Monday, May 04, 2009

Neon Colors, Stickin' it to the Man Since 1984

The first Lilly Pulitzer dress I remember really loving (brace yourself, WASP alert) was one of my mother’s, from when she was young. It was a bright yellow shift with a lace detail around the bottom hem—lace in the shape of pineapples, and it’s worth mentioning she’d cut the dress to make it shorter (what a floozy!) when she was in high school. I first wore the dress in middle school, for a theme dance, but then in the summer time, when I realized Lillys were still acceptable at our country club (not only acceptable, but expected) I just started going Lilly-crazy. When I was really little my mother had always dressed me in Lilly-themed clothes, lots of bright colors, florals, patterns, and I almost always had a massive bow in my hair until I was 12 and decided I had outgrown my bow phase (don’t worry, I resurrected my love affair with ribbon in college—yes, college—when I started to wear them with ponytails). When I graduated from college the dress under my gown was—yep—a Lilly. A really bold one, with big parrots on it and pink and green and a waistline that made it look like a 10 year-old’s party dress. I was happy as pie (you know as I type this, I am having writing deja vu so there's a solid chance I've written about this before, but excuse my poor memory retention, and just enjoy the story, okay?)

By the time I graduated my Lilly Pulitzer collection was excessive, especially after years of vacationing with my Lilly-loving step-grandmother in Naples, Florida. I only have some of my dresses with me in LA (it’s not so much of a Lilly city), while the rest are in my closet in New York or in Maine. All in all, it’s something like 2 bathing suits, 6 shirts, 2 beach tunics, 2 pairs of shoes, 13 dresses, 2 scarves, 8 skirts, 3 sweaters, 3 bags, 2 pairs of shorts, and yes—even some overalls (granted, some of these I inherited from my mother, but keep in mind this doesn’t even include her original Lilly collection that I still have). So yeah, it’s utterly excessive and borderline disgusting, but I love each and every one of them. Oh and I even have some Lilly jewelry.

What can I say—I have a thing for bright colors, bold patterns and exciting prints. As I mentioned, LA isn’t a city where you spot a lot of Lilly, although there’s a store that sells dresses up the street from my current apartment and I imagine if you hit some Beverly Hills ladies’ luncheon gala fundraising event you’d spot some pink-and-green.

Since I’ve lived here I’ve modified my Lilly-love to just generally use LA’s great weather as an opportunity to wear bright colors all year round. I rarely wear one of my bold dresses, but I always sport one on Easter and maybe if I am at a day party. However, as I am noticing that neon and bright colors are big this season, I am going to start wearing Lillys to work. Yep, I’m going there. I’M CRAZY LIKE THAT.

Yes, I often talk about my wardrobe choices at work, and it’s heavy on the J. Crew, but also heavy on pushing the envelope, because unlike the majority of my suit-wearing company, my department, being “creatives” gets to get a little creative with the dress code. So in my own form of silent rebellion, a little Stamos-sitckin’-it-to the-man, I wear as much neon or bright colors in a given week as possible, and I think I am going to bring back retro-50s-housewife with my caché of Lilly Pulitzer goods. So far the HR fashion police reprimanded me once for questionable footwear (Jack Rogers--puhleeze), so I'm going to keep it up.

Today for example, I am wearing a denim dress however yesterday I got a great mani-pedi where my color of choice was, you guessed it, NEON ORANGE (you can see a pic in my Twitter feed). And my scarf today (love scarves)—also neon orange. While I am a teeny bit annoyed that neon is the color swatch of Spring ’09 (I like being a little unique in my affinity for brights), it’s just that much easier to find fun clothing items. I also have recently rediscovered Pac Sun, a store I definitely haven’t given a second thought to since middle school, but have noticed that it’s a great spot to pick up inexpensive bright-colored duds.

It’s sort of silly to think that wearing bright colors is what I view as silent rebellion—or that I feel compelled to find a way to “rebel” against corporate America and a diverse wardrobe is my tactic of choice. Hey, whatever gets you through the work day, right?

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