Lily Pulitzer. The Queen of Pink and Green

I love anything tropical. I think it comes from spending many a holiday in the Caribbean when I was a child. I remember my Mum and I picking bright red Hibiscus flowers to tuck behind our ears, the blue of the ocean and the subtle pink of the sand….

It was on a trip to Barbados 8 years ago that I came across the work of one of the most colourful fashion designers the world must surely have seen. Lily Pulitzer. It was from this moment that my adoration of her designs developed.

Lily’s dresses, pants, shirts and accessories are completely fabulous. She isn’t known as the ‘Queen of Pink and Green’ for nothing ! Vibrant, gorgeous floral prints are her main ‘look’ made into simple shift dresses and slacks perfect for hot weather dressing.

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I adore the heady mix of colours and chose to embrace Lily’s sense of fun and style which is displayed so beautifully in her work by wearing her designs.

Lily Pulitzer launched her business in the 1950’s in Palm Beach, Florida.

A socialite with time on her hands and married to a wealthy citrus grove owner she decided to open a juice stand on a busy street.

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Rather than wear aprons to stop the juice splashes Lily had simple sleeveless dresses run up in bold tropical prints to hide the stains. Although the juice was selling well, it was the dresses that grabbed the customers attention. She had 12 shift dresses made up as a trial run and hung them by the juice bar and the rest is history!

It was these dresses that would lead her to become one of the most iconic and popular designers of our time. Her dresses became the staples of American preppy high society ladies.

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In the 1960’s the Kennedy’s paid a visit to Palm Beach. ‘Jack had just been elected president. The eyes of the whole world were on Palm Beach. Jackie wore one of my dresses – it was made from kitchen curtain material-and people went crazy. They took of like zingy. Everybody loved them, and I went into the dress business.’

Lily Pulitzer, (Essential Lily, Harper Resource 2004)

And so this the moment that catapulted her business forward in a totally new direction and led to her amazing success. She branched out into men’s wear, children’s wear, interiors, gifts, even Lily surfboards, all in her tropical delightful colour palette and stunning prints.

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The business took a slight knock in the power dressing 1980’s but soon regained a following after that. It is now supremely popular once again.

I have a number of Lily items, one of which is a book by the lady herself.

To be inspired by an array of beautiful entertaining ideas and wonderful resort clothing do have a look at ‘Essential Lily, A guide to colourful entertaining’ Full of gorgeous inspirational photography, recipes and sketches it will feed your desire for the bright hues of Florida.

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If you holiday in The States you will find many stores selling Lily Pulitzer especially on the Eastern Seaboard. You may also notice a high number of her items being worn in places such as Cape Cod and Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard and Rhode Island.

We are unable to buy her items in the Uk at present so I always make an attempt to buy some of her pieces when I have the opportunity in the USA. Whenever I wear one of her beautiful dresses I never fail to be complemented which is lovely.

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It was extremely sad earlier this year that Lily, one of my most inspiring idols passed away. Her legacy and wonderful style remains and will continue in her absence and her fans are sure to remain loyal. She is known to have inspired Tory Burch (another one of my favourites) and Millie New York (yes that’s another favourite too!) with their design careers.

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Lily Pulitzer – The Queen of Pink and Green (b- Nov 10 1931 d- Apr 7 2013)

With love xx

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It’s pretty but …

It’s pretty but …..

Sometimes when out thrifting you can find something pretty but it just needs a little extra to take it to he next level.

Here is an example that I found earlier this week.

I love this rose oil painting but it looks a bit 1970’s in its faux gilt frame. I knew it had potential but needed to be given the Lexi treatment!

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I thought I would paint the frame in a vintage-esque colour by the wonderful English paint manufacturer Farrow and Ball to soften the look.

If you want to have a go:

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Firstly take your sandpaper and rub all over the frame. Don’t forget the sides and try and get into all the comers. Sanding it like this allows the paint to stick to the frame.

When you have finished sanding make sure you wipe any dust off as you don’t want bits in your fresh paint.

Mask off next to the very edge of the frame on the painting with newspaper and masking tape to make it easier to paint the inside edges of the frame. If you have a steady hand you can risk it and not bother …..brave move!

I painted the frame with a white paint as an undercoat to blank out the gold colour. With darker paints you may not need to bother but with pastels it is a necessary.

With this particular frame I used emulsion which I know is normally for walls but I wanted a more chalky finish to this frame. Also the coats dry so quickly, it can easily be completed in an afternoon which for any busy crafter is a big deal !

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Now you can get cracking with your top paint colour. I went for a soft pink from Farrow and Ball. It is named Middleton Pink but has nothing to do with Kate, the most famous Middleton of them all !

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Make sure you let each coat dry well between applications. On the day I painted this frame it was sunny and breezy so it dried really quickly. Usually two coats is plenty.

