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Something right with the world--Spotlight on Lilies Apparel

I had thought of burying, er, posting this only over on my personal blog, but then I thought that I could put a W4 spin on it by billing it as something right with the world. Which it is.

Most of my audience members here are guys, and I realize that. But I also know that several of you have daughters, some even young daughters, and lots of you have wives. So...

Are you looking for beautiful, classic-style, modest dresses? Are you willing to pay a bit more than Wal-Mart prices? Have we got a show for you.

Lilies Apparel is a family-run, mail-order business in Kansas that makes girls' and women's dresses. I infer that the proprietors, the Millers, are Mennonite from the fact that they offer women's prayer veils as one of their products.

The dresses are lovely. I have bought several for my daughters and am about to order a couple more. They take several weeks to arrive but are worth the wait. The prices are a bit steep; the girls' dresses are usually somewhere in the $40 range plus S & H, and there are various $2 surcharges for some of the fabrics, for long sleeves, and so forth. Some styles are more. The sizes run a little large. Generally I treat a Lilies girl size as being the next size up in a store-bought dress. As many of the fabrics are 100% cotton, this may be deliberate in order to allow room for shrinkage, but if you are careful about washing and drying them or if you order a poly-cotton or polyester fabric, you should definitely take into account the larger sizes. If your daughters (like mine) are not chunky, you may need to add length to a size that is perfect in shoulder width but is meant for a younger child and hence would be too short. The Lilies people will talk to you on the phone and take your order for extra length for a small surcharge.

You pick the style and then, for most of the styles, you can choose from any of their fabrics, so each dress is custom-made to your order as far as the combination of style and color. After you've ordered from them once, you get a printed catalogue, which I prefer to the on-line version.

As your wives (or my female readers with daughters) will probably agree, finding good dresses for girls older than teeny-tiny can be very hard. Along about size 7 and up, suddenly all the summer dresses are sleeveless or halter-style, quite immodest, and either deliberately short or just abouuut long enough so that within six months and certainly by next year--poof!--they're suddenly very short. At Easter time the stores suddenly come out with over-fancy dresses that the child will want to wear to a party or occasionally to church, but not on a regular basis, made of strange-looking layers of filmy, fluffy, material that pretend to cover things up and don't and that are often shaped oddly. And then there are the dresses that are just plain ugly. Terribly ugly. Incredibly ugly. The latest ploy of the children's clothing manufacturers is to make a dress that looks nice until you try it on the girl and discover that it is a "peasant style," which means that it is falling off her shoulders and showing much of her chest. I've very nearly given up shopping for girls' dresses in the store for any child older than 5, and it's even getting hard for a five-year-old. Meijer made one style of girl's dress this year that I was willing to buy, and I was surprised at that.

The thing about the Lilies dresses, besides their modesty, is that they come in a sufficient variety of classic styles that you can go either quite dressy or only moderately dressy. Nothing looks overdone. They're just nice clothes. Ladies, check them out. Gentlemen, you're welcome to check them out, too, or pass the link and info. on to your wives.

Comments (27)

Perhaps this is a case where you and the crunchy-cons could find some common ground. This seems like just the sort of small-scale, traditionally oriented business that they would like.

But notice Steve, that such a business can only thrive and grow through all the modern trappings of capitalism that the crunchies decry...for example, the internet (or the postal system) for ordering, our modern transportation system that makes it (relatively) cheap to ship these dresses across the country, etc.

I generally find that the more expensive stores here in the Chicagoland area have attractive, modest dresses for girls; but you have to pay a premium for these dresses (I'm lucky that my girls' grandmother, my mom, loves to shop for them after shopping for thirty years for her three boys...so I don't feel the pinch in my wallet trying to dress my girls appropriately).

In the end, the market provides something for all tastes...

Well, of course I wouldn't be advertising the business if I didn't like the product. So I guess you could call me a capitalist after all. But as far as modesty goes and deploring the stuff I'm finding for sale elsewhere, I'm sure that there as in other areas concerning morality per se the crunchies and I have plenty in common. I put in the bits about their being Mennonites, a family business, etc., because I find them mildly interesting and charming, and I figured other people would too. It also conveys perhaps some extra trustworthiness regarding the notion of 'modesty' in view.

I suppose it could be argued that since Kansas is far away from where I live I'm not buying local by sending away for these dresses. I haven't quite figured out all the rules for such things, largely because I plain don't care. I look for what I like, get it, and pass the word along. Heaven knows, I've found it hard enough to find dresses that I like for the girls that I need all the help I can get!

Now, not to be mean or anything, but I find the dresses similar in style to the FLDS in Texas. Let us just say that, if I had a daughter, I would not purchase this clothing....sorry...

