right looks the most like Sam's new meet style in colors, but the one at the furthest right more resembles the style itself of sheer over plain back, wide lace collar, and gathered short sleeves. Also on the far left is a high waisted dress. So many fancy things.

From Moni, an example of Edwardian PAAAANK. It's from a cross stitch pattern, but it shows.

Again from Moni, the garish PAAANK on furniture.  Not just pink but GOLD. GOLD EVERYTHING.

From NieciP, another example of the style of dress. This one looks even more like Sam's new set, though the sash is on the side and the dots are red. Don't ask how the hat is staying on the back of her head.


Overall Feel: The meet dress is a vast improvement on what Sam had to wear for decades, the shoes especially. The accessories? Ehh....not so much. The hat from her hair styling set could have swapped places with the headband, and then I'd feel a lot better about the meet stuff. But as it is I'm kind of miffed by lost potential. Notably, when it comes to historical wear, it's rare the times I have an outfit for the gang that I feel has appeal out of its time, in that I think I could put it on a moddie and not feel like the outfit is super dated. This is however, something that could actually do a semi-modern look--a very girly modern look, but it would still fit.

Cost Value: The dress cost of $36 was pretty okay; I half wish the hair ribbon had come in with it, but half don't because the ribbon is on a ponytail holder and I can just cut one. The meet accessories are probably where I most feel shafted, what with the non-opening locket and the headband that could have easily been a hat. The purse is nice, but it doesn't make up for the other two components being blech. If you have the older Sam accessories, just buy a new gold locket and keep what you have; they'll work with the new stuff, I'd think.

Authenticity: *points to pictures above* Yes. Accurate in cut, fabrics, and silhouette. Including the wide lace collar. I said it all up there and won't repeat it, but it works for back then and, if the girly look isn't too girly, for now too.

Appropriateness to Character: It's a lot more towards Edwardian than Victorian, thank goodness.  Around here, Nellie and Marisol will be taking this for themselves, thanks.

Final Grade: B+ for the outfit, C+ for the accessories. Acceptable job, New Sam Clothes.

Now with the fancy pillow.

1 One of the few things that gets very little critique from me is Hamilton, because it hella rocks. Speaking of which, mini rant. Some folk on Tumblr--a site which has both enlightened views and completely bad ones all mixed up, like any social media or blogging site--is on a crusade to make sure the whole world "knows" that Hamilton is apparantly a terrible evil racist musical that glorifies "slave owning rapists" and making them cute to us all and that Lin-Manuel Miranda is a anti-black mega thief who has no right to even listen to rap and R&B, much less use it to teach American History and retell the narrative. Everything they say is annoying and I just block their posts. They are summarily being ignored by Yours Truly. For all the issues people have with Hamilton, this is one of the Ankhy ones. Getting it completely wrong about A. Ham's abolitionist views, background, the role of the characters in the musical, and droning on and on about how Lin-Manuel Miranda somehow isn't allowed to breathe near a rap song because he's Puerto Rican when he grew up rocking this shit and truly knows his shit and appreciates the genres? Makes you the worst, Burr. That sort of Ankh Shit gets you on my bad side. Fan of Problematic Things instead of Burning it all.
2 Already did, though. See: Samantha's Cranberry Party Dress. They got a D-.
3 Because heaven forbid that someone look at a level one human baby who can't even sit up unassisted and accidentally assume that they're not the gender role selected for them based on their genitalia.
4 I'm hoping to go to a semi-local museum display on the history of purses next month to learn even more.
5 You will notice Nellie is wearing two necklaces. One is a wishbone necklace she came with and I don't take off her much.
6 Nellie also has a zip tie at neck instead of strings. Who has two thumbs and literally doesn't care? Me.
7 *insert high five with Lafayette and Hamilton*


  1. Squee! So glad to see you review this one!

    A bonus example of this style of dress can be found on this actual 1909 illustrated postcard, more fuel that the BeForever haters/"Everything-was-better-and-more-accurate-under-Pleasant-Company!" are full of crap.

  2. Great review. I got this dress for my old PC Samantha and it fits great. I was also initially afraid that having netting like that in close proximity to Velcro was going to be a total nightmare, but the lace is really pretty substantial and I haven't had any snagging issues yet.

    I actually still kinda like Sam's original meet dress, though, although it could've been better with less chintzy fabric and pleats that went all the way to the back. I've seen that "pleated/tailored dress with a belt" style in a lot of Edwardian pictures, and have always liked it--I think I've been generally more fond of the more menswear-inspired, early sportswear type of aesthetic in Edwardian fashion and, while I like Sam's reboot in general, getting a new dress that looks like, say, her old Buster Brown dress, would be pretty cool.


  3. Are tights usually worn under your undies?

    1. For the dolls, the bloomers don't fit properly under the tights. Historically, the outfit would have separate stockings that were kept up with garter clips.

  4. have I ever told you that one of my fave parts of your historical outfit reviews is that I get to learn about how people actually wore clothes IRL in these time periods? <3

    1. It's my favorite part of reviews to pull up! Clothes history is super fascinating to me, and how many AG reviews actually do that?

  5. Nice review. By the way, Nethilia is a really pretty name.


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