Some days ago, I embarked on this project as a fun way to kill some time while quarantined. It quickly evolved into a harrowing odyssey of grief, regret, and triumph. I have emerged battered, bruised, and bereft of the $119 Canadian dollars I used to impulse-buy the doll who stole my heart during this exercise. Who is she? Read on to find out.
One thing before we get started: I have endeavoured to make this article family-friendly and appropriate for all ages. You will find no swear words or adult concepts herein. If you’re going to comment — and I hope you do, I hope you fight me and each other, I hope this is the most contentious comment section in the history of The Niche — please keep that in mind, and refrain from swearing and/or being raunchy. And though this article is entirely kid-friendly, the rest of this site is — let’s say — only appropriate for ages thirteen and up. Don’t click around if you’re younger than that. Okay? Okay.
Without further ado, let’s ruthlessly rank doll clothes.
282. Kit’s Candy-Making Set
Just awful. Egregious. Disgusting. I would honestly take American Girl to court over this. The absolute nadir of the entire company’s existence. I am not joking or exaggerating. I hate this dress with everything I have. If I ever meet anyone responsible for bringing it into the world, I will fistfight them. One time, I texted a picture of it to my dad — a grown man in his fifties — and he texted back, “Horrible! She would never wear it!” And then he texted, “Maybe Kit is Non Binary Gendered?” He gets it.
281. Julie’s Casual Outfit
Extremely tough call over whether this or Ivy’s Meet outfit would take the second-to-last spot, but man, it had to be this one. Head to toe a mess. I’m so sorry, Julie.
280. Ivy’s Meet Outfit
American Girl unquestionably did Ivy Ling so, so dirty. I mean, look at this. Nothing matches, and the colours and fabrics are ugly, Granny-esque. Poor baby looks like a randomized Sim. Just awful.
279. Julie’s Christmas Outfit II
A huge downgrade from her previous Christmas Outfit in every respect. I like the Mary Janes with the white stitching, and I do like the bun, but the dress is so, so cheap-looking. The Lord is testing me.
278. Samantha’s Bridesmaid Dress
I mean… it wouldn’t be a proper bridesmaid dress if it wasn’t ugly, right?
277. Julie’s Calico Dress
Truly a race to the bottom with these Julie outfits. I actually like the tights and the bandana and the boots, but that’s not enough to redeem… well. Look at it.
276. Kit’s Striped Nightie
SHE HATES PINK! SHE HATES DRESSES! SHE HATES RUFFLES AND BOWS AND FLOUNCES! CAN SHE NOT EVEN WEAR PANTS TO BED?? IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK???
275. Felicity’s Meet Outfit (BeForever)
A full-scale abomination made all the more galling by how ugly it looks next to her classic Meet Outfit. Jewel tones are not Felicity. Fussiness is not Felicity. Runched-up skirts and undergarments that simulate the figure of an adult woman are! not! Felicity! Burn it!
274. Josefina’s Herb-Gathering Outfit
Now, despite being marketed — and priced — as an outfit, this is actually just a scarf and a few accessories. They’re all cute, but an outfit they are not.
273. Molly’s Meet Outfit (BeForever)
Oh, absolutely not.
272. Addy’s Work Dress and Apron
Oh, this is drab! Oh, it’s dull! The little doll-sized clothespins are a cute touch, but they’re the only cute touch. Looks like something your grandma would make for your doll out of scraps in her quilting basket. Addy deserves better!
271. Julie’s Mix-Print Maxi Dress
I am just sitting here with my head in my hands sighing so, so loud.
270. Kit’s Photographer Outfit
*banging on the windows of American Girl Place* LET HER BE BUTCH! LET HER BE BUTCH!!!!!!!!!!!
269. Marie-Grace’s Party Outfit
The purple-green Barney the Dinosaur aesthetic is always a risk, and here, it does not pay off. Not remotely. I am so sorry, Marie-Grace.
268. Kit’s Summer Dress
Just realized that the designation of this frilly, matronly lil number as a “summer” dress means that it’s technically replacing her overalls as her summer outfit and now I am steamed all over again.
267. Addy’s Folk Dance Outfit
American Girl has put out a few of these “modern dance” outfits — an Irish get-up for Nellie, a number of jingle dresses for Kaya — but this one just feels… lazy? Borderline offensive? It doesn’t appear to bear any resemblance to modern African dance costumes, as far as I’m aware, and construction-wise, it’s just a piece of kente cloth wrapped over a leotard.
265. Caroline’s Party Gown
This looks like a Cinderella costume you’d get in a plastic bag at Party City. Absolutely not.
264. Kit’s Reporter Dress (BeForever)
While I do appreciate the return of the dual-diamond barrette from her original Meet Outfit, I just can’t with this outfit. It’s a little bit too little-kid, the positioning of the collar is weird, and the puffy sleeves and bow are far too frou-frou for a rapscallion of Kit’s calibre.
263. Josefina’s Nightshift
This is very, very plain. Thankfully, they did give Josefina a cuter nightgown a little later on, with orange-ribbon accents instead of boring old red.
262. Samantha’s Nightgown
The little ribbon rectangle is a fun touch here!
261. Felicity’s Night Shift, Cap, and Mules
This does seem like the most basic nightgown-for-a-doll it’s possible to make, and the leather slippers don’t look especially well-made.
260. Kirsten’s Nightgown
All of the nightgowns are just going to be sequestered down here, at the bottom of the list, for the crime of being boring. I like the stitching at the yoke and the sleeves, though, and the little yarn bow is a sweet touch!
259. Addy’s Nightgown
Not one of American Girl’s more imaginative looks, no, but the shawl is a cozy little addition.
258. Samantha’s Bicycling Outfit
It’s cute, but girl, it is not period. That blouse looks like it belongs at Coachella, not in 1900s New England, and the colour scheme — bright blue, little pink buttons on the gaiters — is, likewise, all wrong. Compare it to the earlier bicycling outfit and you’ll immediately see where they’ve sacrificed historical accuracy for cutesy flair. And, God, if you’re going to throw out historical accuracy, make the gaiters match the outfit! Why can’t she have little pink gaiters on her boots? Why the clashing black? Make it make sense!
257. Marie-Grace’s Fancy Coat
She looks like a cake! Like a very fancy cake! Oh my goodness, she’s just getting swallowed up in this thing! The coat is wearing her!
256. Maryellen’s Skating Outfit
I just simply don’t understand why the skates are ice-blue and the dress is red. Also, isn’t she gonna be cold? Can we get her a hat? A scarf?
255. Julie’s Basketball Uniform
I don’t understand why Julie has two basketball uniforms, but this one is definitely worse. More period-accurate, probably, but much, much worse. I mean, for God’s sake, yarn ties? Those are going to fall apart after being played with, like, once! Unreal.
254. Rebecca’s School Outfit
I’m not the biggest fan of the blue-black colour scheme, ever, but more pressingly: no collar? Just that little white triangle of undershirt? Don’t know how I feel about that. Not positively. Makes the whole thing feel unfinished.
253. Molly’s Write to Sleep Pajamas
These were a 2019 Costco exclusive and they look way, way too modern for Molly’s wartime era. I mean, the fuzzy slippers alone.
252. Julie’s Patchwork Outfit
This would be fine without the necklace and the bandana. Completely fine. Definitely not the most egregious offender in Julie’s collection, but I just cannot let those accessories slide.
251. Emily’s Snowsuit
A truly ugly look, but somehow all the more endearing for its ugliness. I don’t know whether to call that colour snot or diluted pea soup.
250. Kit’s School Skirt Set
It’s right there on Page 1 of “Meet Kit”: she can’t stand pink! Next!
249. Kit’s Christmas Outfit II
American Girl will see something that ain’t broke and ask, “Is anyone going to fix this?” and not even wait for an answer.
248. Josefina’s Party Dress and Spencer Jacket
I want to be all about this, but I wish that jacket were any colour other than black. Oxblood or green to complement the print, maybe? Taupe to complement the shoes? As of right now, the jacket just looks like an after-thought, and it makes the dress look like shapeless.
247. Kit’s Mini-Golf Outfit
Girl, I don’t know. Golf, even the mini variety, seems like an awfully bougie hobby for someone of Kit’s social status. And what on Earth is going on with that four-button flap?
246. Samantha’s Frilly Frock
A radically less effective version of Rebecca’s Lace Dress with WILDLY ahistorical metallic space boots.
245. Julie’s Tunic Outfit
Man, I just absolutely cannot brook these little doll-sized high heels. I get that they’re supposed to be clogs, not proper heels, but it’s not working for me. They look so, so goofy. As for the rest of the outfit, I like the denim tunic, and I could do without anything else. Not Julie’s worst offense.
244. Julie’s Winter Coat and Hat
Girl, that had better be faux fur.
243. Maryellen’s Strawberry Outfit
Not ugly, just tacky. I will say, though, that I appreciate Maryellen’s commitment to always having a matching hair accessory.
242. Julie’s Pajamas and Robe
You know what? This actually isn’t that bad. Deeply, deeply tacky, but tolerable.
241. Samantha’s Meet Outfit
I’m fine with everything but the sash. It just doesn’t coordinate with the rest of the garment! It doesn’t match! Also, why’s she got cute little red shoes and a cute pink headband on the cover of the book, but we’re stuck with those basic black Mary Janes and the red bow on the doll? SMH.
240. Molly’s Evergreen Velvet Dress
Molly was one of the very first American Girl characters, and this was one of the series’ very earliest designs, and you can tell. It is quite basic, and it would be better without that row of little buttons.
239. Samantha’s Cranberry Party Dress
Much like Felicity’s Christmas gown, this one looks quite plain next to the other fabulous outfits that would come to fill out the historical collections. There’s nothing really unique about it, nothing to distinguish it from more generic doll clothes. Samantha deserves a legendary holiday look, and this is simply not it.
238. Elizabeth’s Riding Outfit
I don’t believe for one second that you could ride a horse in this. Felicity’s riding outfit consisted of breeches and a workmanlike billowy shirt; this looks like whipped cream on angel food cake. Adorable at a Chanel fashion show, but totally useless as a riding habit. I mean, those princessy little slippers alone. You expect her to dig her heels into a horse’s flank in those? I don’t buy it.
237. Emily’s Holiday Outfit
Bit plain, innit? (I am writing in a British accent in honour of Emily being British.) The necklace and the lacy socks feel disconnected from the rest of the outfit, and I think I’d prefer ribbon detailing at the sleeves and neck to the ruffles. Just all very half-baked and mismatched.