When the frame is really dry you can GENTLY rub back areas of the frame to distress it a little but I didn’t with this one. Rub back in the corners and along the sides to reveal the colours underneath. It can look great and instantly ages painted items and they don’t look so flat.

Here are some examples from a seller on Etsy but sadly there is no seller name on Google images to credit him or her.

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This is how the 70’s rose painting looks now its done. Pretty and less shiny and altogether a softer more feminine look.

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And here it is in place on a wall with a number of other vintage oil paintings. A painted frame really sets a painting off nicely . Have a go, it so easy and looks so fabulous.

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Have a great weekend everyone

Lexi xx

Smile! It’s photoshoot time !

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I love setting up and working on a photoshoot.

I also love designing and making things. So when I have the chance to combine these two loves, I absolutely adore it!

More about making things in future blogs but this really is a big up to my preferred commercial photographer Nikki Kirk from Cheltenham.

Nikki and I have been friends for years and her photographic style is perfect for displaying the Essentially Lexi loves collections to perfection.

She has a feminine yet on-trend style and knowing each other so well means we totally ‘get’ what each other is thinking.

I will write up a shot list before the day of the shoot. I do this so i can be sure I don’t miss anything vital. I will then gather and collect all the things I need for each snap and tick them off my list. We usually just have a morning to get all the pictures I need so there is little margin for error!

I set up the shot, rather like a painting, putting everything in place and the Nikki will take the picture. We usually know instantly whether they will be fit for purpose or not, but 9 times out of 10 they are right on the money! Que lots of screaming and jumping around with happiness!

I am always on the look for props, especially vintage artefacts as they enhance the products enormously.

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Nikki also does amazing wedding photography and portraits and if you would like to see more of her work have a look at her website.

http://www.nikkikirkphotography.com

I can thoroughly recommend her. She doesn’t know I am writing this post so hopefully she will be pleased !

I will be posting more pictures by Nikki throughout the future so keep your eyes peeled. You won’t really be able to miss them because they are just so gorgeous.

Lexi xx

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A vintage find from Wales

Anyone that knows me will know I ADORE vintage homeware. For absolutely ages I have been looking for some some sage green vintage tins or enamelware to use to display plants or shabby roses from the garden.

I was inspired to do this this by some pictures I found on Pinterest.

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I love the green tin and the pink roses.

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Image courtesy of http://prettypetals.typepad.com/prettypetals/page/2/

Today I was in Newport, West Wales for the last day of my weekend visiting friends.

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A gorgeous little seaside town with pretty pastel cottages and a wonderful farmers market.

Whilst pottering around I was so happy to stumble across a junk shop, packed to the gunnels with all manner of bits and bobs.

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With shops like this I try and take my time to browse thoroughly as things are piled so high it can be easy to miss exciting bit and pieces!

Today I was really tempted by a gorgeous yellow china beehive honey pot with a moulded bee on the top and some gorgeous vintage sweet tins.

However, while searching through a big basket of the old tins I made a wonderful discovery.

I found this gorgeous, soft green Tala flour bin with a hinged lid and clasp. As you can see the writing on the front has nearly worn off, but that for me is part of the charm!

I knew it would be perfect as a display vessel for cabbagey roses from the garden. I also thought it might be nice planted up with a mini Christmas tree for the holidays or filled with vintage baubles…..the list of uses is endless.

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The gentleman who owned the shop was receptive to my offer and knocked some money off the price and now it is proudly sitting by my Belfast sink ready to be filled with roses first thing in the morning. Happy days !

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Thanks for reading

L xx

Elbow Patches – not just for geography teachers!

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I adore an elbow patch !

I’ve jumpers with plain oval patches, a cashmere cardi with gold leather patches and a navy and white striped Maison Scotch top with navy stars on the elbows. Once I even had a jumper with SEQUIN elbow patches. It was a beauty!

You can imagine my delight when I found this grey striped top with red HEARTS on the sleeve in Gap. It was a ‘must have’ purchase and the fact it was on sale was the final deciding factor.

You can easily put cool patches onto your own clothes. Below you can see the pink star patches I put into a friends cardi.

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All I did was iron on some Bondaweb on the back of the cotton fabric. Cut out a patch in whatever shape you desire. I used pinking sheers to ensure there was no fraying.

Check where you are placing the patch on the sleeve. Need to match up to your elbow position !

Lie the garment flat on your ironing board and make sure the sleeves are lying flat too. Peel the paper off the back of the patch and place where you want them. Press with a hot iron without steam and allow the Bondaweb to fuse to the garment underneath. You may like to cover with a tea towel to protect the fabrics underneath.

Leave it a couple of minutes to cool down and remove tea towel. That’s it !

Being cautious as I didn’t know how the patch would stand up to the washing machine, I used some lime green embroidery silk to put a running stitch around the edge of the patch, about 1cm in to secure the patch a little more.

