We’re about to end this year, begin another, and start yet one more fashion cycle. Right about now, after seeing a few too many decorations, embellishments, tinsel, (too much of everything) etc., I feel the urge to pare down and the idea of simplifying and streamlining is especially appealing. I begin each year with the same resolution: buy less but buy better. And if you (like myself) found yourself in large department stores in recent weeks, you can attest to the fact that there is too much crap around (with all due respect, who is buying all this stuff anyway?). Quelle turnoff. But luckily, it makes it easier for me to stick to my resolutions. If I had to write a book about fashion, the title would be, “It’s not that complicated” because, it really isn’t (with age comes wisdom). Sure, you can complicate things if you want to, (the fashion business is all about getting us to buy), but you don’t have to, and I’ve found it’s always the simplest things that are in the end, the best and most satisfying (and that applies to fashion as well).
|Left: Jacqueline Kennedy wearing YSL embracing black and navy|
Right: Altuzarra Pre Fall 2015
Regardless of what is deemed in and out, I’m always on the hunt for distinctive wardrobe basics, classic yet highly distinctive, played out in a palette of neutrals which focus on black, navy, gray, white, ivory, tan, with a touch of red. Come to think of it, those are the same elements that comprised the wardrobe of Jacqueline Kennedy, the legendary and enduring fashion legend known for her elegant restraint. Many women (of all ages), continue to cite her (as well as Audrey Hepburn) as their style icon, and I am one of them. And it’s not as though we don’t have a few things in common: our height (approximately 5’7”); we both went to Kenneth to have our hair straightened; and, my mother, in response to my extravagant spending habits, would often ask, “who do you think you are: Jackie Kennedy?” LOL.
|Left: Jackie Kennedy in black t shirt and white jeans in Capri|
Right: Louis Vuitton Spring 2015
But seriously, speaking of paring down and simplicity, Jacqueline’s look was quite minimal and fuss free, and she embodied Leonardo da Vinci’s quote, “simplicity is the utmost sophistication”. This was illustrated in countless images of her in Capri, wearing a simple black t shirt, white jeans, headscarf, and oversized sun glasses (she was either bare foot or wearing flat thong sandals), and those in which a fitted black turtleneck was the focal point of her outfit. These are looks that were stripped down to their bare bones, did not rely on bells and whistles, and simply put, cannot be improved upon, even to this day.
|Left: Jackie in leopard coat and hat with President Kennedy|
Right: Michael Kors Pre Fall 2015
When something’s good, it’s always good. It’s hard to find another woman who did simple quite like Jackie. She always looked effortlessly pulled together, glamourous yet sporty, healthy, easy, relaxed, and comfortable. It was all about finding perfectly cut, perfectly proportioned and utterly simplistic pieces, and having a sense of what is appropriate. She basically eschewed prints and patterns in favor of monotone solids. When she did wear prints, they were classic Breton striped t shirts (while sailing in Hyannis Port); iconic Pucci, Marimekko, or Lilly Pulitzer printed dresses (which she wore in the summer or on vacation in warm weather locations), and Hermes scarves (which she wore on her head).
|Left: Jackie in black turtleneck and Cartier watch|
Right: Elizabeth and James Pre Fall 2015
Her signature accessories were her classic Cartier watch (she did wear pearls for certain occasions), oversized sunglasses, flat boots, low heeled pumps (often by Roger Vivier), Jack Rogers and Bernardo flat sandals, the chicest shoulder bags (Gucci, Hermes), and smart gold chained handbags. She embraced a uniform that was comprised of perfect black turtlenecks, black t shirts, white jeans, button down shirts, skirt suits with boxy jackets, tailored riding jackets, well cut trousers, simple shifts and sheaths, and unadorned, regal, long sculptural evening columns. When she tapped into her bohemian side, suffice it to say, it was rich gypsy all the way. Most importantly, she had an enviable collection of coats. She understood that a great coat is the focal point of a look, and she was often seen out and about wearing one of her many trench coats, tautly belted or high waisted and abbreviated double breasted a line coats, gold buttoned officer coats, pea coats, sculptural capes. And then there was that famous leopard coat (many leopards lost their lives so that countless women could follow her lead).
|Left: Jacqueline Kennedy in belted Valentino trench and flat boots|
Right: Navy belted trench and flat boots Tomas Maier Pre Fall 2015
While time and time again, one can always find her influence within fashion, it seems especially the case right now, since the fashion world is having (yet another) love affair with the 60’s and 70’s (the decades when Jackie was in her style heyday). Coincidentally, the upcoming exhibition at the Museum at FIT (www.fitnyc.edu), is entitled, “Yves Saint Laurent + Halston, Fashioning the 70’s”. It runs from February 6th to April 18th, 2015, and will explore the two designers who “defined the sexy and glamorous fashion of the 197o’s”. (Jackie wore a great deal of Yves Saint Laurent, and Halston created the famous pillbox hat she wore for the 1961 Inauguration).
|Left: Jacqueline Kennedy in white Oleg Cassini gown|
Right: Valentino-Sala Bianca 2015
I myself am completely obsessed as of late. Following the Valentino Bianco 945 Collection shown at the Whitney this past month (it was inspired by the all-white collection from 1968 from which Jackie selected the dress she wore for her nuptials to Aristotle Onassis), I began searching the web for images of her. While most of the pictures I found (dating back some 45- 55 years) were not necessarily new to me, when I saw them all together, one after another, I was reminded of how fabulous, modern, hip, cool, and up to date she looked, and I was struck by the way so many of the designs she wore, looked exactly like what I’ve been seeing on recent runways. For those who like to point out that sure, everything comes back, but it comes back differently, take a look at these pictures. While in some cases, her sense of style seems to have been used as a reference or jumping off point, in others, it appears to be a doppelganger.
|Left: Jacqueline Kennedy in belted short coat|
Right: Gucci Fall 2014
I think it’s important for women to find their own look, and stay true to that, and I hardly mean to imply that everyone should strive to emulate Jacqueline Kennedy. But even if you don’t have the high profile, glamorous lifestyle she lead, her limitless clothing allowance, or her natural beauty, it’s almost impossible to not look good if you simply follow her lead. There’s a lot to be said about finding a uniform, simplifying, and paring down.
- Marilyn Kirschner