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IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO LOOK rich, famous, and elegant, then the Smithsonian Museum in Washington has just the information you need.  The permanent exhibition First Ladies: Political Role and Public Image, at the museum’s National Museum of American History, Behring Center, features all of the spectacular women who have graced the White House over the years and the fabulous clothing and jewelry they wore.     —Most of the time, the jewelry was real, admittedly.  But not always! 


Jacqueline Lee Bouvier Kennedy was perhaps the most fashionable of America’s First Ladies and was known for her flawless style. Among her beloved jewelry pieces was a large brooch that she frequently wore to State Dinners. Crafted in a star-burst design and set with 156 diamonds, she is said to have sold off several smaller pins in order to cover the $50,000 price tag of this one piece of jewelry.  Mrs. Kennedy wore the brooch almost everywhere, even putting it in her hair on special occasions.


                                        The Kennedy Mystique


IN ALL FAIRNESS TO OTHER FIRST LADIES, we have to point out that Jacqueline Kennedy had a mystique about her that automatically threw light waves of intensity on everything she wore, everything she did.  A simple ring became bigger than life.  Her ability to speak French not only enthralled the French President and his people, but raised her admiration to a remarkably high point here in the United States.  John Kennedy said:

                   “I am the man who accompanied Jacqueline Kennedy to Paris.” 

Everyone was amused, but he was saying something so true, it became historically famous.


Always furthering her exquisite political manners were the clothes and jewelry Jacqueline Kennedy wore.  To many, she became more than high fashion.  She was perfect!  But she was never extravagant.  She spent far less on her clothing than Mrs. Ronald Reagan, for example, and owned far fewer pieces of jewelry. What she did own, however, was special.


                               A Fabulous Engagement Present


JACQUELINE KENNEDY HAD a lovely wardrobe of earrings, among them a pair of elegant  diamond waterfall earrings cleverly designed so that the dangle could be removed, allowing her to wear the charming demi-flower studs alone. 

   –And, of course, we can’t forget that John Kennedy gave her a beautiful diamond bangle bracelet as an engagement present; she reportedly liked it so much, she wore it all her life.









                                    A Fashion Conservative


IN MANY WAYS, JACQUELINE KENNEDY was conservative in her fashion appearance.  She loved and lived in big dark sunglasses and the story goes she had a basket of them at the door to her home and would grab one of them each time she went out the door! 


This elegant first lady also had many different watches, but perhaps the best known was a small leather strap watch that she was photographed in while mourning President Kennedy.  The simple face with gold setting was flanked by 32 diamonds. The strap was plain black alligator.


                                             Strands of Pearls


ONE OF MRS. KENNEDY’S most famous jewelry pieces was a triple strand faux pearl necklace.  Yes!  Faux pearl!  The exquisite necklace featured 158 hand-painted European glass pearls on hand-knotted silk cords.  Not unlike the equally faux pearls made famous by a later first lady, Barbara Bush, these pearls were essentially indistinguishable from the real thing.  Mrs. Bush’s pearls, also multi-strand and close to the neck, were by Kenneth Jay Lane, a fashion jewelry designer who was literally made super-famous by his Washington association with Mrs. Bush!


   –If you are interested in learning more about Jacqueline Kennedy and her impeccable fashion sense, you might pick up In the Kennedy Style: Magical Evenings in the Kennedy White House.  It is one of many books covering the unforgettable social events of the Kennedy Administration, including a luncheon with Princess Grace.  It was written by Letitia Baldridge, White House Social Secretary at the time, and is literally filled with fascinating facts, fashion, and photographs.







  • Shields aviators feature cool look of designer sunglasses.  Order with smoke lenses for updated Kennedy effect.
Comments (0) Posted by Mary McGarry on Thursday, August 27th, 2009

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