Jackie Kennedy remains to this day the most iconic First Lady America has ever seen. Far from simply acting as the president’s wife, she was a guardian of history, a chaperone of preservation and presentation. Because of her, First Ladies “feel very, very strongly that they are the custodians of a historic moment,” says ABC’s Cokie Roberts and are swayed to guide the preservation of that historic movement.
She elevated the role of the First Lady, forming the White House Historical Association and Fine Arts Committee to restore the White House to its historic glory. She brought presidential artifacts back to the most famous home in America and wowed the nation as a symbol of feminine repose and vivacity.
Her wardrobe in particular lent the Kennedy years a defined sense of place and propriety, a subsection of history where presentation and décor were placed on equal footing with substance and sustainability. Kennedy retained an original designer, Oleg Cassini, to create her unique line of iconic outfits, including her Inauguration Day fawn coat and Inaugural Gala gown. Her slim suits, three quarter sleeves, above the elbow gloves, and beloved pillbox hats drew praise and admiration world-over, with both commercial manufacturers and young women rushing to imitate her style and cool.
Jackie changed the role of First Ladies forever. Her style and presentation were always remarkable and she held the world from her fingertips with the poise and delicacy expected from a powerful woman who nurtured the nation like a mother.