Friday, August 3, 2012

The Skinny -- Lilly Pulitzer

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Many believe that the fashion designer, Lilly Pulitzer, created the resort wear industry back in the 1960s with her iconic printed cotton shifts.  Lilly created summery dresses, pants, and other pieces that spoke to her Palm Beach lifestyle year round, and never saw the need to expand her line to include fall/winter clothing.  According to Lilly,  "It’s always summer somewhere.” 

Lilly Pulitzer found inspiration for her dresses in her everyday life.  Needing a hobby to occupy her time, she started working at her husband's fruit juice stand in 1960.  She soon realized that clothing that could hide juice stains and still look fashionable was a must.  Picking out some bright cotton prints, Lilly worked with a seamstress to develop her basic shift that allowed her to stay cool and cute, as well as incorporating side slits that allowed for bending over.  People wanted the dresses, and she started selling them at the juice stand.

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Her shifts became instantly famous when the First Lady, Jackie Kennedy, a childhood classmate, was pictured in Life magazine wearing one of Lilly's dresses.  After only one year, she opened Lilly Pulizter, Inc.

Lilly worked with Key West Fabrics to create her classic prints. Using Palm Beach as her inspiration, she made funky and whimsical prints in bright colors, and she became especially known for her pink and green combinations.  Her name, Lilly, is worked in the design of the print, usually in more than one location. 

In our Etsy shop.

  In the late 1960s and early 70s,  Lilly expanded the line to include menswear, accessories and other off shoots.   She created a junior line and a girl's line, named for her two daughters.  She started to include cotton blends, as well as polyester and cotton knits.

Lilly retired in 1984, but the rights to her company were bought in the 90s and the product lines revamped.  She consulted on the new lines, and it has had a rebirth in popularity.  People still want to wear fun, comfortable clothes, but more importantly, clothes that feel like snapshots of American fashion history. 

Two great resources to date and authenticate your vintage Lilly Pulitzer clothing is the Vintage Fashion Guild's label guide, found here: or Fuzzy Lizzie's site, here:

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