My history with Lilly Pulitzer

As we reach the time of year that they typically hold a major sale, I am reflecting on my history with the Lilly Pulitzer label.

It all started as me trying to imitate the young women on tumblr who flaunted their hundreds of Lilly items, drawers full of Lilly shorts, and weekly new Lilly shifts. As someone who is so far out of reach of that lifestyle, I was intrigued. Though Lilly Pulitzer is expensive, it is not unattainable if purchased used or on sale. I made it my mission to buy as much Lilly as I could afford with my work study job.

The pieces were colorful and fun and made me happy to wear and look at. When I wore them, I tended to receive compliments from knowing onlookers. Because I was new to the brand, I didn’t know what I would regularly wear or feel most comfortable in. This translated to me buying anything and everything. I bought an ill-fitting romper and long-sleeved silk shirts. It was about collecting and accumulating, not carefully considering my own opinions. Sure, I chose the prints the were most pleasing to my eye, but I also wanted what was rare and coveted.

I dove head-first into the Facebook groups that resold clothing items and discussed the styling of various pieces. There were groups for specific prints and ones for vintage clothing – sooooo many! The women of these groups all gushed about the pride they had for their closets and the memories they had with the brand.

Pretty soon, I had more Lilly than I could wear on even a monthly basis. I had discovered that the rompers don’t fit my athletic shoulders, the fancy dresses required a special occasion, and the linen pants were way too long for my petite frame. In the summer, I wore the shorts all the time, but throughout the non-summer months I only sported the printed tees and casual dresses. Still, it seemed ridiculous at first to get rid of the closet that I had worked hard to pay for and cultivate.

One evening, I was feel particularly ~intuitive~ and ~philosophical~ while looking at my colorful closet. I was excitedly telling someone about how each piece is associated with memories of wearing it on special vacations or dates, and it suddenly clicked. I was only saying that because I had read it somewhere. A woman in one of the Facebook groups had talked about how she loved the brand because she could look back at the memories she associated with each of her prints. This dialogue always occurs when I read articles about the brand that contain quotes from diehard fans.

We only repeat this cutesy phrasing of our adoration because it is what we are taught. This reasoning for blowing hundreds of dollars on a colorful dress likely originates from a marketing ploy within the company. I slowly came to terms with how easily I fell for a brilliant marketing scheme. The clothing truly is beautiful, but like most things is very unnecessary. With new prints coming out every few weeks, there is a constant push to buy more.

Luckily with a brand like this, the clothing doesn’t completely lose its value after it’s worn. I’m in the process of selling everything that I don’t regularly wear. I don’t need 15 pairs of shorts just because the print is blue or has a cat on it. I’m going to stick with the casual tops that I could wear with jeans or to work. Their athletic lines are cute, but they don’t have spandex shorts, and I’d prefer leggings that are versatile.

I still love Lilly for its fun and beachy aesthetic, but this is a phase that I am willing to recognize as a phase. It didn’t ruin me financially, and I learned about myself, marketing, and minimalism.

Have you had an obsession with any similar fads or popular brands?

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