Often known as a style icon, all eye’s were naturally on Jaqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis. As first lady, she brought style to the White House; redecorated the building and transformed state receptions into events.
Her preferred designers and couturiers were Chanel, Balenciaga and Givenchy – all French, but she also saw the importance of showcasing American Designers too. American Designer Oleg Cassini wrote and asked to work with her on some dresses and was able to create designs of elegance in a time when the fashion world only thought French designers had anything worth saying in terms of style.
From first lady and beyond, her style evolved with her and she remained the stylish trendsetter. Here’s how you can get the look of first lady Jackie Kennedy without the hefty designer price tag.
Jackie Kennedy is most famous for bringing the bouffant hairdo into the eyes of the world following the 1961 inauguration where she first debuted this look. The bouffant, from the French word for swelling was teased, sprayed and curled by her hairdresser Mr. Kenneth of Lily Dache, New York and quickly swept the nation. Along with fellow brunettes Sophia Loren and Elizabeth Taylor, she ensured the popularity of dark hair overtook the blondes in the early 1960s. Jackie Kennedy in her heydey often wore an updo or bouffant hairdo with plenty of volume. She also paired this with a sweet pillbox hat co-ordinated with her clothing.
- Tease at the crown of the head for added height
- Once hair is teased, sweep back and into side-parting and smooth the smaller side down and under
- Use hairspray to maintain the volume
- If you need some help, try using dry shampoo at your roots
Jackie’s Make Up
Understated and elegant, Jackie’s make-up is sultry, simple and chic – perfect for everyday wearing. After preparing your skin, use a light foundation or BB cream to even the skin tone and set with powder. Use a soft brown to structure the face, Jackie was known to use contour along her jawline to soften and make it more oval. Ensure you buff this well with a large fluffy brush to ensure a natural, seamless finish is achieved. Add a small amount of blush to the cheeks and try to use one that is very sheer and not very pigmented.
For the eyes, they are soft, muted and alluring so start off with a muted pink tone across the entire eyelid and up to the brow. Use a slate grey or brown on the eyelid itself and blend up into the crease of your eye. Using a black or dark grey pencil, smudge liner along the upper lash line and outer corners of the lower lashline and smudge using a cotton bud. Go gently with the liner, the aim is to ensure this is a natural look to enhance what lovely eyes you already have. Add a darker grey or brown shadow across the upper lashline, and blend this up towards the crease. Finish with a couple of coats of black mascara. Brows should be groomed and lightly filled with your favourite brow powder – keep them soft and natural though!
For her lips she usually chose either a fun pastel pink or a nude glossy look. For the matt pink look on the left, try using a liquid lipstick. I love these as they tend to hold up quite well and give me the pop of colour without the gloss that I prefer.
If you prefer Jackie’s nude glossy lip, outline the lips with a liner to start and then fill in with a nude matt lipstick of your choice. Make sure you blot well as this is to ensure that your lippy lasts as long as possible. After blotting, add a creme lip colour (preferably in a matching tone) and finish off with a clear gloss after blotting again.
- Don’t go too heavy on the foundation – you want to look natural and carefree
- Use eyeshadow to enhance your eyes and don’t forget to blend well
- Line your lips and blot between layers of lipstick to ensure your pout lasts all day
Compared to the circle skirts and petticoats using masses of fabric, Jackie made being stylish easier and more affordable for many women of the time. And it’s easy to incorporate her style into your everyday effortlessly. Her look was minimal, modern, ladylike and with pared-down accessories.
Jackie’s slim figure was often flattered with a simple a-line or sheath dress, and this style is still found today on the high street. Many of her dresses are sleeveless with no defined waistline. You can still accentuate your waist with a thin belt if you choose.
Solid Colour Blocking and Monochrome
If you look at picture of Jackie, you’ll find that she rarely wore print fabrics, making an elegant statement with minimal effort. It’s easier to get a mix-and-match capsule wardrobe by having plain coloured pieces making it a great way to dress vintage each day – especially if you’re just dipping your toes in.
Her favourite colours were usually pastels like peach, yellow, ivory, pale blue and of course the infamous pink suit. She also wore dark reds, blues and even bright chartreuse on occasion.
In her more casual looks, you would also find Jackie wearing a monochrome look. Black and white are always classics, and when paired together look so chic and stylish. Don’t forget the massive sunglasses!
Usually paired with her trademark a-line dresses or slim skirts, the boxy jacket is useful for colder days. If you’re making your own outfits, make this in the same fabric as your dress, or you can colour match if you’re buying. Large buttons finish this look perfectly.
Matching Trapeze Coats
An easy way to get the Jackie Kennedy look is to have monocolour outfit. This was very popular in the 1950s and early 60s and Jackie was a big fan. She often wore trapeze coats in matching colours to her a-line dress and were often free from decoration and had large buttons.
Trapeze coats usually have half, three quarter or full sleeves and are a wide a-line cute with either no collar or a peter pan collar.
First made famous in 1958 by Yves Saint Laurent in his presentation of the “Trapeze Line” which was the first collection YSL made for Dior, this coat was popular in the 60s and 70s.
For a Jackie Kennedy style Trapeze Coat, look for a three quarter length sleeve and a coat that finishes just below knee length.
JFK had a custom of marking special occasions with extravagant gifts but Jackie didn’t wear all of these at once. She kept her accessories to a minimum. One of her favourites was pearl necklaces, these included double and triple stranded in a variety of lengths. This was something that she would usually wear on a daily basis.
Brooches and earrings also featured in her rotation and many of these were gifted to her by her husband. The Schlumberger Berry Brooch is set in gold and has rubies and diamonds. JFK gifted this to her in January 1961 just a few days before being sworn in as President. This was made to represent the couple’s two children.
Casual wear usually had Jackie wearing her classic Cartier Tank watch. With a square face and black strap it’s simplicity made it easy to wear on all occasions.
At 5 foot 7 inches, Jackie wanted to remain beautiful and elegant but didn’t want to tower over visiting diplomats so she often wore low heels making them incredibly popular.
Simplistic low heeled pumps were what Jackie loved to wear, and she had them in all colours imaginable. Each detail was considered as the letter excerpt to her Bergdorf Goodman personal shopper, Marita O’Connor shows:
“Please order me a pair of alligator shoes – size 10A – medium heel – slender – pointed toe but not exaggerated – no tricky vamp business – I like elegant and timeless. I must have these for Inauguration Day.”
In the late 1950s, an essential part of every woman’s wardrobe was a range of hats, and in 1959, French designers were all showing pillbox hats in their collections. While Jackie Kennedy didn’t particularly like hats, she discovered that these small round hats worked well with her bouffant hairdo. Working with her personal shopper, she ordered several domed pillbox hats to match her key outfits. Placing it far back on the crown of the head she actually first started wearing this style of hat to cover or prevent the dreaded flatness one gets from wearing a hat.
The size of this kind of hat is usually one size smaller than your head and can be held in place with an elastic (try to get one that matches your hair colour) or you can use plastic combs.
To get the Jackie look for your pillbox hat, wear this on the crown of the head and match the colour to your outfit.
Jackie Kennedy lived life her own way, and never hid what she was passionate about. She was stylish, classy and elegant and had her own style. Since writing this post, I’ve been wearing pastel outfits myself, which is a lovely change for me. I hope you become inspired too.