My Lilly Pulitzer Etta Shirts Are Turning Into Swiss Cheese!

I love, love, love me some Lilly Pulitzer! Lilly Pulitzer is one of my favorite brands because of their fun, happy, Palm-Beach-style prints.


Last summer and the summer before, I purchased a bunch of their cute Etta shirts. I started out by purchasing two and after they arrived and I saw how light-weight and comfortable they were, I had to have more.


Over the past two summers, I’ve purchased seven (7) Etta shirts–six are shown below. That tells you how much I love this shirt! They are super flattering on and I love how they come down a bit longer in the back. I was seriously thinking of purchasing a couple of more Etta shirts this summer but that idea has been put on hold.


Today, I glanced down and saw that my shirt was turning into swiss cheese! What??? How the heck did this happen? I started racking my brain, trying to think of how or what I could have done to cause this damage? This jogged my memory and I faintly remembered another one of my Etta shirts developing a hole last summer. I was upset when I discovered it and had done my best to sew it up. Ummm, what’s going on here? I decided to check my other six Etta shirts and guess what I found?


They are all filled with holes, every last one of them! 🙁  I’ve always taken such good care of these shirts, handwashing them with a delicate clothes wash in cold water, the same delicate wash that I use to wash all my shirts and dresses. I love the bright colors in the Etta shirts and wanted to make sure they stayed that way so I’ve always hung them up to dry. They are so light, they easily dry overnight.


The holes all seem to be across the lower middle section of the shirts. I started investigating what could have caused this. I checked my desk where I sit and work and it’s completely smooth across the front. I checked the seat belt in my car and it’s completely smooth. Plus, it doesn’t really hit my shirt where all the holes have appeared, it falls lower than that across my hips. I checked my kitchen sink where I stand to wash dishes and it’s nice and smooth. The Talbots scalloped shorts that I usually wear with my Lilly Pulitzer Etta shirts do not have anything on them that could snag or cause a hole. Such a mystery!


I started wondering if I was the only one having this issue, so I decided to check out the reviews at the LP website. (Read those here: Reviews for Etta Shirt.) I quickly discovered I’m not alone. Reading many of the 1, 2, and 3-star reviews shows a lot of other people are experiencing the exact same issue: holes, holes, and more holes.

One person wrote, “I bought this shirt to go with my Oceanview shorts and after one washing it has a hole!”

Another customer wrote, “I purchased in several colors. The fit and colors are beautiful but the fabric must be defective. After the second wash with cold water delicate cycle, the top has two holes right in front.”

Another customer shared, “I just bought this last week. Love the color and fit. But…I’ve worn it once to work and there were two holes in it by lunchtime.”

Another customer wrote, “I love this T-shirt. I have more than one but they ALWAYS end up with holes. Such a disappointment. I’m the fool for still buying them. Like a boyfriend who cheats & I keep taking ’em back thinking it will be different next time”

Another review said, “I love the prints and the styles but….. After only a few months my new shirts have a few small holes in them. I followed all directions and I see from others it is happening alot. I will no longer be buying these tops because of it.”

One more review said, “I have many of these. I bought them all at once. I love them but they end up with holes in them. I see another review saying the same thing. 🙁 It is really too bad. For $40 and I take such good care of them to end up with small holes. A true bummer.”

There are so many reviews mentioning this “hole” issue–too many to share them all here.


I was slow to notice the holes because the shirt designs and patterns are so colorful and busy. I’m sure most of these holes happened the first summer I wore them because I have just started wearing them again for this summer. I guess it took several holes appearing before I noticed them.


I emailed Lilly Pulitzer today to let them know what has happened to my shirts after just a few wearings/washings. I included photos with my email. From the reviews, it appears this issue has been going on for a while so I’m hoping the Etta shirts they have available this year are not having this issue. I hope they will let me exchange these defective shirts for new ones–that is if the issue has been corrected.

This makes me so sad because I truly LOVE this shirt! It’s the coolest, most comfortable shirt I have ever found for our hot Georgia summers. I guess that’s part of the problem, it’s a little too light if it can develop holes after wearing or washing it just once as several reviews stated on their website. I’ll let you know what I hear back from Lilly–hopefully, they will have a solution. It’s obvious this has been a super popular shirt for them so I’m hoping they’ve come out with new designs this year that don’t have this problem. Keeping my fingers crossed!

Update: I contacted Lilly Pulitzer twice about the “hole” issue and they never responded. I even sent an email to a sales associate in the Atlanta location (at her request) and she forwarded my email to either their regional or corporate manager. I still never heard back from them.


Do you have any Lilly Pulitzer Etta shirts? If so, have you had any issues with the quality?

