Saturday, October 26, 2013

American Girl: Kirsten's School Outfit

I apologize that I haven't been writing much lately. It's not that I've been busy, just feeling lazy and unmotivated. My stores around here don't have much new things that I'm interested in buying, and I've been dumping money on the Disney Store's collector dolls they've been releasing this season. I only have two more I want, so after I get them out of the way I can focus on other dolls once my bank account recovers. I hate fall for that reason; the Disney Store releases all of their limited edition collector dolls in just a couple of months instead of steadily through out the year. I'm also moving to Florida soon and have been packing up clothes and thinking of when I should start adding my dolls to that, so I probably shouldn't buy more to add to the pile.

I have been in a very American Girl mood lately though. I've been reading Caroline's books slowly and am enjoying them very much because they're nicely written and the plot is enthralling. I definitely suggest reading them yourself or with a child. I also received my holiday catalog a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed the photography in it, especially for the historical characters. I have a long list of dolls I'd like to add to my childhood collection (like five currently >.<), but can't really afford it at the moment and haven't been able to get myself to American Girl Boston because my mother has been injured and I like visiting the stores with her because she loves American Girl just as much as me.

So I've been making do with my four childhood dolls I decided to keep, Kirsten, Felicity, Josefina, and Kit. As a child Kirsten was never my favorite, and I bought her on a whim when I was eight or nine with the money I saved from my birthday, Christmas, and allowance. I'm not sure if I didn't like her so much because of her meet outfit, which I still am not crazy about, or if it was her simple clothes and accessories she had. They weren't fancy and elegant like Felicity's or exotic like Josefina's. Anyways I never bought anything for her when I was younger besides her doll, and I unfortunately took down her braids and gave Elizabeth her pantalettes to wear, so she's practically brand new. When I got back into American Girl as an adult, she was retired. So now I'm making up for it by slowly buying her collection off of eBay when I find good deals. Now she's one of my favorites because of my interest in Scandinavian culture and 19th century history. I also can't think of one of her outfits American Girl produced for her that I don't like.

Kirsten looking very appropriate for the season.


When I first started staking things out for Kirsten I knew her School Dress and Sshawl were one of the first things I wanted. I love the colors and how cozy the outfit seems, not to mention one of her cheaper outfits because of how long it was produced. A couple of months back I found a listing for the complete outfit, which is the dress, shawl, and hair ribbons that stayed relatively low for the days it was listed. I ended up winning it for about $20 shipped and am very happy with that price! According to the American Girl Wiki, it retailed for $24 when it was directly sold from the company, so I got a really good deal considering you have to add shipping or gas money to that $24, and the fact it's retired.


Kirsten wears this outfit in the second book in her main series, Kirsten Learns a Lesson. The outfit looks exactly the same as the one on the cover on the left with the older cover, but on the updated version of the book it has a different neckline.

American Girl's stock photo
This outfit was first produced in 1986 and was retired with the rest of Kirsten's collection in 2009. Until some time in the 90's, her red dress was produced with a cream colored division sign print, until it was revised to have a traditional calico print of dots and flowers. I prefer the newer pattern, so I made sure I was careful to buy that version.


I dressed Kirsten in her meet boots and socks like the stock photo and added her amber necklace from her meet accessories with it as well.

School Dress on the left, Meet Dress on the right.

 Her School Dress is remarkably similar to her meet dress. The cut is the same, and they even are gathered and pleated in similar spots. Both have the same waist band, high neck, and gathered cuffs at the wrist that close with velcro. I can understand this as I'm sure it was a simple pattern her mother or aunt would be able to sew and construct and something Kirsten could get a lot of wear and tear out of. Either dress isn't fussy with unnecessary embellishments, and both seem like they be easy to scrub down after a day of hard work on the farm.


They even have similar floral patterns and color schemes.


The bottom of the dress has pleats so her mother would be able to let the dress out as she grows so it would be the appropriate length which meant she could get a lot more use out of it. Her pantalette's peek out at the bottom of the skirt which was a popular girls' fashion during her time period.