236. Kirsten’s Housecoat and Sockor
You know, it’s not always about glamour. Sometimes you are just a little Swedish immigrant out on the prairie and it’s cold as the dickens and you need to keep warm. This is not flashy, but it serves its purpose.
235. Caroline’s Work Dress
Work dress? Work dress? What work is Caroline going to be doing in this dress except posing as a Swedish milkmaid in a Nestle ad? If Addy’s Work Dress sinned by being too dull, this one sins by doing too much.
234. Rebecca’s Seashore Set
This, regrettably, ain’t it, chief. The style is fine, but those colours… oy vey.
233. Josefina’s Indigo Skirt and Camisa
There wasn’t always a whole ton of variety in Josefina’s collection, huh? Like, how was this materially different from her Meet outfit? Just a blue skirt instead of a red one? Try harder! Innovate!
232. Kit’s Play Dress
The cut of this dress looks like something designed for a toddler, not a strapping young lass of ten! Like, so cute, and perfectly adequate as doll clothing, but not exactly coherent with Kit as a character.
231. Josefina’s Meet Outfit (BeForever)
Every other girl got a full remake at the turn of the BeForever era, but in Josefina’s case, they were evidently just like, “Well, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” switched out her elegant maroon skirt for a candy-apple-red one, and called it a day. Meh.
230. Julie’s Pinball Outfit
This is fun! I especially like the little rainbow and the little turtle down by her sandal. This is a ridiculous outfit, but it’s ridiculous because the seventies were ridiculous, and for that, I cannot blame American Girl.
229. Maryellen’s Poodle Skirt Outfit
Wouldn’t be a 1950s character without a poodle skirt, I guess. I’m actually digging the blouse and the hairtie, but black and pink is a little too modern a colour combo, I think.
228. Molly’s Polka-Dot Outfit
It’s a perfectly nice dress, but it’s just a little precious for Molly. She was a scrapper! She swam through lakes and tap-danced! This is way too prim and proper for her.
227. Addy’s Meet Outfit (BeForever)
This print is so pretty, but that black trim just doesn’t complement the colour at all! It doesn’t clash nearly as much as her robin’s-egg BeForever school outfit, but it’s a big step down from her iconic pink Meet look. Also, those boots appear to be brown, not black — or, at least, they’re a different shade of black from the trim in the dress. Now, if they’d gone with brown trim on this dress and brown boots…
226. Addy’s Stilting Outfit
WHAT! WHAT! WHAT!!! STILTING? GIRLS, STILTING? God, American Girl used to be so cool. God, and the wooden stilts came with the outfit and had little elastic loops for the hands and feet so you could actually make your doll stilt-walk. The dress itself is not American Girl’s best, rather drab — although they do score points for the matching bloomers — but man, I can’t get past the stilts. I love it.
225. Elizabeth’s Meet Outfit
Were they even capable of producing this shade of pink in the colonial United States of America? It’s a nice garment, don’t get me wrong, but it definitely feels more Barbie than Benedict Arnold. Until I see evidence that pinks got this hot in the 18th century, I’m calling B.S.
224. Addy’s Patriotic Party Dress
I remember this moment so well from Addy’s books, the pure pride and triumph she took in delivering her speech; I just wish the dress were as jaw-dropping. It’s a little too understated for the moment. I could use a bigger sash, a bigger rosette, some kind of ribbon at the waist to tie it all together. But the deep red colour is lovely on her, and I love that it comes with a tiny scroll of the Emancipation Proclamation. Go America. Go Broncos.
223. Caroline’s Holiday Gown
Why, why, why doesn’t this gown go all the way to the ground? God, I feel like Michelle Visage yelling at Adore Delano in Season 6. The length is so awkward! Spoils the look! Even if those slippers are super cute.
222. Cecile’s Special Dress
There’s so much to love in Cecile’s collection, but the pieces of this dress just don’t quite add up. Maybe if they switched the black ribbon out for green or white? Maybe if the rosette were centered at her waist? Maybe if we lost the pearls? There’s just too much going on here.
221. Marie-Grace’s Fancy Dress
Something about this colour combination feels a little bit chintzy. I’m also very aware that we’re dealing with two different pinks, and they do not complement each other. But the construction of the dress itself is lovely, and I feel like this would get much higher marks from me if the blue pieces of the dress were white. At any rate, it’s a big step up from the accompanying Fancy Coat.
220. Molly’s Roller-Skating Outfit
I’m torn because it’s so ugly but I love it SO MUCH and I fully buy that someone as fashion-oblivious as Molly would be like, “Yeah, this looks rad.”
219. Samantha’s Kimono and Slippers
I want to say this looks grandmotherly, but that’s because Samantha is all of our grandparents’ age. Well, our grandparents and great-grandparents, anyway. She set the trend for all those grandmas. She’s an innovator.
218. Julie’s Skateboarding Set
Julie wears this while rolling past you, blowing bubble gum, and flipping you the bird. Somewhere in the distance, a 100 gecs song is blasting. You are dwarfed by her might.
217. Julie’s Meet Outfit
Oh, Julie. Julie and your oh-so-seventies fashion choices that haven’t aged super well. You know what? This would be fine without the turtleneck. It would be completely fine without that danged turtleneck.
216. Josefina’s Harvest Outfit
Unfortunately, one thing that I have realized throughout this exercise is that a lot of Josefina’s outfits are just the same outfit in different colours: a camisa, a belt, a skirt, a hair-ribbon. This one is a cute enough variation on the theme, but she deserves better! She deserves range!
215. Kirsten’s Dirndl
Kirsten said, “Mama, may I travel to the New World in something less ugly?” and Mama said, “No, my child, it’s just gonna have to be this.” I actually really like the vest, with its sprightly red and purple plaid, but the colours become all dark and muddy in the skirt. And the kerchief doesn’t match at all. I’d award extra points for the cute carpetbag, but it’s sold separately! Tragique!
214. Cecile’s Meet Outfit
God, sorry, a blue-black colour scheme is just never going to work for me, and American Girl does it so much. The construction is darling, I love the little cluster of rosettes, but the turquoise and black — no, not working for me. Literally any other colour. A lovely green, perhaps.
213. Nanea’s Island Swimsuit
How hard is it to make the goggles and the towel match the swimsuit? Really, how hard?
212. Maryellen’s Rockin’ Roller Skating Outfit
Cute dress. Whither the roller skates, though?
211. Molly’s Floral Pajamas
This doesn’t exactly scream Molly to me, but maybe I just don’t recognize her without the glasses?
210. Nellie’s Irish Dance Outfit of Today
I was about to come for this outfit for using a too-bright shade of green, but then I Googled “irish dance costume” and, well, folks, turns out this isn’t anywhere near flamboyant enough. To be truly accurate, this outfit would have had to have come with doll-sized glitter and hairspray and curlers to create a little orange mountain of ringlets. But I digress. This is very cute — particularly the shoes, nice detail there — and the addition of a girl-sized headband is a nice one.
209. Julie’s Hoops Outfit and Accessories
This whole concept is darling — the bag especially, oh my God — but I don’t know about the clash-y combination of lime green and navy. Why not just use orange accents, like her bag? Tragique.
208. Molly’s Recital Outfit
Those adorable cut-out shoes bump this up a tier, and I like the satin pleats, too. We love a sweet, reserved salmon tone.
207. Kit’s Play Suit
Not butch enough for Kit by a long shot, but oh, oh, oh, the cute little print, the bunnies in planes, the bunnies in parachutes! Ohhh, it’s cute. It’s very cute if I can ignore for a moment the fact that Kit would hate it.
206. Molly’s 1944 Swimsuit
Is it just me, or is this way too girly-wirly for Molly? The seashell necklace, especially. It looks cute, and it’s one of American Girl’s better swimsuit offerings — which, why? They are deeply unwater-proof dolls with cloth bodies — but it doesn’t really reflect Molly’s personality.
205. Addy’s School Outfit (BeForever)
A solid upgrade of a classic look, but I can’t help but feel that this shade of blue clashes with the black trim.
204. Elizabeth’s Quilted Cloak
The glorious thing about Felicity’s cardinal cloak is that it stands on its own, and would make for a fine addition to any number of her outfits. I can’t say the same for Elizabeth’s cloak. It’s very situation-specific, made only to accompany her stunning holiday gown, but sold separately. Could she wear this with her pink Meet outfit, her light blue school dress, her pink riding habit? Of course not. Beautiful, but not versatile.
203. Addy’s Winter Coat
Very cute, very wintry with the forest-green/burgundy colour scheme. I like the standing collar, too — we don’t see a lot of those in the American Girl playbook, I don’t think. The hat feels a bit disconnected from the look, though.
202. Felicity’s Work Gown
The work gown is a funny category of American Girl outfit — like, what little kid wants to put their doll in sensible beige digs for a dull afternoon of needlework? Wait, don’t answer that; I was very much that dorky kid. At any rate, this is one of the more palatable offerings in the Work Dress category — simple, but not drab, and with darling accessories.
201. Julie’s Home Game Uniform
While I do miss the cute basketball and orange/rainbow bag from the Hoops Outfit, this is the first of Julie’s basketball uniforms that actually gets it right. It’s unshowy and historically accurate, very old school American Girl in that way. Just add the accessories from the Hoops Outfit and we’re in business.
200. Marie-Grace’s Meet Outfit
I’m usually not partial to American Girl going full Elle Woods with potentially ahistorical hot pink, but this is an altogether charming look. The lace accents are sweet, and the undertone of peach in the plaid makes for a nice touch.
199. Molly’s Skating Outfit
This is cute and well-coordinated but of course American Girls’ gonna hit you with the “muff and skates sold separately.”
198. Rebecca’s Meet Outfit (BeForever)
Truly cannot believe they axed Rebecca’s gorgeous Russian red Meet Dress in favour of this ensemble, with all its many clashing shades of too-bright purple. A travesty.
197. Samantha’s Skating Party Dress
This looks like a weird prototype of Nellie’s Meet Outfit, which looks very similar but comes together much more elegantly than this.
196. Emily’s Pajamas
Completely and totally darling, looks incredibly cozy, would wear in real life. We don’t often see American Girl offering this kind of like — high-waisted isn’t the word, more of a waist-less smock? But it’s very cute, and it’s great for a PJ look.
195. Emily’s Robe and Slippers
The robe and slippers are sold separately from the pajamas, it turns out, in not the first blatant cash grab from American Girl, but they’re cute enough that I can’t be too mad. Plus, I think they could stand on their own as a bathtime look if you really wanted that.