Mr. Barnes: try doing a google image search on FLDS. Your attempted comparison with what's on offer at Lilies Apparel is superficial and, frankly, kind of nasty.

Oh, gee, please. Nasty, indeed. If it's even worth answering, it might be at least worth pointing out in the name of facts that you have to pay _extra_ for long sleeves from Lilies, and they are initially styled to have short sleeves, so most of their dresses don't have a prairie look at all. Not that I'm going to say, "Ooo, prairie-style dresses are now evil because a weird cult wears them." But in any event, for anyone old enough to remember (and how old do you have to be?) the dresses at Lilies resemble stuff well-dressed women (moral or not) were wearing long about, oh, the 60's or so, or even in the 70's. In fact, you could get dresses like this easily for your girls in a local store even fifteen years ago. It's only far more recently that "trashy or ugly" has come to be the look for 10-year-olds.

10-year-olds? I think it goes farther than that...

We've started buying boys' shorts for our 2 1/2 year old to play in the back yard because even one or two sizes up in girls' are basically toddler hot pants. It's ridiculous. The boys' a size down fit her perfectly and go down below the knee. We've pitched a good quarter of the pants we've gotten because they're low riders. At 24 months/2T! I mean, seriously, we were going to wait until she was at least 3 to have her lower back tattooed.

Thanks for the link, Lydia.

By the way - I got distracted, but I think that Jeff Singer, above, makes a very good point.

Jeff Singer is mistaken.

The crunchies would much prefer that businesses like Lilie's Apparel not be necessary at all. The crunchies would prefer that every woman dress modestly and that modest, feminine clothing be available everywhere. The crunchies would prefer a world where you buy your clothes from someone you know in your own community rather than from strangers over the internet.

Lilie's Apparel is not a testament to the virtues of global capitalism; Lilie's Apparel is a band-aid on a culture nearly ruined by global capitalism.

I, too, thank Lydia for the link.

Todd, boy, are you right. I have been having some exceedingly cute, decade-old, pants patched over and over again. If I'd known then what I know now, JC Penney would have been selling their adorable elastic-waste little girls' jeans to me in bulk back then. It all seemed to happen so fast; almost overnight, 2T and 3T pants and shorts were falling off. And they are so ugly, too. I, too, have gone to boys' shorts. Jeans are more difficult, because they tend to be too big for the girls, but one of our local stores has adjustable waist boys' jeans, and that works okay as a cludge. A brand of boys' jeans I haven't tried but might try in the future is Wes & Willy from CWD Kids. That same style of shorts seems to work well on girls, and they resemble the way that little girls' jeans used to be made.


It's a shame we probably can't convince Lilies to make girls' jeans. :-)

LL Bean has some good women's jeans (Natural fit being one such style) that aren't low-rise starting at Misses' size 4, which I am bearing in mind for the teen years, but we haven't quite got any of our girls big enough to wear them, and of course they are pricey.

The only reason I mentioned 10-year-olds is because, although casual clothes for even the tiniest girls are now nearly impossible (the specifically girls T-shirts are too small for the size, too, and sometimes printed with inappropriate messages or pictures of Bratz), for some reason you can still get cute and relatively modest dresses for very little girls. That changes abruptly at (I seem to recall) the 5 to 6x line or possibly from 6x to 7.

Lilie's Apparel is not a testament to the virtues of global capitalism; Lilie's Apparel is a band-aid on a culture nearly ruined by global capitalism.

Amen, Jeff; and contra Mr. Singer's assertion, I think you'd be hard pressed to find any self-identifying "crunchy" per se' opposed to such a band-aid. The naked idolatry of, "In the end, the market provides something for all tastes..." is utterly beneath contempt (unless it was, alas, intended as a joke...). Of course, and the market happily supplied low-riding pajama bottoms masquerading as trousers with "Juicy" emblazoned across the ass too. And since The Market has cleverly externalized the costs of a six-year-old asking "Mommy, why does that girl have 'Juicy' written on her bottom?" as well as her 14-year old brother's not needing to ask, we can safely say that the market has been, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, perfectly Efficient. And there are a whole lot of other things that The Market supplies too, and never once does The Market ask, "Ought I so supply?" for He is excluded, by His very Nature, from such questions.

Well, I'm glad the crunchies aren't opposed to the "band aid" anyway, which would of course be a foolish thing to be, and something I never would have suggested. You won't find anyone more fierce than I on the horrors of the present clothing trends for girls. I blame it on evil men and the Fall. I also blame it on stupid, helpless parents who allow and/or supply the money for such things. Where were the girl's parents when she bought the pants that say "juicy"? Why did they let her go out of the house in pajama bottoms? If she's above eighteen and still living with them, why don't they start issuing some ultimata? And if she's grown up and supporting herself, why wasn't she taught better when little? I'll wager that none of my daughters will ever wear such junk, and if everybody followed my clothing buying trends, the "juicy" pants would disappear fast enough to make your head spin.