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  1. I’ve had this happen with other knit shirts in the exact same place. Different brands, all a thinner knit like a tshirt. I’ve deduced it’s the spot where your pant/shorts/jeans button meets the lap section of one’s seat belt. When we drive, the lap belt makes the knit rub against the button and eventually causes holes. It’s especially worse against the metal buttons we find on jeans. Please let me know your thoughts on this

    • I don’t think it’s a seat belt issue because I tried that in the car today when I was out on errands and each time I got in and hooked my seatbelt, the area where the holes are in my shirt ended up well above the seat belt. I think the fabric is just too thin and too weak or not well-weaved/interlocked based on the reviews I read. One person saw holes in her shirt after wearing the shirt just once to work. I wear these shirts with my white Talbots shorts and they have a plastic button. I think this would happen if there was no button at all.

  2. Ann Pauley says

    Dear Susan,
    It is a mystery! It not only happens to you, but to me as well fir the longest time. It happens to many of my T-shirts’ from Talbots too. Is it the quality, or lack
    Thereof? Maybe the cotton these companies use
    Is poor quality. I’m going to stop buying these tshirts and try to find a company that produces better quality clothing.
    Lily Pulitzer is pretty expensive on top of all this.
    Let’s boycott! Lol

    • I haven’t had it happen with my Talbots shirts yet, but I’ve never bought one from Talbots that was as thin/lightweight as these.

  3. I don’t get this. I knew immediately on receiving them that they were poor quality. Will just toss them. LP isn’t a good brand.

    • I’ve always had great luck with their clothes. One of my favorite summer dresses is by them. I think it’s just this fabric. I’m not buying anymore shirts made with thin, light fabrics like this. Sally, if you just bought this shirt, instead of tossing it out, you should be able to return it.

  4. I know you said you cut tags off. Do you know where they were made ? Looks like missed stitches in the fabric. What a bummer. Lily P should step up here.
    I have them in my sleep shirts. Some come from cat claws.

    • That’s one of the things I love about this shirt…no tags to scratch your neck. They just have the size and info printed on the fabric at the back of the neck. It says they are made in Peru.

  5. COWGIRL DIVA says

    I have seen this problem before….Look to see where these shirts are made….which country…where was the fabric manufactured…..!! Sometimes, microscopic insects or larvae…the very active immature form of an insect….usually a tiny munching worm (larva) that morphs into a tiny moth gets into the fabric and munches away..! These holes do not occurs from wearing…washing…normal use….!! No doubt, the bolts of fabric were infested with “bugs”…! It’s very important to wash everything made overseas before you wear it and that might not even help because the damage has already been done due to the hatchings of these tiny critters..!! Also, could be tiny, tiny ants…they are very destructive, too..! Good luck..!! Hope Lilly resolves this for you and others..!

    • It def not an insect issue because it only happens in a specific area in front on all the shirts. I don’t have any critters in my home. I have a pest control service and they come quarterly, so they keep all the buggies at bay.

      • Cowgirl Diva says

        This is definitely not coming from or happening because of anything going on in your home…I am thinking it’s from wherever the actual fabric is being manufactured…probably in a factory in a country with a tropical climate.

  6. It happens with all my t-shirts. They rub against my pants or shorts and that causes the holes, such a pain. I think fabric quality has gone down.

  7. This happens to all the t-shirts that I wear with jeans! The shirts that I wear with leggings don’t get any holes in them so I’ve wondered if it’s something to do with the zipper?

    • I don’t think it’s the zipper because I wear these shirts almost exclusively with my white Talbots shorts and the zipper is completely covered in those. The holes are in the button area, but the button is a white plastic button. Maybe the fabric is so delicate, it can’t rub against even a smooth plastic button during the day. So strange!

  8. I’m a faithful reader and don’t often comment, but after seeing your Swiss cheese holes, I had to chime in. I’ve had that exact same issue with tops like that. Doesn’t matter the brand, Talbots, J Crew, Etc. If they are tops with that type of thinner cotton, I’ve got holes in the stomach area. It has happened so frequently that my sister-in-law and I had a running commentary about them. Even my daughter who wears Gap t shirts most of the time for working around the house, has a bunch of shirts with holes in the exact same area. We have no clue as to why, but there has to be some common denominator!

    • I think that’s exactly what’s going on here…the thinner cotton fabric just isn’t holding up. The lighter fabrics are so comfortable and cool, but not worth it if this is what happens after a few times wearing them. Sorry you’ve experienced this too.

