Farewell, Lilly Pulitzer: Palm Beach will miss you

Apr 8, 2013 at 11:50 a.m. ET

Palm Beach style icon Lilly Pulitzer died at home on Sunday. She was 81.

Lilly Pulitzer ObitFew things in fashion are quite as iconic as Lilly Pulitzer's signature bright pink and kelly green designs. That's pretty remarkable for a design that started quite by accident.

Pulitzer's iconic youthful and perky shift dress wasn't designed for the runway or window displays in New York City. The simply cut and colorful design was created for her and the employees who worked at the juice stand she operated at Via Mizner Golf and Country Club in Boca Raton, Florida. Her patterns and fabrics were chosen because the busy patterns were fun and pretty but masked juice stains on the cool and comfy cotton fabric during the summer of 1959 or 1960.

We love these printed Lilly Pulitzer shorts >>

More than half a century later, those same chipper looks are a must-have for every beach-destined vacation. They grace pale legs in the North just as soon as spring arrives and in tropical, Southern climates, they're embraced year round. Her pinks stood out on Palm Beach golf courses and the greens popped against the sand behind The Breakers.

Lilly Pulitzer's fashions were chic, much like the town that inspired them and the woman who created them.

Despite not having run the company since 1984, Lilly remained a staple amongst favorite designers... at least for the classy, cool but not overzealously fashion-forward. In recent years, she saw the relaunching of the company and the subsequent acquiring of the brand by Oxford Industries and continued to remain "the face of the company." Though, admittedly, we still pictured the designer as the perky, eager 40-something that started it all. We can't imagine the almost always barefoot matriarch looking like a grandmother.

Eventually, Lilly got daring and started designing bikinis, too! We approve >>

That's exactly what she was, though. Aside from being a successful designer (and juice bar operator, at least for a while), Pulitzer was also a mom. She raised three children: Peter McKim Pulitzer, Lillian Pulitzer McCluskey and Liza Pulitzer Calhoun, and they gifted her with seven grandchildren.

The Palm Beach-chic designer's service will be held at the equally Palm Beach-famous Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church. We hope that, even as they mourn, her fellow Floridians bathe the funeral in a wash of pink and green.

Can't afford to fly down and pay your respects? Honor Lilly by using Google Images to search Pulitzer patterns to adorn your desktop. (We went with the bright green chandelier.)

Long live Lilly in our hearts and on our beaches.

Image courtesy of Twitter.com/Lilly Pulitzer