clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

JFK and Jackie O Were the Ultimate New England Style Whales

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

Whale Week just wouldn't be complete without a historic whale, and who better to represent Boston than the Kennedys? For more on their expensive taste, see today's special posts on Curbed Boston and Eater Boston.

No doubt that the hyper political Kennedy family is American royalty, and here in Boston, its influence knows no bounds. John F. Kennedy made the Brahmin lifestyle known internationally with his preppy charm and closet chock full of Brooks Brothers. Meanwhile, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis holds rank with Marilyn Monroe (who was also scandalously intertwined with JFK), Princess Diana, and Audrey Hepburn as a style icon.

JFK shook up mid-twentieth century menswear with a casual ease that we still find today in the imagery of beloved American brands like J.Crew and Ralph Lauren. He looked as comfortable in a formal suit as he did in shorts and untucked button-down shirts while boating on Cape Cod waters. Appreciative of an English sensibility about tailoring, he sought out sharp silhouettes while banishing the notion that men must always wear hats. Like 39 of 44 US presidents ahead of him, Kennedy operated in a Brooks Brothers uniform. During his university days, he frequented J. Press in Harvard Square for much of the same merchandise it still sells today.

Simple frocks, glamorous ballgowns, tailored coats, and of course gigantic sunglasses mark Jackie O's signature style. She gravitated toward European designers and courageously diverged from standard trends to create her own chic look, which is perpetually emulated in the media and in the wardrobes of powerful women worldwide. Jackie set the precedent for current FLOTUS Michelle Obama to elevate up-and-coming designers. Rumor has it she was an impulse shopper, favoring brands like Chanel, Balenciaga, Charles Jourdan for shoes, and Gucci for hobo bags. As she aged, Jackie kept up with the time, leaning toward sportier silhouettes—though the late Eighties runways started veering back toward her original style, coming full circle.

Is there anything more American than the ability to look crazy cool dressed down and dolled up? This is what the history books will be pointing to as our legacy.
· JFK Style [Time]
· The first lady of fashion set her own style [The Independent]
· Brooks Brothers [Facebook]
¸ The Smaht Man's Guide to Cambridge [GQ]
· All Whale Week coverage [Racked Boston]