    • I think companies are always looking to cut costs (for them!) & this fabric was just cheap. Same with others I’ve had (from J. Crew, etc.) that were a nice thin “slub” like cotton. I just quit buying them. But it’s my belief that companies are cutting corners in quality material – and this is what happens. 🙁

  9. Kathleen says

    Oh gosh. I don’t have expensive shirts, but all my shirts I wear for chores now have the exact same holes you are all talking about! I think it’s the zipper of my jeans. Maybe the metal button as well since it has a bit of a ridge to it. I mostly wear jeans and cotton T-shirts. I will have to take a closer look at my nicer tops and see if the same is happening. I don’t think it matters how thin the material because many of my shirts are fairly thick cotton. Interested in hearing what the company answers back!

    • Sorry to hear this about your beautiful summer shirts. I was tempted to order those because they are so pretty. Then I read comments about the holes. So odd that others mention different brands do it in the same area. Hope someone figures out the common denominator. Knowing how you hand washed yours and hung to dry and all your checking about activities seems to rule out anything related to the customer/wearer.

  10. You might try Tommy Bahama ladies shirts. Some of the ladies tops have that sort of tropical prints you like. You could see if their material is better.

  11. Could it be the dye used in the fabric that is caustic to the cotton?

  12. Susan Waters says

    Ah, the joys of slub cotton knit. Basically, slub cotton knit is imperfect fabric that has either been improperly spun or has lint in it. There are ways to stop this retail trend. First, simply refuse to buy clothing made of this material. Next, continue to contact consumer service in writing about the issues that you have with clothing, and post reviews. Personally, I don’t like posting negative reviews with my favorite companies, but it has to be done to stop these companies from selling us consumers expensive, poor quality clothing. I have started to post reviews of clothing that I actually try on and don’t purchase in store.

  13. Linda Kennedy says

    I have many t shirts that develop the same holes in the same place. Have never figured it out.

  14. Getting the small thing with all my thin tops. And mostly with the so called better quality shops, talbot, soft surroundings, j jill etc, We should demand better with the prices we pay.

    • I also get holes in my shirts at exactly the same spot and it isn’t confined to my knits, I get holes in my button cotton shirts. I have figured out it is from leaning up against my granite counter top to wash dishes and the metal button from my pants as well as just the heavy fabric closure of the pants rubs right there against the fabric. It doesn’t help that some of the tops made these days are of fabric so thin you could read a newspaper thru them. I have found it does help when I wear an apron.

  15. That totally sucks! I have some $4 Hanes t-shirts I’ve bought from Walmart that have gotten one or two tiny holes at the waist where they’ve apparently rubbed on the corner of my denim waistbands, but not $44 t-shirts! Not good. I bet they won’t replace them, but keep us posted. Inquiring minds want to know!

  16. Gayle Kesinger says

    As soon as I read this post, I checked LP shirt which is the same as the blue one you bought and featured. No holes so far. I bought mine last summer because I liked your so much. They are not cheap but so pretty. I have never had anything such as the holes in any of my shirts but I will be on the lookout.

  17. I’ve often wondered if this problem could be caused by leaning against my granite counters as I work in the kitchen. Could the little holes be related to that in some way? Perhaps residue from soap or cleaning products?

  18. Karen McClatchey says

    I had the exact same problem no matter what brand or how expensive it was. I finally figured out that that the holes lined up with any metal or button that I had on my pants-probably friction over time that weaken the fibers. I now cover my pant buttons with masking tape. They do sell button covers on Amazon, but the masking tape works fine and makes it thru the wash and dryer cycle just fine. Give this a try!!

  19. I’m so glad you brought this issue up. I have been getting holes, also, and I thought it was just me. I’ve never figured out what exactly was causing it, but it happens in all brands with what I now know is slub cotton. (Thanks Gina P) I have a belly and I thought I was rubbing against the granite in my kitchen.

  20. franki Parde says

    Oooohhhh…that is such a bummer to say nothing of frustrating!! DO keep us informed!! RATS!!! franki

  21. Dorinda Selke says

    Susan-oh no! I have a few Ella shirts and I’m headed in after making this comment to you to check them. I am very anxious to hear what you find out from LP. I had the same thing happen to a brand new Fresh Produce top a few years ago and even after writing to them they didn’t do anything for me. I sincerely hope you have much better luck with Lily. ~ Dorinda

  22. This has been happening with all my tees, Talbots, Ralph Lauren and others. It also sweaters. Seems as though it doesn’t matter what the fabric content is. I’ve had to throw out lots of clothes. I thought it must be moth larvae and did some research because I thought this only happened with wool – not true! I’ve purchased all sorts of products, lavender, etc to get rid of them. The consensus from all the research is to have the clothes dry cleaned and put them in plastic storage containers.

