Jackie Kennedy is undoubtedly the queen of simple, classic American elegance. She made popular so many things we consider preppy staples today, such as Jack Rogers and Lilly Pulitzer. Since yesterday was her birthday, I figured that what better time than today to pay my own personal style icon appropriate homage.
Before we had Paris Hilton and the Kardashians, or even Ali MacGraw and Alley McBeal, women like Jackie O. and Audrey Hepburn ruled the American fashion scene. When Jackie's late husband, John F. Kennedy, became President of the United States in 1960, members of his cabinet worried that the American press would have a field day with all of Jackie's expensive clothing that she often bought in Paris. They assumed that American women wouldn't be able to relate to a woman who wore Dior and Balenciaga, whose fall shopping budget would often outpace a yearly household income in America.
So, she had a family friend, Oleg Cassini, begin making custom clothes for her. These clothes spoke to her personality and the moment. They were perfectly minimal and still feminine, just as clothes for an avid equestrienne and politician's wife should be in the late 1950s and early 60s. I love that her clothes, while still being elegant and timeless, were also on trend for the time, incorporating mod elements such as the oversized covered buttons in the above photo.
And while we might look back on her style as being the epitome of classic, since it has inspired countless American designers from Ralph Lauren to Kate Spade, it was always a fantastic expression of her own personal preferences and tastes. This gorgeous leopard coat is hardly tame, yet she makes it like a staple every woman should have in their closet.
Speaking of her enduring influence in American design, dresses like this above and the one below seem like they were picked out of a Kate Spade Fashion Week presentation. Despite the many iterations of trends and fads, somehow bows at the waist and simple shift dresses, a-line coats and animal print, as well as boxy suit separates and oversized sunglasses, have maintained a place in the American fashion lexicon after they were made popular by Jackie Kennedy.
Since I could ramble on for days about my love for Jackie O.'s spirit and style, I'll stop myself short and leave with just a few more images of my favorite style moments of hers.
So, Happy Birthday, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis! The world could use some of your taste and elegance, right about now.
Until next time,