The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Lilly Pulitzer clothing line to hit Target racks

4 min read

Maryland Route 5/Flickr


Hues of pink and green splashed with swirling, colorful nautical motifs distinguish the work of esteemed fashion designer Lilly Pulitzer. Her classical shift dresses have been seen on the likes of fashionistas such as Jackie Kennedy, and her designs have adorned scores of rushing sorority girls and prepsters worldwide.

These dresses, which would normally cost upwards of $300-400, will soon be sold at Target through a line called “Lilly for Target,” and I cannot be more thrilled.

Lilly’s iconic brand, which celebrates her zest for life, includes Palm Beach and casual elegance, and it can now be a part of every girl’s closet as opposed to the exclusive upper class wardrobe.

However, opposition has emerged in light of “Lilly for Target,” which in my opinion is fueled by elitism and pure snobbery. Target has featured high fashion capsule collections by Missoni, Luella, Alexander Wang and Philip Lim, yet people find fault in making the Lilly Pulitzer brand available to the people. Lilly would absolutely be rolling in her grave.

Alyssa & Colin/Flickr
Alyssa & Colin/Flickr

In the famous Lilly agendas, she describes the story of her life. The clothing line was created after the socialite took up a fast-paced and decadent opportunity to move to Palm Beach and open a juice stand. During this time, she created the perfect, figure-flattering and beautifully simple shift dress printed with bright floral motifs to disguise the juice stains she encountered while working at her juice stand.

Lilly was a young, sassy woman who left her old life to elope with her husband and do what she loved: open her own business and make beautiful clothing.

The brand reached the pinnacle of popularity when her old high school friend, Jackie Kennedy wore one of her dresses.

Lilly Pulitzer is now revered along with brands such as Brooks Brothers, Lacoste and J. Crew as being a true staple in every prep-savvy closet. There are many imitators, but only one Lilly Pulitzer.

After Lilly’s recent death, however, the brand seemed to take a turn. The original quality of the clothing diminished over the years from the stiff fabric of the cotton shifts to new, arguably flimsier fabrics and more kitschy motifs. I love Lilly; however, I do agree that the quality is not what it used to be.

For me, owning a piece by Lilly Pulitzer is more about channeling the style, ease and class of Lilly rather than being on trend. Lilly Pulitzer’s dresses are investments for me, and I respect the original integrity of the Lilly brand.

However, the quality was good when I first starting buying them. The fabric was heavier, less sheer, the dresses were fully lined and the prints were timeless.

Now, in the wake of Lilly’s death, the brand has been skimping on essential design. For example, the fabrics used now are very sheer and the sizing chart has definitely changed. Lilly is definitely catering to the waif-like girls of today.

I know the quality will definitely not improve with the Target launch on April 19, but I still think “Lilly for Target” will be a positive impact on the brand.

For the launch, shoppers can expect wristlets, tote bags, home décor and possibly clothing crafted with Lilly’s signature prints, all coupled with lower prices. A tote bag that would normally cost around $80 in a Lilly store will have a Target version and a significantly lower cost.

The barefoot queen of pink and green would be so happy to see that everyone can now wear her designs.

Countless articles and blog posts have emerged on the #LillyForTarget hashtag on Twitter criticizing the business move. The elitist attitude by some girls over the “Lilly for Target” launch is appalling. The general consensus of the opposition is that the collaboration will cheapen the brand, which is ironic because I find the brand is cheapened when these so-called Lilly loving sorority girls plaster Lilly prints over every single thing they own.

Making a normally high-end brand available to girls everywhere regardless of their socioeconomic class is a positive thing, and those who oppose it definitely do not embody Lilly’s original vision. It will prove that you do not have to be rich, white or some societal standard of “pretty” to own a piece of one of the most iconic brands in history.

If you love Lilly, by all means go and buy her stuff when the “Lilly for Target” collaboration launches. If you do not support the collaboration, do not put down those who do.

For me, wearing a Lilly Pulitzer dress is like wearing art. All of her patterns are derived from hand-painted doodles that serve as art objects. They are cheerful and happy. By supporting the “Lilly Pulitzer for Target” collaboration, you are supporting the fact that every girl can finally get that dress or that bag that she normally could not afford, feel beautiful and be happy. And as we all know, happy girls are the prettiest girls too.

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