  23. Karenann S. says

    Good morning, and I’m so sorry to see what happened to your Lilly Pulitzer T-shirts. I own many T-shirts from Lilly Pulitzer too, but I have not yet checked to see if they developed any holes. (To be honest, I really don’t want to!) Good luck with customer service, and please keep us all up-to-date on what’s going on.

  24. Kathy A Parathyras says

    Hi Susan, I have been having the same problem as you with all of my t-shirts and knit tops that I wear with jeans. I have thrown away more tops than I care to remember. Recently I noticed that the buttonhole flap never lies flat on my jeans when I am wearing them and there is a pointy flap of “jean material” that sticks out. I am certain that that is what is causing all of the holes. Yesterday, in an effort not to ruin another nice top, I put a piece of surgical tape over the button area to keep the flap nice and flat. (Not sure if I am describing this correctly) Luckily I didn’t have to use the rest room while I was out. LOL. This may seem silly, but i know it will save all of my new tops from getting holes while I am wearing them with jeans. Incidentally, all of my jeans are from Talbots. And they all seem to have the same issue the buttonhole flap sticking out when I am wearing them.

  25. Martha Karen Lovell says

    I don’t own any of these shirts, but knowing the price of them, I’d be miffed! I’m glad that you contacted the company. I hope they make good on the shirts for you! I think we all know what it’s like to buy something that you love for it to disappoint.

  26. I’ve had the exact same problem with ultra lightweight knit shirts from J Jill, Chico’s, Talbots, etc. As much as I love these shirts in hot Texas weather, I just don’t buy them anymore. The fabric doesn’t stand up to normal wear and tear despite delicate wash, etc. So disappointing.

  27. DawneMarie Anderson says

    Wow Susan! What a shame. I have experienced one hole with an inexpensive Walmart work tee. I have several, only one with a hole. It seems like it’s gotta be an insect in the fabric. Although I keep lavender mini bags in my closet to repel insects. Plus wood cedar rings on a few hangers. I’m sorry this happened to you. Hope LP makes it right.

  28. Mary Flynn says

    I have had the same issues, not LP but many other brands. A friend of mine had the same. Issues and we went through all the logical things you described. Still no answers! I did ask someone once and they thought a mite that eats fabric in your closet. It is the only thing that could make sense.
    Hopefully you will keep us updated on LP and this issue that effects lots of people!

  29. I don’t have any of this brand but I have had this same problem with other brands. I guess it’s just the thin light weight fabric. Some of mine I just keep wearing . I don’t think anyone notices. But yes it’s ridiculous.

  30. Wow – glad to see that I’m not alone! I’ve had this happen with other very lightweight knit t-shirts from Lands’ End and Talbots. I had a bunch of v-neck and scoop-neck tees that I loved from Lands’ End; they all developed holes in the exact same spot, as did my Talbots tees – I couldn’t find any explanation for it. Lands’ End actually stopped carrying the tees, because there were so many complaints. The only tees I’ve had success with (and I buy whenever they’re on sale) are the 3/4-Sleeve Scoopneck Essential Layering Tees by Real Comfort at (these used to be called the horseshoe neck tees). I’ve owned these for years – no holes! They wash beautifully (I hang mine to dry, but you can throw them in the dryer). They’re slightly fitted, so the shape is feminine and flattering. The only consideration is that they’re a little heavier than the super lightweight fabrics – but they’re still pretty lightweight and the spandex helps keep the shape. Most years they have gorgeous jewel-toned spring and summer colors in aqua, turquoise, teal, kelly green, bright coral, and pink – for whatever reason, the colors are a bit more muted this year. The tees come in a number of styles, and are available in petite, misses, tall, and women’s sizes. I’ve also had great luck with Chadwicks’ camisoles, square-neck tanks, and bell-sleeve tops. I typically only buy tops from Chadwicks, as I think the quality of some of their other items isn’t as good.

  31. Lill Pulitzer clothing was originally manufactured in Miami, Florida. The fabric was also designed and made in Key West, Florida. Sugartown Worldwide Inc. bought the Lili Pulitzer brand name some time ago. Now, their cheaply made clothing is mass produced in China. I had the same thing happen to my Etta shirt. In my area, near Grosse Pointe, Michigan, original Lili clothing was in every woman’s closet. Snowbirds always bought original Lili items during their winter vacations in Florida. I used to buy many original label Lili Pulitzer items at estate sales. That clothing was often referred to as Grosse Pointe Green and Palm Beach Pink florals. My estate sale items always looked wonderful and the quality was superb. Now, its just junk.

