So much has been written about the style of Jacqueline Kennedy. So many people, in an attempt to understand her, have launched analyses of her face, her smile, her wardrobes, and her homes. They have dissected her letters, her speeches, her sketches, and her essays looking for the key style, the one thing that will explain how she captivates the globe for so many decades. The truth is that Jackie was not a style leader for any one of these reasons. Rather, all of these things, her person and her words, all enchanted us because they were indicators of one thing – Jackie’s free spirit.
Jackie was always genuine and lived her life with no exaggerations, she lived her life with freedom. From her earliest years Jackie bucked expectations and confidently conducted her life as she saw fit. It was because of this freedom that her sense of style permeated every aspect of her life. We call many people stylish who can choose the right outfit or say the right thing. But Jackie’s style is not defined so narrowly. We find that there is no corner of her life, from her majestic entrance to a gala ball, to her private whisper to a head of state, to a thank you note to the White House Staff, that was not informed by her trademark panache and flair. Because of this independence, Jackie was confident enough to be able to share her homes, her books, her causes, and the people she loved with the rest of the world. All of this contributed to what we can call Jackie’s style – not a simple chic, but intelligence, culture, beauty, and a sense of what needs to be done.
Jackie was almost a higher education for the nation. She shared her knowledge of history, her joy in the beauty of painting and song, and her appreciation for the American cultural life. Along with her husband, she raised our expectations of ourselves. As a result, she elevated our opinion of ourselves.