How I’m Preventing Additional Holes in My Lilly Pulitzer Etta Shirts

A few weeks ago I shared a shocking discovery. I looked down and found lots of tiny holes in one of my favorite Lilly Pulitzer shirts.

Lilly Pulitzer Short-Sleeve Shirt for Summer


I had no idea what had caused them, but it prompted me to look at my other Lilly Pulitzer Etta shirts.


They alllll had holes–every last one of them!


In reading many of the reviews on the Lilly Pulitzer website, I discovered this was a common complaint about this shirt. Some folks saw holes in their Etta shirts after only wearing them once.


In the comments on that post (My Lilly Pulitzer Shirts are Turning Into Swiss Cheese!) many of you felt it could be caused by the button on my shorts/pants rubbing against the light-weight, thin, Etta shirts. Since the holes were pretty much in line with the button on my Talbots shorts, the shorts I most often wear with my Etta shirts, I had to agree. I contacted Lilly Pulitzer via email and they never replied back. I guess I need to get in line behind all the other folks complaining of this same issue in the reviews on their website.

Update: A few people suggested maybe the holes were caused by a bug. That’s def not it. The holes have only occurred in the Etta tops and nothing else in my closet, the holes are all in the exact same area (in front of the button area) on every single shirt. Plus, check out the 1 and 2-star reviews on this shirt here that all mention the same holes in the same area:


A few of you mentioned in the comments on that previous post that it was possible to buy button covers. I had no idea such a thing existed since this was my first experience with holes mysteriously appearing in my tops, but then I’ve never purchased tops this light/thin before. I decided to give the button covers a try.


On closer inspection of my favorite scalloped Talbots shorts, I discovered something I had never noticed before. Some had a button waist…

White Scalloped Shorts


…and some did not.

White Scallop Shorts on Sale


As you can see in the photo below, this pair doesn’t have an outside button.

Prevent Holes in Shirts from Buttons


It closes with a button on the inside and little metal tab thingies.

Button Covers Protect Shirts from Holes


But some of my Talbots shorts do have buttons. Here’s how the button looks with a clear, silicone cover over it. So far, I’ve added the silicone covers to two pairs of shorts. Has it helped? I think it has! The existing holes on my shirts don’t seem to have gotten any worse and I don’t think I have any new holes.

Button Covers, Prevent Shirt Holes


These are the covers that I purchased. They are mainly designed to fit over metal jean buttons but they will stretch to fit over a bigger button.

Prevent Holes in Shirts, Button Covers


It’s a bit of a struggle to get them over the bigger Talbots short’s button, but once they are on, they are on! Also, they wash well and do stay on in the wash. I’ve had no issues washing my shorts with a cover on the button.

Button Covers, Prevent Shirt Holes


So far, I’m very pleased with how these are working. I’m going to put them on all my shorts since I’m still wearing my holey Lilly Pulitzer Etta shirts here at home and even occasionally when I run out on a quick errand. The holes are so tiny and the print is so busy, when I stand in front of a mirror, I can’t even see them. You have to really look for them to know they are there. If you would like to try these covers on your shorts/jeans buttons, you’ll find the ones I purchased here: Button Covers.




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  1. News flash! It isn’t just the Lily Pulitzer shirts that get tiny holes in them. One of my favorite Liz Clayborn blouses got them after about two wearings. It must be the pants that’s causing the problem and it never occurred to me that could be the problem but I’m happy to hear it.

  2. Cheryl M says

    I had the same issue. It’s not the button but the top of waistband where it folds over. See a teeny, tiny, pointed peak? No amount of ironing can press it down. I used to cover it with fabric tape but bought flat, elastic belts instead. Many brands out there but mine are called the Skinny Belt. Problem solved and my tees are fine.

  3. franki Parde says

    I DO HOPE you phone the ” Customer Service @ their Headquarters…888/725-4559…is the # listed…who knows…they ARE pricey…you may have already done this. franki

  4. This also happened with fresh produce shirts that are that very thin and not inexpensive…I’m not sure it’s really the buttons but it’s an interesting mystery to solve.

    • My very thin Fresh Produce tops got the tiny holes too. I believe it’s the thin fabric that just doesn’t wear well. Sad!

  5. Peggy Minisi says

    I had the same problem – small holes in my thinner material t-shirts exactly where yours are located. I found it wasn’t the buttons but the pointy piece of material that sticks out from some pants and especially jeans after you have buttoned them. I was in a local boutique when I found the solution. You can find them online also. They are called Skinni Belts. They are all elastic and adjustable. They hold down the material and also cover the button. Not to mention when I wear a pair of pants that “grow” and stretch as the day goes on, they keep you from constantly having to tug your pants up. My sister and several friends are all converts. We are all different sizes from 4 to 14 but we all have found it solved our “holes in the tee shirt” problems. Belts come in different colors. I sound like an ad for the company but I have no affiliation. Just trying to help with a problem that apparently alot of women have.

    • I hope that’s not it on my shorts. I’m keeping a close eye but so far, I don’t think I have any new holes. Thanks for mentioning that, Peggy! Good point!

  6. Carolyn Kahn says

    Just an FYI I noticed that folks are mentioning the same issues with some of the lightweight Talbots shirts.

    • Maybe that’s why they changed the placement of the button on the Scalloped shorts! Possibly on other pants and shorts as well. They may have been receiving complaints about them damaging the shirts.

