10 Fashion Lessons We Can Learn From Jackie

Jackie defined classy, casual American style. Here, she rides her bike through Central Park.
Jackie defined classy, casual American style. Here, she rides her bike through Central Park.
Larry Zumwalt/Pictorial Parade/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Jackie Kennedy has had such a strong impact on the world that countless books and articles have been and continue to be written about her. At one time, she was even the most sought-after photograph subject in the world! If you know anything about Jackie, you won't find that hard to believe. From her dashing sense of style to her personable attitude and demeanor, she was a favorite of the people during John Kennedy's presidency and continued to fascinate the public even after his death in 1963.

Ever since she came into the limelight as the first lady, she's been a style icon who women have strived to imitate over the years. With a style heavily influenced by European fashion, Jackie looked fabulous and put-together wherever she went. Full of poise, grace and beauty, she revolutionized women's wear in the 1950s and 60s. There are many things that we can learn from Jackie, but how to look fashionable is at the top of the list!



Own a Good Pair of Sunglasses

Jackie is best known for her large, signature sunglasses ("Jackie O glasses"). You would almost never see her out without them, and they were the perfect finishing touch to any outfit she donned. Jackie wore her famous sunglasses long after she was a political wife and has been quoted saying she liked the opportunity they gave her to watch people. It's also said that she kept multiple pairs of sunglasses in a basket by her door so that she would always have access to a pair before going out. Even today, many companies make imitation Jackie Kennedy sunglasses, so pick up a pair to add glam to any ensemble!


Wear Pearls

A young Jacqueline Bouvier chooses pearls for a social event.
A young Jacqueline Bouvier chooses pearls for a social event.
FPG/Archive Photos/Getty Images

Jackie had an extremely simple style and didn't wear much jewelry.

However, when she did wear accessories, they were always a reflection of her personality and never too glitzy or gaudy. Along with her large-framed sunglasses, Jackie made the three-strand pearl necklace a signature trend that women still follow today.


Her famous faux pearl necklace even sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction. So, whether with a dress and white gloves or trousers and a T-shirt, you can pair pearls with any outfit for instant class and elegance.

There's no need to break the bank, either -- remember that Jackie's pearls were imitation, and yours can be, too!



Basic Black and White Always Works

Jackie's classic style consisted mostly of black and white clothing. It was her favorite look, and she was photographed wearing only black and white many times. She preferred white on the bottom (trousers or an A-line skirt) and black on the top, stating the other way around gives too much of a "waiter look."

This style is easy to imitate since it's so simple and gives you a complete outfit. Start with a pair of white, beltless jeans, and wear a black turtleneck pulled down over your hips. Add a three-strand pearl necklace or a headscarf, and you'll be an instant Jackie look-alike!



Less is More

Ron Galella/WireImage/Getty Images

There's one thing that every ensemble Jackie Kennedy ever wore had in common: She always kept it simple.

This was a woman who understood that less is more. Her look was never cluttered or busy, and with every outfit she chose, she portrayed the message that you don't have to wear fancy clothes to be elegant.


You can obtain elegance easily if you keep your style streamlined. Fill your closet with timeless and classic pieces like white trousers, fitted black tops, tailored jackets and great accessories that you can mix and match for any occasion. This makes it a cinch to step out looking like Jackie!


Invest in a Good Jacket

Jackie is incredibly well-known for wearing fitted jackets with quarter- and bracelet-length sleeves. Paired with an A-line skirt, cropped trouser or white denim, most of her jackets featured large buttons down the front or a belt around the waist, which gave her outfit built-in flair. These tailored jackets worked so well for Jackie because they emphasized her figure and gave her a clean, polished look.

Not only will a fitted jacket make you look slim and trim, you can also wear it with almost anything. The money spent will be a huge investment piece for your wardrobe.



Don't Fight Your Hair Type

Central Press/Getty Images

There's no point in taking fashion lessons from Jackie if we don't touch on the classy hairstyle that we all know and love. Her bubble haircut is a style icon in itself!

Now, we're not suggesting that you request the bubble cut (that look is a little dated), but there's a lesson behind this coiffure. Jackie had very coarse, thick hair, and with her busy schedule, she needed a haircut that would look great without much hassle. This cut suited her natural hair type.


How much time do you spend fussing with your tresses every day? Take a cue from Jackie by working with your stylist to ensure you get a cut that works well with your natural hair texture and that can be styled with the amount of effort you're willing to put forth.


The Right Fit Matters Most

Jackie never wore clothes that were too big or too small for her frame. No matter what she wore, it fit her well.

This is one of the first things to think about when you're shopping. No matter how great the outfit is, it doesn't quite work if it doesn't fit you correctly. Try on clothes before buying them to test them out! Sit down, stand up, walk around the store and raise your arms above your head to see how the clothes work as you move about. Imitate the way you'll be wearing them in your day-to-day life to test their wearability.


If there's a particular piece you love that doesn't hug your figure just right, get a little help from a professional tailor. With a few alterations, you can model that beautiful, sleek Jackie Kennedy look.


So Long, Sleeves!

Jackie dared to bare her shoulders in breezy shift dresses.
Jackie dared to bare her shoulders in breezy shift dresses.
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Wearing sleeveless tops and dresses was a bold move for the first lady. At the time, most women would never consider stepping out with bare arms, and Jackie became a trendsetter for exposed shoulders. Always paired with the appropriate accessories, Jackie's sleeveless garments were so flattering that they moved from the realm of fashion faux pas to fashion must-have.

Of course, saying so long to sleeves is just one example of Jackie's courageous sense of style. She wasn't easily pressured into wearing what others did. She mostly went sleeveless for evening attire, but she could be found wearing sleeveless dresses at other functions as well.



Accessorize With a Scarf

Scarves became one of Jackie's best accessories, and she used them artfully in her wardrobe. She could be found wearing a headscarf paired with a fitted tee and capris on a warm day at the café, or with a scarf tied around her neck complementing a fitted dress at a political function.

With a vast array of styles and colors to choose from, you'll be amazed at how a simple scarf can dress up your basic T-shirt or shift dress. The wardrobe options you can create are endless, so don't be afraid to break out of your comfort zone and try something new! At the very least, you can tie a scarf to the handle of your purse for a pop of color.



Turtlenecks Are Timeless Choices

A black turtleneck is perfectly appropriate outdoors or dressed up.
A black turtleneck is perfectly appropriate outdoors or dressed up.
David Cairns/Express/Getty Images

Although most would say that turtlenecks are a little old-fashioned, Jackie sported the black turtleneck in such an elegant way that it would be a shame not to bring it back.

She frequently coupled a black turtleneck with flared trousers or even an A-line skirt and a double-breasted trench coat.


Wearing a black top gave Jackie instant elegance and slimmed her midsection. Plus, black is easy to accessorize!

To get the look, pair one with cropped black capris and a scarf -- instant Jackie style.


What Happens to Red Carpet Dresses After Celebrities Wear Them?

What Happens to Red Carpet Dresses After Celebrities Wear Them?

Where do those red carpet dresses go after their big debuts? HowStuffWorks follows the trail.

Related Articles