Wow! It has been over a month since I published anything to this blog!
I do have some excuses though. My husband is getting out of the military in a little over a month. That means we also have to move away from the base he works at and back to my hometown. This involves packing up all my American Girl dolls, our clothes, our furniture...and, most complicated of all, two elderly cats that have absolutely no interest in moving.
My husband will be going to college while I work. That means I need to find a job that makes roughly the equivalent of what he made in the military (plus the cost of housing-the basic housing allowance is not included in the salary since it is an allowance) and that will also give us decent health insurance. I think I have found that job-I'll give more details once it is set in stone. As part of getting that job, I am traveling back and forth between the state we currently live in and our home state. It is exhausting.
So that's a lot right there-transitioning back to civilian life, becoming the breadwinner, moving several states away.
Oh, and, by the way, I'm also pregnant.
As of this writing, I am 8 weeks along. So still quite a ways to go. But I am tired a lot, especially with everything else on my plate. So writing on here will likely be sporadic. I'm still a fan of American Girl and I'll still be involved in the community at AGC. But things are obviously changing for me too. Please hang in there with me-this community gives me way too much enjoyment and I'd hate to lose that!
Anyways, I wanted to write about an outfit that I've always loved-Samantha's Middy Outfit. Her outfit, with its nautical theme, is both adorable and fairly accurate for the time period.
Nautical fashion (along with military inspired fashion) has been around for a long time. However, the sailor trend really set off when Queen Victoria dressed her oldest son Edward (nicknamed Bertie in his childhood) in a sailor suit whilst on the Royal Yacht in 1846. Bertie was always a trendsetter but this was perhaps one of the first (and one of the most enduring) fashion movements that he started.
Prince Edward, painted by Franz Xaver Winterhalter
Naturally, people wanted to copy the royal family and sailor suits became popular for children. Below is a boy's "middies" (named for midshipman) sailor suit from around 1900. Obviously the style had great staying power since this was over 50 years since little Bertie had popularized the style on the Royal Yacht.
Nautical inspired outfits were popular for girls and ladies as well as time went on. For example, the four Romanov daughters of Nicholas II-Olga, Tatiana, Maria, and Anastasia-often wore them, along with the tsarevitch. Below is a photograph of the children wearing their suits.
Nautical fashion continues to inspire today. Sometimes it is paired with the Breton striped sailor shirt that Coco Chanel made popular.
Clearly, Samantha's middy outfit was an appropriate choice as her summer outfit!
Samantha wears this outfit in her summer story. Originally, this outfit came in two separate parts-the boots were sold separately.
The dress itself is white with black accents. I do sometimes wish that the details were navy blue instead, since that is a classic nautical color combination (another classic one is red and white-navy blue with white accents would have also been appropriate). The dress has a pleated skirt with four decorative white buttons on the skirt.
The dress has long sleeves and closes at the wrist using velcro. The cuff of the sleeve has two black bands along the wrist.
On one of the sleeves, she also sports a crest on a patch. It's difficult to see. but the patch features an anchor detail.
The dress has a sailor collar with black stripe accents along the edges. A black anchor adorns the top of the dress as well. Anchors were common accents in nautical inspired outfits.
The back of the collar features a star accent at each corner. Stars are another common detail-I'm glad they didn't use additional anchors because I think that would have been overkill.
The dress has a lace up section with black ribbon on the skirt. The outfit closes with velcro and a clasp.
Tams were originally classic hats for Scottish men but later made their way into military uniforms and became fashionable for girls as well. The hats are usually flat.
The outside of the hat is just plain white-the inside brim has black ribbon detail.
My only complaint about the hat is that it can be difficult to place attractively. It is meant to sit at a jaunty angle by the way.
Samantha pairs this outfit with a pair of high button shoes. These are also black and white. These shoes actually have functional pearl buttons. It's a nice detail but I would have preferred Velcro. The shoes are very hard for me to clasp because I have very stiff fingers. As it is, you can see I could only barely get the bottom button clasped. I can imagine that it must be difficult for a child too.
Personally, if I wasn't trying to capture all of the components for a review, I would use the boots that Samantha wears with her Flower Picking Set. Those boots are sort of similar (black and white high button shoes) but they have Velcro.
Basically the boots are very nice aesthetically but, for my practical purposes, they're a negative.
And then we have my favorite part of the outfit. If your set comes from before 2005 or so, it came with a bronze whistle on a black cord. I like to tuck the cord under her collar and pull it back-otherwise it hangs down far too low.
My whistle (I'm not sure if the whistles later became nonfunctional) is an actual whistle. I can blow it and it makes noise, which I think is just the nicest detail. Who doesn't love a whistle?
Possibly my love of real whistles will change once my child is born and obtains a whistle from some foolish person (probably my husband). But for now I love it! I would try to make sure any set I bought included the whistle.
Overall, I think this was a good design for American Girl. The nautical style of Sam's summer outfit is historically accurate-it is also really cute! The only downside to the set is the hard-to-clasp shoe choice. But I also know that there are people who will feel differently and prefer the shoes with realistic closures instead of Velcro.
But overall, I do enjoy this set!
Anyways, sorry again for not posting. I'll try to do better!