For both men and women, the fashions of the late 1950s and early '60s were pure class; the clothing's minimal slant makes it both elegant and timeless. Few women encapsulated this era's style as perfectly as Jacqueline Kennedy, later Onassis, whose perennially flattering ensembles cemented her place as a fashion icon. Though tragedy cut her time short at the White House, the ensuing decades haven't aged her sense of style one bit, making her more than worthy of emulating well into the 21st century.
As the wife of President John F. Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy's job called for lots of dresses, most of which were supplied by designer Oleg Cassini. Solid-colored A-lines in subdued shades certainly ring up images of Jackie O., especially those with just a bit of structure in the torso. When the occasion calls for an evening gown, a silk column dress or sleeveless sheath gets the job done with class.
Kennedy's formal look lends itself well to the professional environment. In particular, the skirt suit screams “Jackie.” This first lady often wore a straight skirt with either a structured, cropped jacket or a loose, more casual, cardigan-style jacket. Go with a houndstooth, wool or tweed skirt suit with a boxy cut to really capture the early '60s vibe. Solids like navy or light pink are apt, as are subtle checked or plaid patterns.
The Casual Side
The first lady's life isn't limited to galas, and Kennedy illustrated this with simple-yet-timeless skimmer or shift dresses, which accommodate bolder patterns than the solid colors she favored. Kennedy particularly liked these dresses in paisley prints. In her later years, she sported cropped pants or slim denim with a bit of a flare, often topped with a solid-hued turtleneck.
In addition to a wide range of minimalist dresses and skirt suits, Jackie O. reveled in cutting-edge coats. She had an affinity for trapeze coats with a knee-high hemline and, for chillier weather, she preferred subdued fawn wool to showy furs. With the exception of intentionally wide trapeze and dollop coats, keep things well-fitted and tailored to nail the look.
Oversize oval sunglasses, simple pearls and kerchief scarves are absolutely essential to emulating Kennedy-Onassis. For handbags, Jackie O. kept things small and boxy or hobo-style. While not as common as it was in 1962, the simple pillbox hat still makes a statement at formal affairs. Shoes ranging from round-toed pumps to imposing knee-high boots mimic Jackie's understated style.