Jackie Kennedy, the Presidential Wardrobe

27 Oct
Jacqueline Bouvier, photographed by Horst P. Horst on the 
announcement of her marriage to John F. Kennedy, 1953


The 1960’s were considered to be a time for change, and that is  exactly what first lady Jacqueline Kennedy did for White House fashion. Jackie Kennedy became a fashion icon during her few years as first lady  and her influence on women’s attire continued throughout her life.  Everyone fell in love with Jackie’s grace and style largely because of  her wonderful fashion choices.

Jackie Kennedy loved wearing bright colors such as pink, yellow, red  and ivory. Her own personal fashion icon was Audrey Hepburn and  throughout her life, Jackie’s style would always feature the flavor of  Hepburn’s old Hollywood glamor. As a result, Jackie chose Hubert de  Givenchy as her go-to designer since Givenchy created looks for Audrey  Hepburn in ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s.’ Jackie Kennedy’s daywear generally consisted of simple sleeveless  dresses, Chanel jackets and A-line skirts by Dior, paired with her  signature pillbox hat, pumps, long white gloves and usually pearls or  brooches. 

For days around the White House or in the office, Jackie  opted for a high-waist trousers paired with a blouse, turtleneck or  cashmere sweater.  Jackie always completed her daywear with her black,  oversized sunglasses – a trend that is still in style. 

 For eveningwear, Jackie’s style was generally a sleeveless look in a  single color with a founded or bateau neckline as well as long sheath  dresses that showed off her slim figure.  Jackie also loved backless or  off-the shoulder gowns, which made her look like Hollywood royalty. Her  shoes and accessories would always match her evening apparel perfectly. A pair of white gloves was another signature accessory of Jackie  Kennedy’s. 

She also knew the meaning of the word ‘occasion.’  When  traveling to foreign countries, Jackie always dressed accordingly to  complement the customs of her host nation. For example, when visiting  India, her style was more conservative than what she would wear to an  American event. It’s this quality that helped foster Jackie’s classic  and classy sense of style and drew infatuation from people all over the  world.


Amazing experience

Where to start a post about Jackie Bouvier, Kennedy, Onassis, who was and still is a style icon? I did go to the exhibition ‘Jackie Kennedy, the White House Years’ in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2001 and it was one of the best I’ve ever seen (except ofcourse the exhibition of Alexander McQueen at the same museum). To see these clothes, you know so well from all pictures and tv broadcasts, from nearby was an amazing experience.



The reason for the exhibition was to mark the 40th anniversary of her emergence as America’s First Lady and to explore her enduring global influence on style. Some 80 original costumes and accessories had come from the collection of the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum in Boston, to which the former First Lady donated these landmark pieces after she left the White House. The collection included elements from her formal White House wardrobe – what Mrs. Kennedy herself called her “state clothes” – as well as pieces worn during her husband’s 1960 presidential campaign. Hamish Bowles, European editor-at-large of Vogue, served as creative consultant. Jacqueline Kennedy is one of history’s great style icons. Her profound influence on the way an entire generation wanted to look, dress, and behave cannot be overestimated.” Hamish Bowles  Hollywood’s preeminent designer, Edith Head, called her ‘the greatest single influence [on fashion] in history’ 


Advice to Jackie


Jackie studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and she returned with a smart, sophisticated Parisian wardrobe, containing pieces of Givenchy, Balenciaga and Chanel. When John F.’s career climbed the ladder, Jackie was issued a discreet ultimatum: For political expediency : Cut the Paris cord. She began consulting with Diana Vreeland, the fashion oracle, on a selection of American designers. In December, the Hollywood costumer Oleg Cassini, a French-born American of aristocratic Russian and Italian descent, was made official designer of her White House wardrobe. An old family friend, Cassini would create for his star client a polished wardrobe of both original designs and Paris copies—for which Jackie often supplied sketches, pages torn from magazines, and fabric swatches.

drawing Oleg Cassini

drawing Oleg Cassini


Another advice came from Manhattan hairdresser Kenneth: loose the short, wavy “Italian Cut” hairdo, grow your hair and stretch it out on rollers. (In the coming years, Kenneth will be responsible for Jackie’s famous trend-setting bouffant)

Jackie Kennedy


Famous outfits

Inauguration Day

Jackie Kennedy, with her husband on Inauguration Day, January 20, 1961, wears a hat designed for her by Halston.



On the Inauguration Day, January 20, 1961, Jackie dressed in Cassini’s trim greige coat, worn with Halston’s news-making pillbox hat and a little sable circlet and muff. It set the tone for the new first lady’s wardrobe.


