Preppy Icon Lilly Pulitzer Dies at 81

It’s time to pour out a mojito for Lilly Pulitzer, who died in Palm Beach on Saturday night at 81. Pulitzer’s signature super-bright vacation-themed prints first took off in the early ‘60s after her old classmate Jackie Kennedy was pictured wearing one of her shifts on the cover of Life, and have remained a staple of boarding schools, beach towns, and anywhere preppy people congregate ever since. Even if hot pink-and-lime isn’t your thing, her unpretentious approach to design was refreshing. “We focus on the best, fun and happy things, and people want that,” she said in 2004. “Being happy never goes out of style.”

The start of Pulitzer’s fashion career was similarly cute. In 1959, Pulitzer, who was married to publishing heir and orange grove owner Peter Pulitzer at the time, decided to make her life as a housewife and socialite a little more interesting by opening up a juice stand: “She asked her seamstress to make dresses in colorful prints that would camouflage fruit stains. The dresses hung on a pipe behind her juice stand and soon outsold her drinks.” With the help of former fashion editor and partner Laura Robbins, Pulitzer developed the designs into a business that later expanded into swimsuits, country club wear, kids and (brave) men’s clothing, and home decor. Pulitzer also published two guides to entertaining that featured tips such as, “Don’t poison your guests. Anything else really doesn’t matter.”