Key West Hand Prints: When It Looks Like a Lilly, But It’s Not

When I spotted this 1970s knit shirt recently, I immediately thought it was a Lilly Pulitzer.  But then I looked at the label and found that instead it was made by  Key West Hand Prints.

That was not surprising because Key West was the company that designed and screen-printed the fabrics for the Lilly Pulitzer company.

This print is so Lilly-like that I actually looked for the trademark “Lilly” that was contained within the prints designed for Pulitzer.   In a Lilly Pulitzer print the signature can often be found in flower pistils and stamens.  Many of the Lilly Pulitzer prints were designed by artist Suzie Zuzek Depoo, and it is likely that she designed the print for this shirt.

Prints like these, especially in such a simple style, can be hard to date.  It could be that this blouse is from the early 1980s, soon after Lisa Birnbach’s Official Preppy Handbook declared that pink and green was the prep color combo of choice.


Filed under Designers, Sportswear

13 responses to “Key West Hand Prints: When It Looks Like a Lilly, But It’s Not

  1. When I saw you post a photo of this earlier I did immediately start to look for the Lilly in the design as it does look so much like one of hers.

    Funny you mention the Preppy Handbook – I remember when that came out and my mother saying, “People who have always been ‘preppy’ will continue to dress like that, long after the fad has gone away” and so true! It’s like a uniform for a certain strata of society, and to me the Lilly is one of their calling cards. Since that’s really not my scene I do have a hard time wearing one of the Lilly’s I got for like $8 in a thrift store, as I know certain people would immediately recognize it as one, and think I somehow paid $200 for a cotton shift, which is so not me 🙂


    • I’ve bought several Lilly’s at the thrifts over the years, and I end up giving them away except for a very early 60s one in my collection. They really do announce their arrival, don’t they?


      • They really do! I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way. The crazy thing is that I like how they’re cut and how they fit, but I can’t reconcile that with the baggage they come with. (That’s why I’m so glad I finally found someone to help make a dress for me!)


  2. mimi

    Another flashback for me on the Vintage Traveler:] My parents divorced in the mid 60’s and we moved to a little village outside of Miami. Within a few years, I owned not only a pair of Lilly jeans, which I loved-pink,green yellow flowers, but also a wonderful yellow print cotton dress,with a ‘plunging’ neckline which I pinned together for modesty’s sake.My mother had one in another pretty print,as well. Lillys were so suited to the warm weather ‘vibe’ , the casual lifestyle. I wore them often. I loved them, and as with a number of my favorite clothes from my younger years,I still have them!
    On another note, I also have some Key West Fabric which my mother bought around that time,but she didn’t sew, so…maybe I will finally do something with it!!


  3. I think the best way to date that one is on that care label. That sort of printed label was around in the 80s I don’t remember it in the 70s, but it might have been over there (in the US). I reckon you are spot on.


  4. Since I live in Boston and Martha’s Vineyard and used to be in D.C., I know from preppy. There are even different versions of preppy. Southern preppy is very seersucker and pastels, Connecticut (Greenwich) preppy is very Lily pink and green and madras (with gold jewelry), and now there’s a lot of what I’d call post-modern preppy wearing Tory Burch and toting overpriced Goyard bags. When I’m at the beach with people like this, sometimes I can’t tell one shoulder-length blonde in a tunic and Jack Rogers sandals from another. Having grown up a million miles away in Northern Michigan, I find the whole thing pretty amusing.


    • It is amusing. In the early 60s when the Preppy look became a big deal, one of the colleges associated with the look was UNC. That in itself is funny, as it is a state school, and not many real preps there, especially in the 60s.

      Some places in the South have the whole Lilly Pulitzer and seersucker look down – Atlanta and Charleston come to mind. And Florida, of course.

      Several years ago I stumbled across a preppy fashion blog, and then another and another and so on. It was a bit shocking, and a lot preppier-than-thou. There was a lot of disdain for prep-pretenders, and I found the whole scene to be completely distasteful.


  5. Pingback: 49er Look-Alike | The Vintage Traveler

  6. the term “Preppy” hhad nothing to do with Lilly or KWHPF-in it”s earliest form it was “IVY” refering to the social profile of the Eastern seaboard college type-i from DC as well and lived in NYC-some people who did not know the difference confused prrppy-no socks with loafers-and khakis-brooks brothers button down oxford shirts- the Pulitzer rage from 1960 introduced a social country club way to casual status chic-because of Lilly and her friends in Palm Beach-and her buddy Jackie Kennedy! “Neccesity became the Mother of invention”-that is how KWHPF began(it had earlier origins) was 1960, as for the Pulitzer jeans-it was tough to get a prep boy into them-they were for fun-i still have all of mine-i HAD to wear them-i was a part of the “family”-they did not stay on long!!!


  7. I have an original for sale, interested ? 2 yards 22 inches, right here.

    Thanks for looking, Monika


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