Sure, using a neutral-colored purse as your everyday handbag has its perks. After all, it matches just about every outfit you own. It's simple. It's sturdy. It's... fine. But let's face it: That monochromatic look just doesn't always cut it – especially when three other ladies in your office have the same purse.
I recently took a trip to the lux beach town and spent a good chunk of my time there perusing the stores on glamorous Worth Avenue, which, according to town historian Rick Rose, was the inspiration behind Beverly Hills' Rodeo Drive. The street's Lilly store is hard to miss, with it's hot pink awnings and vibrant mannequins in the windows.
When you step inside the store, expect to be hit, in the best way possible, by a mild case of sensory overload. In case you're unfamiliar with Lilly Pulitzer, the brand is known for its bright, loud patterns plastered across shift dresses, shoes, sunglasses, office supplies, and of course, handbags.
After meeting the store's employees and recouping from my initial Dorothy-arriving-in-Oz moment, I was introduced to Melissa Sixma Lingo, the store's in-house print artist. Melissa, who's been with the brand since 2012, sat surrounded by her creations (painted bags of all sizes, canvasses, and sketch paper) at a workspace in the middle of the store. Melissa was busy painting away in a book when I arrived, prepared for Floridians to unleash their purse ideas on her.
Here's how the custom purse process works: You dream up a scene, and then you fill out a form to describe your vision. Next, you pick your preferred colors and purse size (clutch, cross body, or tote), and Melissa brings your idea to life in the style of Lilly Pulitzer. You'll get your finished, one-of-a-kind bag in the mail.
"Our store experience is something that we have been known for, and that customers have loved for generations," Melissa said, noting the flagship store also offers custom dresses, personal fittings, and monogramming.
The store employees assured me that no purse idea was too crazy. Melissa would paint anything – and we mean anything. While most purse customers are loyal Lilly fans with ideas that match the brand's style, Melissa revealed she was once asked to paint a gaggle of streakers on a bag. "I always enjoy a challenge!" she said.
When it came time to choose, I went for a scene featuring Worth Avenue and palm trees galore to commemorate my trip. My colors of choice were blue, green, and pink. I also asked Melissa to incorporate a compass, after I was inspired by a painting of one on the ground earlier that day.
And then, I was on my way. (Well, not before checking out the cocktail bar in the back of the store. This Lilly Pulitzer location also happens to be the only one where customers can drink while they shop.)
A few weeks after my trip, I recevied a pink, blue, and gold package almost as aesthetically pleasing as what came inside: my purse!
Worth Avenue. Palm trees galore. A little compass in the top left corner. Melissa had absolutely delivered. And just like that, I held in my hands an original Lilly Pulitzer bag that no one else would ever have.
So there you have it – your foolproof way to nixing the boring purse problem. Lilly bags are colorful and fun, but the gentle pastel shades make 'em easy to match with all your work attire. And because you can only snag one of these at The Palm Beaches flagship, you'll have to plan an oceanside getaway to get your hands on one.
Not a bad deal.