Oh, and I also think the stores should refuse to stock them. In fact, I've often fantasized about a greater variety in stores. How about a "Family Corner Drug store" that sells no...

lottery tickets
sleazy magazines
trading cards for sleazy celebrities


How about a "Family Super Store" that sells no

clothes with inappropriate messages
drastically immodest clothes
(and none of the above items, either)


And they advertise this fact all over town.

It would be a revolution. Let's use the power of the market on the side of the right. But it takes will, and I fear that _that_ is what there isn't enough of.

How about a "Family Corner Drug store" that sells no...

You wish is their command.

Yeah, I saw that on Scott W's site the other day. I think it's an excellent trend for many reasons. For one thing it asserts the independence of the private store owner in an unmistakable way. And there is something exceedingly creepy in the way the feminists interviewed are obviously prowling around trying to find ways of using the power of the state to force them to sell particular items. (Imagine a Muslim butcher store that doesn't sell pork: "But some poor person might walk in here and not know and then waste precious time trying to find pork somewhere else and be late cooking dinner!") For another thing it opens up the possibility of stores with overall a more wholesome atmosphere--as I said, including not selling lottery tickets, magazines with "Twelve sex secrets you've never seen before" on the cover, and so forth.

I meant to say, too, that when I mention not selling alcohol, this isn't because I'm a teetotaller. I'm not. But I'm thinking that we just need to change the overall "feel" of the stores, to upgrade it, to make our local stores places that are not so standardized in an icky direction. I dislike the feeling that the stores are all the same, that they all sell the same stuff, even when the workers, managers, and possibly some owners know deep down that a lot of this stuff is harming people or is disgusting. Like the trashy clothes, for example. But I get the odd feeling that no one ever thinks, "Hey, we don't _have_ to stock this." It's as though they are all robots.

Jeff C. and Steve N.,

I think you both misunderstood my comment...I was simply pointing out, contra Lydia, that the crunchies might not like the success of a Lilies Apparel given that its success (or at least its ability to sell clothes across the country) is predicated on the trappings of the capitalist/market system here in America. Your comments validated my thinking. However, unlike you both, I love this capitalist/market system and think of it as quite frankly awe-inspiring -- I think of the wealth and health Americans have generated (and Europeans, and Southeast Asians, and Chinese, etc.) as something good (in the same sense as Genesis 31: "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good."). I think Lydia already alluded to the problem with the market -- it serves our Fallen natures.

Which is why, contra the libertarians I read and admire, I have no problem with morals legislation banning the sale of sleazy products and services as defined by local communities. I would be happy to fine parents who allow their daughters to go out in pajamas and/or clothing that didn't meet some strict community standard. Alas, I fear Lydia is right -- at the moment, too few Americans have the will to reverse the coarsening of our culture.

One final amusing note. Here in Chicago, individual Ward "precincts" are allowed to ban the sale of alcohol. I was very, very pleased that just before I moved into my house, the community voted our little downtown wet after many, many years of being dry. I was pleased because it meant restaurants that could serve liquor, which meant better restaurants would open up (which is exactly what has happened over the past five years since I moved in). It also meant that the local, family-owned grocery store could now sell liquor. So one Sunday morning, I was on my way to visit a friend for lunch and wanted to bring a bottle of wine. So I stopped over at "Happy Foods" (the name of the grocery store) and got up to the register only to be told that I couldn't buy liquor on Sunday before 11:00 AM! Imagine in this day and age, Chicago (or maybe Illinois) still has "blue" laws on the books! Perhaps there is hope yet...

We could start by making it clear that stores and places of business are free to set their own standards and don't have to serve just anybody who walks through the door. You remember the old "no shirt, no shoes, no service" signs? I don't those anymore. Now, does this mean that you would get Muslim-run businesses refusing to serve "infidel" women not wearing a hijab? Yep. I'm sure they'd be the first ones to jump on such a bandwagon. But to me that's a separate issue, and one that could be dealt with by deciding ahead of time--before allowing immigrants to settle here--what sorts of people we want to have setting our community standards. But overall I think the tacit "must serve whoever comes through the door even if they are walking around naked" (which is very nearly literally coming to pass these days) policy that now prevails around the country is a much bigger problem. I would love to see some businessmen challenge it by posting some dress standards on their doors and enforcing them. And I'd like to know what the actual legal situation is about this in most states.

Mr. Burton,

I only meant the comparison from the two minutes I saw of the FLDS women on CNN. Similar dress style, at least to my untrained eye.


