Jackie Kennedy Onassis: The Greatest Fashion Icon of the 1960’s



Jackie Kennedy Onassis: The Greatest Fashion Icon of the 1960’s

The First Lady of the United States is a coveted title that 46 women have been lucky enough to hold. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the wife of the 35th President of the United States John. F. Kennedy used her title to showcase grace, elegance, style to the American people during her husband’s three years in office. 

Born on July 28th, 1929 in Southampton, New York, Jacqueline Lee Bouvier was part of a wealthy, Catholic, French family. Being a debutante and daughter of wealthy socialites, fashion was always a part of her life. However, contrary to the beliefs of many, Jackie Kennedy was so much more than just a pretty face. In high school, when asked about her ambitions, she famously said, “not to be a housewife.” Because of her passion for knowledge, Jackie sought higher education at Vassar and the George Washington University in Washington D.C, where she studied history, literature, art, and the French language. After college, Jackie began a career as a journalist for the Washington Times- Herald. In 1952, when she was 23 years old, she met the 35th president of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and they married on September 12th, 1953. 

While most famously being known for altering the artistic culture of the White House and making it a museum of “American History and decorative arts,” (The Street) she was also known for her incredible sense of fashion. Being the most youthful first lady in decades, American women in the 1960s were drawn to Jackie’s sense of style, making her a fashion icon. In this article, we will be highlighting just a few of Jackie’s beautiful, stylish looks that coined “The Jackie Look” and have even lingered in fashion trends today. 

  • September 12th, 1953- Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy’s Wedding Dress

    Harper’s Bazaar, Veranda.com


The “fairytale wedding”, and “wedding of the century,” were just a few of the ways in which the wedding of Jackie and Jack Kennedy was described. Jackie’s portrait-neckline wedding dress carries on its own legacy, being one of the most imitated wedding dress styles to this day. Simple and chic, her wedding dress design took inspiration from French fashion, because of the first lady’s love of the country and culture. Being a lover of history and her family, Jackie decided to wear her grandmother’s veil. 

  • 1960- Jackie fashions her signature “shift dress” at a picnic in the park.

    Harper’s Bazaar, Veranda.com

The “shift dress”, one of Jacqueline Kennedy’s favorite styles to wear, has fabric that flows freely from the head to the knees. Jackie showcased this look on a picnic outing in the park. The choice of this dress being a lighter, sage green blends perfectly with the trees, nature, and wildlife surrounding her. No matter where Jackie went, her simple yet elegant style went with her.  

  • January 20th, 1961- Jackie debuts her fashion sense for the world in this gorgeous inaugural ball gown.

    Harper’s Bazaar, Veranda.com

Following the inauguration of every president, The President and First Lady of the United States, attend a celebratory ball in honor of the president’s accomplishment. While many first ladies have worn elegant, designer dresses, Jackie’s stands out the most as a classic, sophisticated gown with almost no extravagant details at all. Created by sketches made by Mrs. Kennedy herself, Ethel Frankau of Bergdorf customly made this off-white, silk chiffon dress. With a simple yet dignified adornment of brilliants and embroidered with silver thread, Mrs. Kennedy showcased her unique fashion sense and began her “career as a major fashion influence.” (The Washington Post) 

  • May 16, 1961- Jackie wears this stylish yet sophisticated day suit on her state visit to Canada.

    Harper’s Bazaar, Veranda.com

Another one of Jackie’s favorite looks was the combination of a suit and pillbox hat. Whether it be pink, blue, red, or any other color, Jackie wore the pair beautifully. Featured on a trip to Canada, the color of this look is a deep maroon, balancing the red and gold accents featured on the Canadian officers uniforms. Jackie’s outfits were always chosen with purpose, taking into account the places she would travel to, the people she would be interacting with, and the scenery in which she would take in. 

  • May 11, 1962- Jackie features a pink, Christian Dior dress at the state dinner in honor of the Minister of the State of Culture Affairs for France, André Malraux.

    Harper’s Bazaar, Veranda.com

This strapless, pink, Christian Dior gown was worn to honor the Minister of the State of Culture Affairs for France, André Malraux. Coming from the country which Jackie adored and her family came from, there must have been pressure to impress the guests around her. Even though the dress is very simple, no adornments, accents, or patterns, Jackie’s accessories complete the whole look. The silver pin adorning her hair, in the shape of the sun, draws your eye to her beautiful smile. Her dangling earrings complement the elegance of the gown and the signature, Jacqueline Bouvier Kenendy elbow-length, white gloves. Finally, her small, golden clutch provides a harmonious accent to the un-intensified, quaint color of her dress. 

  • March 17th, 1962- Jackie adopts India’s love for color in her masterful, vibrant dress.

    Harper’s Bazaar, Veranda.com

        While many may believe that Jackie’s fashion sense only extended around areas in the United States, she had a habit of utilizing her style influence for diplomacy. On a trip to India in 1962, Jackie showcased to the world that not only men had to handle diplomatic relations with Europe. Jackie’s purposeful choice of a pearl necklace and this light orange dress illustrate the elegance and cultural appreciation that she brought to every country, including her conversation with the Maharaja of Mewer. 

  • November 22nd, 1963- The Suit Jackie Kennedy was wearing the day her husband was assassinated

    Harper’s Bazaar, Veranda.com

Jackie’s signature pink Chanel suit and matching pillbox hat is her most iconic look, being the ensemble she was wearing when her husband was assassinated in Texas in 1963. However, what many do not know about this pink tweed set is that it wasn’t real Chanel at all. That’s right, Jackie Kennedy wore knockoff designer. Being as obsessed with French culture and fashion as she was, Jackie often wore designers such as Coco Chanel and Christian Dior. However, her husband believed that this made her frivolously disconnected from the American people. Americans also felt that Jackie’s spending of almost 30,000 dollars on designer fashion during her husband’s first 2 years in office made her a traitor to America for supporting foreign brands. From then on, Jackie’s clothing was either made in America or purchased from American designers. Enter Chez Ninon, a Manhattan based designer created this specific look for the first lady, along with many other designer dupes for celebrities and socialites. She did this by legally acquiring the license for specific looks by these designers (a process called “line-to-line”). It was Ninon’s Chanel knockoff that would become Jackie Kennedy’s most iconic look. This look has also been remembered in history as the outfit that Jackie utilized to bring the truth of her husband’s death to the American people. When her husband was killed, it left her suit stained with his blood. And when her assistants offered to help her change, she said, “Let the people see what he’s done to Jack.” 

  • 1970- Sighted leaving the Claridges Hotel in London, Jackie is fashioning a simple yet classic suit.

    Harper’s Bazaar, Veranda.com

While many of Jackie’s outfits consisted of elegant fabrics, luxury jewelry, and artful craftsmanship, this simple pants and suit outfit really emphasizes the fact that not all outfits have to be extravagant to be beautiful. Jackie showed the world that even after her husband’s presidency, assassination, and all of the family hardships she had to endure, she still maintained her poised nature and cheerful demeanor while living a more simple life. 

Jackie Kennedy, wife of the 35th president of the United States, can be viewed as many things; a loving wife, a loving mother, and  a patron of the arts. Her most important attribute that has and will always influence the world of fashion will be her unique, unrepeatable, simplistic fashion sense. 

Links Used: 

Iconic Jackie Kennedy Fashion Pictures – Style Photos of Jackie O (harpersbazaar.com)

Jackie Kennedy Onassis’s Best Style Moments – Jackie Kennedy Fashion (veranda.com)


By Chloe Stefani ’24 and Kate Novack ’24; Fashion Editor and Co-Assistant Editor-In-Chief