‘Lilli’s of Ghent’: 32 years of fashion closes its doors

Posted at 2:45 PM, Jul 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-08 18:54:15-04

On any given day someone calls News 3 to ask, “What is Barbara Ciara wearing?”

If the call is forwarded to me I happily return the call, and tell them about one of my favorite places to shop. Whether it's clothes or jewelry I like to share with them I could always find what I was looking for, a stone’s throw from my front door.

The styles changed, over the years, and Fields and his partner Donzella Cartwright always let us ladies know what was trending.

I first discovered Lillis of Ghent back in the mid 1980’s shortly after I arrived in Virginia in what we then called the Tidewater area.

I moved to the Ghent neighborhood and it was an easy drive to this lovely boutique with friendly faces who would offer you a cool drink and easily help you navigate the aisles. Those were the days when my weight fluctuated up and down the scale. No problem said the founder and owner Jimmy Fields! He was the owner with a twinkle in his eyes who gave me confidence no matter what the scale told me that day.

The boutique often took its fashions on the road as it was in demand at many of the local Country Clubs that would call on Jim Fields to partner with them for charity events.
It was on those occasions I would hear people say, in jest that Jimmy “could sell fleas to dogs”, but he was known for telling you the truth if the outfit did not flatter your figure. Perhaps that is why we loved the Lilli’s experience. How could you go wrong?

I was sold in more ways than one because it was a place where you could get special attention as a customer. The store was the “It” place to go at 323 West 21st Street for 32 years but it closed its doors for good at the end of June. Jim Fields sent me a personal note letting me know as one of his special customers what it meant to be a friend and customer for all these years.

Jimmy told me that his stroke three years ago likely hastened the closing, along with Mrs Cartwright’s desire to retire and the competition of Internet Sales.

But for those of us who enjoyed the special touch of people who honestly let you know, “if your butt really looked big,” in that garment, you will be missed in more ways than one.