Lilly Pulitzer prints is a fabric line inspired by the colorful shift dresses made popular by the New York socialite and entrepreneur, Lilly Pulitzer. Lilly began her notable ride as a businesswoman in the 1960s selling freshly squeezed juices on resort beaches in Florida. Looking for a uniform, of sorts, that would hide the constant stains her work clothes endured, Lilly turned to a dressmaker to help design a dress that would keep her looking neat and attract customers to her stand. A simple shift dress made from eye-popping, fruit-colored prints was the answer.
Before long, Lilly realized that selling copies of her unique dress might be more profitable than selling juice, and she opened a dress shop that featured the basic dress in a variety of flowery, pastel prints. Already gaining popularity as resort wear, Lilly’s colorful shift became nearly iconic when her friend and the nation’s first lady, Jackie Kennedy was photographed for “Life” magazine wearing one of Pulitzer’s dresses.
Every fashionable preppy during the early 1980s most likely owned at least one item of clothing displaying one of Lilly’s well-known pink and green prints. When she retired in the mid-eighties, the desire for Lilly Pulitzer’s prints skyrocketed to almost cult-like popularity and vintage prints were purchased in used clothing stores and flea markets. The demand for Lilly Pulitzer prints has rarely waned over the years and reproductions of the original prints are now available from the online retail outlet The Lilly Pad Shop and various fabric retailers throughout the country.
New prints are available by the yard, the “fat quarter” (commonly used for quilting), and in 18-inch squares. If you are a baby boomer who fondly remembers the pink and green flowered dress you wore as a teenager or just someone who appreciates the vintage look, you may enjoy wearing or decorating with the citrus shades and floral designs indicative of Lilly Pulitzer prints.