SEVERAL YEARS AFTER she eloped with publishing heir Peter Pulitzer and moved to Palm Beach, Lilly Pulitzer opened a citrus stand with a friend, a former Harper’s Bazaar editor. According to legend, to camouflage the orange and grapefruit stains on their clothing, they designed a simple shift with a tropical print and asked a local dressmaker to make a few for them. Soon everyone in that rarefied Palm Beach set had to have one, including Jackie Kennedy. The label thrived in the 1960s and 1970s but lost its luster in the ’80s. The brand made a comeback in the 1990s and then was sold to Oxford Industries in 2010 for $60 million, just in time to appeal to a new generation of preppies.
Admittedly, Lilly gets its share of haters for elitism and lack of “real” design, recently exacerbated by the company’s collaboration with Target and the ensuing furor. Despite all the hoo-ha, there’s clearly a demand for these sun-drenched, boldly colored shifts that are a breath of fresh air, especially on a sultry summer day.
If the retro-preppy print vibe and the limited Lilly styles don’t grab you, but you still want the free-wheeling feel of a summer dress, there is an abundance of other prints on the market available in a variety of cuts, lengths and price points: for example, a floral shirtwaist from Diane von Furstenberg, toile separates and a watercolor midi from Tory Burch, a pop-art maxi from Alice + Olivia, tie-dye from Rebecca Taylor and a neon print with flared skirt and fitted bodice from Mara Hoffman.
MyLittleBird also loves the runway fashions above from Marni, Sophie Theallet, Suno and Preen, but prices for retail styles can set you back thousands. Click on this price tag to see where you can get similar looks for less. [AnythingPopup id=”7″]