Jackie Kennedy – Style Lessons to Learn Right Now

jackie kennedy style lessons

A new book, ”Jackie: The Life and Style of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis”, traces the timeless fashion of this contemporary icon and explains why her style remains outstanding

jackie kennedy style lessons


By Gherardo Ulivi.

We remember Jackie Kennedy Onassis for her iconic strawberry-pink suit on one of the most significant pages in American history. She was a charismatic, elegant, and influential first lady, who later became the chicest representative of the jet set in the ‘70s. Her unique sense of style, which we still refer to as the “Jackie style” today, was so complete and recognisable that it became universal.
Jackie was a contemporary woman who understood better than anyone the importance of attire and used it to communicate political messages through targeted looks. Today, 30 years after her passing and 60 years after JFK’s assassination, the White Star publishing house presents a new biography written by Chiara Pasqualetti Johnson.
The book, titled Jackie. The Life and Style of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis weaves words and images to tell the story of this 20th-century icon. It features many unpublished shots to remember a timeless model of independence and style. Johnson explores Jackie’s family and public life chronologically in a curious and refined work that presents itself as a coffee-table book. Today, the author joins us in conversation to give us a glimpse of her latest literary effort, which delves into the myth and woman that was Jackie Kennedy Onassis.

jackie kennedy style lessons

Jackie’s Debut in White

Let’s start with the wedding dress, which is an iconic piece in the wardrobe of many women, especially public figures like Jackie. She was already featured on the covers of Life during her engagement to Kennedy. However, that famous and widely photographed dress is actually the opposite of Jacqueline Bouvier’s style evolution because it wasn’t her choice.
Still very young, she was influenced by her mother and future father-in-law. In reality, it was Kennedy’s father who guided Jackie’s choice toward a very traditional outfit. She later confessed in an interview that she would have preferred something simpler and more modern; it was a classic 1950s dress, which was precisely what she didn’t want.

jackie kennedy style lessons

The Birth of the “Jackie Style”

During the early years of marriage and later, with Kennedy’s election as President of the United States, Jackie found herself in an official role, and her own unique style began to take shape. Over time, she grew more confident and needed to assert her personality. She was a smart woman who understood the political power of clothing better than any other first lady.
Despite her preference for French fashion, she was aware that she couldn’t wear garments by non-American designers. So Jackie decided to help shape the figure of a new designer – Oleg Cassini. Together, they created an iconic wardrobe that included dresses, coats, shoes, and accessories. They invented the emblem of American fashion, with looks that had a political meaning, especially expressed in the choice of colours that made her a style queen. 
Jackie had great charisma, a well-defined personality, and extensive cultural knowledge. She was a woman of unconventional beauty who was never overshadowed by important male figures by her side.

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The Strawberry Pink Suit – the End of an Era

One of her most iconic garments was her strawberry pink suit with blue trim, which she wore on the day of Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas. This dress has become a part of costume history for its significance. Jackie is famous for her decision not to remove it during Vice President Johnson’s swearing-in on Air Force One, or even during the plane’s descent in Washington. This conscious choice has made this Chanel-inspired creation a real piece of history.

jackie kennedy style lessons

The Second Life of the Jet Set Queen

Her second marriage to Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis marked a new chapter in her life. As the wife of one of the world’s wealthiest men in the world, Jackie’s style underwent a transformation. The former first lady’s wardrobe became more informal around 1968, after she no longer held an official role. Jackie now had the freedom to follow trends and especially lean towards a designer named Valentino.
He was at the beginning of his career, but she immediately recognised his talent. So much so that the Italian designer would design the dress Jackie wore for her second wedding, which she chose from the 1968 White Collection.
The dress was a lace piece with which she pioneered fashion by marrying in white even for her second wedding, which was unusual especially in high society during the late 1960s. Next to Onassis, Jackie flaunted a relaxed style through Hermès scarves, Pucci creations, oversized sunglasses, and a deep love of Italian craftsmanship she discovered during her holidays in Capri.

jackie kennedy style lessons

An Immortal Legacy

After her second husband passed away, Jackie sought anonymity in Manhattan. In the bustling New York of the ‘70s, she hoped to blend in, but her attempts were in vain. She stood out in her oversized coats, Burberry raincoats, boots, and her ever-present oversized sunglasses. With her last love, diamond merchant Maurice Tempelsman, the final chapter of her life came to a close. This was a mature but still visionary Jackie. These were the years when Gucci introduced the timeless Jackie bag in honour of the American icon, which remains an evergreen on the runway even today. The Jackie style was avant-garde and continues to be relevant, even after fifty years.

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