In case you have been living under a rock (or are male), this past weekend was the Lilly Pulitzer Warehouse Sale. What the heck does that mean? Lilly Pulitzer is a clothing brand that makes MOSTLY women’s clothing, but a few men’s items exist (ties, bathing suits). They have shops in various shopping malls (although none near me) and also will sell some items in other stores. Twice a year, the company holds a warehouse sale in southeastern Pennsylvania, near their corporate headquarters. When PDFM U hired me last year, I realized that I lived “close enough” that attending one of these sales was only borderline insane. I don’t think I was fully prepared for the experience. My bank account probably agrees.
This year, several of my friends planned a visit for the weekend of the sale so we could all go together. In the days before their arrival, I found myself prepping them for it as if I was their coach. I was telling them what they should wear and how they should shop…I wish somebody had recorded those phone calls! (Oh wait, the government probably was listening…hope you enjoyed that lesson, Mr. Agent!)
So, last Saturday, my friends and I packed into my car and set off on a day-long adventure. A few weeks ago, Lilly Pulitzer announced that they were only having one sale this year…normally they have one in June and one in December. I was excited, hoping that there would be an even larger selection, but also nervous that it would be crazy crowded. I was wrong. On both counts. While the parking lot was definitely more crowded than it was last summer, because the inside room is so LARGE, I didn’t really notice an excessive amount of people. All of the merchandise I saw this time was from the Spring 2013 line, which was cool because it was so new, but slightly disappointing because there seemed to be the exact same dresses everywhere you looked. Also, we didn’t arrive until early afternoon, so there was definitely LESS merchandise than there had been earlier in the week. One of my friends saw a lady at the checkout with a cute tote bag…turns out that lady grabbed the last one! At the end of the day, we all had fun and got a few things each. Definitely a good experience!
And now…some tips for if you ever decide to attend the Lilly sale (or any other similar, crazy event).
What to Wear
Plan your outfit in advance. I saw some ladies decked out in their finest Lilly. There is a time and place for that and the sale is NOT it! You want to be comfortable at this event. Additionally, you will want to be trying on a lot of clothing, so wear something that is easy to take off/put on. There are no individual changing rooms! A portion of the room is curtained off and you get changed locker room style (complete with some old person who thinks that parading around naked is okay). That being said, make sure the underwear you are wearing has more coverage – unless having 50 strangers see you in a thong is your sort of thing. Changing is not permitted on the sales floor but according to this post from someone who went Thursday, it happened anyway.
Set a Budget
If you walk into this without a budget, it is very easy to get carried away. Maybe you are looking for a specific dress. Maybe you set an item or dollar limit. STICK TO IT, even if it means taking someone with you that will force you to do so (Hi Mom!). Most of the dresses were $99. Skirts, shirts, and accessories were cheaper.
Know What You Want
Last summer, I bought some dresses and some skirts. The dresses were a bit fancier – I wore one to a friend’s wedding later that year. I figured I would wear the skirts to work with shirts I already owned. Except. I never did. I have a skirt in my drawer that I’m pretty sure I’ve NEVER worn. Why? Lilly Pulitzer is known for her bright, colorful prints. It’s hard to match a shirt to that sometimes! This time, I decided to get more casual dresses, that way the only thing I needed to worry about matching them with was a sweater for the office.
How to Shop
When you walk in, you’re given a HUGE pink bag (try to get a non-mesh one). All of the clothes are organized by what they are and by size. Dresses, skirts, fancy shirts, and pants were all hanging. Sweaters, t-shirts, and scarves were in boxes. Go to your size and if you like something or THINK you might like something, shove it in your bag. By the time you go to the fitting room, you will look like a very pink Santa Claus. Also, make sure you shop the racks that are one size up and one size down from your size.
Try it On
After you’ve looked everywhere or after your bag is so heavy you can’t carry it, head over to the fitting room! You will be told a number as you walk in. This number corresponds to a chair which is your try on space. I put my big pink bag on the floor in front of my chair and used my chair for my “keep” or “try again” pile. I put the things I did not want on the floor behind me. Employees frequently come by and collect the items you don’t want so they can go back on the floor. Because it’s so easy to get carried away at the sale, I tried items on and made a snap judgement. Things were almost always a definite yes or no. Some things DID wind up in the maybe category – only because I thought I might want to try it in a different size. At the end of your fitting room trip, your bag should be much lighter.
Back to the Racks
I always double check my size racks just because some item may have been in the fitting room or being prepped to come back to the floor my first time around. I don’t spend too much time the second time around…just a quick glance. This worked out to my advantage at this sale! There was a dress I really wanted but I could only find it in a size too small. When I went back, it was there!
Once you are done, you can head to the checkout line. Go straight to the check out line. Do not look left, do not look right. You will only find more things you want. You can pay by cash or card. They will give you a coupon to use at their King of Prussia store, which is about twenty minutes away. Your choice on if you want to go or not…but they have current stuff as well as sale stuff, so all bets are off for your budget if you set foot in there!
Like I said earlier, my friends and I definitely had a good time! While going to more than one of these a year might be a bit much, I am interested to know what other brands do something like this? Any that you know of?