  32. It’s hard for me to believe this is an insect, because you have this problem only in the midsection of the front, and it’s happening to multiple tees in exactly the same place. That suggests abrasion to me. I wonder if this happens to those who wear pull up vs fly front pants. Because I’m retired, I often wear workout gear or microfiber shorts, leggings, or pants such as joggers. I seem to have this problem only occasionally, and only with really thin cotton. I’ve never had it with Talbots tees, which I wear a lot of, or JJill thin linen.

  33. Leslie Alexander says

    I’m sorry you have had this experience but SO GLAD you posted about it because I have had the same thing happen to knit shirts I have purchased from J Jill. I thought it was just me. I liked reading all these comments and I agree with you – it’s not the zipper because those holes happen all over. I have to say the comment about larvae and bugs sounded the most interesting. I learned early on that “slub” material is cheap and I have stayed away from it. Thanks, Susan, for this public service notice.

  34. I’ve had the same problem with my Lilly tees which I had hanging in my closet. It also affected several of my Talbots sweaters and some Talbots tees. I think it’s a big problem but it’s so damn frustrating! We had cedar in the closet but finally got the stinky mothballs which seems to have stopped it. I’d really like a different solution though because they stink!

  35. I think it’s a combination of the slub knit cotton of the shirts is a weak fabric and wear from the shirt rubbing on the button or zipper of what ever pants/shorts you are wearing. I did not have this problem with the previous style called Michelle, but that style did have spandex in it so it was clingy. I like the Etta cut much better. There is one new print I really like in the scoopneck style Etta that I will buy, but that will be the last one.

  36. Susan I had this happen on a few of my slub knit shirts and then (the final straw) my Barefoot Dreams pullover. For me it was happening as I was doing the dishes! Yes the granite was joined in two pieces with a seam on the granite just outside the sink. The grout was a little rough there. I guess I was pressing into the counter as I did the dishes and unwittingly damaging the more delicate fabrics. I put some clear grout over to smooth it and have not had any damage since.

  37. Judith McCoy says

    There’s no doubt you can’t make the holes go away, they’re here to stay! Just a thought – if you like wearing these shirts, would it be possible to take colored sequins and glue them over the holes? If they come off, just glue another one on! At the very least, you might be able to salvage them to wear for one more season. Good luck! I’ve had this problem with other brands and I do believe that it’s the material and the weave.

  38. Very common issue. Happens to every T Shirt I own. Not only regulated to women’s clothing either. My husband and son complain about the same problem. Wear them a couple of times and the holes appear. Always in the same spot without any reason. Not sure what is going on.

  39. Susan, it’s always disappointing to lose a favorite piece of clothing. But I found this:
    There are actually two types of clothes moths distributed worldwide: the webbing clothes moth (Tineola bisselliell) and casemaking clothes moth (Tinea pellionella). Both types of moths eat natural fibers found in clothing, carpet, drapes, upholstery and bedding. They’ll eat wool, silk, cotton and any other natural fiber they can find. If they run out of clothing fibers, moths will even eat pet fur or chomp through synthetic materials to burrow into natural fibers underneath.

  40. The fact that the holes appeared in all your shirts would lead me to believe you might have an infestation of some kind of insect/moth. You might have a pest control service come to examine your home. It can happen to any of us!
    You have such lovely things, you wouldn’t want them to do damage elsewhere if that were the case. I’ve had pantry insects before.

    • I’m pretty sure it’s not bad because the holes are all in the exact same area on the front of each shirt, it’s right in front of where the button is on the shorts that I typically wear with these shirts. I think the fabric is just so thin and so weak, that just the button rubbing against it wears through. There are no other holes in any other areas of the shirts and this isn’t happening to any of my other clothing, so it’s not an insect or infestation of anything.

  41. Sherrie Gestach says

    It is not just the Lilly Pulitzer shirts that do this. All of my knit shirts do this as well as my Under Armour polyester type shirts. Frustrating.

  42. Moths? Could the fabric be infested or you have them in your home.

  43. Goodness, I love Lilly and would like to get those, the Ettas are so pretty – however, I do remember a kerfuffle about Lularow – I had bought several pairs of leggings and tops and there was a hole issue that everyone was talking about – now I’m beginning to think it was like someone mentioned above – the larvae issue – maybe when the products are shipped via container ship? Hmmm

  44. Yep, had this happen – to Talbots tee shirts. You would think LP would have better quality! Hope you hear back and they replace them – and we all find a “cure”!

