Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Pictures of Lilly II

Soon, Lilly; but first a little history.

When I was fourteen, my mother and I fought over my wardrobe. She thought I should wear classic, flattering clothes. I thought I should wear trashy statement clothing from second-hand boutiques and Goodwill. This meant everything I liked was too tight, too short or smelled like other people. My mother and I had a free and frank exchange of views over this for months, with no one gaining any ground.

One day, in a fit of spite, I came up with a brilliant idea: I would use her love of preppy clothing against her. I would become the most nauseatingly preppy teenager ever seen outside of Darien, CT. My watchband would match my argyle socks which would pick up the minor color in my headband and the monogram on my shirt. It would be completely over the top and she would find it acutely irritating and she wouldn’t be able to say a word because I was appropriately dressed!

I might have even rubbed my hands together in glee but I said nothing out loud. The very next day an LL Bean catalogue arrived in the mail, addressed to me. This was intimidating; how did they know? If I didn’t purchase something right away, would I find a mutilated canvas tote on my pillow the next morning? With just a tinge of Orwellian fear, I ordered my first fashion item with initials on it which were actually my initials.

Well the joke was on me. It turned out classic clothing was really comfortable and occasionally cute. Unlike my thrift-shop finds, it didn’t have a habit of splitting down the seam before French class was over, nor did it have food stains from a decades-old meal. Insidiously, I became the prep I had been when my mother picked out my clothes. Decades later, my catalogues arrive and I say things like “Ooh, THAT’S a nice corduroy pant!” and “WHAT a fun place to put a monogram!” If my mother cackles in vindication, she has the grace to do it after I leave earshot. And then four times a year there’s the Lilly Pulitzer catalogue, which is the most wondrous succotash of the desirable and the disasterous.

So, without further ado, my impressions of the newest Lilly Pulitzer catalogue:

Let us try to determine what happened here. Bitsy was going for a bicycle ride on grass while wearing a straight skirt and shoes without traction. To the surprise of no one but her, Bitsy had an accident, which explains the bicycle on its side in the top of the frame. Before she hit the ground, her trench coat nobly leapt in front of her, so as to take the brunt of the grass (Bitsy’s people stain easily). Having hit the ground, Bitsy thought, “I should take a picture of the sun.” Having taken more than a few falls in my life, rarely with benefit of trench coat, I can suggest with some experience that after your head hits the ground hard, the first idea you have is rarely a great one. I once insisted I needed to take my purse into an MRI. Bitsy, put down the camera and wait for the coat to call 911.

Something about the combination of glasses, jewelry and what looks like housecoats doesn’t make me think: “Quinn, buy this and a life of ease and privilege will be yours.” It makes me think: “Quinn, give these women coral hair and a large pill-dispenser and this is what you will look like when you retire to Boca Raton.”

This is not an overexposed picture. This is, in fact, what you look like all the time when you wear a Lilly Pulitzer shirt. The aura is so strong that some counties forbid the wearing of Lilly near airports. In place of fog lamps, Florida drivers tie preppy women to the front grilles of their cars.

Do you remember that nightmare you once had where you were in the middle of a park and you were wearing a dress made from the doodles of a hung-over sorority girl, industrial-strenght support-hose, shoes from a dinner-theater production of “Annie”, and you’d let a four year-old style your hair?

Me, neither.

I have met women who model for a living who are quite clever; some were even getting degrees in things that made me all depressed because it meant beautiful women can also get all the brains. So why do I assume this woman is, shall we say, untroubled by larger issues? Because she is staring in adoration at a man holding a book, perhaps reading her a fairy tale about what lovely things happen to maidens to keep up on the peroxide? Is it because he's wearing glasses — the time-honored signifier for “I’m the smart one and she’s the other one”? No, we are to understand she’s in the lower third of her massage-therapy class because she put that belt with that dress.

[And I think the book is upside down.]

I don’t like the look on his face. Something tells me only one person is coming back from this little boat trip. And look what’s on the next page: the only objects found after they dredge up the boat. Paolo, the engagement ring and her bank account are already back in Argentina.

Some stylist in Florida looked at this outfit and thought “You know what would set this off perfectly? ... A life-vest!” I would agree, because it has distracted me from my original thought, [Has any man ever loved me enough to wear those shorts in public?] and set me off on a new thought [You are wearing a life-vest and you are on dry land. There is no boat visible to the horizon and you are sitting in a wicker chair -- an object which has never caused a single person to drown]. My final thought: Perhaps I can introduce you to Belt Lady about two pages back…

*** *** ***

LL Bean and J. Crew dress me, but Lilly’s better company.

