Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, fondly known as Jackie Kennedy, was the epitome of grace, poise, and sophistication. As the First Lady of the United States from 1961 to 1963, she made a lasting impact on the world, not only with her political and philanthropic endeavors but also with her impeccable sense of style.
Jackie’s fashion choices were much admired, and she became a true style icon whose influence is still felt today. This article will explore the trends and designers that Jackie Kennedy made popular during her time in the White House and beyond.
The Pillbox Hat
The pillbox hat, a timeless accessory that transcended its original purpose, became synonymous with the elegant style of Jackie Kennedy. This iconic headpiece first gained popularity in the early 1960s when Jackie began wearing it for public appearances and official events. The pillbox hat is characterized by its simple, yet sophisticated design, featuring a small, cylindrical shape with a flat crown and no brim. It was typically crafted from luxurious materials such as satin, velvet, or wool, and was often adorned with embellishments like bows, veils, or feathers for added sophistication.
The pillbox hat’s rise to fame can be attributed to its versatility and ability to complement various outfits, from tailored suits to evening gowns. This classic accessory offered a polished finishing touch to Jackie’s ensembles, exuding an air of refinement that was admired by women worldwide. The hat became a symbol of 1960s fashion, with many women emulating the First Lady’s style by incorporating pillbox hats into their wardrobes. Even today, the pillbox hat remains an enduring symbol of elegance, frequently seen at formal events and in the collections of contemporary designers. Its everlasting appeal is a testament to the enduring influence of Jackie Kennedy’s iconic style.
Oleg Cassini, born in 1913 in Paris to a Russian count and an Italian countess, was a distinguished fashion designer who played a pivotal role in shaping the style of Jackie Kennedy during her time as First Lady. Cassini’s background in aristocracy and his exposure to various cultures from an early age contributed to his unique design sensibilities. Before becoming the official designer for Jackie Kennedy, Cassini had already established himself in the fashion industry, working for renowned fashion houses like Patou and designing costumes for Hollywood films.
Cassini’s collaboration with Jackie Kennedy proved to be transformative for both his career and the world of fashion. As the First Lady’s personal couturier, he created over 300 original designs, including tailored suits, A-line dresses, and luxurious evening gowns that exuded sophistication and timeless elegance. Cassini’s creations not only accentuated Jackie’s natural grace but also helped to define her iconic style, which came to be known as the “Jackie look.” This signature style left an indelible mark on fashion history, influencing generations of women and designers alike. Oleg Cassini’s extraordinary talent and his association with one of the most stylish women of the 20th century solidified his legacy as a legendary fashion designer and an influential figure in the world of fashion.
Chanel-inspired suits, which gained immense popularity during Jackie Kennedy’s time as First Lady, were a testament to her refined taste and appreciation for classic designs. While the original Chanel suit was designed by Coco Chanel in the 1920s, Jackie’s adaptation of the look played a significant role in its resurgence during the 1960s. The Chanel-inspired suits featured boxy jackets with round collars, slim skirts that fell just below the knee, and exquisite details such as gold buttons, braided trim, and patch pockets. The suits were often crafted from luxurious tweed or bouclé fabric, which added to their sophisticated appeal.
The popularity of Chanel-inspired suits soared as women around the world sought to emulate Jackie’s timeless elegance. This enduring style became synonymous with grace, refinement, and power, making it a wardrobe staple for many professional women. Designers, including Oleg Cassini, who created several Chanel-inspired suits for Jackie, contributed to the widespread adoption of this iconic look. Today, the Chanel-inspired suit remains a classic and versatile piece, seen in the collections of contemporary designers and worn by women who appreciate its sophisticated and enduring charm. The lasting impact of this trend is a testament to Jackie Kennedy’s influence on the world of fashion and her ability to make an enduring statement with her style choices.
The Shift Dress
The origins of the shift dress can be traced back to the 1920s when the flapper dress first made its appearance. However, it was during the 1960s that the shift dress truly gained popularity as it embodied the minimalist aesthetic of the era. As a versatile and comfortable alternative to more constricting garments, the shift dress offered women freedom of movement and a sense of modernity.
As the First Lady, Jackie Kennedy often wore shift dresses to various events and public appearances, showcasing her preference for simple yet elegant designs. She chose bold colors and patterns, accessorizing her dresses with pearls, gloves, and her signature pillbox hat. The effortless style and grace Jackie exhibited in her shift dresses contributed to the garment’s widespread appeal, with women around the world emulating her iconic look.
The shift dress remains a classic wardrobe staple, appreciated for its timeless elegance and versatility. Its simple silhouette flatters a variety of body types, making it a popular choice for women of all ages. Contemporary designers continue to reinterpret the shift dress, ensuring its relevance in modern fashion.
Oversized sunglasses, an accessory that is now a symbol of glamour and sophistication, rose to prominence during Jackie Kennedy’s time as First Lady. Often seen donning large, round frames, Jackie turned this functional item into a fashionable statement piece that added an air of mystique to her already-iconic style. The bold, oversized sunglasses not only protected her eyes from the sun but also provided a sense of privacy amidst the constant public scrutiny she faced.
Today, oversized sunglasses continue to be a popular choice for those seeking to add a touch of Hollywood glamour to their wardrobe. Designers and fashion enthusiasts alike have embraced this trend, incorporating various styles, shapes, and embellishments to suit different tastes. The enduring popularity of oversized sunglasses is a testament to the lasting impact of Jackie Kennedy’s style choices and her ability to turn a practical accessory into a statement piece that transcends time.
Gucci and Valentino
Gucci and Valentino, two renowned Italian fashion houses, played a significant role in Jackie Kennedy’s sartorial journey, further establishing her status as an international style icon. Known for her love of Italian fashion, Jackie frequently wore designs from these prestigious brands, showcasing her appreciation for their craftsmanship, quality, and elegance.
In particular, Jackie was fond of Gucci’s Flora print, a custom design created for her by Rodolfo Gucci in 1966. The Flora print, which features an intricate pattern of colorful flowers and insects, became a symbol of her sophisticated taste and affinity for luxurious fabrics. Valentino Garavani, the founder of the Valentino fashion house, also designed several of Jackie’s dresses, including the iconic white lace evening gown she wore to a state dinner at the White House in 1961. Through her association with these esteemed Italian fashion houses, Jackie Kennedy reinforced her status as a style icon and helped to elevate the global profile of Gucci and Valentino, solidifying their place in the pantheon of luxury fashion.
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis left a lasting impact on the world of fashion, popularizing numerous trends and championing talented designers. From the pillbox hat and Chanel-inspired suits to her love for Italian fashion, Jackie’s style continues to inspire and captivate generations.