As I mentioned, I noticed a similar style between the two. However, I think that it reminds me more of "House on the Prairie" than FLDS on second thought. I still would not dress my child in that, but perhaps its because my extended family are First Pentecostals and dressing in similar clothing types is required for their salvation.

To all,

I agree with the broader point about appropriate clothing. On the other hand, I have never shopped for young girls clothing, so I cannot really comment on how slutty it may be. I appreciate the difficulty of this subject for parents.

Well, again, Mr. Barnes, you're just flat wrong on style, and I don't really think it takes a particularly trained eye. I mean, it's actually the FLDS women that are dressing in a "little house" style--prairie style. Very plain, long sleeves, button-up, and ankle length. Whereas these dresses from Lilies are all more or less T-length (below-the-knee but not to the ankle), short sleeved, with various styles of more or less frilly or embroidered or lace collars and such. Much less plain and much more summery-looking.

I'm not quite sure what besides "that" you would dress your child in if you were looking for a dress. Perhaps your vague feeling of "something else" arises from the fact that you really have no experience whatsoever shopping amongst the easily-available styles, so you really don't know what you mean or have in mind. Obviously, pants or jeans are an alternative, and I'm not opposed to ladies wearing pants, jeans, and shorts, though it's becoming (as we discuss above) increasingly hard to find ones that don't literally look as though they are falling off. But as far as _dresses_ go, I think the Lilies ones can take their place anywhere. They're just nice dresses for church, parties, or whatever. I'm guessing that maybe you didn't look around the site very much. Which is fine. Don't bother.

"beautiful, classic-style, modest dresses"

I agree that the dresses are classic-style and modest, but beautiful? Fashion and aesthetics have a measure of subjectivity to them, yes, but "beautiful" is not the word that comes to my mind when I view these dresses online. Surely this is not the alternative to halter tops and low rise bottoms!


Well, Letitia, I suppose if you think classic-style and modest dresses can't be beautiful, that's that. Or of course one could choose a funny-looking fabric, and I don't like all the fabrics available, but there certainly are very nice ones available too. Or maybe you are just having trouble picturing the line drawings as real dresses. I have purchased the ones called "Felicity" and "Sally's Dress" from the selection of the girls' dresses, and yes, I think them beautiful. Or pretty, if you prefer.

These, of course, are church clothes in our home's economy. I would say that the alternatives to halter tops and low-rise bottoms are normal T-shirts and normal jeans and shorts, not dresses of any sort. One does need casual clothes. But as I commented above, it's exceedingly difficult to find normal jeans to fit girls. I purchase those casual clothes in the boys' section for the most part, until they are big enough to take advantage of the few remaining ordinary T-shirts and jeans made in the world for women.

There is no way in the world I'd wear any of this stuff. Modest does not mean hideous and it doesn't mean I have to look like I just escaped from the compound either.

Gee, what an intelligent and enlightened opinion. How nice to know that our world is full of young women who think pretty, rounded lace collars (see the dress called "Felicity") or scalloped necklines and flared skirts (see "Girls' formal style") are "hideous" and make you "look like you escaped from the compound."



Recently my husband suggested I buy new clothes. Finding modest nursing clothes hasn't been easy. I was tired of skirts & sweaters / blouses because I always felt 'unkept'. After a lot of hunting I found Lilies. Not sure what size or how to order I called Mrs. Miller. She was wonderfully helpful & the dresses came out so nice. I couldn't be happier with my new outfits. My 3 older girls love the clothes & would like us to order some for them. We haven't yet because they currently have plenty of modest dresses & friends & continue to provide us with clothes. Have a wonderful day!!


Thanks, Ruthie. That is great news! I think, too, that good clothes are a good investment in these economic times. Better thank keeping money in the bank for want of a good investment is to buy clothes that one will wear for years.

I live in the UK and it is impossible to get decent modest clothing.I was so glad that I found Liles Apperal,not only do they have beautiful material and dresses they are some of the nicest people we have met-VERY HELPFUL.
I am so glad that my girls look so pretty when we go out and it is all credit to Liles.
Everyone ask us,"Where did you get that beautiful dress?"

Aileen, that makes my day. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. The United States owes so much from the past to the UK, and I think that the time has come, in a sense, for us to "give back." We are now to no small extent preserving the civilization that we originally received from our European and British forbears, and as things get worse and worse in the UK, good people there are often finding in the U.S. something of what has been lost there. Clothing may be just one small example, and the possibility of finding such clothing in the U.S. is a result both of the size of the country and of the tradition of small business, independence, and entrepreneurship. Very glad Lilies has been helpful to you.

I favor articles like this becaus they invariably seem to give to you a completely different perspective on things. I am no expert during this area however prefer to expand my knowledge by reading things of this nature.

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