Growing up in the palm tree-lined streets of Miami, tropical influences were a large part of my youth. Nothing better showcased the bright, colorful atmosphere of the tropics than the vibrant prints and styles of what is called resort wear. In the 1960s, Lilly Pulitzer was making her mark on the Florida lifestyle with her now famous shift. I got to model one of her designs in a teen fashion show at Walt Disney World – and even had the opportunity to meet her in person. It was a powerful memory for me as a young woman to wear such beautiful clothing and meet a successful female entrepreneur. If you’re unfamiliar with the Lilly brand story, like most inventions, her famous floral shift came out of necessity. She created her colorful, vibrant prints to help camouflage the stains that were the result of making her fruit juices from her Palm Beach fruit stand. As the Lilly Pulitzer website states,
“She built a business on a spill and she lived in paradise year-round.”
Another influence in resort wear came even decades before, via Coco Chanel. Even though Chanel began with her hats, she expanded into what is considered one of the first true resort wear lines.
Resort wear has continued to evolve, and things have certainly progressed since I donned my first Lilly dress back in the 1980s to today. Resort wear is now worn daily, as resort living has also become year-round. Dressing in causal, colorful and relaxed clothing is no longer restricted to a season – it is now a lifestyle. In Bluffton and on the island, we see women dressing this way every day. You can now see floral shifts in the spring and vibrant pants mixed with colorful knit tops in the cooler months. It’s also not unusual to see relaxing and soothing styles in warm and pastel colors. The fabric may change for the seasons, but the relaxing styles, and eye-catching hues remain the same.
But styles have taken a slight variation – the shift still exists and is a staple – but so is Athleisure wear. Athleisure or “sport leisure”, is defined by Merriam-Webster as “casual clothing designed to be worn for both exercising and for general use.” I pondered how this shift may have taken place and asked part-time island resident, Denine Pezone.
Denine is the Owner and Founder of Ardent Associates, a consulting firm focusing on branding and market strategy. Regarding the rise of Athleisure wear, she points out that, “While most fashion apparel markets are suffering, sport apparel is growing at faster rate than any other apparel category in the USA realizing continued year-over-year growth.”
Yoga, as I discussed in last month’s article, is now my sport of choice, with golf coming in second. Living in the low country gives women so many outdoor sports and activities – making athleisure wear a viable, fashionable clothing option. The performance materials make looking good easy and performing much more enjoyable, because as the labels state, sweat does wick.
Ms. Pezone reports, “Trends of athleisure goods and sports-inspired apparel are reported as sportswear apparel but will likely not be used for physical activity or sport. We have watched this category grow over the years, beginning with ‘casual Friday’ that took the golf apparel market by storm. Now, as consumers are looking for staple items that are declared comfortable, we see the yoga pants and active apparel bottoms everywhere. Much of the growth is realized by Millennials, but all age groups are contributing to this trend and we don’t predict a slow down any time soon.”
Millennial women grew up participating in sports in school, and athletic wear was a part of their basic wardrobe. It is so much easier now to incorporate those pieces in your day-to-day wardrobe as lines like Athleta, one of my favorites, makes clothing that can go from workout to going out. There are also many ways to layer these new performance lines with traditional ready to wear lines.
One bonus to the new wave of athleisure wear is added SPF protection – it keeps sunburn at bay while spending days on the river or beaches.
The shops of Bluffton and Hilton Head Island make it easy for you dress with resort flair. They have so many great options, as many of their shops are built around the resort lifestyle. As Ralph Lauren writes in his self-titled book,
“I’ve always believed one could live many lives through the way we dress and the places we travel to, even if just in our imagination. The world is open to us, and each day is an occasion to reinvent ourselves.”
Isn’t it so wonderful that the women of Hilton Head can dress in such vibrant and relaxing ways? To enjoy their days on the river and shores, at the gym, and dining outdoors. We are lucky to live the low country life – to make resort living a lifestyle…Relax, Reflect and Recharge- Resort Girls!
Please find this story and others in “The Breeze” magazine. June issue, pages 19 – 20 by Samantha Williams, Lifestyle Editor (and founder of Resort Girl)
Photo courtesy of Cocoon Boutique of Bluffton, SC: June Advertisement in “The Breeze” pg. 21