Olivia is one of my favorite children’s book characters. I’m sorry she wasn’t around when I was a kid, because I feel like I really could have related to her. I, too, had an overactive imagination, a penchant for dress-up, and an insatiable need to move the cat multiple times a day.
So when the Gymboree collection featuring Olivia dropped, I had trouble narrowing down my selections.
Fortunately, R also loves Olivia, so she was excited about these clothes as well. She has evidenced this excitement by basically becoming unphotographable as soon as I put one of these outfits on her. They appear to awaken in her a deep desire to roll on the floor, harass the pets, wear shoes on her hands, and otherwise avoid taking a decent photo.
I did finally manage to get her to stand still for a minute.
Well, half a minute.
As has been my experience with Gymboree clothes in general, the construction is good, although the screen printed designs do fade a bit with the first wash. I wish I had sized up in the red pants; as is frequently the case with girls’ pants from Gymboree, they run a little skinny and ride a little low, and for a kid in a cloth diaper, that can be problematic.
I waffled on whether to buy the Olivia Ruffle Puffer Jacket. I ended up buying it in a 3T so it has room for layering and growth. I made the right choice.
And I finally got some photo help from my mother-in-law who, as it turns out, is the toddler model whisperer.
My hands-down favorite look from this collection is, of course, the “Absolutely Olivia” outfit, which recreates Olivia’s ensemble from the cover of her very first book.
The ponte dress is super adorable and very well made. I was also glad I sprung for the tights, which are nice and thick. (I restrained myself from buying the Olivia ears.) We finished the outfit off with red patent Doc Martens Mary Janes.
Look at that little sailor collar. I die.
I also bought the adorable sailor-style swimsuit, but we haven’t had occasion to use it yet.
One thing I don’t like about this collection? There is absolutely nothing in it that’s meant for little boys. I know Olivia is a female character. I hope that doesn’t mean little boys aren’t reading the books and watching the TV show and enjoying the character. And for little boys who do, it’s terribly sad that Gymboree has signaled to them that Olivia is just for girls. There is nary a piece in this collection that isn’t girlified in some way — puffed sleeves, bows, ruffles and other little embellishments that signal “No Boys Allowed.” There was some of this in the Eric Carle collection as well, although to a lesser extent. If you wanted a shirt with The Grouchy Ladybug on it, you got a ruffle on the bottom and a bow at the neck. Same with The Very Hungry Caterpillar post-transformation into a butterfly. Aggressively gendered children’s clothing makes me sad, both for the kids who want to wear things that they’re not “supposed” to, and for the adults who think that’s the message we should be giving kids.
Gender stereotyping aside, I love this collection. And I’m glad I splurged. (A blow that was softened by a generous accumulation of Gymbucks.)
Of course, because Gymboree isn’t Target, their special collections are actually designed to generate revenue, not just buzz, and they make enough to satisfy demand. So instead of being sold out, the Olivia collection is now on sale. (You’d think I would have learned this lesson after the Eric Carle collection.)
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to move the cat.