Monday, January 25, 2010

DESIGN THERAPY: Lilly Pulitzer

My favourite colour palette of pink and green owes much to the vibrant designs and classic Palm Beach styling that many simply know as "Lilly". Lilly Pulitzer created her own unique clothing line based on bold colour contrasts, simple (but often busy) patterns and clean lines, epitomised in her Classic Shift Dress.

Shift Dress from the Originals Collection

A little back story to get you going. Whilst working at a juice stand she had opened to sell her husband's oranges (he was a landowner, not farmer) she discovered a need for a simple cotton shift dress in bold colours to hide the inevitable juice splashes. No simple apron was good enough for Lilly! Soon, she was selling these dresses on the stand and their popularity encouraged her to design and sell them full time. Helped by having friends in high places (Jackie Kennedy was a close friend, and her privileged upbringing gave her all the connections she would need) her design became a sensation.

Another gorgeous Shift Dress. More here.

Simple in form and detail, the Shift Dress made unique by the prints and colours used, Lilly had put her finger on a style that was to become a sensation with the wealthy women for whom dressing down was not a familiar concept. She eschewed footwear for what she termed "barefoot elegance", needing nothing more than one of her dresses to perfect her look for any occasion. Quickly a firm staple in the Preppy wardrobe, it was during the 1980s that her styles had their most avid following, although her success began in the 60s. This style looks great on any shape, and as such Lilly created the ultimate utilitarian fashion piece. More here.

Some firm rules for wearing Lilly here. You have to have a killer tan to work any of her pieces. The brights will wash out anything but the most golden skin tone. If you have to wear shoes, wear flats, preferably a simple sandals. Wicker works well as an accessory, got a Nantucket Basket? Perfect! Or how about a simple tote? L.L.Bean naturally. Work the classic short/sharp bob to complete the look, maybe even a hairband if you want to get deep into the preppy thing. Could be too much...

Lilly Pulitzer Women's Wear Collection.

For the Minnies... (Lilly named her little girls' shift after her daughter).

Personally, I think that the current little girls' collection is the most reflective of vintage Lilly's style and taste. These little shift dresses are to die for.

Lilly retired in 1984, but her designs re-imerged in 1993 when she agreed to license her name to be used for a new line of women's and children's wear. She remains the Creative Consultant for the brand, which has recently launched a bedding range for Garnet Hill, along with producing clothing for men and an accessories line.

Lilly Love!

Lilly Pulitzer is a style icon and most definitely my kind of Gal.


  1. Love Lilly and Garnet Hill! Been favorites of mine for a long time!

  2. I am literally salivating at the site of that bedding!

  3. hi! it's me lily! remember me? my mom told me about your blog. since i just got a blog too, for school, i thought it might be cool to visit yours!

  4. Hey Lily! What perfect timing for my piece on another Lilly! Let me know what your blog is and I will come over and have a look.


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