By now, you’ve probably heard of the incredibly successful (or disastrous, depending on your point of view) Lilly Pulitzer line at Target. Whimsically patterned women’s dresses, girls’ clothing, and housewares sold out the very first day by 8 am in stores–and demand crashed the Target website. $40 dresses have been cropping up on eBay for $650–especially ridiculous when you can buy a non-Target Lilly Pulitzer dress from the designer’s website for about $200.
Now, a lot of bloggers are not only annoyed at the aftermarket-fueled frenzy–and Target’s supply, which was apparently only a fraction of the demand–but they’ve been critical of the Lilly Pulitzer look itself, calling them “phenomenally boring and showily tasteless shift dresses” for vapid, wealthy, status-conscious women.
You know what else Lilly Pulitzer dresses are? They are colorful, classic shift dresses. You know what they’re good for? Everything. Especially in the summer. Throw on one great-fitting shift dress–just one piece of clothing–on a summer day, and you’re ready for everything from a day at the beach to a frickin’ wedding.
Even better: if you know how to sew, shift dresses are easy and (relatively) economical to make, which means you can avoid eBay and make your own Lilly Pulitzer dress yourself.
Now: I cannot teach you to sew via this blog. The very idea of the time and effort (and photos) involved makes my hair stand on end, and at the end of the day, they still probably wouldn’t help a novice sewer in the long run. I myself was taught by my lovely mother–her mother sewed all of my Mom’s and her sisters’ clothing in the ’50s and ’60s.
So if you don’t know how to sew and would like to learn, find a friend, family member, or class that can help you. It is a worthwhile skill to learn, and not terribly difficult. It’s just much more effectively learned in person, from a person. But! If you know how to sew, I’ve found some patterns and fabrics that are quite Lilly Pulitzer-esque, and I’ll share them with you!
Lilly Pulitzer Dress Pattern 1: New Look 6176
The sleeveless version of New Look 6176 looks very Lilly Pulitzer-like: a simple, classic shift dress that can be made with about two yards (or less) of material. The sleeve and pocket variations offer some flexibility, too.
Lilly Pulitzer Dress Pattern 1: New Look 6095
I like my second “Lilly Pulitzer” pattern, New Look 6095, even better for three reasons: one, it doesn’t have the banded neckline that 6176 has, so it looks even easier. Two, I like the different contrast band options at the waist and hem. And three, you can make a matching bag if you want!
Now as any sewer worth his or her salt can tell you, finding a pattern is one thing–finding the material is another. Luckily, Amy Butler is known for her gorgeous, colorful fabrics, and I found a few on her site that fit the bill nicely.
Henna Paisley Pink
Henna Paisley Pink is a gorgeous print in a classic Lilly Pulitzer green and pink color scheme.
Daisy Shine Confetti
Daisy Shine Confetti is another colorful floral print that would be perfect for a Lilly Pulitzer-type shift dress.
Leaf Lines Jade
Leaf Lines Jade might be my favorite choice–I love the cool green tones and the graphic simplicity of the shapes.
There’s a store locator on the Amy Butler site, but any local fabric store should be bursting with colorful prints right now! I’d estimate that you could make one of these dresses for around $40 (the Target price)–figuring fabric at about $12 per yard.
However, your “Lilly Pulitzer” dress will have the advantage of fitting you just right (if you’re at a level where you can make basic pattern adjustments) and you can choose the patterns and colors you like best. It would also be pretty simple to add lace and other trim to get the look you want.
Okay, I’ve convinced myself: I may have to make myself one, if I can do it while Sarah takes her naps. I’ll post pics if so!
Did you run out and get a Lilly Pulitzer dress at Target? Do you think they’re the anti-fashion? Post your comments below!