The Juicy Backstory of Lilly Pulitzer’s Designs

Lilly Pulitzer, 1961 - Palm Beach, Florida: Getty Images

Lilly Pulitzer, 1961 – Palm Beach, Florida: Getty Images

The story behind the fashion is the most interesting. And it seems there is always a story. This one is juicy – literally! I recently read that Lilly Pulitzer’s original designs were a means of covering up juice stains! Lilly Pulitzer was a New York socialite who eloped with Peter Pulitzer and moved to Palm Beach, Florida, full-time (which was unheard of in her social circles at the time). The story goes that Pulitzer opened a juice stand in Palm Beach – from the fruits of her husband’s citrus groves. But when stains from the fruit found their way on to her clothes she designed a cotton sleeveless shift dress splashed with bright colors – pinks, yellows, greens, and oranges – to disguise the messy stains! The original dresses in her collection were called “Lillys” and their simplicity and style grew so popular that they became the go-to uniform for resort-goers, socialites, and celebrities. One especially famous friend and former schoolmate, First Lady Jackie Kennedy, was often seen wearing Lilly Pulitzer’s colorful sheaths. Eventually, Lilly Pulitzer opened stores up and down the East Coast. And the rest … as they say … is history.

The original rollout of the Lilly Pulitzer Collection, circa 1960

The original rollout of the Lilly Pulitzer Collection, circa 1960: Courtesy Lilly Pulitzer

 

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