194. Josefina’s Nightgown
Simple, but sweet, and an improvement, I think, on her older night shift. The orange ribbon and threading is a cute, unique touch, and the embroidery on those slippers is lovely.
193. Kit’s Scooter Outfit
I’m not mad at this. I could do without the frills, but I am not mad at it.
192. Ruthie’s Holiday Dress
*chernobyl dude voice* Not great, not terrible.
191. Molly’s Robe and Fuzzy-Wuzzies
The nautical theme is so cute and the navy-red corded sash is darling, as well.
190. Kit’s Chicken-Keeping Set
I can’t be too mad at this, because hey, at least they are allowing Kit to wear pants — and oh my God, that chicken is the cutest — but this is a far cry from the dark denim of Kit’s original overalls. It’s just a little too baby-doll, too girly for Kit. This will be a recurring complaint.
189. Kit’s Tree House Outfit
You know what we don’t have enough of in the American Girl repertoire? Pom poms. This outfit looks cozy as all hell, and it’s tough and tomboyish enough for a rapscallion like Kit.
188. Molly’s After-School Outfit
God, but I love a truly butch American Girl look. When I published my list of the American Girls ranked by gayness, there was scads of irate internet commentary re: the fact that I did not place Molly at #1. While I just can’t agree that Molly exudes gayness more than, say, Kit Kittredge, I can’t argue that this outfit does make a strong case. This may be the only appearance of flannel on this list. I think I have a pair of pajamas with this exact print.
187. Molly’s Party Pinafore and Birthday Crown
When Lana Del Rey said, “Money is the anthem of success, so put on mascara and your party dress,” she was talking about this party dress. This one, specifically.
186. Kit’s One-Piece Pajamas
While they certainly can’t surpass Kit’s classic beach pajamas, I do appreciate the commitment to the lore here, with the Scottie dogs in the print. Why’d we go with slippers, though? What kind of onesie cuts off at the ankles?
185. Emily’s Tap Costume
Something enchanting about the fact that they gave Emily an uber-basic back-up dancer outfit to complement Molly’s spectacular tap-dancing get-up. This is cute, for what it is, fit for a mini-Rockette – but wouldn’t tights make more sense than socks?
184. Josefina’s Navidad Outfit
Simply cannot hold a candle to the O.G. black and yellow Christmas Dress and Mantilla.
183. Julie’s New Year’s Eve Outfit
Tell me why I’m getting Caroline Calloway from this.
182. Samantha’s Play Dress and Pinafore
A very helpful note on the American Girl Doll Wiki points out that the other characters’ “dress down” outfits are referred to as “work dresses,” while Samantha’s is a “play dress,” as she is stinkin’ rich and never has to do chores.
181. Addy’s Sunday Best
The little puff-sleeves are not really giving me Addy, but I love the stitching of the bodice and the rich purple colour, and that little hat is simply divine.
180. Molly’s Victory Garden Dress
This is a well-made dress, with some lovely floral/herbal print to go with the garden theme. I like the darker pink shade here. Solid work!
179. Marie-Grace’s Summer Outfit
My instinct is to be like, “This would be cute if you lost those ribbon accents,” but the ribbon accents are probably what make it period-accurate. At any rate, love the colour scheme, love the hat, love the little boots.
178. Samantha’s Special Day Dress
Very similar to — but slightly more successful than — Molly’s Victory Garden dress. Sidebar: The shoes don’t match!
177. Ruthie’s Satin Pajamas
We should just take all the super-girly pink outfits they make for Kit and give them to Ruthie, since she’d clearly appreciate them more. Oh, well, when Ruthie and Kit get married and start sharing clothes, they won’t have to worry about that anymore.
176. Molly’s Plaid Jumper and Blouse
Nerd who gets shoved into a locker, but make it fashion.
175. Maryellen’s Pajamas
Cute as a button! Cuts a weird silhouette, sure, but still cute as a button.
174. Maryellen’s School Outfit
Completely adorable. Just not digging the black and purple so much. It gives me mid-2000s Hot Topic, not 1950s sock hop.
173. Felicity’s Tea Lesson Gown
Maybe it’s just that Elizabeth’s tea lesson gown is in a class by itself, but I can’t quite get on board with this one. All the ingredients are there, but something is simply not clicking. Maybe it just looks a little too adult for Felicity. Maybe I just really want that rectangular cut-out in the front to be a triangle. Oh, actually, yeah, that’s it. Easy fix.
172. Kirsten’s Plaid Dress and Shawl
Understated perfection here. The gold of the dress matches her hair and makes for a perfect companion to the purple.
171. Emily’s Recital Outfit
This is so cute that I am willing to let the potentially historically dubious sheer fabric slide. The barettes are darling, the stitching is darling, and the whole thing has a light, airy-fairy Tinkerbell feel; perfect.
170. Marie-Grace’s Nightgown
Oh, very, very classy, very elegant. The cream and soft green are a lovely combination. Wonderful. Ten out of ten, would take a nap in.
169. Kit’s Winter Coat
Warm, cozy, and smart enough for our intrepid little reporter.
168. Addy’s Dress and Sewing Set
This one’s like, nouveau American Girl, post-BeForever transition, and it shows. The vibrant purple in combination with the bright blue feels all off for the period, way too Barbie, but at least the accessories are cute.
167. Julie’s Pajamas
Ah, yes, the sweet, sweet relief of a competent look for Julie. The appliques look a little cheap, but we will let that slide. This is cute. The colours match. That is more than we can say for much of her collection. Let’s keep it moving.
166. Ruthie’s Meet Outfit
Looks a little like a recolour of Kit’s famous chicken-feed birthday dress, but the purple definitely suits her, and the little blue socks are darling.
165. Kirsten’s School Dress with Shawl
Dark reds and dark blues are pretty much the only colours I wear anymore, and Kirsten combines them here to lovely effect. None of her outfits are ever, like, ambitious, but there’s something so appealing in the simplicity, in each careful combination of colour.
164. Josefina’s Dress and Vest
It’s not even part of the outfit, but I am VERY taken with Josefina’s chic little off-to-the-side chignon. Like, oh, Miss Montoya! She’s a lady now! This whole look is very elegant, very grown-up, and a nice, subtle shake-up of the traditional Josefina outfit formula.
163. Kirsten’s Checked Dress and Apron
We have to hand it to Kirsten. Even though she is out on the prairie foraging for roots and berries to survive the winter and what have you, she knows her concepts. Her understanding of colour theory is remarkable; her ability to execute on that understanding and deliver perfectly coordinated #looks is commendable. Everything works together here. Terrific.
162. Molly’s Pajamas
I do love up a button-up set of PJs in my day-to-day life, and these look super comfortable — part housecoat, part Muji chic. And the matching hairbows? Sleeping in braids to unleash fabulous curls in the AM? Excellent.
161. Molly’s Miss Victory Costume
Interesting how Molly singlehandedly ended World War Two with this look.
160. Caroline’s Nightgown
Not feeling that little bow at the hem, and the embroidery looks a little… modern? Also can’t understand why they go for light blue over light green accents on a green-eyed doll, but I can’t be too mad at this look.
159. Addy’s Cape Island Dress
I’m not the biggest fan of pink dresses on dolls, and I suspect this list will bear that out, but this one is restrained, elegant, a lovely salmon shade that complements Addy beautifully. The black piping is a nice touch, as is the pleating in the bodice.
158. Caroline’s Winter Coat and Cap
It’s a beautiful garment, but it feels a little devoid of personality. It could just as easily belong to Samantha or Rebecca, or even Felicity without the hat. Who is Caroline? We just don’t know.
157. Molly’s Dude Ranch Outfit
Have we ever really had an American Cowgirl? I guess Josefina would come closest to filling that role, huh? Anyway, Molly looks adorable in this extraordinarily garish get-up, and I love everything about it.
156. Addy’s Striped Dress
Loving the autumnal colour story here, definitely looks like something Addy’s seamstress mother would make, innovative use of pattern-mixing with the stripes and then the plaid accents; all in all, a solid look.
155. Josefina’s Festival Outfit
A sweet, springtimey take on Josefina’s Only Outfit. I like the pink shoes, but I’m not sure they really match?
154. Ruthie’s Play Outfit
Ruthie Livingston, I presume?
153. Emily’s Two-Piece Swimsuit
A bikini top does look a little silly on a doll, but I guess that can’t be helped. This is adorable, right down to the little daisy blooming on her straw hat. I’m all for this re-appropriation of the Meet Kit-style sandals, too.
152. Cecile’s Summer Outfit
Perfectly darling, very Little Bo Peep-y, but I wish there were a green ribbon sash at the waist, and not just a bow.
151. Kirsten’s Midsummer Outfit
Not to be confused with her Midsommar outfit, which includes accessories such as a caged bear, a soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend’s sociology thesis, and… I can’t take this joke any further because I swore to myself I would keep this article family-friendly.
150. Kit’s Reporter Dress
Feels very crisp and fresh, which I appreciate, but I do have to wonder if Kit would really regard this as, like, professional reporting attire? She really is trying very hard to be a serious journalist, and this looks more like a school dress or something she’d wear to an outing at the zoo or the ballpark.
149. Samantha’s Bicycling Outfit
I’ll take “ugly but historically accurate” over “cute but absolutely not Victorian” any day.
148. Samantha’s Travel Coat and Hat
Loving the hat. Very Rose in Titanic.
147. Rebecca’s Pajamas
A rare miss for Rebecca. Something I have come to learn while making this list is that I just really, really hate magenta.
146. Maryellen’s Christmas and Party Outfit
There’s a cute ladybug vibe here, which I am all about. I think Maryellen is generally better off in cool tones — blues, you know, greens, ocean colours — but I’m not mad at this.
145. Samantha’s Lawn Party Outfit
Samantha was a leftist class traitor who fought against sweatshops and child labour but you would never, ever know it from looking at this outfit.
144. Nanea’s Tropical PJs
A lot of Nanea’s clothing relies on cute prints, and it mostly works, but here, I think I need a little something extra. Maybe if the colours in the print were more varied — a pink and green, perhaps? Right now, it just looks a little monotonous.
143. Kirsten’s Work Dress
Lots to like here. The braids up on the top of her head? Practical. The little shoulder frills? Power-pose-y. The subtle teal? Elegant. The wooden bucket and ladle? Pioneer perfection.
142. Samantha’s Tea Dress
Big fan of how consistently Samantha’s outfits make her look like a little pastry.
141. Rebecca’s Nightgown
Not surprised to learn that Rebecca only sleeps in pure elegance.