Her dress is gathered at the natural waist with a band. It's pleated on the top and also the skirt.


The sleeves are gathered at the shoulder and poof out a bit. Though not extreme as the gigot sleeves in the 1830's, Kirsten most likely would have not been the most fashionable girl seeing as she belonged to an immigrant family on the western frontier. And from what I remember, none of her dresses have the bell sleeves that were fashionable during the 1850's like the ones Cecile & Marie Grace have in their collection or even Addy's, though her time period is a bit later.


The simple cuffs at the wrist close with velcro so they easily go over her hands. I imagine historically they probably used buttons to close the cuffs or made them loose enough to get your hand through.

Eye spy with my little eye dog hair on her right shoulder.
The dress's neckline is high and simple. Not only is it historically accurate, it also hides the annoying neck crease American Girl doll's have where their head meets their body. This dress also started to be produced when the original Pleasant Company dolls had white bodies that didn't match their vinyl, so it conveniently hides that as well.


The back is secured with velcro. It may not be historically accurate, but it's a heck of a lot easier than a million of tiny buttons.


A close up look at the pattern. It consists of navy and white flowers and navy dots.


This dress also matches nicely with her white and red striped apron that came with her meet outfit, though she probably wouldn't of needed it at school.

Overall I'd give her dress a B+. The material is a sturdy, thin cotton. I love the blood red color and it suits Kirsten's coloring very well. While it's historically accurate for her, it's a lot like her meet dress. I can't imagine this dress and just her shawl would keep her very warm walking to and from school in chilly November in Minnesota, I know it wouldn't keep me warm right now in October in Massachusetts outdoors. Then again I'm a wuss when it comes to the cold. I imagine her dress and shawl would of been made from heavy wool or flannel and she would be wearing a heavy petticoat or two underneath and wool stockings. So just maybe it would be warm enough!


Kirsten's plaid shawl is what really makes the outfit. It's made from a very thin plaid cotton material.


Her shawl from behind.



Her shawl is pretty much a triangle of fabric. There's a hem around the edges to give it some structure. It's almost too short to go around Kirsten's shoulders as well. Surely an inch or two of more fabric couldn't be too much of a hassle. I have to stretch it so I can knot it in the front so Kirsten can wear it properly.


The shawl is made of a tartan pattern of red and navy mostly, with a bit of gold running through it. The navy ties it in nicely with the pattern on her dress and makes for a nice match. The ends are frayed a bit to look like tassels or fringe.

I'd give the shawl by itself a solid C. It's thin and almost too small for Kirsten. It definitely adds something to her basic dress though and makes the outfit seem warm and cozy,


The last thing that is included with the dress and shawl is navy ribbons for her braids that match the navy in her shawl and dress.


The ribbons are woven from a thick, canvas like material. They remind me a bit of shoe laces.

Meet ribbons on top, School ribbons on bottom.
They're plain and simple like the Ribbons that came in Kirsten's hair, just a little bit thinner and a darker blue.

I'd give the ribbons a B. They get the job done but there's nothing special about them. They're not cool like the ones that come with her winter outfit.


Overall I'd give the whole outfit an A. I think it looks lovely on Kirsten and is a wonderful fall outfit. It's one of Kirsten's essential outfits in my opinion, probably because it was featured in her second book. While I can critique the pieces separately, I think they work wonderfully together and I can over look the minor details like the similarity of this dress to her meet dress, or the thinness of the shawl.

I scored mine for an awesome price, and would encourage you to buy the outfit if you come across it for a similar amount. I think what American Girl charged is a fair price, especially compared to what they charge for some other outfits. I'm not sure what year my outfit was made in, but I received it in perfect condition and the previous owner didn't use it much if at all. It even came with the hanger!


Here's Kirsten with my other girls in their fall clothes and their dollies. I still need to buy Josefina's school outfit.



Thank you for reading!

~Heather

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