  45. Teresa Talbert-Denton says

    I use to love those and bought a few. But they are all made in another country and they charge such a large price for the name. So does Talbot’s so I stopped buying due to where they are made. Cheap labor cheap fabric high prices

  46. Tina W Reynolds says

    The quality just isn’t there anymore. Check the tags to find out where this was made. Americans pay top dollar. It is very, I would say vitally important that we CALL or EMAIL companies and tell them that we want manufacturing to return to the U.S. People laugh at me, but they cannot read our minds. We have to let them know! And, folks tell me, “Things made here will cost more.” That is true. Labor unions have indeed priced us out of the marketplace. We need to fix that, too. Again, I feel we are paying a lot for many things that come from overseas and still getting very poor quality. Bear with me for one last tale: I am 64 years old, my Mother received towels as a promotional item in boxes of Breeze detergent. She used them as her everyday towels. I still have some of those towels and they are bright and plush still! Where were they made?…the tag reads, “Cannon Mills, Made in the U.S.A.” Still in use after all these many years—we got them in the 1960’s. America and Americans were at their best when we made things for each other.

  47. Elena M. says

    Wow – I recently read somewhere that one of the drawbacks of having granite countertops was that they create holes in your clothing – I saw this and said AHA! That’s what’s been causing all the holes in my “house clothing”. It can’t be bugs, because it’s only in one area of the shirts – moths can’t be that picky. It cannot be the material itself or a brand, because it’s happening across the board on all kinds of clothing, and never on the back, or the sleeves, etc. I bet the one thing we all have in common is granite counters in the kitchen or bathroom. It doesn’t have to be a rough area or anything, but granite is a natural stone, it may have tiny imperfections that we cannot see with the naked eye. My husband and son also get them, but not as much as me (can you guess who spends the most time in the kitchen?) Anyway, the only way I have been able to prevent this, is to ALWAYS wear an apron when in the kitchen. You know how it is, even if you are just making coffee, we are always at the sink. It’s funny to hear so many having this issue!! It’s great when you bring these things up, you seem to notice and comment on these “obscure” issues, and everyone chimes in!! Remember the mysterious haziness on certain glassware that you commented on?

    • Oh, yes…that still happens with my glassware. I always have these weird things going on, at least I know I’m not alone! lol

  48. I am so glad you told me. I was going to go ahead and order one of these even though I don’t really like cap sleeves. Thankfully, seeing this changed my mind. Several people said all of the t-shirts do this. I have only ever had one shirt that did this and it was one I bought for a fundraiser. I just assumed it was defective. I wear a lot of lightweight cotton shirts, some I have had for over 8 years that haven’t faded or developed holes. Maybe I just got lucky. Anyway, thanks again, Susan, at the price of LP I can’t afford to buy clothing that doesn’t hold up.

  49. Susan, I’m sorry to hear about the problem with your shirts. I think that it is the result of the fabric and thread manufacturing process. Too many brands that I have purchased and enjoyed their quality now have cut costs by cheapening up on the manufacturing process including how garment is cut and sewn and where it is manufactured. I have tees from several of the brands mentioned in the comments above and have the same issue with the holes. I would rather purchase less but get better quality but it’s just hard to find . Unfortunately price is not an indicator of quality. I’m sure that you will keep us posted. Good luck.

  50. Linda Practical Parsimony says

    Its not bugs. Take away the moth balls as they are toxic. If these holes are mostly in one spot, it has to be abrasion. Abrasive places cannot be felt with the hands always. So, it appears the granite, among other surfaces, may be the culprit.
    However, the manufacturing process may be to blame. Many threads are on the loom to make knits. If even one thread breaks or is missing, the knit material is compromised and holes will appear eventually. Sometimes, and unscrupulous manufacturer will deliberately leave some threads out to save money.

    Slubs can cause weak places, but not always.

  51. Susan, this has happened to me with almost all of the knit cotton shirts that my husband and I own, regardless of brand or quality/cost (it didn’t happen all at once, just over time). All of the holes are across the mid-section above the waist and the holes are often in small clusters of three or four holes. Can’t be the button on jeans, as I wear elastic-waist jeans. I haven’t figured out what caused it but have narrowed it down to cats claws (we have 2 clawed cats), or carpet beetles. In our previous home — we moved about a year ago — we had a problem with the beetles, tiny little things. Don’t know if it’s the beetles themselves or the larva (or both) that causes the damage.

  52. Lynn H.. says

    Hi Susan. Could it be that the fabric is getting caught in your zipper? I’ve had this same issue with a number of my tops. I thought it was defective material, until I realized that this was happening too often. Now I just pull my top way up over my chest and out of the way of my zipper when “nature calls” so to speak. Problem solved. I think I will order one of these tops. Best of luck.

    • No, I don’t think that’s it, never had my shirt caught in or on my zipper. I think the fabric is just way too delicate and thin and maybe the little pointed top of the waistband of my shorts is rubbing against it. I’m not buying any more shirts like this, even though they are incredibly cool.