140. Maryellen’s Meet Outfit
This one loses points only because it looks more like the idealized version of something a little girl in the ’50s would wear than a truly accurate reflection of the era. Used to be American Girl outfits had a little grit, looked a little lived-in. I don’t see that here.
139. Molly’s Tennis Outfit
This is a 1940s tennis club dress but it’s also the outfit worn by every female attendee of last year’s Primavera Sound.
138. Maryellen’s Play Outfit
Cute, casual, and comfy. I do love this recurring trend in Maryellen’s wardrobe of the little prints and accents tying the outfit together, and the embroidered cherries on the blouse and shoes are very sweet.
137. Molly’s Winter Outfit
You just absolutely cannot go wrong with a rubber-duckie-yellow raincoat and bright red galoshes.
136. Nanea’s Holoku Dress
I Googled “holoku dress” to evaluate this for historical and cultural accuracy, and what I found was a bunch of homemade versions of this dress on Etsy with different prints that were exponentially cuter.
135. Molly’s Route 66 Outfit
I’ve always loved this one — or maybe I just loved the Route 66 Flash game on the American Girl website where you had to drive the car along a very narrow Route 66 without running aground into the sand?
134. Rebecca’s Holiday Outfit
Rebecca already has a Hanukkah Dress and a Hanukkah Outfit, so I’m not really understanding the utility of an additional Holiday Outfit, unless it’s for, like, Rosh Hashanah, but if so: whither the apples? The honey? This one is also not as great as either of the two aforementioned garments, but I really am loving those double-strap shoes.
133. Kirsten’s Summer Dress and Straw Hat
“Less is more” is not just something Aiden Zhane says to evade responsibility for a half-baked look. Sometimes, when you are a little Swedish pioneer girl romping through the meadows and streams on a hot July day, you need simplicity. You need light fabric and a straw hat to shield you from the sun. You need less. And this is less. Lovely.
132. Julie’s Christmas Outfit I
I have been very hard on Julie in this list. I’m sorry. It’s not her fault that the ’70s were Like That. This mostly works for me, though – I think it’s that the very category of holiday clothing kind of allows you to do The Most. Burn those open-toed platform shoes, though.
131. Addy’s Meet Outfit
Among the simpler of the Meet outfits, but that spare structuring works here, I think — it allows the colour to do all the work, and what a colour it is! A bright, effervescent pop of pink! Vertical stripes on the body and horizontal ones on the trim: a welcome little flourish. I do wish we could switch out those black boots for caramel-coloured ones, though.
130. Nanea’s Palaka Outfit
Okay, Miss Nanea! Sporty and summery and fun and fresh!
129. Addy’s Plaid Summer Set
I feel like the real draw here is that adorable apron with its triangular bib and ruffles. But the pale pink and the peach-coloured boots make for an appealing combination, too.
128. Julie’s Meet Outfit (BeForever)
Oh my God, an exponential improvement over her original Meet Outfit. Fun, sunny, suggestive of the seventies without replicating some of the decade’s more unsavoury sartorial choices. Very good.
127. Nanea’s Meet Outfit
I love every single detail. How fresh, how clean, how nautical-looking! The flower in her hair! The high-waisted shorts! What a tiny angel!
126. Kit’s Meet Outfit
I’m gonna have to rank this one relatively low, not because the outfit is bad — it’s not, it’s lovely — but because it’s sort of fundamentally at odds with Kit as a character. On the very first page of her first book, we find out that Kit hates the colour pink, and that her mom is forcing her into a world of frills and tea parties when she’d rather play baseball. And while this cardigan set, to be fair, is more lilac than straight-up pink, it definitely evokes the person Kit’s mom wants her to be more than it tells us about Kit herself.
125. Caroline’s Travel Outfit
This is a successful look, especially with the attendant Spencer and Hat. Very stylish, very fun, if a bit basic in execution.
124. Nanea’s Luau Dress
Oh my God, this is so bright and fruity I can barely stand it. She looks like a candy wrapper. Incredible.
123. Josefina’s Meet Outfit
As I’ve pointed out elsewhere in this list, Josefina suffers from American Girl basically just re-doing her Meet outfit over and over in different colours. It’s cute every time, and true to period considerations — Mexican women wore considerably less restrictive clothing than their white American contemporaries — but she suffers from lack of variety. Still, I prefer this to the BeForever re-make, which used much brighter primary colours.
122. Molly’s Meet Outfit
If you grew up wanting to dress like this every day and you’re now a transmasc adult make some noooooooise
121. Kirsten’s Winter Skirt and Blouse
Let’s go ahead and talk about the embroidered hair ribbons that MATCH the embroidered sash. Let’s also talk about that standing collar, and the elegant black/red/green colour scheme, and the cherry-red boots for a little pop of colour. Cozy and cute.
120. Kit’s Meet Outfit (BeForever)
As much as I think the BeForever era is mostly a downgrade, and as much as I can’t brook those little flower-shaped buttons, I think this is actually a better expression of who Kit is than her original Meet outfit. It’s just a touch more tomboyish, green and red instead of pink, with a floral scheme that suggests rambling meadows more than garden parties.
119. Nanea’s School Outfit
The fabric of the shoes does not match the fabric of the dress but we will let that slide since this is so darn pretty!!
118. Kit’s Gardening Outfit
This feels like a happy medium between the very bright, technicolor chicken-keeping outfit and the classic denim rail-riding overalls. The more subdued palette definitely works, but I can’t exactly see her scrapping in this.
117. Molly’s Camp Gowanagin Outfit
One thing I truly miss about classic American Girl is how well the outfits were integrated into each character’s canon. This is not an outfit that I can imagine any kid ever willingly choosing for their doll, but it is deeply rooted in one of Molly’s most vivid stories, and the result is deeply charming.
116. Kirsten’s Recess Set
We have a very cute little coat, we have a bonnet, and we have a teeny-tiny beanbag set. I think we’re missing mittens, but apart from that, adorbs.
115. Kirsten’s Meet Outfit
I will never forget being eight years old and being so scandalized to see this outfit on the cover of the Magic Treehouse book where they travel back in time to the pioneer days. Twister on Tuesday! An exact replica! #CelebsThatCopyKirstenLarson
114. Addy’s Kite-Flying/Flower-Picking Outfit
I feel like we don’t often see boatneck collars on these dresses, so that’s a nice touch. The pleats on the bodice are a nice touch, and they match the decorative tucking on the sleeves and skirt well. A simple but effective look.
113. Caroline’s Meet Outfit
I am a noted Caroline hater, in large part because I think everything about her design — the corkscrew-curly blonde ringlets, the pink-on-pink-on-pink dress — represents a weird and uncharacteristic attempt by American Girl to go for the traditional hyperfeminine doll market. I don’t know that it tells me much about Caroline as a character, or that it’s appropriate for a young kid who loves sailing and working on ships. But it’s very pretty, and I can imagine many an eight-year-old girl losing her mind over it. So.
112. Felicity’s Christmas Gown and Stomacher
I don’t want to sound sacrilegious, but there’s just something lacking in this look; I mean, only the one colour, even for the underskirt? And why a royal blue and not a deep green to better complement Felicity’s eyes and hair? Needs some zhuzhing up.
111. Ivy’s Rainbow Romper
Oh, just adorable. Only thing missing is a pair of roller-skates. Speaking of the shoe situation, though, I am d y i n g at this attempt at sandals on a doll with all her toes fused together. When will American Girl give us tabi boots? We’re waiting.
110. Kit’s 1934 Swimsuit
I love it. I want it. I would wear it. I don’t even hate the ketchup-and-mustard colour combo. My literal only complaint is that surely Kit would prefer a bathing suit with shorts to one with a skirt, yeah?
109. Ivy’s New Year Outfit
Ah, yes, the all-too-brief period in which we had a real, honest-to-goodness Asian-American doll in the collection. American Girl never did right by Ivy Ling, though, and this dress feels a little plain. No cute accessories, no firecrackers or paper envelopes or little mooncakes for her to eat. Feels like they just didn’t put in enough thought here.
108. Felicity’s Town Fair Outfit
Okay, so the colour scheme is kind of a mess here — a teal dress with a pink apron and gold ribbon accents? — but it’s just so charming, gives off such irrepressible tomboy-running-through-colonial-Williamsburg vibes, that I can’t help but love it. The windmill is the real highlight, I think. Just lots and lots of fun.
107. Elizabeth’s Night Shift
Just so, so pretty, soft and girly and subtle, the ruffles and bows and floral embroidery never overpowering the garment. The slippers make for a cute addition, too.
106. Julie’s Two-in-One Summer Outfit
Julie stuns by giving us not one perfectly acceptable summer look, but two! To be honest, I’m not sure where “two in one” comes into play – it’s more just a swimsuit and then a totally unaffiliated pair of shorts and a top you can wear over the swimsuit if the mood strikes. But they were sold as one outfit, and thus, they will be evaluated as one outfit. Very cute, especially the roller-skating get-up.
105. Addy’s Nightgown (BeForever)
Definitely a massive upgrade from Addy’s previous nightgown. I love the periwinkle blue and the little bow motif is just adorable. Plus, I feel like we don’t often see Addy in braids, and she looks THE cutest with them.
104. Cecile’s Nightwear
So cute. Love that Cecile’s fabulous rich girl aesthetic even shows up in her pajamas.
103. Samantha’s Flower-Picking Set
This is a fine outfit, but she looks… weirdly skinny in it? Is it just me? Her hair must be cutting her waist in a weird way in the photo.
102. Kit’s Birthday Dress and Headband
This outfit is canonically constructed from a chicken-feed sack, but you know what? King Kit pulls it off. It’s nothing showy, but it’s cute, with whimsical trimmings, and it scores points for period accuracy.
101. Julie’s Floral Jumpsuit
Very cute and fashion-forward. That print is busy in the best way — all the colours work together, and it feels perfect for the period.
100. Felicity’s Cardinal Cloak
Simple, but iconic. Brave of Felicity to work a cherry-red cloak as a redhead, but she more than pulls it off.
99. Elizabeth’s Summer Outfit
There’s something kind of hilarious about the fact that American Girl shot themselves in the foot by making their colonial doll a tomboy — and thus indisposed to fancy gowns — so they had to pay recompense by rolling out her best friend, the girliest of girly-girls. Boy, though, did they deliver. Elizabeth’s collection is basically nothing but hits. This is a lovely, basic summer look, and the hat puts it over the edge.