It also is a great design feature, I love contrasting stitching. Adds a little something.

Happy customising and show your Geography teacher how to rock an elbow patch!

L xx

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Customised stripey straws

Well it has literally been an age since I last blogged and so now I am determind to write some more posts.

Just a quick one tonight but a sweet little project for parties. Customised paper straws.

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I recently organised a party for a friend of mine with a red and white theme.

I bought some fab stripey paper straws and was going to be serving cocktails in retro mini milk bottles with said straws. That was all very well but a little plain !

I decided to customise the straws with some little paper banners that are easily printed out on a pc.

Simply type your message out and perhaps add a little picture if you fancy it. I used a heart as it was a hen night. Make sure you leave a decent margin on the left hand side of the sentence as this has to be wrapped around the straw to secure.

Type out as many banners as you have straws, plus a couple of extras in case of accidents! I double return between each line of type so that my banner is not too mean and stingy when I cut it.

Print out and cut into strips. I like I make a ‘v’ shaped notch into the far end of the message, looks more finished that just a straight end I think.

Next take a little glue and dab onto the back of the strip opposite end to the notch. Bend and stick around the straw where you’d like it and squeeze quite firmly. Hold for a few seconds. I then leave the straw to dry by popping it into a glass where it can remain upright.

And that’s it ! Simple, cute and a really sweet way to make personalised party items.

See you soon,

Lexi x

 

 

Shopping for buttons in New York

Recently I blogged about a visit I made to Tinsel Trading in New York and its amazing selection of ribbons and trimmings and I thought I would tell you about another little gem of a shop that I visited on my trip. This time, floor to ceiling BUTTONS !

After finishing at Tinsel Trading and having a much-needed Starbucks to revive us, Lou and I jumped in a yellow cab and headed uptown to Tender Buttons.

We were on a mission to find some blazer buttons for Lou’s husband and any others that took our fancy quite frankly! Now anybody that knows me will know that I have a bit of a ‘thing’ for buttons and so I was really excited to be going to this shop. I didn’t know what to expect, but if it was like pretty much everything in New York, it was going to be pretty awesome!

East 62 St is so pretty! Tree lined and full of those lovely brownstone buildings that you see if films, this is where we found the sweetest little button shop lurking.

We momentarily got sidetracked by a grocery store across the street selling the most gorgeous flowers but then turned our attention to the buttons!

And look at the gorgeous gold hanging button sign up above the door. It was like a shining beacon in the rain!

We entered the shop, which is absolutely tiny but it still takes your breath away. It has a real old world charm with antique tables and cabinets being used to display the buttons and a lovely vintage looking shop sign over the counter where you stand to be served.

The buttons are stored in cardboard boxes, stacked up high with an example of the buttons inside,on the outside of the box. There must literally be thousands of types of buttons in the shop.

There were  brass buttons for blazers, hunt buttons, horn and bone buttons, amazing jewelled button (my favourites!) all sorts. It takes an age just to go along the row of boxes and to see what was inside.  A little bit of a Tinsel Trading issue here – don’t want to miss a thing so must look systematically!

We found the brass blazer buttons that we had needed to find, and I eventually managed to choose some buttons to take home. I was looking for some cute buttons for my trench coat and ended up chosing some lovely navy and cream striped buttons. I also bought some cute tartan buttons . I have no actual purpose for them (yet) but I think they will look really sweet on a little twin set cardigan…….Oh, and I also bought a gorgeous jewelled button made up of tiny crystals in pinks, pale blues and whites which is just so twinkly. That was my inner magpie coming out! I only bought one of those because it was V expensive! You can see this beauty of a button above in the picture with the shops card.

This picture came out a little dark but you can just about make out the lovely wooden Tender Buttons sign behind the counter. All my buttons came wrapped in the tiniest brown paper bag i’ve ever seen……

These are the buttons I bought. I have stitched these navy ones onto my trench with red thread. I did that to give the coat a slightly nautical look, and it looks good paired with my summer uniform of a Breton top, jeans and ballet pumps. The red thread looks so cheeky!

The other tartan buttons I bought are below. Thinking of adding those to a little cardi, or maybe saving them for some Christmas projects. In the meantime they will just look jaunty in my button tin!

So those were the little gems I came away with after my visit. I think I could certainly have bought more but I couldn’t think what I needed! Tender Buttons is definitely worth a trip, especially if you are looking for something really special . I certainly would love to buy some more of those twinkly buttons. Imagine those down the back of a dress…..

I had to include this picture. We were making our way to Penn Station later that afternoon and were in the fashion district of the city and I saw this outside of our cab while we were waiting at the light. I’d love this outside Lexi  loves if I had the chance but not sure it would pass the Cotswolds planning laws!

Thanks for reading, see you again soon

Lexi xx