John Fitzgerald 'Jack' Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States and the youngest person elected into office. Of Irish-American decent, the Kennedy family have been involved within Massachusetts's politics for almost a quarter of American history. As a New England Eastern Establishment family, JFK's alma maters include Choate, Princeton and Harvard.
International political issues were significant during JFK's three-year term, with the Cuban Missile Crisis, Bay of Pigs, Construction of the Berlin Wall and the Space Race a few key events. Domestically, JFK was delicately working towards Civil Rights and equality, a hot and cantankerous issue of the time. Despite numerous post humous revelations about his personal life including illness and extra-marital affairs, JFK has consistently ranked high within American President popularity pols.
It has been said, Kennedy was simply not made President in 1960 but marketed as one. Three terms in the House of Representative and eight years in the Senate had left little in legislative record. With significant help from his father, Kennedy's Harvard Thesis Why England Slept (1940) was published and became a best seller. His was awarded for his heroism in the South Pacific as a Navy Commander and Profiles In Courage, which Kennedy wrote while recovering from back surgery, won a Pulitzer Prize.
All these events helped Kennedy's image in his campaign and he was great with his personal PR. He openly embraced television as a new medium and used it to great success to communicate with broader America.
His close relationship with the media ensured his relaxed attitude toward his marriage vowels to Jacqueline Lee Bouvier and significant health issues were keep out of public knowledge. Upon beating Nixon in the 1960 election, the glamorous and sophisticated Kennedy's took America by storm. The culture of celebrity in the White House and groomed public appearances had begun.
JFK's effortlessly elegant style
JFK introduced style into The White House; He knew what worked well and stuck with it. JFK Conveyed effortless elegance, an air of carefree confidence and simplicity in East Coast Ivy League prep style.
An avid sailor, JFK took yachting style into his off-duty dress. JFK made dressing down look classy. His casual wardrobe was clearly preppy with chinos, polo's, shirts, crew knit sweaters, boat shows and Harries Tweed and navy sports coats all common place. The common aspect between off-duty and work style were early wayfarer style sunglasses from Bausch and Lomb. This relaxed, simple and sophisticated prep style suited JFK. It was versatile for sailing, days at the beach or driving in his convertible at Hyannis Port his holiday home.
While in the oval office, JFK prescribed to a simple formula, commonly wearing grey or charcoal suits cut similar to the traditional American sack suit style. The cut included soft natural shoulders, a shallow chest and natural falling lines. Usually singled breasted, two buttons and no vent. He favored Brooks Brothers 'Number One' suit an unstructured and un-darted suit. The sack suit with lower shoulders to the English and European is built for comfort and roomier for movement. A benefit as at times JFK would have to wear a back brace underneath his suits for his significant back troubles.
As with the times, a simple white dress shirt with small point-collared shirts accompanied by striped and neat pattern neckwear and black oxford shoes completed his outfit.
JFK's unstudied sense of ease in his appearance coupled with simple , elegant and sophisticated style led him to become a truly iconic figure of the last century.
- T.W Mitchell