Queen of prep

A treasure trove of Lilly Pulitzer’s vintage designs, shared by Saratoga’s Molly McKeown, validates the enduring inspiration of classic fashion

Lilly Pulitzer has been a ubiquitous fashion staple for the preppy set since the 1960s. Lilly, a socialite but also quite the renaissance woman, started selling the oranges that grew on her husband's family citrus grove to other households in Palm Beach. When business became brisk, she opened a little juice stand off of a little street near famed Worth Avenue. Not the sort of lady to let her clothing get in the way of her work, she created and started donning simple shifts with high slits made in bright patterned fabrics to hide the juice stains. 

Her dresses soon became the talk of the town, the "must-have" costume in Palm Beach and, needless to say, quickly blew her juice business out of the water. 

Almost 60 years later, Lilly wwPulitzer is still the "Queen of Prep." You can't turn your head in Saratoga without seeing a woman or girl in one of her happy, comfortable prints during the summers. We were beyond thrilled when Molly McKeown offered to feature her stunning collection of vintage Pulitzer garments with us for the Track Issue. 

Many of the pieces were even featured in the exhibition For the Love of LILLY, at the Museum of Lifestyle and Fashion History in Boynton Beach, Florida in 2011 (also in celebration of Pulitzer's 80th birthday). This collection is truly exceptional and we decided "what better way to showcase it than on some of our favorite Saratoga locals and one of our favorite local spots?" 

With thanks to some very awesome and patient ladies (the shoot took almost an entire day) and to McGregor Golf Club for hosting us (and allowing us near the greens in 5-inch heels), we present to you, "Lilly on the Green: Selections from the Molly McKeown Collection of Vintage Lilly Pulizter." 

Molly on her love of Lilly

"While strolling down Worth Avenue, I wandered down some of the tiny streets and came across the Lilly Pulitzer shop, filled with splashes of bright colors like I had never seen before. Instantly, I was in love with her fashion and thus my Lilly Collection began. It was the mid-1960s. Jackie Kennedy, a schoolmate of Pulitzer's, started wearing her shifts and that just cemented the style for me. I have almost always bought one piece, on every trip to Florida, after that." 

To this day, McKeown still collects Pulitzer clothing and accessories. She even had the pleasure of meeting the "Queen of Prep" herself (shortly before she died in 2013). As the two posed for a photograph, Pulitzer immediately began lifting up McKeown's skirt. "What are you doing?" McKeown politely asked, a little embarrassed. "Oh, just looking to see where I hid my 'Lilly' in this design, dear," Pulitzer replied referring to the stitching of her name in each of her pieces.

Looking for that subtle piece of herself in her design, Pulitzer's love for her life's work was evident. She is a true American icon. Cheers, Lilly!  S

To get your Lilly Pulitzer fix, visit Pink Paddock at
358 Broadway #101 Saratoga Springs, NY 12866, or 1475 Western Ave., Albany, NY 12203.

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