  53. These are beautiful! As to my ‘two cents worth’, I feel there is possibly two reasons; the first being the quality of the cotton itself as not all cottons are equal nor are they loomed the same way. With that said; think bed sheets and why one is superior over another. Also when it comes to garments a lot of patterns are now digital printed with inks and dyes that could be too harsh on the woven cotton itself breaking down the fiber. Just my theory as I have a few tops that are 100% cotton which are somewhat old and they still look as good as the day I purchased them, yet are of no specific brand.
    Do hope you get a response from the company Susan as IMHO it is a manufacturing problem.

  54. I had the very same problem with Chico tee shirts that I have bought. I wear Them one season and the holes show up. I thought I was doing something wrong. I know that the holes are right where my buttons and zipper are. They are very poor choice of material. So glad I am not alone. Thanks for posting this on your blog.

  55. Virginia says

    Interesting to read your issue as I have had this exact same issue on knit shirts for a couple of years. No specific brand, any knit shirt I get ends up with these same little holes. I was just in my sewing room this morning mending a stack of shirts with these holes. At least with prints it is easier to hide the mending. Mending on solid colors are impossible to hide. So glad I am not alone. Thanks for posting this.

  56. Oh no! I just got my 2nd shirt cause like you, I loved my first one so much. I need to check my original one that I bought last year and only wore twice and see if it has holes. So disappointing. I can’t wait to hear what Lily Pulitzer has to say about it.

  57. I had the same issue and a friend recommended the SkinniBelt. It’s available online and even through Amazon and is basically a wide elastic band with a flat, plastic closure that goes through belt loops and covers the zip area and that tiny part on the waistband that eventually points outward. I haven’t ruined a shirt since.

  58. I don’t have an Lily shirts but I have several slub tees from Chico’s and they also get the holes across the middle. I read similar reviews on line and was also told by a Chico’s salesperson that they had heard many complaints about holes in that cotton material. So I stopped buying their shirts

  59. Ann Pauley says

    This has been happening to my T-shirt’s for a year for me! I thought it was my washer! I will not be buying cheaply made t shirts anymore, Talbots thin tops also do this! I think it’s better to purchase thicker made T-shirts’ .

  60. For years I did not have this issue with my tee shirts, but I the same thing has happened to me with all brands of tee shirts recently. And I believe that the problem is not the tee shirt but the jeans or pants with zippers and the top button on the waist band. If you look at the way the button is closed you will see that in the more current pants the end of the waist band where the button is when you button it, sticks out to a point. I have older jeans and this does not happen. This point is what causes the fabric to weaken and poke a hole. As you move that point keeps poking holes in different areas of the fabric. I do not believe that it is the tees but our pants that are causing this problem.

  61. If your kitchen counters are made of stone, this will happen to all t-shirts particularly faster to lighter weight cottons. I have soapstone counters, and have learned to cook and wash dishes only when wearing an apron over any t-shirt. Even slight rubbing against stone will cause the holes and wear. A drawback to newer kitchens and remodels. Almost all feature very abrasive stone counters. Not to mention manufacturers are using very lightweight cotton weaves. Very sad to happen to such cute tees.

  62. The holes are caused by a combination of friction and thin t-shirt fabric. I lean against the countertop when I prep food or do dishes. So I started wearing an apron in the kitchen and the holes in my t-shirts are no longer there.

  63. This has happened to me as well…both in tops and pajama tops (where there’s nothing to cause any friction & I don’t work in the kitchen in my jammies! 😉 ). There was an article in the Wall St Journal a few years ago about this issue – cheaply made cottons that fall apart after a few washes, even from expensive brands. I have 10 year-old cotton tops from Talbots and J Jill that have no holes and have been washed a zillion times that I use for gardening and newer tops from both stores that get these holes after just a few wears. I took one back to Talbots and they did give me a refund…but, I had the receipt which I normally don’t and I’d purchased it only a few weeks before. Like other commenters mentioned I don’t buy thin cotton tops anymore.

  64. Juli J Engel says

    Wow, and I thought I was the only one…….I have two Etta tops, one with the tags still on, and the one I’ve worn and washed (only twice, gentle cycle, air dried)……..I’ve babied this top as it’s my favorite, and have worn it a total of six times……and there are at least a half dozen holes in the front, near the waistband. I’m sick……the print is discontinued, and I paid full price for this. At least 50% of my summer wardrobe is Lilly and I’ve never had this happen before. I hope LP will rectify this quality issue, but in the meantime, I’ll give up purchasing my favorite LP tops. Bye bye, Etta!

