I’ve lived in the Land of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready Corn my entire life. Because I wasn’t raised by hippies, I didn’t really have a solid connection to food stuffs and how they’re conventionally grown. My grandparents were dairy farmers. All I knew was that they worked hard and didn’t go on vacation until they retired. They had fields of grain and corn and soy. They had a large barn full of cows that smelled like poop, but looked really cute when they were calves.
Now, like most of us who pay attention to food, I’m aware that my imbicillus notions of farming were, at best, shallow and naive. My land–no, this land–our land! is not a simply a gorgeous swath frilly tassels of acreage that surrounds hilly country roads. Our land and our food is now a political maelstrom that I’m asked to enter every time I shop for groceries. And that’s only because I’m not as seduced as I once was by “knee high by the 4th of July.” Instead, I’m wont to wonder, “What the hell is in this food thing I’m about to buy? Can I afford to get this without that side of GMO? I really can’t afford not to, can I?”
When this gem of a 1960′s Lilly Pulitzer shift dress showed up online at Lulu’s, I didn’t hesitate to email the proprietor (our dear Anne) to let her know I wanted to buy the thing. I haven’t had such an immediate connection with a dress since. And, that was about two years ago! Can you hear the quartet of sad trombone players outside my window right now? They are wearing boater hats, and if I’m not mistaken their boxy shirts are festooned with a red, white, and blue Americana bald eagle print. What a bummer that I don’t often get that rush of “OH GOD! This dress IS PERFECT for ME!” when I see a vintage item that’s for sale. Geez. Those are some sad bald eagles. But, I digress.
Lilly Pulitzer died recently. When she did, I was saddened because her creative contribution to fashion, with its humble (and by humble, I mean monied), juice stand beginnings says something cool and kooky about the American dream. Never mind that Mrs. Pulitzer was entirely comfortable financially. Her American dream wasn’t exactly a big, scary gamble. Bald eagles were probably smiling at her the whole time she was dreaming her juicy fashion dream.
But, think about it. Lilly could have just as easily decided to do something less interesting than wear her homemade shift dresses in those splashy patterns that hid the juice spills. She didn’t have to wake up and say, “I’m gonna go make some juice today!” Oh, Look! Jackie Kennedy is wearing my dress! No, she didn’t need to create a cult brand and pump out quirky, preppy prints that were destined to become fashion fodder for denizens of Palm Beach. Given her circumstances, it wouldn’t occur to me to do what she did. Hell, I’d just open a Pinterest account and sit around pinning things and drinking wine insisting that I was a creative genius. (Did you see my Pinterest board on weird fingernail art? Holy crap! The things people will do with their nails!)
I’m glad I came to know Lilly Pulitzer’s singular style and her stylish rise to fame. And I’m exceptionally glad I had the foresight to throw two easy payments at this dress just so that I could own what I deem one of the most strangely exotic Lilly prints I’ve seen. (I’ve seen a lot of them.) Who better to own this than me–a corny midwesterner who dreams of being GMO-free in Palm Beach?
Thanks for finding this dress for me, Anne.