98. Molly’s Halloween Hula Outfit
I’m still not quite sure what my criteria are for this list, but I know one thing for sure: an outfit need not be pretty to rank highly on this list; it need only be iconic. And Molly’s Halloween hula-dancer costume certainly is that. Calls to mind so many elementary school years when my Halloween costume was cute but my mom made me wear a jacket over it because it was “cold out” and I would “catch hypothermia.
97. Julie’s Zigzag Pajamas
You really can’t go wrong with an orange/pink colour scheme, and this outfit leans into that, heavily. I love the pants, with the little pom-pom fringe. Absolutely darling.
96. Samantha’s Talent Show Outfit
So impressed that they managed to find a combination of black and pink that looks more dusty rose Victorian tea party than Hot Topic.
95. Nanea’s Tropical Birthday Outfit
Green is definitely this girl’s colour. The pieces here are a little incongruous, but in an endearing way? The way a real child would really dress herself. I’m totally charmed.
94. Samantha’s Birdwatching Outfit
Another truly great entry into the pantheon of American Girl hats. Isn’t the point of birdwatching garb that you’re supposed to be like, unobtrusive? Blend in with your surroundings? Samantha said, “Forget that, I’m going out with a cake on my head.” We stan.
93. Rebecca’s Pajamas
Has anyone ever WEPT over a pair of doll pajamas? Because I’m about to!
92. Melody’s Meet Outfit
I LOVE Motown fashion and Melody’s collection does NOT disappoint. This is fun and playful, looking exactly like a costume from a production of Hairspray. Perfection.
91. Samantha’s Plaid Cape and Gaiters
I had to knock off a few points because the Elegant Hat and Muff are sold separately, but this is still a very strong look.
90. Elizabeth’s Holiday Gown
See, now this, this is colonial glamour. It’s so much, but never too much; it’s sumptuous, but never tacky. This pale green and gold combination is splendid, all the accessories and trim make for tasteful little flourishes. She’s the most fabulous Loyalist at the colonial ball.
89. Rebecca’s Winter Jacket
I can take or leave the coat — her older, black winter coat, is much better, IMO — but oh my God, that hat.
88. Nellie’s Spring Party Dress
The high neck and long sleeves are a bit too formal and fussy. Love everything else, thought — the lace, the shoes, the little locket.
87. Samantha’s Bathing Costume
This is actually super cute and flattering for a repressed Victorian-era swim costume. I mean, I would not like to swim in tights and bloomers, but you could certainly do worse than this.
86. Maryellen’s Back to School Outfit
Very patriotic, very cute. They went all in on the bows here, and the effect is just precious.
85. Kit’s Floral-Print Dress
A BeForever-era update of her classic chicken-feed sack dress look. This one’s cute! It’s springtime-y, it’s sunshine-y, and the little red buttons in the collar are a darling touch. The shoes don’t match, but that’s a minor quibble.
84. Samantha’s Meet Outfit
I mean, there is arguably no American Girl outfit more iconic.
83. Nellie’s Meet Outfit
Cute as a darn button! The double-puffed sleeves! The careful selection of blues, the dotted-swiss overlay on the dress! Magnifique.
82. Maryellen’s Sledding Outfit
Okay, now this… this is the 1950s. This is Sirk. This is melodrama. This is the daughter at the heart of Carol and Harge’s custody battle. This is everything.
81. Molly’s Sweater and Skirt
Bold choice to combine teal and maroon but this looks just lovely, from the pretty plaid to the poinsettia pattern marching across the sweater.
80. Kirsten’s Apron Dress and Daisy Wreath
A quintessential look, a classic, simple but adorable. The real highlights, I think, are the daisy crown and the little cream-and-brown boots. Kirsten was on the flower crown trend centuries before it broke on Tumblr, the little trendsetter.
79. Nanea’s Hula Outfit
Big improvement on Molly’s attempt, let’s just say that.
78. Maryellen’s Vacation Playsuit
Maryellen excels in two areas: fabulous gowns, and beachwear. This is so fun and so well put-together, I just love it. I do think it’s maybe a little… old? Like, it reads more teenager/twenty-something than little girl to me.
77. Marie-Grace’s Skirt Set
Oh, this print is lovely. She looks like a little porcelain teacup come to life. I’m less keen on those weird, flat bows, though.
76. Samantha’s Lacy Pinafore and Rosebud Circlet
In Citizen Kane when he was dying he was not talking about the sled he was talking about this outfit actually. I talked to Orson Welles myself. He said, “I’m such a Samantha.”
75. Josefina’s Weaving Outfit
I have complained repeatedly throughout this list that Josefina Only Has One Outfit, and this is not a pattern-breaker, but it is thoughtful and fully realized, with careful, elegant detailing, so I don’t want to hate too much. That deep, vibrant red is really her colour, and I especially love the floral and vine-print of this skirt.
74. Kaya’s Jingle Dress of Today II
Compared to Kaya’s first jingle dress, his one seems more in line, colour-wise, with real-world dresses. But there just are not enough jingles! Nowhere near enough! We need row upon row!
73. Julie’s Holiday Outfit
This is, no word of a lie, American Girl’s third attempt at a holiday outfit for Julie, and the first one that really succeeds. The print is sweet, the velvet and sheer accents are a nice touch, and it’s like, not eye-meltingly ugly, which counts for a lot when it comes to Julie’s stuff.
72. Julie’s Peasant Top Outfit
Julie’s outfits are so consistently so bad that I’m worried I’m overrating her good stuff out of sheer relief? So it may be Stockholm setting in, but I think this is cute! I love the close attention to the embroidery on the blouse and the shoes. Feels fresh and fun.
71. Kirsten’s Skating Outfit
You wish! You wish you could be this warm! This cozy! Wrapped up in your little Paddington-esque duffel coat! In your little red scarf with a heart stitched into it! In your little skates that strap on to your cherry-red boots! Oh, what’s that? You’re cold? You’re feeling frosty? Kirsten can’t relate!
70. Rebecca’s Movie Premiere Outfit
Goes without saying that the gown and bow are amazing, BUT: why don’t the shoes match? Why? Don’t? The? Shoes? Match? This could’ve been iconic! Ugh.
69. Samantha’s Fancy Coat Set
BABY CRUELLA DE VIL I LOVE IT
68. Melody’s Play Outfit
I’m kind of astonished at the gap in quality between Melody’s consistently excellent 60s looks and Julie’s consistently crappy 70s looks. Why is literally EVERYTHING in Melody’s collection SO MUCH BETTER? When they’re only separated by a decade? Like, look at this. Darling. Adorable. Perfect. Wouldn’t change a thing.
67. Felicity’s Laced Jacket and Petticoat
Ah, yes, this is what is called “eleganza.” Not super fussy, but endlessly classy. I love the deep cranberry tones, too.
66. Samantha’s Velvet Dress
I see someone’s been plagiarizing from Miss Rebecca. And she should! This looks great! Very elegant. Gorgeous. Loving the lace headband with the little flowers.
65. Melody’s Pajamas
Even her pajamas are a serve! This print doesn’t scream sixties to me, but I’ll let it slide this time.
64. Kaya’s Meet Outfit
My favourite thing about Kaya’s whole deal are all these little adornments — the “abalone shells” in her hair, the “porcupine quill” beads — and you can really feel how much love and careful research went into crafting this.
63. Josefina’s Fiesta Dress
Class. Elegance. Opulence. Josefina’s Fiesta Dress exudes all these qualities and more. There are a few structural details — the high-necked collar, the little mini-epaulettes, the bows down the side — that we’re not used to seeing in American Girl’s bag of tricks, and they’re used very well here. Tiniest quibble: really, her Meet Outfit flowers and ribbon in her hair? They couldn’t bother to give her a matching hair ribbon?
62. Julie’s Birthday Dress
This is just a tiny Stevie Nicks cosplay, but I’ll allow it.
61. Addy’s School Suit and Blouse
A suit! Not just a dress, but a full suit! In elegant, business-lady royal blue! With a little gold medallion to show us that she is, in fact, a scholar! And oh, that blouse — the way the bell sleeves peep out from beneath her jacket, the little bow at the collar. Pristine. Remarkable.
60. Caroline’s Birthday Dress
Very cute, very regency, and the fabric looks a little more period-appropriate than her Meet Outfit.
59. Molly’s Aviator Outfit
More like American Transmasc, am I right, fellas?
58. Samantha’s Spring Party Dress
Not sure why this is a “spring party” outfit when the vibe is definitely more Valentine’s Day — just LOOK at those cute Victorian paper valentines! — but I love it. So pretty, with those criss-cross details at the collar and sash, with the little embroidered flowers all over the fabric, with the elegant white shoes. Just terrific.
57. Kaya’s Trading Outfit
Loses points for being the exact same cut as Kaya’s other two dresses, but gains those points right back for being a fresh, new colour! Expanding her repertoire – we love to see it! It’s a perfect match for the shells in her hair, cheerful and bright, and I love the red and blue accents.
56. Samantha’s Holiday Set
Now this is a holiday garment befitting Samantha. It has all the elements of her classic Christmas dress just turned up to 11. I love it. I love the light lace detailing at the collar, I love the slouchy suede boots, I love the black and red plaid and the scalloping, I love it all. Well done.
55. Rebecca’s Summer Outfit
This is so, so super pretty. It would be lovely enough just from the cut of the dress, but the little sprigs of lavender in the print really push it over the edge. Gorgeous.
54. Rebecca’s Play Dress
This style, the little apron-coveralls over the white dress, is SO COOL. Even her dress-down outfit is SO COOl. How is Rebecca so consistently SO COOL?
53. Rebecca’s Costume Set
Rebecca’s commitment to glamour is so utterly unparalleled. Look at this — the strings of pearls, the little gold-glitter-adorned headband, the equally glittery wings on that fairy dress. Only nine years old and already a larger-than-life dame.
52. Kit’s School Outfit
Oh, this was a classic. A classic. Proper, but not too prim, a no-nonsense fit for a gal who goes to school for the three R’s: Readin’, wRitin’, and brawlin’ with Republicans.
51. Julie’s Dance Set
Absolutely enchanted by the doll-sized disco ball here. Equally enchanted by the white go-go boots. If only the rest of Julie’s collection would get on this level, man.
50. Rebecca’s Robe and Slippers
Rebecca’s mom is like, “Rebecca, sweetie, it’s time for bed” and Rebecca flings an arm over her eyes and reaches for her Norma Desmond silk housecoat and goes, “If you insist.”
49. Rebecca’s Movie Dress
Her hat looks like a still life by the Dutch masters. I feel like I’m losing my mind.
