I was in Farmington, CT yesterday morning at my boarding school, Miss Porter’s, participating in their career day panel in which Ancients (our name for alumnae) speak to current seniors and juniors about our career paths, college and life in general. When I got in my car to come home I saw on my phone that Lilly Pulitzer had died. Lilly was a fellow Ancient of Miss Porter’s and it was strange to see such news when I happened to be at the school. But I feel like I have a connection to Lilly that goes beyond just a shared alma mater. True, I learned to love Lilly at MPS, I came into the school a style-less shy girl and left a confident pink and green loving preppy. I hung onto my Lilly dresses for a long time after departing Main Street, even wearing one to my college graduation, despite my change is style. A picture taken that night ended up being the one I used on my Match.com profile which attracted my southern gentleman husband, Andrew. He recognized that I was wearing Lilly and associated that with a “good girl” :). He still carries this pic of me at 20 years old in a pineapple print Lilly dress in his wallet.
Cut to many years later and the first time I met Andrew’s entire extended family, at his cousin Lindsey’s wedding. I knew Andrew came from very hearty preppy stock (boarding schools, Ivy Leagues and such) and so I thought that wearing a Lilly dress was the safest bet for a strong first impression. And just to be sure I was extra accepted into the clan, I made Andrew wear a Lilly tie. He REALLY, REALLY did not want to, but I begged, and he obliged. A sign to me that this was a man worth holding onto. I remember walking into the wedding and poor Andrew getting totally teased by his cousins and uncles for the tie/dress combo and seeing NO ONE else in anything remotely as bright and prepster as us. Years later, after getting married, Andrew’s family and I all still get such a good laugh about the “Lilly ensemble” I cooked up. They will in fact, delight in this picture.
(left- college graduation, right- wedding, with two sidenotes: we were quite inebriated and sweaty from dancing and the disposable camera that took this distorted Andrew’s forehead- while it is LARGE, it’s not this large. He wanted me to share that.)
I have a lot of emotional attachment to Lilly. It brings me back to a VERY happy place and time in my life. Even though my personal style has ventured far from her signature style, I still smile when I see a bold Lilly print and certainly have plans to dress any future little ones in it. Lilly was a fantastic model of female entrepreneurship as well- her ability to turn a quickly made “uniform” to wear at her juice stand into something gracing the shoulders of Jackie O (another former MPS Ancient) is amazing. Read her story HERE. Yes, she was a woman of privilege, but not one who rested on her laurels because of it. She was so influential in “Palm Beach Style” and beyond- she created a whole brand of fashion. One that will live on for a long time.
Modern day Lilly looks:
Classic Palm Beach style:
Lilly Pulitzer has a line of furniture and fabric with Lee Jofa– I actually am mad about these desks!
Thanks for brightening our days Lilly- and reminding us to have a little fun while we’re here.