    • I know just how you feel, Juli. That was the first thing I thought–how a couple of the ones I have that are my favorites are no longer available. I babied mine too, always hand washing them with The Laundress Delicate wash. I’m not buying any more Etta shirts. They are just too expensive to last for such a short period of time. I’ve never had this happen with a Lilly product either.

  65. It is not you or anything you are doing. It is totally inferior fabric being used by a formerly quality company. They are simply cashing in on their past good reputation. Changing quality…yet keeping and increasing prices. Shameful dishonest practices!
    So many people complaining about the same holes!!! It is NOT the people…it’s the poor product! Demand refunds. You certainly don’t want a replacement of garbage. What a shame. Lily would be sad and embarrassed.

  66. I remember your post & raving about these shirts from LP, so I got on-line & ordered 3 of them. When they arrived, and I took them out of the packaging & felt them, the fabric was too thin & I knew pretty much what was going to happen. So………back they went. Wasn’t going to waste my money on shirts that would look nice for only one or 2 wears. Sorry you didn’t catch the holes sooner – I’d have definitely marched back into the store & requested a refund!

  67. I don’t know if you have found the answer yet to the problem with the holes in your shirt; however, I was on a message board and someone posted this:

    I don’t think it’s allowable to post a link, but if you search for “button covers jeans” on Amazon, you’ll find the WhollyCoveredButtons store. I wear jeans just about every day and have gone through more tees and sweaters than I can count because of the tiny holes that the jean button makes over time. I love these!

    I searched on Amazon and there are numerous button covers.

    I hope this helps!

    • Thanks, Denise! Appreciate you sharing that–I will check those out. I don’t think I’ll ever buy another shirt in this material again. It’s so cool but just not worth all the trouble.

  68. I’m also looking for an answer to this problem. I have experienced the same holes in the same place in many different manufacturers. Expensive or bargain priced. Friends and I have discussed this issue for years. We’ve always blamed the seatbelts. Am anxious to see the real reason.

  69. I didn’t read all the comments so this might have been mentioned…I think it’s when we are leaning against a kitchen counter or at the sink, and our pants buttons or belt buckles smash the fabric against the hard edge of the counter (top our bottom edge) as we lean into it that holes are made, assuming that the fabric is more delicate than most. I have a dark blue top with holes that I patched with tiny iron-on patches to get more wear out of it.

  70. Betsy Reyes says

    Hi Susan ,
    This happened to me as well little holes everywhere. So disappointed I love these colorful shirts! I emailed them sent pictures too. After a little back and fourth with LP they did give me a credit for there website . They wanted me to return the shirts to them and I did . I have not purchased any new Etta tee shirts I’m afraid the quality will be the same. You would think after so many complaints they would fix this quality issue .

  71. Sandra Fowler says

    Hi Susan, and Ladies up above: on said topic…I’ve got like 10 T’s from Talbots…all with little pricks…I finally now know (after reading the posts from above) I’m not loosing my mind lol..I went through everything I could think of; of what on earth am I doing to my clothes ???? you name it I investigated it ?? being I had wore all mine multiple times prior to noticing the holes…Talbots would not do anything ?? sad! I love Talbot’s 95% of my wardrobe is Talbots….whats a girl to do ? I’m a clothes addict…I need to have quality…I sure hope someone fixes this problem! thank you for sharring all the stories up above…and thanks for confirming for me! it’s not my fault !
    Blessings to all of you 🙂

  72. I’ve had that happen with soft fabric shirts and looked at where my desk hit me and figured that must be the issue with the fabric rubbing against the desk edge. To be able to continue wearing them I used iron on patches on the inside of the shirt. It makes the fabric a little stiff, but the holes don’t get any larger.

  73. You’d think that they’d answer. but nOoOo. Maybe they’re afraid of “recall” and having to replace all those millions of shirts. Or at least tell us how to repair them without a ton of problems. Mine: I thought about cutting a small circle of “stitch witchery” and ironing then on after having to slightly tuck any loose ends before the stitch witchery. just my 2 cents. PS I haven’t tried this yet to prove it.

  74. Through the last five years, more than several of my Etta tops have burgeoned tiny holes. Very disappointing! This is an ongoing issue that Lilly seems to be ignoring.

  75. Horrible quality fabric! All but one Etta shirt have multiple holes in the center belly area. It isn’t just the Etta! The more expensive Kaia tunic top and another older 3/4 bell sleeve top also is full of holes! Very sad to pay so much money for poor quality tops!

    • I agree. I ended up finding silicone button covers and putting those on all my jeans and shorts and so far, I don’t have any holes in the new shirts I purchased this spring/summer. I think the fabric on the recent shirts feels a bit thicker, too…but that could just be my imagination.

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