48. Nellie’s Holiday Coat
*samantha rescues nellie from the sweatshop* *the trumpets from “upgrade u” begin to blare in the background*
47. Maryellen’s Birthday Dress
Whatever witchcraft they did to get that seafoam effect, I love it. Totally stunning, all the better for the daring pop of pink in the rosette and the shoes.
46. Melody’s Birthday Outfit
I gasped out loud. This is perfect. Every single detail is perfect. Normally I’m a bit put off when American Girl gets too matchy-matchy, but 1960s fashion is exactly the place where you can pull off those kinds of shenanigans. I never thought a simple sweater/skirt combo would knock me flat, but lo and behold. The white shoes are a little off — I like them, just not with this outfit — or this would be higher.
45. Emily’s Meet Outfit
Oh, a triumph. I was ten or eleven when this got leaked in some sort of Mattel shareholder presentation, and me and all my friends on the American Girl fan-forums that made up my social life collectively lost our minds. Perfectly realized, adorable, every detail tying into each other perfectly — the white flowers on the headband and in the print! The red socks are a bold move, but they paid off. Adorable.
44. Kirsten’s Baking Outfit
Something about the embroidery here is reaching all the way back through my family tree to the deepest roots of my Eastern European peasant ancestry and turning up soul-deep approval. I can think of no other reason why this is so impressive to me, why my only reason is, “Yes! Love it!” The clogs. The apron. The ruching in the sleeves. Every detail is *chef’s kiss.*
43. Felicity’s Traveling Gown
Doesn’t hold a candle to her original Meet Outfit — what dress could? — but there’s something charming about it all the same. The nature theme is carried over from that outfit, and the soft purple is a nice, androgynous touch that complements her red hair nicely. I’m thinking this may have been a stronger look without the little embroidered bits, but all in all, quite good, quite good.
42. Josefina’s Feast Day Finery
I remember this one coming with a cute little yellow shawl, and I don’t think the look is quite complete without it, but still, it is a whole look. This garment could walk down the runway and Anna Wintour would be sitting on the sidelines, nodding approvingly. Do fashion shows have sidelines?
41. Nellie’s Pajamas
These look SO pretty and SO silky and SO comfortable and WHERE can I buy them???
40. Rebecca’s Winter Coat
Oh, glamour. Pure, unadulterated glamour. Opulence. She owns everything. Granted, it’s a little hard to translate a drop-waist on a doll-sized body, and I’m not entirely sure this coat succeeds, but still: glam. our.
39. Kaya’s Adorned Deerskin Dress
Oh, Kaya. I never thought it was fair that all the other dolls got looks that varied widely in style and colour while her “dressy” outfit hewed so closely to her Meet outfit. Still, it’s beautifully made, very elegant, with careful beading and shell detailing. An earlier version featured three rows of barrel beading, while the version pictured uses embroidery, which I think I prefer more.
38. Kaya’s Fancy Shawl Outfit of Today
This is among the very cutest of Kaya’s modern looks, an intricately detailed and perfectly colour-coordinated fit for a modern-day pow-wow. I’ve always been impressed by how intricately researched Kaya’s clothing was, and this one is no exception. Not a bead or a tassel out of place.
37. Addy’s Summer Dress and Straw Hat
A good Addy look is defined by its understated simplicity and its careful, subtle detailing, and this one is a perfect example: a basic pattern with a cute print, and then a bunch of tiny additions — the bodice pleating, the brooch pin, the gingham ribbon that matches the black and white of her boots — that tie it all together. Very elegant, but still summery.
36. Samantha’s Nightgown (BeForever)
I can’t even argue. Frilly pink nightgown par excellence, every flourish prim and restrained, and the sleeveless cut is oh-so-stylish. I would wear this to the club.
35. Nellie’s Holiday Outfit
I recently saw a picture of a cat wearing this dress and it inspired me to undertake this entire project. The cat wore it better, BTW.
34. Melody’s Daisy Outfit
Melody’s collection is truly nothing but hits. Love the careful colour-coordination of the shoes and the dress. LOVE the little daisies. Love the socks. Love everything.
33. Samantha’s Travel Duster and Hat
I said somewhere else on this list that a hat of Samantha’s was giving me Rose from Titanic vibes, but this outfit is actually associated with a short story called “Samantha’s Ocean Liner Adventure,” and very transparently rips off the Dewitt Bukater aesthetic, and I love it.
32. Kit’s Overalls
All the time I think about that time in “Kit Saves the Day” where Kit hopped a train wearing this and then got arrested and then tucked her hair under her cap and pretended she was a boy so she could go to boy jail with her friends instead of girl jail. Iconic. Formative.
31. Kit’s Christmas Outfit I
I have such fond memories of this dress — oh, to be an eight-year-old again, Velcro-ing Kit into this outfit on Christmas morning! It’s elegant without being too frilly — an important thing in a Kit look — and the asymmetrical collar is a great touch. I love the Scotty Dog pin, but it did get lost pretty easily.
30. Kaya’s Jingle Dress of Today I
My favourite, I think, of Kaya’s “modern” outfits — perfectly colour-coordinated and gorgeous, simply glamorous. Real jingle dresses do tend to be more elaborate than this one, with more complex colour schemes, but I assume there were limitations in rendering so much detail on a doll-sized scale.
29. Rebecca’s Meet Outfit
This is just so Russian. It is so fabulous. I have my concerns about how well the drop-waist style translates onto dolls, but the execution here is flawless. One of the best Meet Outfits they’ve ever put out, definitely.
28. Felicity’s Riding Breeches and Hat
I love that the official explanation given in the catalogue for this outfit was that “Felicity borrowed her brother’s breeches from the mending pile!” Uh huh. And the tricorn hat was presumably pulled from the mending pile as well. Just some casual colonial cross-dressing. Nothing to see here.
27. Addy’s Tartan Plaid Dress
I just love when Addy’s mom goes all out and sews her some spectacular holiday finery. The construction here is superb — check that collar, with its tiny ribbons and bows — but I especially love the plaid, a really unique combination punched up by that burst of yellow. Adorbs.
26. Melody’s Fancy Floral Dress
I am like suffering and dying just looking at all of Melody’s outfits. Like, they are so great. They are just so great. Flawless construction, total elegance, colours always perfectly coordinated. Look at this peplum. I’m going to have a mental breakdown. Needs a little hairbow or a pillbox hat to go along with it, but that is a very minor quibble.
25. Felicity’s Spring Gown with Pinner Apron and Pompon
Now this is how you do florals for spring. Absolutely enchanting.
24. Julie’s Summer Skirt Set
If you know anything about me, you know that I live and die for Valentino Resort 2015, and this is very, very much that. At last, by pandering directly to me, Julie has won me over. Well-played.
23. Addy’s Birthday Pinafore and Snood
Without question the crown jewel of Addy’s wardrobe. This outfit is absolutely darling, with its cute black-on-butterscotch colour scheme, its rickrack and bow accents, and the pop of sunshine in the canary feathers on her snood. It’s not just a stunning piece, but it looks like something Addy’s seamstress mother could believably whip up for her daughter. Truly the pinnacle.
22. Samantha’s Buster Brown Dress
Sometimes, it all just clicks. Samantha sells this austere garment, making a potentially drab black-and-white school dress look stylish as — I’m trying not to cuss, because I know little kids will find this article and read it — heck. It’s pretty much perfect, a top-tier look by any standard. I can’t imagine American Girl would ever put out anything like this today, though.
21. Melody’s Fancy Coat
Opulence! She! Owns! Everything!
20. Samantha’s Middy Outfit
Easily one of American Girl’s very best #SummerLooks. It’s adorable, it’s practical, and Samantha is serving in it. She is ready for adventure. Isn’t this from the book where she rights a capsized ship or something? Icon.
19. Rebecca’s Lace Dress
A queen? A queen. I am, like, waging an internal war right now not to X out of this window and navigate over to americangirl.com and impulse-buy Rebecca’s entire collection.
18. Rebecca’s Hanukkah Dress
I’ve been trying to figure out why I love Rebecca’s collection so much and I think it is because every single one of her outfits is basically just runway Gucci.
17. Melody’s Christmas Outfit
Oh my God, look at the metallic lace detailing on this dress. So gorgeous. Simply stunning. I think this is also the outfit that comes with a little doll-sized Bump-it(TM), which is a hilarious and very period-appropriate touch.
16. Maryellen’s Pretty Pink Dress
My inner feminist is like “Debutante balls are fascism!” and my inner seven-year-old girl is like, “:D”
15. Felicity’s Gala Gown
They saw the opportunity to make up for the mediocrity of her Christmas gown, and they took it. This is stunning, every single detail. The gold lace, the ribbons, the jewels, the delicate print of the fabric. Simply divine, darling.
14. Maryellen’s Flamingo Swim Set
*pours this outfit into a glass and whirls it around* *sniffs* Ah, yes… “camp”…
13. Josefina’s Summer Dress and Hat
FINALLY, some pure swag for our girl Josefina! This is runway ready, from the chic cropped vest to the primped burnt-sienna ruffles and puffed sleeves of her dress. It’s hardy and practical and eminently stylish, all at the same time. An utter triumph.
12. Rebecca’s Hanukkah Outfit
I really thought she’d peaked with the Hanukkah Dress. Literally, as I was recording it in this list, I was like, “I can’t BELIEVE they replaced this flawless garment.” But they did. They replaced it. With this. An even more perfect garment. I am utterly blown away. If the last Hanukkah dress was Gucci, this one’s Marchesa. Rebecca doesn’t miss.
11. Melody’s School Outfit
Honestly at the point where I will lay eyes on a Melody look and say “oh my God” out loud to my uncaring, empty apartment and immediately just scroll up to the top of the list.
10. Felicity’s Summer Outfit
They really ripped off this outfit for Caroline’s Meet gown — chiefly in the floral-ribbon waistband — but my God, you can’t beat the original! This dress is so airy and light, so perfectly suited for roaming through meadows and picking flowers and lying with a novel beneath a tree while a brook babbles faintly in the distance. It’s just inviting you to get grass and dirt stains on it, which I love. Flawless.
9. Josefina’s Christmas Dress and Mantilla
Positively regal. This is how you do a vertical print holiday gown; take note, Caroline. God, what a splendid, subtle look – the red accents complementing the yellow and black without overwhelming them! The delicate embroidery in the mantilla! The tortoiseshell comb worn like a crown. Just majestic.
8. Cecile’s Parlor Outfit
Oh my God, I’m absolutely gagging. High fashion. Couture. Opulent. I’m especially impressed by the execution of the yellow-and-purple colour combination — tough to pull off, but done so, so witchy and well here. Stunning.
