Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy Onassis (or Jackie O as she was customarily known) was celebrated and respected for a great many things. Among them, becoming the wife of both the then US Senator, and later the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy, and subsequently the Greek shipping magnate, Aristotle Onassis, who was, at that time, the wealthiest man in the world. Her accomplishments additionally included a career as a journalist and book editor, her contributions to the arts and preservation of historic architecture, her career as First Lady which involved a complete redesign and restoration of the interior of the White House and meeting with foreign dignitaries and heads of state. She entertained famously and spoke four languages. She raised two remarkably grounded children (she publicly stated that this was always her most important role). But perhaps what she is most remembered for, even to this day, is her style, elegance, and grace.
Jackie O, America’s historical darling and timeless American icon, was always elegantly coiffed and swathed in the finest clothing money could buy. But her appeal went beyond this – she was mysterious, soft spoken, very, very bright, impeccably well mannered, well educated, very ambitious and came from a very refined and fortunate background. She was the woman everyone wanted to be (and perhaps still does). And because of these accolades, women dashed to the department stores and coveted her every move.
Jackie started trends, such as the pillbox hat, which after becoming First Lady she was frequently seen in. She often wore these stylish chapeaus in different colors and they were personally designed for her by Halston. Her signature shades were oversize sunglasses (she kept multiple pairs of them in boxes by her front door) and she was said to love them because they gave her the opportunity to watch people anonymously. The headscarf came later, during the Onassis years, when she spent more time in the Greek isles, and this leant a chic quality to even the most basic and casual of outfits. Jackie was known to be exquisitely polished and her hair reflected this – it was an integral part of her signature look. Her iconic bouffant was styled by Kenneth Battelle, the famed hairdresser to the stars who also styled Marilyn Monroe. Gloves were a trademark accessory. She favored a white elbow length glove at more formal events, which were often commissioned by LaCrasia Gloves. Jackie always maintained her slim physique and frequently wore shoulder baring gowns to official events. It was quite a daring move in the 1960s. Bows and pearls were favorites of hers. She favored her neckline and waist and brought attention to them prominently with these habitual looks. Few people can carry off a cape, but Jackie could and this dramatic accessory was a part of her signature style as First Lady. Long before the dazzling glamour puss’ we have today, Jackie had her coats – in so many varieties and they were all fabulous and highly covetable. She was a lifelong equestrian and this was an integral part of her persona and fashion choices. Jackie’s fashion sense extended to her children, which meant that John and Caroline often wore complementary or matching outfits to their mother. Jackie understood the power of the monochromotic look, and may have been the originator of the All White Everything look that’s back in style.
But beyond this, it’s safe to say that Jackie O. is forever etched in the American mind. She is ours – what we strive to be, what we dream for ourselves, what we would embody if we could. She is our American icon, evermore in the minds and spirits of our fellow countrymen. We had never seen a First Lady like her before and I don’t know that we have seen one since.
“An aim in life is the only fortune worth finding.”
-Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Attribution to Time Magazine, Town and Country, Playbuzz, Huffington Post