As May 19th marked the 21st anniversary of the death of the former first lady, fashion icon, and general extraordinary human being, it’s clear that her relevance and influence is still very prevalent today in American culture.
Even among our generation, so many young women look to her style, grace, and intelligence as inspiration. She remains one of the most remarkable, and influential first ladies of modern times, and she’s definitely taught us a thing or two.
1. Pearls are always appropriate.
A direct Jackie quote. Jackie’s signature necklace was a three strand pearl choker, believed to be inherited from her mother, Janet. John-John was famous for tugging at the necklace while she would hold him in her arms. The piece was auctioned off at Sotheby’s for over 200,000 dollars, while the real value was believed to be somewhere near 500-700 dollars.
Jackie knew, when in doubt, pearls work well with anything, and any lady knows that no wardrobe is complete without a classic strand of pearls.
2. It takes a great lady to complete a great man.
Joe Kennedy SR. knew that JKF would never win a presidential election without a wife, but not just any wife. Jackie Bouvier was the only one who fit the bill. Cultured, educated, witty, intelligent and beautiful, she was the missing link that would ultimately make or break the campaign. Many heads of state and foreign dignitaries were captivated by her, and throngs of people would come out to just catch a glimpse of her.
Later, after the assassination, who do you think cultivated the myth of ‘Camelot’ to journalist around the country as a way to make sure that her husband’s memory and legacy was shaped the way she wanted, and thought he deserved.
Jackie certainly taught us that behind every great man is a great woman. Or perhaps, behind every great woman, is an equally ‘OK’ man….
3. Never stop reaching for higher things.
Obviously, marrying into the Kennedy clan was a feat all in it’s own. Young Senator Kennedy (pre presidential election) was the cream of the political crop in Washington DC, and one of the country’s most eligible and notorious bachelors. Wealthy, good looking, and by all accounts, armed with loads of charm, Jackie did very well for herself in securing such a match. But…
After the assassination of JFK, she went on to marry one of the richest men in the world. Billionaire shipping magnate and ‘the Greek’ Aristotle Onassis, who may not have been JFK’s equal in terms of looks, charm or political status, but he had a much bigger wallet, and kind of sort of own half of Greece. (Actually, Skorpios, an island.)
Now, I’m not saying go be a gold digger, or I’m not even making this about money. But Jackie taught us to always reach higher and better ourselves no matter the situation. Her prowess didn’t end with social climbing and securing rich husbands.
She launched a successful renovation of the White House, established many organizations and charities to help better the lives of others, and never stopped traveling and educating herself, and her children.
4. Nothing is more important than family.
Jackie made sure to always make time for her children. They were number one to her in all aspects of life. The way they were raised, their education, and what sort of people they would turn out to be would become a standing testament to the type of love and nurturing she provided them from day one.
Jackie also never lost touch with the Kennedy clan, even though she never particularly got along with Ethel, or Rose for that matter. When Bobby Kennedy decided he would run for President in 1968, Jackie was at the center, helping map out campaign strategy and cheering him on. She would also become one of the first ones to fly home to reach Ethel when he was killed in the basement of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angelos after winning the California primary.
Jackie taught us that children are a precious gift, and they are to be celebrated, as well as motherhood. She also taught us the importance of family, a
5. Don’t worry about the b!tches.
With a womanizing husband, and much to envy, Jackie Kennedy never paid much attention to women who tried to take what was hers. Her supposedly famously snarky response to Marilyn Monroe’s claim that she would be JFK’s second wife has been speculated and written about throughout the years, but I like to think it’s true. Author Chris Anderson claims she said this:
Marilyn, you’ll marry Jack, that’s great . . . and you’ll move into the White House and you’ll assume the responsibilities of first lady, and I’ll move out and you’ll have all the problems.
I’m not saying it’s okay to put up with an unfaithful husband or boyfriend. I’m not saying that at all. Her circumstances were obviously much different that your average person’s. Point is, women are weird and complex creatures. We are always going to have to deal with members of our own sex who are jealous, or want we what have. Jackie taught us that we should just take it with a grain of salt and know that nobody else can compare to what we have.
6. It’s not the clothes you wear, it’s the way you wear the clothes.
A lot of people are unaware of this, but even though Jackie’s mother married a millionaire and her father was seemingly stock market and old money wealthy, she never truly acquired real wealth until she married into the Kennedy family.
During her coming out as a Newport debutante, while everyone else was clad in couture and richly expensive dresses, Jackie wore a 50 dollar dress bought from a department store rack. She was the belle of the ball and would later be known as Debutante of the Year.
Jackie taught us to wear the clothes, and maintain the style that is unique to you. Wear what you like, and forget about ‘what’s fashionable’ or ‘what in’ at the moment. Jackie launched every single trend that came out of the early 60’s and was known for making the likes of Lily Pulitzer and Oleg Cassini famous because she loved and wore their designs.
7. Never underestimate an education.
Formally educated at Miss Porter’s, Georgetown University, Paris University, and later at Vassar, Jackie could speak several languages, including fluent French. She was a master at art, literature, and history, and was JFK’s equal in both banter, and intelligence. One of the major things that lead him to propose, and probably one of the biggest reasons she has grown into such an enigma.
An educated woman exudes power, confidence and that alone makes her incredibly beautiful. Jackie taught us that we don’t have to play the house wife role, and that we can be equal to any man and not have to hide it. That’s something to be damn proud of.
8. Recognize the importance of over-sized sunglasses and fabulous head scarf.
The signature, Jackie-O look, this is a great way to look and feel like your are famous. Easy, and care-free, Jackie taught us that classic style, and simplicity is effortless and timeless.
9. Your best accessory is your beautiful sister, or beautiful best friend.
Jackie Kennedy had a beautiful sister, who was also European Princess. Lee Bouvier Radziwill married into aristocracy, and even then, was lesser know than Jackie. But none the less, just as beautiful and interesting.
Looking back at photos of the two, they seem to compliment each other and only make each other look more attractive. It’s always good for the soul to have fun with your sister, or best friend. Jackie taught us that’s the best accessory a girl can have.
10. Never forget to bring your own brand of beauty to everything you do.
During her White House years, Jackie was famous for putting an emphasis on the arts, music, and literature. She invited many musicians and authors to perform or read, at dinners and balls, including Pablo Casals, Robert Frost, and Maria Callas.
The French Minister of Culture famously honored the First Lady for her endeavors in the advancement of the arts in America, by lending the American people La Giaconda, The Mona Lisa, which was displayed at The Met, and visited by nearly 700,000 people.
As evident in her properties and homes, Jackie was constantly surrounded by the things and people she loved. Her books, her beautiful paintings, and all her fine decorating are the things that brought her much joy.
Jackie taught us never to forget to surround ourselves with people and things we believe to bring beauty and happiness to our lives, and to always seek to make all that we do bright and wonderful.
Here’s to you, Jackie, thanks for making the world a little easier and more beautiful for women to live in.
There are two kinds of women. Those who want power in the world, and those who want power in bed.