As I walk the streets of D.C. this weekend, I am surprised to see Jackie Kennedy’s legacy everywhere. It’s in the Kennedy Center. In the vermeil room of the White House where her portrait hangs and in the First Ladies exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History where her inaugural gown is on display. Replicas of her jewelry sparkle on my wrist. A copy of her signature sunglasses shade my eyes and a facsimile of her watch marks the time. Jackie Kennedy’s legacy is still present. In this city, in fashion, in the social graces taught to young ladies. But what exactly is that legacy? Here are 10 things I’ve learned from Jackie Kennedy:
1. The devil might be in the details, but fashion’s in the accessories – Accessories for JBK were like a signature – simple, classic, timeless. They created a sense of familiarity that the American public could copy, reinvent and make their own. She cut a familiar image that could easily be transformed with the addition of a French scarf, oversized dark sunglasses, simple jewelry, belt, coat, even the book!
2. Signature is the mot du jour when it comes to JBK. – She lived by them. For example,
Have a signature hairstyle. Preferably one with a name – the Secretary, the French Twist, the Joanne Woodward. Jackie’s was the Bouffant.
Have a signature look that can be modified to fit any occasion. Remember the pink Chanel suit with the classic pillbox hat? Of course you do! It’s one of the classic images of the Sixties! We’re aiming for stylish haute couture on a bon marché price.
She had signature sunglasses, a signature soft dulcet tone to her voice, even a signature way of stating centuries (1902 was pronounced nineteen two
instead of nineteen oh two). And remember!
3. Personalize your brand – JBK graced our history as part of the cultural elite, personally coining the phrase Camelot to describe her and JFK’s 1,000 days in the White House. She pronounced her name in the French style and emphasized the French heritage of her maiden name Bouvier (even though her mother was mostly of Irish descent and her father mostly of Scottish decent). How can you modify and shape your own image to accentuate the positive?
4. “In those days, we had to dress for dinner.” – JBK – Guess what? You still should. It’s polite, respectful, and part of your brand. Anytime we leave our house, we become a guest of…the gas station, the grocery store, Walmart. You name it. Now, I’m not suggesting you need to don your best Chanel for a small trip to the mailbox, but we should consider our audience. What if your JFK were going to cross your path today. Are you dressed appropriately?
5. Reading Jackie – she was by all account an avid book lover having worked as a book editor for almost 20 yeard. Read anything and everything you can…”everything from Colette to Kerouac.”
6. “I am the man who accompanied Jackie Kennedy to Paris and I have enjoyed it.” – JFK – What a wonderful thing to say about your spouse. Jackie herself summed this one up nicely, “I think the best thing I can do is to be a distraction. A husband lives and breathes his work all day long. If he comes home to more table thumping, how can the poor man ever relax?”
7. “It looks like its been furnished by discount stores.” – JBK on the White House – As part of her 1,000 day tenure at the White House, she spearheaded a project to protect, preserve and restore the White House to it’s former glory as the President’s home. She was known for saying her husband would spend any amount of money campaigning, but balks at spending a thousand dollars on a beautiful painting. The idea is simple – buy quality items, that will last you a lifetime, even if they require a quality price. It’s all part of your signature image!
9. “I want minimum information given with maximum politeness.” – JBK Interesting…moving on.
10. Above all, be practical – It takes time to create a signature brand. Afterall, character and etiquette are timeless accessories that take a lifetime to cultivate. Remember! Your image is your most valuable possession – style it wisely! Culture is the foundation of an interesting conversation. Be loyal, be regal, be poised, stately even, be a good mother and never forget pearls are always a good idea!
JFK & JBK’s Georgetown 4,096 sq. ft. townhouse, built in 1811, features 4 bedrooms & 3.5 baths. Last sold in 2004 for $3.35M. Although JBK & JFK lived in 7 Georgetown residences prior to the days of Camelot, this is where they lived in while JFK was campaigning for Presidency.