Last week internet users were treated to the news that the next Target design collaboration is to be with Lilly Pulitzer. I found the news to be a bit confusing. As far as “designer” lines are concerned, Lilly Pulitzer is on the low end. Their $198 shift dress seems expensive, but not so much so that a girl who really wants one can’t save up her dollars for a little pink and green splurge.
When the news broke, Mod Betty was quick to email, which led to a discussion about what wearing a brand like Lilly Pulitzer says about the wearer. Funny, because we both admitted that we just could not bring ourselves to wear the various thrift store “Lillies” we had sourced over the years.
I’m not a big wearer of prints, so it’s not surprising that I’ve never been able to warm to the brand. But Mod Betty loves a great print shift dress, yet she too can’t seem to love the line. She brought up an interesting point – that wearing a brand like Lilly Pulitzer says certain things about the wearer. There seems to be a certain code among wearers that says, “I’m rich enough to blow $200 on a shift dress.”
And it’s a code that is lost on those not in on the secret. Someone could wear a Lilly Pulitzer shift down the street of my town and the dress might be noticed due to the bright print, but most people would be shocked to learn that the woman wearing it had spent $200 for it.
But in other places, like Charleston, SC, many preppy-leaning college towns, and certain places in Florida, the message would be transmitted loud and clear. Most importantly, the others in on the secret would know the dress cost $200. How long do you think it will take that tribe to detect a $50 Target Lilly?
My back and forth correspondence with Mod Betty had not ended before an interesting link came through to me by way of Twitter. Seems like the Lilly Pulitzer fans had swiftly gone to Twitter to express their displeasure at the collaboration. Refinery29 gathered the best of the worst and served it all up as “39 Girls Who Are Mad as Hell about Lilly Pulitzer for Target.”
It may distress you to know that Jackie (Kennedy) and Lilly herself are now rolling in their graves due to this horrendous event. Even worse, there are predictions of the apocalypse and people’s retirement accounts being ruined.
But seriously, I was disturbed at so many of the posters referring to “basics.” You might assume without reading the tweets that they were taking about basic wardrobe items, but it is alarming to realize that is how these women were referring to people who were not rich and “classy” enough to wear Lilly Pulitzer. There was a real element of classism in most of the tweets.
I’m not happy about this Lilly for Target crap. Now everybody and their mother will own it and think they’re now preppy and classy.
Most ironically put, I’d say.
Actually this does not surprise me. Several years ago while researching the resurgence of interest in “heritage” brands, I ran across several preppy style blogs. I learned quickly that the truly preppy are different from you and me, and they want to keep it that way. They can sniff out a faux prep at twenty paces, and they make sure the blogosphere knows it. It would be silly if not for their sincerity.
The only non-vintage Lilly Pulitzer I have in my possession is this dress I bought for my grand-niece who lives in Florida and can hopefully wear it without getting side-eye from the other little girls. This dress is several years old, but the level of quality is quite impressive. The dress is made from nice poplin fabric and is fully lined in cotton. There is signature Lilly lace hem tape. Look carefully at the print to see “Lilly” hidden throughout. I doubt very seriously that the Lilly for Target dresses will have the same attention to detail and finishing.