Style Notes: Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy


Originally published by Novella Magazine

Carloyn Bessette-Kennedy’s iconic style is no secret. She had cracked the code to timelessness. As a former publicist for Calvin Klein and the wife of John F. Kennedy Jr., son of President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, it is no wonder she became such a legendary icon. She embodied the minimalist and graceful ideals of 90s designers such as the aforementioned Calvin Klein, but also Jil Sander and Ralph Lauren. How do we achieve this timeless style?


Day to Day– Her weekday looks were streamlined and professional. Corduroy pants, long camel skirts, and turtlenecks for fall, black slip dresses for summer. Despite her access to designers, she wore the same sunglasses, Selima Optique, and the same bag, Hermès Birkin, year round. The take away? Invest in quality pieces you love, rather than buying a number of accessories to change daily. It’s excess.


Casual– Bessette-Kennedy’s casual looks were set to the tone of ease. She borrowed from John. She wore loose jeans or trousers paired with a black sweatshirt or oversized white button down top, and no make up. To top it all off? Stan Smiths.


Beauty–Her beauty looks were simple and elegant: thin eyebrows, red lips, and long blonde hair worn either in a bun or loose. Her long blonde tresses and thin brows became her signature, her beauty styling never wavered, thus becoming timeless. Oh, and tortoiseshell headbands (J.Crew carries beautiful ones made in France).

JFK JR's anniversary of his death

Evening wear– All black, all the time.

5 Style Lessons From CBK:

1. Go basic. Her classic looks, endlessly documented by paparazzi outside of the Tribeca apartment she shared with JFK Jr., included many basics, such as cropped bootcut jeans, leather loafers, camel skirts, sleeveless black tops and tortoiseshell accessories.

2. Keep it simple. No patterns (okay maybe leopard), frill, bright colours, or excessive texturing.

3. Oversize. For days off, oversize is key.

4. Find what you love. Don’t buy your pieces thoughtlessly. Think about what you are buying and only make the purchase if it’s love. Choose a night in here and there and save up for your it-bag.

5. Minimalism. Adhering to a minimalist aesthetic allows you to play with shape and quality of fabric. Search vintage for cashmere turtlenecks and buy one in grey, white, black, and beige.

All images sourced on Pinterest.

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