A former dancer, Rachel Pally, found her way into the world of clothing design by way of making costumes for her college dance department. Always creating costumes with body movement and comfort in mind, she soon began creating garments for friends and herself. Jersey was her fabric of choice.
With a “nothing to lose” attitude and a passion for creating comfortable and feminine clothing, Rachel Pally quickly caught the attention of Hollywood A-listers. Her flowing jersey garments became a must-have and her name a household one. So you can understand why we were eager to catch up with her...
Melissa: Where does your passion for fashion stem from? Was being a designer written in the stars for you?
Rachel: My grandmother was an incredible seamstress and I grew up assisting her with projects. However, it wasn’t until college that I really created something from start to finish.
I worked in the costume shop for the dance department at Berkeley. My minor was in dance. I fell in love with making costumes. In the beginning, I didn’t really know what I was doing but I knew I had to consider movement, body type, and flexibility.
After college, I started to make clothes for my girlfriends and myself and that’s where my love for creating really blossomed.
Melissa: How would you describe the aesthetic of the clothing you design? Would you say it’s an extension of your personal style or are you designing with another woman in mind?
Rachel: I would describe the aesthetic as easy, especially now. In the last year, I’ve really been trying to evolve my business for my own demographic, instead of just trying to cater to what was expected from retailers.
There are enough designers that are catering to the 20 something blogger culture, and that’s not really authentic to me. I’d much rather be dressing professional women in their late 20’s and in their 30’s, like mothers for example. I feel like lately, I’ve been pushing my brand in the direction of how I’m evolving; past the jersey maxi dress that I’m known for. That isn’t all I do.
Melissa: If you had to use three words to describe Rachel Pally clothing, what would they be?
Rachel: Feminine, easy, flattering.
Melissa: The fabrics your clothes are made of are nothing short of luxurious. Where do you source them?
Rachel: Our jersey is all manufactured in LA. We have a mill that we’ve been working with forever. For woven fabrics, there are few factories that still exist here. Sometimes we can import and, in that case, we dye it locally.
Melissa: Supporting charity is also a significant part of what you do. Which charities do you support and why are they important to you?
Rachel: I think it’s just part of who I am. It’s not a written part of my business but I do make a lot of donations, and I definitely collaborate when possible.
I host a lot of giveaways and we donate a lot of past season merchandise to charities and women’s shelters. My friends started the Alliance of Moms, so I’m passionate about supporting them.
It’s just my responsibility as a human- when I’m doing well I have a better opportunity to give back.
Melissa: Rachel Pally isn’t a one-size-fits-all kind of brand. You design bridal, maternity, and plus size lines. Why and when did you decide to design for all styles and all body shapes?
Rachel: The thing with jersey is it’s the most accommodating and flattering fabric if it’s done the right way.
Moving into maternity was a seamless transition. The fabric and silhouettes are wearable whether you’re pregnant or not. The stretch accommodates you as you grow, so replacing clothing every few months isn’t an issue.
Our unofficial business tagline is: “There’s something for everyone”. However, that wasn’t really true before because I was producing garments up to size 12. That certainly doesn’t include all American women!
I then partnered with Nordstrom to do a plus size line but got a lot of pushback. So, I did it on my own!
I fell in love with making costumes. In the beginning, I didn’t really know what I was doing but I knew I had to consider movement, body type, and flexibility.
Melissa: If you could choose one of your designs and wear it for the rest of your days, which would it be?
Rachel: I’ve been wearing my linen Cleo top so often that I’ve stopped taking ‘Outfit of the Day’ pictures. Ha!
Melissa: Are you an accessory girl? Which particular would we find most of in your closet?
Rachel: Yes, hats. Specifically, Janessa Leone hats. And bucket bags.
Melissa: As a mom of two and a busy boss lady, what is one ritual you reserve just for yourself?
Rachel: I would love to say I have a daily meditation practice or I go to yoga, but I don’t. My mornings start at 6 – 6:30 am with Luca saying “Mama!” into the monitor. We have breakfast and have our daily morning dance party, with the same song, every single morning: “Kodachrome” by Paul Simon.
Our nighttime routine is always reading before bed.
Melissa: What would you credit as being your big break? What got you there?
Rachel: When I started at 22, I was fearless. People saying “No” doesn’t faze me. What I make isn’t who I am, so hearing “No” wasn’t crushing. My first couple of stores were Planet Blue, Madison, Diavolina. I was getting into some of the more influential LA stores, but at the time I was still sewing everything myself.
I think my lack of fear and insecurity in my work was really helpful. I was young and had nothing to lose. My first big win was when Jessica Simpson, who was the ‘It girl’ at the time, wore my pants. It put my brand on the map and totally changed my life. Every celebrity wanted them. Everybody wanted them. The pants were being knocked off everywhere, which was kind of incredible. I was traveling through Thailand and there, on the streets of Bangkok were racks and racks of knockoff copies of my pants. It was so amazing!
My long caftan dress has also always been a best seller too. Women everywhere have been wearing it for ages, I still wear it, and it still sells! It’s just such a great dress.
SHOP RACHEL'S LOOK
Particularly social: Handles and preferred Instagram filter
Particular calling: What do you do?
Particular order: How do you go about your day?
Particular style: What’s your uniform?
Particular adornment: Your go-to accessory
Particular meal: Favorite thing to eat
Particular latitude/longitude: Where do you like to go/be?
Particular vice: What is your weakness?
Particularly 70s, 80s, 90s, or 00s: What decade defines you?
Particular high school/college persona: Were you a burner, credit card hippie, prep?
Particular pickiness: What are you finicky about?
Particular passion: What are you passionate about?