    • I’ve never bought any Talbots shirts that were this lightweight, so haven’t had this issue with those. I’ll try to avoid those style shirts in the future. I love how cool/comfortable they are but just not worth possibly dealing with holes in the future.

  7. Victoria Davis says

    I had similar holes in my freshly washed cotton nightgowns – after I found fire ants had infested the stack, which I kept in my bedroom. I know you live in fire ant country, so wondered if that might be a possibility.

    • No fireants here…can’t imagine having those inside–they are vicious! I have my lawn treated so I guess that keeps them away. I’m sorry you had to deal with that, I wouldn’t know what to do if I found them inside.

      • Victoria says

        So glad you haven’t had those vicious critters in your house. We live in the country, so would have to treat many acres to keep them away, but I’ve learned to treat the perimeter of the house every spring since we found them in the house that time. Although most online sources say fire ants don’t feed on cotton, those guys sure did!

  8. Karol Iberg says

    I always thought the holes came from my zipper. The holes are always at the waist line and I thought maybe they got caught caught in the zipper.

  9. Have you considered putting small iron on patches over the holes to prevent them from getting bigger. I have done that. I just cutout small circles of the iron in patch and iron on. Just an idea. Thanks for ideas of button covers.

  10. Mandy Williams says

    I have holes in many of my shirts and thought it may be coming from the car seatbelt. I now put a hand towel between me and the seatbelt but have not watched new shirts to see what happens.

  11. I agree with everyone who said it’s not the button but the pointy fabric that sticks out from the pants/shorts/skirt once zipped……and you cannot iron it down! I have many cotton tee shirts that had those small holes. I will look into the belt.

    • Agree with janc. Its the pointy corner of fabric that protrudes when the pants or shorts are buttoned. I’ve even tried cloth tape to temporarily hold it flat. So happy to learn about Skinny Belt from your readers. Thank you!!

  12. you are just a wealth of information…thanks rls

  13. So glad you found a solution, Susan. And how funny that your shorts are different like that! I was thinking they must have changed the position of the button after realizing it was demolishing their shirts, but that’s a different company! lol. You should post that helpful button cover hint in the LP Etta reviews!

    • I know, I can’t remember which shorts are the newest ones but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the ones with the button on the inside because a few folks on that last post said they’ve had this issue with thinner shirts from a lot of different companies.

  14. Thanks for the information, I will purchase the button covers. I am off to check my tops.

  15. If you have ever seen damage by bugs it looks an awful lot like this. Especially silver fish. I think the fabric was probably compromised before it was even cut into shirts. The manufacturer should be comping people for this. It is unacceptable. Being a quilt maker and collector I have a lot of vintage and frail fabric around. Keeping bugs and sun out of it is my top concern. Your damage looks like bugs to me.

    • Thanks for that suggestion, Taria…but it’s def not bugs. I don’t have any bugs in my closet, the holes are only happening to the Etta tops and nothing else and the holes are all in the exact same spot (in front of the button area) on every single shirt. Plus, check out the 1 and 2-star reviews on this shirt here that all mention the same holes in the same area:

  16. Beth Levine says

    I have had this happen with multiple lightweight tops. I have discovered it is from standing against my countertops when doing dishes or prepping food. It is caused by the fabric rubbing against the stone countertop. You might try a full-length apron and see if it helps.

  17. Liz Serpa says

    After looking at your shirts and seeing where those holes appear I am positive the The Loft gets their fabric from the same source. I have several shirts from The Loft and tiny holes appear out of no where. No catches, no snags, no rips, just tiny holes.

  18. It’s the thin fine fabric and any kind of tension which could be buttons or even just leaning against the kitchen sink or counter. I’ve had this happen in the past with a variety of brands. It’s the fabric. Wearing a cami underneath helps a bit, causing the fabric to be less thin. Adorable tops, but no one wants their clothing to be full of teensy holes.

  19. The slub jersey tshirts are prone to holes. I do think it’s from friction from the clothing underneath. I have found holes in shirts from several manufacturers. Thanks for the information on the button covers. I have repaired the holes with iron on mending tape in the same color as the shirt with good success .

  20. I don’t think the issue is from clothing, button, clasps etc under the garment. I believe the cause is inferior thin fabric of the tops, regardless of manufacturer. I have a number of tops (cheap from Target or Kohls) that I use for gardening for the past 3-4 years. They are usually worn with Levi’s that have metal button and rivets on the pockets. I’ve not had the issues as mentioned in this post. Actually my old garden tops are in better shape then some of the newer tops purchased at Talbots.

  21. Brenda Smith says

    Although I don’t have these particular tops, I have also had a problem with tiny holes appearing occasionally in a sheer item that I had washed. Since then wash anything that is even the slightest bit share or delicate in a mesh bag, even when I hand wash them, I often put them into a sheer bag, Just to prevent snagging them with my fingernails. One thing that you might try is to buy some Fray Check (I think that is the name, but in any case, It’s the clear material that you can put on the end of ribbons to keep them from fraying, available at most sewing notions stores) Try it on one of the tiny holes in an inconspicuous place . I think you may find that it keeps the holes from getting any larger, and it may actually be possible to seal up the tiny holes by putting the edges of the tiny hole close together and dotting it with fray check .

  22. Its not the buttons. I get holes in all my tops and wear them with leggings. Its the fabric or how these tops are made and its not just the Etta tops and not just Lilly. Same with Chicos Ann Taylor and Ted Baker London tops.

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