7. Felicity’s Meet Outfit
The absolute G.O.A.T. of Meet outfits, right here. Felicity despises sitting still, sewing, swanning about at balls; she’d much rather be out galloping through fields and foraging in the forest. And what’s remarkable is that this dress gets that. It’s not fussy, it’s inspired by nature, and it’s rendered in neutral, earthy tones. It tells us everything we know about Felicity, and it’s not going to get in her way. A classic.
6. Kirsten’s Saint Lucia Gown
Kirsten said, “You’ll never be glamour” and then spat on all of us, which is hard to do when you are balancing a wreath and six lit candles on your head, and when your scalp already hurts from your sickening little braid loops.
5. Elizabeth’s Tea Lesson Gown
The absolute pinnacle of American Girl’s colonial fashion, right here. A perfectly realized look, not a ruffle out of place. The little lace apron knocks me out every single time. The perfect, primped Chanel of it all. Karl Lagerfield would be taking notes if he were still with us.
4. Kit’s Beach Pajamas and Slippers
Oh my God, a classic. The finest pair of pajamas American Girl has ever produced. Perfectly coherent with Kit’s tomboy personality while still fresh and fun. A colour story that tells itself simply and well. Every detail on point. Iconic.
3. Kit’s Reds Fan Outfit
I am 26 years old and I still regret not having purchased this for my Kit doll when I was a child. I know I could go out and get it now, on eBay or whatever, but it’s just not the same. This is a masterwork, a perfect blend of historicity and cuteness, perfectly coherent with Kit’s character and her butchy tomboy nature. Screw it, I’m gonna go find one of these on eBay. Life’s too short.
2. Felicity’s Riding Habit and Hat
The crown jewel of the Felicity collection, regal and butch all at once. Green and gold truly are her colours, and she looks every inch the revolutionary war hero.
1. Rebecca’s School Play Set
We toss around the phrase “cultural reset” a lot, but this truly is one. What kind of nine-year-old is out here doing full Bob Mackie sticks? Rebecca Rubin is, that’s who! Every single detail is flawless, stunning, opulent, extravagant, never been done before, etc. I’m overwhelmed. They outdid themselves on this one. I can’t think of a single reason this shouldn’t be in first place. I can’t take it. I have gone to indigo.ca and purchased Rebecca and she will be on my doorstep in three days.
39 thoughts on “All 282 American Girl Doll Outfits, Ranked”
I am Appalled that Molly’s outfits dont At Least make the top ten. Except her write to sleep pyjamas and beforever meet outfit, all of her outfits are Iconique and High Art. The Dude Ranch one makes me weep. Molly is the rightful champion and I will broker no argument.
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How are Julie’s outfits so low ranked but that Felicity abomination is at number 2?
Molly’s pageant outfit or whatever it’s called because I ain’t scrolling that far was ROBBED, but I will allow it because the St Lucia and Rebecca’s costume got their appropriate accolades. Kit’s baseball outfit is possibly my most cherished childhood possession, my grandma made me a tiny Cincinnati Reds jersey to go with it because Ohio people are like that. I think this list got rid of my 5 day headache single handedly.
I will not stand for this insane and completely unwarran Julie slander
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okay but Elizabeth’s pink coat is beautiful and I would wear it today!! my mother (queen of thrifting and ebaying) actually found a gorgeous full length pink wool coat with white faux fur lining on the cuffs and good with beautiful buttons and I wore it only one winter :(( bc it was such a Look™ that I only had a few places to wear it and then I outgrew it and I still think abt it and how much I wish I had another coat like that now as an adult
I love your article and I agree with most of your rankings. I collect American Girl dolls mostly Molly and Maryellen. In general I find that the Pleasant Company Outfits are of better quality than the later Mattel outfits.
I think that Molly’s Aviator Outfit should rank a little higher. I own that outfit and it my very favorite Molly outfit. it is really very well made and actually adorable. I also love her little Oxford shoes and roller skates. Sometimes I use the pieces up with Molly’s After School Outfit and create a new look. I love the after school outfit as well because it is how I dress. You often joke about Molly’s butch looks and they are indeed very masculine. During World War II, women’s fashions did take on a practical and very masculine look, but little girls always wore dresses to school and church. I love her little camp outfit and her plaid school dress. Nevertheless, my I think my own Molly always looks better in her slacks and oxfords. She is my little scamp of a tomboy as I was at that age.
Poor Julie … she cannot catch a break! When I first saw her in the catalog I thought that American Girl was channeling Marcia Brady. The seventies were not kind to any of us. I know I have pictures that I would rather not show in public. There was a huge difference between early sixties where more feminine styles were still worn and clothes were still fairly formal and the early seventies when the influence of the counter culture crept its way into suburban life. Second wave feminism made wearing pants fashionable for the first time in history. I am almost the exact same age as Julie as I was born in 1962, therefore I am two years older. Her original meet outfit is actually fairly accurate more so than her second meet outfit. We all wore a lot of turtle necks and there was quite a lot of layering of tops. Some of Julie’s other outfits are fairly accurate and some are a tad exaggerated. I don’t recall my clothes as being as colorful as Julie’s. They really love her in a bright yellow hues. Perhaps they are trying invoke sunny California. While this is technically period correct, most people, including little girls, wore earth tones and faux “country” looks. This was also the era of the so called leisure suit. I think Mattel, by choosing Julie’s color palette wanted to appeal to the the colorful aesthetic of today’s little girl.
I did fall in love and bought Julie’s pinball outfit as all I could think of that was the old Steve Martin/Dan Ackroyd skit on SNL. In other words Julie is a “wild and crazy guy” Look it up on You Tube. I don’t own a Julie doll so I put in on my Molly. She has not forgiven me since.
I recall my schoolmates and I mostly wore jeans and t-shirts. The bell bottoms could not be wide enough. I also had a wine colored double knit pants with contrasting white stitching. Did I ever think I looked cool! We all wore North Star sneakers and “earth” shoes. Clogs were big but really not really until high school. My mom was cool enough to buy me a Robert Crumb inspired t-shirt! It was a graphic of a banana with the slogan “Try it you’ll like it.” I had a layer cut at one point and then a bad curly perm. I did own a bike with a banana seat and high handlebars. Every house had a macrame plant holder. I don’t recall anyone having a bed like Julie’s. Most suburban little girls in the seventies had white French Provincial furniture. House decoration ran to rust, browns and beige. All family room’s had colonial furniture and kitchens had linoleum floors. I have my mother’s Danish modern bedroom set and surprise! I is now back in style!
A costumer friend of mine once told me that the seventies is a very hard era to recreate because costumers cannot get the heavy polyester fabrics that were in wide use at the time. They usually resort to searching through Salvation Army stores to find old clothes which they alter and tailor for the actors. No one in their right mind would want to recreate those prints! It be a challenge for a the American Girl designers to get the fabric to get it right.
I expect when they introduce the eighties Be Forever doll, Mattel will go nuts with bright neon colors of the era. I and my dolls shall have to wear shades.
My mother is about Julie’s age, and based on the pictures, saved clothing, and anecdotal evidence she’s given me, the most accurate pieces in Julie’s collection are the original meet outfit, the skateboarding outfit, the birthday dress, and the 2-in-1 summer set. And wouldn’t you know… those are some of the least offensively period, most classic looks in her collection, that you could still get away with wearing!
Your comment’s probably the best one here. I find myself wishing you’d written the piece, as it’s more practical, interesting and readable than the original, and your joke about Molly not forgiving you was funnier than any of the clunky humor that kind of falls flat here.
If you’ve ever considered writing about the dolls, you should. It’s a lot more rewarding reading the impressions from someone who actually lived during one of the represented eras. I’m a little younger than Courtney would be, as I was born two years before her stories, so there isn’t a historical doll I can relate to on that level yet. (Though TBH, I groaned when I learned they’d decided ’86 was long enough ago to be considered ‘historical,’ and I’m not sure what a 90’s historical doll would do to me. I understand how my mom felt when they released Julie now.)
Lists ranking the fashions like this–outside of ones done by actual historians–tend to fall a little flat because the people writing them obviously don’t know enough about the eras they’re discussing. I found myself baffled by which Julie outfits were highly ranked. A lot of it looks more like 1970s-themed Halloween costumes than the museum piece replicas we used to enjoy from the Pleasant Company. Julie was released just before the Mattel takeover, so it’s safe to say that her original collection was better researched and more accurate than most of the stuff that was ranked higher here. I guess most of these sorts of lists are pretty subjective, but I’d love to see such a comprehensive ranking compiled by actual historians, or at least people like you, with the sense to recognize why they made certain choices. (Your comment about polyester availability was interesting, and more insightful and entertaining than the “OMG, that’s so Gucci” type comments on some of these. I could see what type of writing style mimicking social media influencers the author seemed to be going for, but it didn’t quite get there for me. I’d read more of your writing, though.
Your ceaseless bullying of Julie has left me feeling attacked bc i think all of her looks are absolute serves.*Jinkx Monsoon voice* “I do think we have a slightly different aesthetic”.
Not to mention Samantha’s iconic bridesmaid dress that was snubbed! American girl dolls don’t even exist where i live but your previous american girl doll piece already had me deeply invested in all these characters. Molly, Kit, Kirsten, Rebecca and Melody are all absolute fashion icons tho
fun fact: the emily pjs did have a matching child size set, something which i owned and loved but forgot about until seeing them here. i don’t remember if they were comfortable but i do remember feeling like i was Serving It
in your heart of hearts you MUST know that molly’s after-school outfit deserved to make top-100, if not even top-50.
I have never a more incorrect list
yeah this sucks
This list has a consistent trend of you burning an outfit for a perceived “historical inaccuracy” (even though many of the ones you handed this criticism actually are reproductions of extant garments or fashion plates of the time, color and all) and then turning around and praising other garments for the same “inaccuracy” (eg. the lovefest for Addy’s pink meet outfit despite blasting several other outfits including Marie-Grace’s meet for being too pink; rich pinks absolutely were possible before aniline dyes and as Addy’s dress is a hand-me-down which was given to her less than ten years after anilines came into practical use even in high fashion, it’s unlikely that it would have been aniline-dyed anyway) or utterly ignoring/praising some very egregious actual historical inaccuracy (eg. the massive gems on Felicity’s gala outfit). I strongly disagree with the vast majority of this list, down to the details of most of the blurbs, and your weird grudge against blue and black is utterly incomprehensible; few other colors make quite so classic and classy a combination. The best historical outfit is Felicity’s Christmas dress, chased closely by Addy’s original school outfit, and Addy’s Christmas outfit, Samantha’s middy dress, Molly’s camp outfit, Maryellen’s new winter coat set, Melody’s meet outfit, Rebecca’s play outfit (white with blue pinafore and straw hat), Felicity’s summer outfit, and Samantha’s second Christmas dress (with the plaid) round out my top 10 in no particular order.
