“Much has been said about Jackie’s style. Her look was feminine and simple with a legendary ease… Her sense of eleganceinspires me to this day.” Valentino
Jacqueline Kennedy Biography
Jacqueline Lee Bouvier was born on July 28, 1929. She was a daughter of Wall Street stockbroker John Vernou Bouvier and his wife Janet Norton Lee. Material wealth did not protect Jackie from the emotional trauma and loneliness that resulted, when her parents separated and subsequently divorced.
“I lived in New York City until I was thirteen and spent the summers in the country. I hated dolls, loved horses and dogs, and had skinned knees and braces on my teeth for what must have seemed an interminable length of time to my family.”
From the early years Jackie learnt that the style is not what you choose to wear, it is also how you choose to view the world. At a very early age she learned the ability to allow only what she wanted into her life, and to ignore what she did not want to see. Jackie admitted: “If something unpleasant happens to me, I block it out. I have this mechanism.” She cultivated a sense of optimism, looking at the world the way she wanted it to be…
Jackie was educated at the best schools and according to her classmates Jackie was quite a rebel in her early years. The headmistress confided to Jackie’s mother: “I mightn’t have kept Jacqueline – except that she has the most inquiring mind we’ve had in this school in thirty-five years!”
Later she would admit that she “learned not to be ashamed of a real hunger for knowledge, something I had always tried to hide.”
At the time she left for college, Jackie was already a beautiful young lady. As she described herself for Vogue magazine, “I am tall, 5’7” (170 cm), with brown hair, a square face, and eyes so unfortunately far apart that it takes three weeks to have a pair of glasses made with a bridge wide enough to fit over my nose. I do not have a sensational figure but can look slim if I pick the right clothes. I flatter myself of being able at times to walk out of the house looking like a poor man’s Paris copy, but often my mother will run up to inform me that my left stocking seam is crooked or the right-hand top coat button is about to fall off. This, I realize, is the Unforgivable Sin.”
After 2 years of studying she spent her junior year in France, studying at the Sorbonne. She had not applied for permission from the college to study in France – which resulted in the college refusal to allow her to graduate. Jackie attended George Washington University in Washington, D.C., for her senior year, having switched her major to French literature.
Marriage to John F. Kennedy
The marriage of Jack and Jackie had always been subject to speculation, but Yusha Auchincloss (the stepbrother of Jackie) referred to their relationship as to “complete, caring, mutual understanding, and strong binding love – shared in private, slightly showed in public, but obviously recognized by those fortunate few who were drawn to each through friendship and family ties.”
As a first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy assumed a position that only thirty-five women before her had held in American history. And she was one who truly made a difference. Jackie was a perfect political wife. She campaigned with her husband, addressing people in their own languages: French, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian. She supplied the literary allusions for his speeches. She transformed the White House and rewrote the role of president’s wife. Throughout their marriage with J. F. Kennedy she would still manage to keep her own identity: pursuing her own cultural interests and separate friendships, making trips alone to stay in solitude, to read and think. Her husband respected and encouraged her autonomy.
One of her greatest accomplishments, however, was raising her children Caroline and John, in the midst of tremendous pressure. Jackie said: “People have too many theories about rearing children. I believe simply in love, security and discipline.”
Caroline was six and John three when their father was murdered. Despite her overwhelming grief, Jackie possessed too much strength of character to let the events ruin her. For the sake of her children she kept their life and upbringing as normal as possible. She explained: “They’ve got to grow up without thinking back to their father’s murder. They’ve got to grow up intelligently, attuned to life in a very important way. And that’s the way I want to live my life, too.”
Marriage to A. Onassis
Aristotle Onassis was his own creation. Largely self-educated, he spoke six languages: Greek, Turkish, English, Spanish, French and Italian. While to the rest of the world their union was not seen as a love match, the family and friends of Jackie thought otherwise.
The December 1968 issue of Vogue stated: “The announcement of her marriage to Mr. Onassis, an international figure of power – granitic, laughing, adamant – came as a fist blow to her public all over the world who have been supremely happy on the lovely myths they have devised for themselves. The actual woman is far better – delectable, determined, emotional, strongly beautiful, questing. She can again be herself, eager to exult, prepared for exaltation, living in her natural element of vital excitement.”
Once she wrote about herself : “Like a lot of people, I dreamed of writing the Great American Novel.” Instead, she began working as a book editor in New York City, after she became a widow for the second time, at the age of forty-five. She would work almost 20 years in the publishing industry thereafter.
Back in 1979 Jackie Kennedy was the only one of America’s fifty wealthiest women who worked.
Jackie quickly mastered the art of publishing. According to many authors who worked with her, she was a dream editor. Once she saw a book’s merit, anything was possible for her. Her attention to detail , and her handwritten notes with very astute editorial suggestions were legendary.
“You have to be doing something you enjoy. That is a definition of happiness: “complete use of one’s faculties along lines leading to excellence in a life affording them scope”. It applies to women as well as to men. We can’t all reach it, but we can try to reach it to some degree”. Jacqueline Kennedy
Accomplishments of Jacqueline Kennedy
Although most of us would remember her for her exquisite style, Jacqueline Kennedy preferred to be remembered for her work in historic preservation. Through her own efforts, as well as efforts of many people who joined her, she restored the White House to its current glory. She saved Grand Central Station in New York City, and persuaded many cities to value their monuments as worth saving. She taught us that one woman can make a difference.
Jackie Kennedy Style
Jackie’s style came from her life – east Hampton, the sea, horses; French tailoring of Hubert de Givenchy and Chanel, her love for books and her family. But even when she wore the most expensive European designs, she managed to look simple, athletic and truly American.
In her sense of style, Jackie knew always what worked best for her. She was not intimidated into wearing what others were wearing. Jackie insisted on sleeveless dresses when they were unheard of. She became one of the trend setters wearing trousers at a time when pantsuits were considered unacceptable.
The most important thing about the Jackie Kennedy style is that it was not static. The major changes in her life, her character and her personality, found their reflection in her style transformations. According to Benno Graziani, the former editor of Paris Match, “Jackie Bouvier has nothing to do with Jackie Kennedy, and Jackie Kennedy has nothing to do with Jackie Onassis. For those who knew her well, these were three different people.” Even her face changed dramatically, following her life transformations.
Her mind, the main contributor to her style, remained always searching, active. She knew the right moment to put away her perfect suits and little white gloves.
The Jackie Kennedy style was not about her outfits or decorating her homes. It was more about the way she conducted her life. Jackie considered herself an aristocrat. She did not want to be known as the first lady, but as Mrs. Kennedy. Her understanding of aristocracy was specifically put by her as “courage, and after that, taste and responsibility – and endurance.” Jackie certainly had these qualities more than anyone else.
Fashion trends she had set
- Sleeveless A-line dresses
- A good French suit to the middle of the knee with three-quarter sleeves on the jacket. The quality of the material is very important
- Dresses of Valentino and Givenchy
- White jeans. She liked the combination of beltless white jeans with a black turtleneck, never tucked in, but pulled down over the hips
- Hermes scarfs
- Pearl necklaces
- Jewelry from Van Cleef & Arpels
- Dark sunglasses. Once she was no longer a political wife, Jackie almost did not take the dark glasses off. She admitted that sunglasses gave her the opportunity to watch people
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