As we’re celebrating our 60th anniversary year, it’s important to step back and notice how we’re constantly being inspired by our authentic story, Palm Beach history, and our first love… the Shift Dress. 60 years later, it’s still the best dress around and comes in a variety of modern styles, but still contains those same details that made the original “Lillys” the first choice for effortless Palm Beach style for so many generations.
Before our Lilly Pulitzer, the concept of a Shift Dress didn’t exist in resort wear. Resort fashion consisted of long hemlines, corset-styled tops, and conservative silhouettes. When Lilly arrived to Palm Beach in the 1950s, she not only made a splash in the Palm Beach social scene, but in the fashion world at large. She had a need for a loose-fitting, comfortable, easy, printed, and colorful garment, and had a fearless pursuit in developing, and then selling and scaling, the world’s first ever Shift Dress.
It was one of the most iconic changes in fashion and resort culture EVER. Quite literally a “shift” in every sense of the word. Suddenly everyone was wearing “Lilly’s”—AKA easy dresses that zipped up the back, had little bow details on the hem, and were printed WILD with Florida colors and critters.
Lilly was ahead of her time—being a working mom, pioneering entrepreneur, and rule-breaker long before that was trending. The iconic Lilly Shift reflects her personality in every little detail, 60 years ago and now. As we celebrate our 60th year as a brand, it’s fun to look back on the history of the Shift Dress (which we dive into more history in the past blog post, “How to Wear a Shift Dress: Style Tips”) and the anatomy of the modern shift dress today.
Today we are breaking it down and sharing the WHY behind each little detail of the iconic silhouette.
Silhouette + Neckline
The Silhouette- The classic shift silhouette is sleeveless, collarless, and ever-so-slightly skims the body. It’s a straight style that’s structured yet mobile and moves with you. Our modern version of it today comes in countless shapes and styles—from print, to solid, to full on lace, tassels, ties, and SO much more. There’s a shift for EVERY Lilly girl.
The Neckline- Want to play it safe with a higher scoop neck or show off your tan a little more with a v neck? The neckline of our Shifts is a subtle way to display a playful design.
Zipper + Straps
The Zipper- Lilly used to reach as far as she could, grab the bottom of the zipper of her shift dress, and pull it up as far as it could go—which was usually about half-way… However you want to zipper it, the zipper is a fun little detail of each dress. Look closely—it may be disguised as gold bamboo, a boho tassel, or a little Lilly critter.
The Bra Friendly Strap- Dresses designed by women for women, the shift dress knows what’s up when it comes to bras. We include bra-friendly straps in many of our shifts, that are thick enough to disguise your favorite nude (or not nude) bra. It’s a feature that will surprise and delight you every time you throw on the dress!
Bows + Hemline
The Bows- Mini ribbons tied into bows adorn the bottom of many of our Shifts—especially the Little Lilly Classic Shift Dress. They’re an authentic tie back to the details of the original shift. The Lilly way to style them? Leave one bow un-tied—as if you danced too hard at the party.
The Hemline Tape- We hide little Lilly details in even the most seemingly mundane aspects of a dress. The interior hemline of many of our Shifts is often adorned with a decorative line of hemline tape, that’s woven with gold and pink thread and spells out phrases like “xx, Lilly.”
We hope you find this detailed look into the Shift Dress to be helpful in explaining all of the many reasons why it will always hold a special place in our heart (and our closet), from the very beginning and for many more years to come!