Jacqueline Lee Bouvier was born into a wealthy family and raised to a life of privilege. Her 1953 marriage to Senator Jack Kennedy at the wealthy enclave of Newport, Rhode Island, was one of the most glittering social events of the decade. Mrs. Kennedy became a popular figure during the 1960 presidential campaign; after her husband’s election, her beauty, love of clothes, and sense of style set her apart from her rather plain predecessors as First Lady, Bess Truman and Mamie Eisenhower.
Criticized in some quarters for wearing European fashions, she patronized American designers, particularly Oleg Cassini (whose designs, however, owed much to European originals). Her inauguration outfit of a fawn-colored woolen coat with matching pillbox hat was instantly copied by thousands of women; a red dress (by Chez Ninon after a Marc Bohan for Dior original) that she wore for a televised tour of the White House became another iconic “Jackie Look.”
In 1968, five years after her husband’s assassination, Mrs. Kennedy married wealthy Greek shipowner Aristotle Onassis; after his death in 1975 she returned to New York City and lived there until her death in 1994. Throughout those years she dressed with elegance and style; but her time as a true fashion icon came during her brief years in “Camelot,” the Kennedy White House.
During JFK’s presidency in the 1960s, Jacqueline Kennedy quickly became a style icon, and it was during this time that French-born designer Oleg Cassini was hired to create her original wardrobe. From 1961 to late 1963, Cassini dressed Jackie in many of her signature looks, including wardrobe staples like A-line dresses, pillbox hats, trapeze coats, elegant jewelry, evening gowns, and of course her infamous colorful suits.
One of the reasons Jackie Kennedy’s style struck a chord with so many American women is that the looks were easy to copy and something nearly anyone could pull off. Unlike the fashions of the 1950s that included large circle skirts, tight waists, and petticoats with yards of expensive fabric, the First Lady’s A-line dresses and pillbox hats were something everyday women could emulate–and her style seemed new and fresh in comparison. Rather than opting for over-the-top intricate designs, Kennedy’s look was minimal, modern, and understated–the casually glamorous girl next door.
Jackie Kennedy gained the favor of the American people not only for her elegant style, but also for her tact and social grace. One way this was evident was in how she chose to dress on international trips. While visiting foreign countries, Jackie always dressed according to the cultures and customs of the country she’d be in. By showing respect for other nations and cultures, Kennedy fostered her own sense of style and gained admiration from all over the world.
A prime example of this was on a trip to India in 1962, throughout which Kennedy showed off a more conservative style than what she would normally wear in the United States. One of the most iconic looks from the trip was a peach A-line Oleg Cassini dress with a bow in the front:
#2: Don’t be afraid to try bright colors
Jackie’s probably best remembered wearing that pink pillbox hat and suit, but it wasn’t the only time she stepped out in an attention-grabbing hue. She loved all shades of the rainbow and sported them proudly—but when wearing a head-turning shade, she kept her accessories and makeup simple to balance it out.
#5: Make everything look more polished by picking an interesting collar
This style trick of Jackie’s could slip by the unsuspecting eye, but once you look at enough pictures of her, you see it: Whether a pussybow, mock neck, or button-down, Jackie knew an interesting collar would elevate her outfits in a way a simple crew neck couldn’t.
[Sources: thekennedywives, fashionsizzle]