John Fitzgerald Kennedy is primarily known for his untimely death by assassination in 1963, his purported affair with Marilyn Monroe, and his status as one of the most attractive American presidents of all time. However, his memory also endures because his distinctive style was so spot on. Look no further than the late, great JFK for classic style brimming with Ivy League charm.
His wife, Jackie Kennedy, established a similar reputation, forever setting the standard for First Lady fashion. No other figure, aside from Audrey Hepburn, who was essentially Jackie’s doppelganger and with whom she shared the same influential designer, Hubert de Givenchy, has cast such a powerful or long-lasting penumbra over the world’s ideas of how to dress.
Below are the style lessons you can learn from arguably America’s best-dressed presidential couple.
1. Dress like an Ivy League alumni
JFK was the nation’s biggest champion for chinos, army surplus khakis, grey marl jumpers, penny loafers, and Oxford shirts long before the likes of Tyler, The Creator.
Despite not attending an Ivy League school, Jackie Kennedy did well to imitate the signature preppy style, often pairing loafers with cropped tailored trousers and an item of knitwear.
The couple mastered the Ivy League look and we’re grateful they did – we need the inspo.
2. Sunglasses are your favourite accessory
Sunglasses add a tinge of glamour to any look and this presidential couple certainly knew that.
JFK was well-known for wearing tortoise-shell sunglasses, which matched his image as a dashing, sophisticated man of the world.
They became a signature of his nearly indescribable charisma over time.
The sunglasses were the one element of style that successfully bridged the two worlds of the JFK-style universe.
Jackie Kennedy was also known for her iconic and often oversized sunglasses. They were an indispensable accessory, because they allowed the former First Lady the opportunity to people watch.
François Pinton, a French eyewear designer, created two unique sunglasses designs specifically for Jackie Kennedy. After getting her hands on Pinton’s designs, it seems that Jackie never wanted to take them off.
3. White works sartorial wonders
White seems to have been a go-to for both of the Kennedys, and we can see why.
White became almost a uniform for the pair. Jackie once mastered monochromatism for a day on the boat by dressing all white from head to toe, from her headscarf and sunglasses to her sandals.
For JFK, white trousers were typical of his summer attire. He wore cloud-white ankle-grazing slacks everywhere he went, whether on the golf course or on holiday in Maine. Wearing white trousers in the summer may be a bit of a cliché, but all the best-dressed men are doing it. They’re worn by Harry Styles, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig, and we’re even seeing more white trousers on the runway than ever before.
4. When in doubt, throw on an overcoat
Not only is an overcoat a practical winter wardrobe staple, but they also exude sophistication. The right overcoat says “I’m on my way to a very important meeting” no matter where you’re heading. Very presidential.
For his inauguration in 1961, Kennedy completed the look with his Chesterfield overcoat a black silk top hat.
5. Inject some nautical influences into your outfits
Kennedys and fine nautical-inspired style are like Kennedys and politics – they just go together. JFK was a lifelong sailor and his wardrobe certainly reflected this.
The Kennedys are pictured here reclining on the family-named yacht while watching the opening of the America’s Cup races. Jackie wears all-navy, which is very fitting for a day at sea and JFK was the ultimate New England heartthrob—a playboy in boat shoes.
Above, JFK is wearing cable-knit blue socks with white training shoes and a fur-collared leather jacket, which is maybe his most memorable maritime look. And then of course were the sunglasses – we know Kennedy knew how to wear a pair of those.