TIME Style

Decoding Jackie O’s Signature Style

From oversize shades to all white everything, we break down the timeless look of an American icon

Twenty years ago today, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis died of cancer at the age of 64. Today, she’s remembered as a wife, mother and graceful figure who championed the arts and literature. But Jackie is also a bonafide fashion icon who inspired millions with her chic wardrobe and effortless style. During her initial year as First Lady, she reportedly spent $45,446 more on her wardrobe than the $100,000 annual salary her husband earned as president (which he donated to charity). Below, a breakdown of the elements that defined Jackie’s signature style.

MORE: Jackie Kennedy in the Early Sixties: Making of an American Icon

  • Pillbox Hats

    U.S. First Lady Jackie Kennedy on an official visit to Paris in 1961.
    RDA U.S. First Lady Jackie Kennedy on an official visit to Paris in 1961.

    Jackie started more than a few trends during her first year in the White House, including popularizing the pillbox hat. Many of her stylish chapeaus, which she often wore in different colors, were designed for her by Halston. She famously wore a pink suit and matching pillbox hat on the day her husband was assassinated.

     

     

  • Oversize Sunglasses

    Jackie Onassis on the streets of New York City on Oct. 7, 1971.
    Ron Galella—WireImage/Getty Images Jackie Onassis on the streets of New York City on Oct. 7, 1971.

    Jackie’s signature shades were both stylish and functional. She has been quoted saying she liked the opportunity they gave her to watch people and that she kept multiple pairs of sunglasses in a basket by her front door.

  • Headscarves

    Jackie Onassis walks through a busy street in Capri, Italy, in the early 1970s.
    Hulton Archive—Getty Images Jackie Onassis walks through a busy street in Capri, Italy, in the early 1970s.

    Jackie had an ability to make even the most casual outfits look chic, and often paired headscarves with giant sunglasses when she was outdoors.

  • Perfectly Styled Hair

    Jackie Kennedy sits in the living room of her Washington, D.C., residence, March 27, 1960 during her husband's campaign.
    AP Jackie Kennedy sits in the living room of her Washington, D.C., residence, March 27, 1960 during her husband's campaign.

    Though her hairstyle evolved over the years, Jackie’s voluminous coif was an integral part of her signature lookl. Her iconic bouffant was created by Kenneth Battelle, the famed hairdresser to the stars who also styled Marilyn Monroe.

  • Elbow Length Gloves

    U.S. First Lady Jackie Kennedy attends a luncheon with French President Charles DeGaulle (right) on June 2, 1961 in Washington, D.C.
    Paul Schutzer—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images U.S. First Lady Jackie Kennedy attends a luncheon with French President Charles DeGaulle (right) on June 2, 1961 in Washington, D.C.

    Gloves were another signature accessory for Jackie for both day and night. She favored white elbow length gloves at formal evening events, which were often commissioned by LaCrasia Gloves in New York City’s famed garment district.

  • Strapless Gowns

    U.S. President John Kennedy and First Lady Jackie receive French Minister of Culture Andre Malraux at the White House in Washington, D.C., on May 11, 1962.
    Apic/Getty Images U.S. President John Kennedy and First Lady Jackie receive French Minister of Culture Andre Malraux at the White House in Washington, D.C., on May 11, 1962.

    As First Lady, Jackie frequently wore shoulder-baring gowns to official events that showed off her slim physique — a daring move in the 1960’s.

  • Bows

    U.S. First Lady Jackie Kennedy wears a fitted silk apricot dress and triple strand of pearls, walking through crowds at Udaipur during visit to India on March 1, 1962.
    Art Rickerby—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images U.S. First Lady Jackie Kennedy wears a fitted silk apricot dress and triple strand of pearls, walking through crowds at Udaipur during visit to India on March 1, 1962.

    Jackie often accented her famously tiny waist with strategically placed bows.

  • Capes

    U.S. President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy at the Inaugural Ball on Jan. 20, 1961 in Washington, D.C.
    Corbis U.S. President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jackie Kennedy at the Inaugural Ball on Jan. 20, 1961 in Washington, D.C.

    Few people can carry off a cape, so it’s no surprise the dramatic accessory was a part of Jackie’s signature style as First Lady.

  • Amazing Coats

    Jackie Kennedy visits Paris c. the late-1960s.
    Michael Ochs Archives—Getty Images Jackie Kennedy visits Paris c. the late-1960s.

    Long before Olivia Pope rocked every conceivable style of cold-weather cover-up, Jackie dazzled with her seemingly endless array of fabulous, covetable coats.

  • Equestrian-Inspired Style

    U.S. First Lady Jackie Kennedy at the Piedmont Foxhounds Races in Upperville, Virginia on March 26, 1961.
    Bettmann/Corbis U.S. First Lady Jackie Kennedy at the Piedmont Foxhounds Races in Upperville, Virginia on March 26, 1961.

    Having grown up riding horses, Jackie made equestrian garb look effortlessly chic.

  • Matching Offspring

    Jackie Kennedy with John F. Kennedy Jr. on Easter Sunday April 14, 1963, in Palm Beach, Fla.
    AP Jackie Kennedy with John F. Kennedy Jr. on Easter Sunday April 14, 1963, in Palm Beach, Fla.

    Jackie’s fashion sense extended to her children, which meant John and Caroline wore outfits that frequently complemented or matched their mother’s.

  • White on White on White

    From right: U.S. President John F. Kennedy First Lady Jackie Kennedy attend the first America's Cup race on Sept. 9, 1962 in Newport, R.I.
    Courtesy of Kennedy Library Archives/Newsmakers/Getty Images From right: U.S. President John F. Kennedy First Lady Jackie Kennedy attend the first America's Cup race on Sept. 9, 1962 in Newport, R.I.

    Jackie understood the power of the simple monochromatic look, and may have been the originator of the All White Everything look that’s back in fashion.

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