(This blog was brought to you by a generous donation of time from the Consort Foundation. Putting these pictures in was a Herculean labor, and I thank him.)


Blogger marthaberry said...

Reference the belt lady: She is staring in adoration at a man in pink pants. Nevermind his glasses or her belt!!

I have been reading your blog for about a year now, and I enjoy every entry. I look forward to the book. You were so impressive as a child actor, and I am not at all surprised by your coolness as an adult!

Thank you for making me laugh.


7:57 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Living in the heart of Lilly country, the clothing is SO popular (and bright) that we actually have a Lilly2 store. Second hand and usually quite reasonably priced Lilly clothing. I know... shameful!

8:41 PM  
Blogger bethany actually said...

Though I've heard of Lilly Pulitzer, I've never seen one of their catalogs. Now I really want to!

11:27 PM  
Blogger Judy said...

Somehow I have the feeling that Lilly P. would never consent to send a catalog to my address. Immediately upon receiving my request, bells and whistles would sound followed by a hush as employees silently brushed away tears for the poor overweight woman in Michigan who desparately wanted her chance to wear what is obviously a housedress that did not come from Lane Bryant or Blair.

Truly. My zip code has been banned.

5:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thank him as well, it was very amusing!

My daughter went through a similar "wanna be a prep" phase. We went to the mall, I bought her several outfits, she wore one to school the next Monday and never wore another. Went back to her goth ways. *sigh*

8:10 AM  
Blogger Claire said...

That was highlarious, especially Paolo and the boat. And no man has ever loved any woman enough to wear those shorts; she is clearly his unwitting beard.

10:15 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Quinn, you make me choke with laughter. That was hysterically funny. The Boca Ladies was priceless.

Speaking of preppy, did you ever find that Fair Isle sweater?

Peace - Rene

10:26 AM  
Blogger Shannon said...

The boat trip comment made me cackle with laughter here in the office. I may have even snorted at the same time. How embarrassing.

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You were a child actor? I just read one of the comments. I also can't wait for your book, I'll preorder it if it's available now (just post a link in your blog).

Now about your post... this is hilarious! I loved: "Quinn, give these women coral hair and a large pill-dispenser and this is what you will look like when you retire to Boca Raton." haha!!

11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh. Dear. God.

I was afraid for a moment that you were going to lose me, with your accidental affinity for well-made, preppy clothes and abandonment of the frowzy thrift store aesthetic. But then your taking-apart of the Lilly: BWAH-HA-HA-HA-HAAAAAA! I work at a lifestyle magazine that targets affluent readers who probably get this catalogue ... and you've given me new insight. And I'll never stop checking back on this blog.

Do you have a damn title yet?

4:38 PM  
Blogger guerrilla girl said...

Bitsy's green shoes are an object of desire. They'd totally match the green stripe on my Adidas sweat pants.

3:30 PM  
Blogger Emily Barton said...

I'm tempted to send you a Vera Bradley catalog...

6:19 PM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

...and while you are in pink and lime green world, TCM is running a cute clip on you as a child. Learned the entire script did you?

7:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm guessing the man in pink pants may be her mummys walker cum hairdresser. He's got a wicked sense of humor and loves to dance. Much thanks to Consort and of course to you as well Quinn. You get the Lily catalog so we don't have to! :-)

4:09 PM  
Blogger BiPolar Wife said...

I swear I saw people on the cruise I just went on wearing those exact outfits.

6:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second the Vera Bradley suggestion... All praise Consort!! Laughing out loud (alone) at 12:45 am.

10:00 PM  
Blogger Swistle said...

ALSO, the man SHE considers a GENIUS is wearing PINK flood pants and no socks and---I am pretty sure---knee-high hosiery.

4:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oooh, do Urban Outfitters next! Please! All I can think when I see the latest catalogue is that someone needs to have a freer hand with the Midol.

6:19 PM  
Blogger Debie Napoleon said...

Ok, I now have to clean cereal off my screen.

Thank you for the morning giggles.

7:13 AM  
Blogger Mojito Maven said...

You must be my long lost twin. I wrote a post about my dislike for lilly and man i opened up a can of worms...

7:43 PM  
Anonymous traybishop said...

This is the funniest blog post I've ever read...A friend and I used to do the same thing.. Pick up women's mags and try to figure out what we were to make of the photos and laugh ourselves silly... But you are the Queen.. I'm bookmarking this post and sending to every girl I know (and a few guys that can appreciate it) in case they need a laugh too...

11:42 AM  

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