Vintage Lilly Pulitzer II

updated from 2020 | updated version III | updated version IV

Do I love what Lilly Pulitzer is releasing these days? Aside from the stray skort or a killer collab, I am kinda meh on the heritage brand. The most recent APS barely made my radar, but that was a combination of being not-as-enthused-as-usual about the product and packing up for the big overseas move. Along with the popularity of brand we have today and the aversion to inadvertently matching others, I find myself craving Lilly styles of days past.

Also, I can no longer access the brand website as I am in Central Asia.

This is where vintage comes to play and I know I am not alone in this because lately my original vintage Lilly Pulitzer post has gone gangbusters. (Hello and thanks for stopping by! Drop me a note and tell me how you like your vintage scores?) From the secondary market, I guarantee that you will find a frock that is unmistakably Lilly and nobody else will have it. This is how you shop for vintage Lilly Pulitzer:

Identifying the Time Frame

How do you know the time frame of your {potential} vintage Lilly Pulitzer dress? The answer is all in the label. First look at the fabric content. If it is one hundred percent cotton, it is truly a first generation dress. The 1960s brought a cotton / poly blend; nearly all of my vintage Lilly dresses are of this generation. A one hundred percent polyester knit was de rigueur, not only for the brand, but in general for 1970s clothing. Hello, Carol Brady.

Lilly Pulitzer retired in the mid-1980s, but the brand was revived in the 1990s. Do you consider the 90s vintage? I don’t, but also I lived through the decade and have clear memories of it. I distinctly remember a front half style feature in Seventeen magazine circa summer 1997 in which the costume designer of the ABC network sitcom Dharma & Greg included a pair of Lilly Pulitzer Bermuda shorts as an article of clothing that lead character, Dharma, would wear. Seems off-brand for the hippie character now that I think about it… These items have a label with a deep navy blue “Lilly” script on a white background.

And for eff’s sake, never purchase the present pink label under the guise of it being vintage. It is not. Need an example of the pink label?

The one on the left is from the standard line. The middle is from the Goop x Lilly collaboration.

The one on the right is from the Jubilee line. Let’s talk about the Jubilee collection: It was a collection of special edition dresses released in 2008 in celebration of 50 years of the brand. This was way before Lilly fans started going wild about special editions. The collection is not vintage, so if you find a dress from this collection that is a NWT or EUC (that is eBay speak for excellent used condition) in your size (or a size larger and you would be willing to bring it to a tailor), by all means jump on it.

For further information about labels, I have to refer you to the Vintage Fashion Guild. It is a fantastic resource not only for Lilly Pulitzer but for an extensive array of designers and brands.

Shopping

When perusing eBay for vintage Lilly Pulitzer, I recommend searching for the following, in order of my success:

Since I have purchase most of my vintage from eBay, I have never been able to try on prior to buying. Learn from my lessons:

  • Always look at the measurements of the item. If the measurements are not included in the item listing, then request them from the seller.
  • Vintage Lilly Pulitzer runs small. I only purchase items that are at least a size larger than what I would wear in today’s line. I once fell in love and bought a dress that was four sizes larger than what I would typically wear. A trip to the tailor and I have a dress customized to my size perfectly. I wore it to my birthday party two years ago.
  • Read the fine print about the item because finding a NWT condition vintage Lilly item is impossible. If you have any doubts about an item, ask the seller if there are any flaws and subsequently, for photos.

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shop yellow:

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shop patchwork (rarely dated farther back than the white label):

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shop blue:

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