Why Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy’s Style is Still Iconic Today
By: Olivia Marrone
Working as a publicist for Calvin Klein before marrying the late John F Kennedy Jr., the late Carolyn Bessette- Kennedy knew a thing or two about styling outfits. With her classic and minimalistic approach to fashion, Carolyn quickly became a style icon in the 1990s for her chic New York City aesthetic.
Now 20 years after her tragic and untimely passing, Carolyn’s style is just as inspirational today as it was then. How has her style stood the test of time? Besides the style aesthetic of the late 90s/early 2000s being on-trend right now, here are some elements that make her style truly timeless.
The neutral color palette
Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy’s wardrobe mostly consisted of neutrals, in solid colors and prints. While occasionally she would wear more vibrant colors and prints, such as her red and leopard print coats, more often she would be spotted wearing black, white, blue jeans, and shades of brown and tan.
A wardrobe full of basics
Along with her neutral color palette, Bessette-Kennedy had a closet full of basic style essentials: a white button-down shirt, straight-leg jeans, long over-coats, and a timeless shoe collection (consisting of loafers, tall boots, and strappy sandals, to name a few) could all be found in her wardrobe. Since her style was minimalistic, these pieces all paired together well and created effortlessly chic looks from day to night.
Her attention to detail with accessories
Although Carolyn didn’t wear accessories often when she did it was never over the top. Bessette-Kennedy’s accessories always added just enough to enhance her look and pull it together, which is a key element in creating timeless outfits. For evening events she had been photographed wearing a simple clutch, pearl earrings & necklaces, long, black gloves, and the occasional piece of gold jewelry in the form of bracelets and rings. On a more daily basis, her go-to accessories (when she wore them) included black tote bags, oval-frame sunglasses, a square-faced watch with a black strap, and headbands/scarves, to name a few
Structure and silhouettes
Contrary to today’s structured yet oversized design that the minimalist style aesthetic typically brings, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy’s outfits were always structured and enhanced her natural silhouette. Whether it was a tank top and jeans or her classic white button-up shirt and black ruffled skirt for an evening event, the clothing Bessette-Kennedy wore always fit her well and allowed her comfort while also looking stylish.
Besides the pieces in her wardrobe being classic and simplistic style-wise, the simplicity in Bessette-Kennedy’s wardrobe also came from the fit of her clothing. As mentioned previously, Carolyn’s clothing always fit her well and this allowed her mobility so she could live among the hustle-bustle of life in NYC without having to worry about a wardrobe malfunction.
A multitude of paparazzi photos often show Bessette-Kennedy walking through the streets of New York with a certain effortlessly-chic vibe, which was most likely because she felt comfortable in the clothes she was wearing. This simplicity of her outfits allowed her the best of both worlds in fashion: stylish and comfortable
Despite her short time in the spotlight, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy quickly became a style icon of the 90s and beyond. Her minimalistic and chic sense of style is not only easy to recreate, but it is also practical for everyday life and is guaranteed to always look good.