Inaugural Bal



PicMonkey Collage

For the 1961 celebration,Jackie Kennedy collaborated on a design with Bergdorf Goodman’s Ethel Frankau and Emeric Partos. “What you see with the inaugural gown is the triumph of her own personal style,” the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Valerie Steele has said. “To use fashion as a way of representing her husband’s presidency—to look modern, elegant, simple and American.”  An Ivory column with silver embellished bodice, veiled with a sheer overblouse and a matching cape to add a royal touch.


Inaugural Gala



Jacqueline Kennedy’s Inaugural Gala Gown. Ivory silk satin evening gown, by Oleg Cassini, American, 1961. Worn by Jacqueline Kennedy to the Inaugural Gala, National Guard Armory, Washington, D.C., January 19, 1961 the evening before President Kennedy’s inauguration. The cockade at the waist pointed to Jacqueline Kennedy’s pride in her French Bouvier ancestry and her profound love of history.


Television broadcast



Jackie Kennedy wears a red wool day dress by Christian Dior for a televised tour of the White House on Valentine’s Day in 1962


Nobel Prize winners diner




A Grecian draped Celadon column in silk jersey, draped to form a pleated skirt and a gathered bust line. Designed by Oleg Cassini.

This dress was worn by the First Lady to the dinner honoring the Nobel Prize winners of the Western Hemisphere at the White House in Washington, 1962.


Opening of the Mona Lisa exhibit

himyf jackie pink



Pink silk chiffon strapless evening dress. This sari inspired evening dress is delicately beaded with porcelain and rhinestones. Jackie had noticed a photograph of Audrey Hepburn wearing the original yellow version of the dress in the May 11, 1962 issue of Life magazine, designed by Hubert de Givenchy.  She supplied Cassini with a sketch from which he created this version after a spring-summer 1962

This gown was worn by Jackie to the opening of the Mona Lisa exhibit at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1963. The First Lady also wore this dress at the White House state dinner honoring President Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan of India, June 3, 1963.


Visiting the Pope

Jacqueline Kennedy Visiting Pope Paul VI



A full-length long-sleeved black dress in black Alaskine with a taffeta petticoat. This dress was worn by Jacqueline Kennedy during her audience with Pope John XXIII, Vatican, Rome, March 11, 1962. Protocol requires that women wear a mantilla or hat and dressed in black.

This dress is one of my  favorites worn by the First Lady, because of the  fabulous simplicity.


Fatal day


Jacqueline Kennedy wore a double-breasted, strawberry pink and navy trim collared Chanel wool suit on November 22, 1963, when her husband, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Accompanying the suit was a trademark pillbox hat in matching pink. The suit has become an emblem for her husband’s assassination and one of the iconic items of fashion of the 1960s. It has been variously described as “a famous pink suit which will forever be embedded in America’s historical conscience“, as “one of those indelible images Americans had stored: Jackie in the blood-stained pink Chanel suit”, as “the most legendary garment in American history“, and as “emblematic of the ending of innocence“. Jacqueline Kennedy was a fashion icon, and this outfit is arguably the most referenced and revisited of all of her items of clothing and her trademark.

Catalogue-Book Exhibition

A beautiful illustrated, very inspirational, must-have book.




“I am the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris, and I have enjoyed it.

-John F. Kennedy-



11 Responses to “Jackie Kennedy, the Presidential Wardrobe”

  1. fabrickated 23 June 2015 at 21:01 #

    Wow! This just brought the woman and her wardrobe to life for me, Many thanks,

  2. Ter Sed 13 January 2017 at 22:33 #

    The Pink Suit Jackie wore when her husband was shot was not a Channel. Inspired by Channel but constructed by Chez Ninon and American house.


    • Marybeth Brenning 19 September 2017 at 18:39 #

      Please, it’s “Chanel”

  3. Allison Payne 3 April 2017 at 05:47 #

    I admire so much about Mrs. Kennedy. Of course, she looked amazingi in her clothes, but she was so much more than what she wore. She was smart, clever, and ahead of her time. I thank God she was the woman of the White House during that dreadful period. Her decisions, made under unspeakable pressure, led our nation through a tunnel of darkness, pain, and trouble.

  4. Veronica 2 May 2017 at 22:21 #

    Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis was a style icon she was beautiful, slim and great dresser
    Jackie was beautiful not just on inside but outside. She was slim and she knew how to wear clothes that make her look elegant and beautiful.
    Jackie has been deceased for years but woman are still dressing like her. I wear my sleeve shift dress to work, church and everywgere in between.
    I love how she wore long white gloves with her sleeveless gowns. When I have to go formal event. I look at her old pictures.

  5. Cheryl Swain Burbage 11 October 2019 at 09:05 #

    It was a fabulous time and Mrs Kennedy embodied it in her iconic look. We’ve never seen an administration to equal it and I doubt we ever will.

  6. William Callaghan 19 October 2019 at 00:52 #

    The photo of Jackie with the Pope is that not of John XXIII but his successor Paul VI and taken in 1966

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