Couple more things: Proper women rode sidesaddle before the mid-20th century, so Elizabeth’s habit would absolutely be viable for riding (and you don’t use your heels when riding sidesaddle, you use a crop); your choice to include the separate accessory sets in your consideration with some outfits but not others follows an utterly incomprehensible pattern; and the reason most of Josefina’s outfits are samey is because… that’s just how women from that culture in that area dressed back then, mostly for practical considerations! Sure the latest fashions from Europe might be more visually interesting, but they’re not going to hold up to the kind of work she was doing, so she only had a few in that vein and they were for special occasions. As I said above, you can’t bitch about historical accuracy in one breath and then drag a doll’s entire collection for following a historically reasonable wardrobe composition in the next!
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Although my personal tastes and rankings vary somewhat, I completely agree with you otherwise. I don’t know how this website functions, (and the weird, unfunny “about” section does little to clarify that point) or if writers propose their own pieces or are assigned them, but have to assume the author chose the topic because it’s a bit baffling as to why they’d deliberately pick someone who seems to have so little grasp on actual historical accuracy. Ranking some of the satiny and sheer stuff so highly, or the Samantha lace-with-skin-showing-through numbers, (on an Edwardian child being raised by a prim, grandmother who was firmly stuck in the Victorian) while criticizing other, actually accurate pieces for not being realistic doesn’t make a bit of sense. Spending a little more time researching and less time constructing weird, clunky jokes would have gone a long way in this piece.
Clearly American Girl dolls have changed since the days when I was 8 and read the catalog cover-to-cover, back when Kaya was the new Girl in school. Sorry to these dolls, but WHO is Caroline? Emily? MaryEllen? I vaguely remember Ruthie and Julie. Also having a hard time grasping the concept of “beforever”. Is it pronounced “Before Ever” or “Be Forever”?
Love the list.
I was around middle school age when Josefina was released. Kaya, and some of Julie’s earlier stuff were sort of the end of an era. Nothing–other than diversity, which did improve somewhat, at least–much changed for the better once Mattel took over. I do think the World By Us collection they’ve recently released has potential, though, and appears to be an encouraging return to when the line was grounded by characters who were innovators and activists, rather than yet another wannabe performer character and doll spa kits. The re-worked historical doll line is pronounced Be Forever, by the way. I realize this is an older article, but in case you’re still wondering. 😉
I think Mattel is really missing who their actual market is. They forget that the children who had the first dolls when Pleasant Company was running the show are the parents buying them for children now. And they seem to have missed how nostalgic our generation is. (Probably because the bright futures we were promised turned into recessions and never-ending conflicts, and pandemics, and a looming environmental nightmare, and we long for a time when things seemed hopeful but I digress.) Sure, use the Just Like You line to compete with other similar copycat brands, but I think they’d sell a lot more of the historical line if they remembered that we’re the ones buying the dolls for kids now. People who remember heirloom quality pieces are less likely to want to spend more on plastic crap. I think bringing back the original, complete collections for every Pleasant Company doll would do really, really well.
I also think they should have another go at the friend line. I think Kirsten was retired or about to be by that time, and I imagine they didn’t want to do the research Singing Bird would have needed for a collection, but Addy at least was absolutely ROBBED for never getting a Sarah. The films could use some work, too. It’s troubling that only the older white dolls got films and friend dolls. Cécile and Marie-Grace are lovely, but they don’t make up for that. Also, considering the portion of collectors that go in for stop-motion and blogging about their dolls’ ‘adventures,’ now, I’d think having more characters from their stories would go over well. They could sell two dolls at once if they introduced Agatha and Agnes to Samantha’s collection. Or think of the fashion possibilities if Harriet was added to Addy’s world. Or an Eddie Ryland or a Ben rocking Thackery Binx vibes for Samantha or Felicity?
Yes, the target audience is very different now. The kids obsessed with owning a bunch of dolls and mixing and matching eras and collections are a far cry from my generation, when you typicall built up one character’s collection, and which doll you chose DEFINED you. But now we’re the ones buying them for kids. We remember how good it used to be. It’s less tempting to pay more for so much less. Given that many of these kids claim to have started collecting well before they’re anywhere near the target age rage for these dolls, it’s clearly the parents making the choices. Why not cater to them? They’d undoubtedly be making sure their kids were introduced to the heirloom-quality historicals and still probably begrudgingly buy the spa kids and oversized plastic playsets they sell now if the kids wanted them.
This whole article is very clearly a product of the most Magnificent Obsession and I am left in awe by it – nay, in Awe!
I have also spent at least two hours reading up on Americal Girl as a result of this article, so it clearly does SOMETHING right. (-;
I had most of Julie’s clothes growing up the 70’s , I thought AG did a great job for her time frame. I loved and lived in that exact bathing suit for a few years refusing to try on others , until it accidentally ripped and I remember crying due to we could not find another one that was similar. Thank you for taking time to post all of the interesting outfits that we either still have in our collections or will try to find to complete our collections .
This is so fun! A bit miffed about the 70s style hate, but otherwise a decent read! 🙂
When you said (so eloquently): “LET KIT BE BUTCH!!!!!!!!!!” I felt that. Little nine-year-old me from 15 years ago feels that.
Kit should have been butch and that’s that on that. Although I have some disagreements on some of your rankings (some of the pajama sets and a couple of Rebecca’s dresses should have been lower, while some of Molly’s– another gay queen– should have been higher) on the whole your list is terrifically accurate. I sent it to a friend, who forwarded it to another, and now all the gays at school (I go to an all-girls school) are debating via Instagram polls who was the gayest of all the American Girls.
😂😂😂 love this!
I understand the need to keep busy during this unprecedented time, but I think the virus quarantine may be affecting your brain. The American Girl Dolls, the idea, the research, books, history, the outfits, and the positive lessons the stories have to tell, are Amazing!
Loved the format, however, I would love to see you do this again and focus only on the positive. Do it for Pleasant Rowland, the woman who came up with this grand idea, made it a reality, and has given so many little girls, and probably little boys, hours of fun, happiness and creativity, while using what they learned, and their imaginations, to create stories for their dolls.
Nana of one little girl with a lot of AG dolls, who has played with her dolls, alone, since the quarantine began. Unfortunately we are in America so it may not start getting under better control until, hopefully, November. Until then, they are the only friends she is allowed to play with. I would love for her to read a positive article crafted like the one I had to stop reading.
Not sure if you’re familiar with the American Girls podcast, but I’ve shared this post with them and your commentary is amazing. Thank you for sharing.
Yes, I agree with most of these. But one thing, AG, doesn’t “Julie’s Birthday Dress” look like something Josefina would wear? And I love Rebecca’s School Play Outfit. WHY DOES KIRSTEN WEAR THAT HEADBAND IN THE ST LUCIA OUTFIT. (That can’t be safe)
The St. Lucia celebration is a traditional Swedish event…. delivering coffee and rolls to the parents while they are still in bed. I have a battery operated candle wreath but have seen real candles used…..and do put have them on my tree. The glow is special. Yes, you are careful and have water near by! Historically accurate event and outfit.
They used to sell a battery operated wreath to accompany the matching child-sized dress. Seeing a little girl wear that to church at Christmas when I was quite small, along with her sister dressed as another historically accurate character–I can’t remember which one–was my first introduction to the line and the beginning of a long relationship to my entry into their world and eventual acquisition of my favorite ever childhood doll, Samantha. That battery powered wreath and my discovery of some of the books in the school library as a first grader a couple of years later were 100% what started it all. (My teacher that year actually covered a bunch of different worldwide holiday celebrations with us that year, too, and was impressed that I was already familiar with the St. Lucia tradition when she did the whole candle and wreath thing for us. I think we probably ate cinnamon rolls or something instead of Saint Lucia buns, but it’s a fond memory.) It was an excruciating 2-3 years of waiting and memorizing the catalogs before I finally got a doll of my own at age nine. 😀
This is like, HILARIOUS! Thank you!
I love this listing! Can you do one with all the Truly me outfits? And the other non-historical doll outfits? So fun to read. People will get upset but I think it’s glorious. It gave me a new appreciation for Molly.
People, It’s not negative, it’s the Writer’s opinion and it’s crazy true and y’all don’t want to acknowledge that Kit is butch and her candy making outfit is ugly as sin.
You left out Kirsten’s black and white Sweater set!! (which coordinates with 121 – Kirsten’s Winter skirt and blouse)
very funny list but i am left absolutely heartbroken that kirsten’s winter woolens were nowhere on this list 🥺
Wow! Love this list! Only I think that Addy’s birthday dress should’ve been top… she’s such a queen
I have an important question about 112 – the stomacher could be changed out in that outfit for one with ribbons and pearl beads, but is it better or worse than the original lace? Fair warning that the ribbons are pink. I remember changing the stomachers out with little snaps as a child and I loved how I felt like I had two dresses.
And thank you for reminding me of Kristen’s skating outfit! The texture on that coat was so sturdy! The skates were fragile but the blades were curly. Thank you for bringing this bit of cherished memory back. (My mom searched high and low for the dirdl because I wanted it so badly. I wanted the period ugliness and I wanted one for myself! She never did find it.)
Agree that it’s essential to discuss the alternate stomacher option for 112. The whole appeal was that you could switch up the look! Deserves a higher ranking.
I don’t think the author is quite old enough to really remember much about Felicity’s original collection firsthand, so that omission and not including Kirsten’s gorgeous knitwear could be due to not knowing. A lot of the piece would have functioned better if a tad more researching had been done, or someone a bit older had covered it. Someone who would have been introduced to the company once they started moving away from strictly historical dolls isn’t as likely to know how much research was put into the early dolls’ collections without having been there for it or done more research. Many of the pieces are essentially scaled-down museum replicas and more historically accurate than the pieces the author praised for hitting the mark.
Can you add Claudie and Courtney to the list? Also I agree that I’d love to see thoughts on the girls of the year outfits.
I disagree with a lot of your rankings, but I was thoroughly entertained even so. It has me wanting to make all of them on the Sims (since that would be cheaper than actually having the dolls) but the outfits probably couldn’t measure up 😦