Thursday, 21 July 2011

Style Icon - JFK

My published editorial -

 Mr John Fitzgerald “Jack” Kennedy 1917 – 1963, but JFK to his friends and the world at large who all seemed to cherish and admire him was America’s 35th President serving just three years from 1961 – 63 until his assassination. For a man with such a short flurry if the public’s eye he made a heavy and influential mark on history as well as society and style, proving iconic and unforgettable.

As well as welcoming in the new world of optimism and American national pride after the war, his sort term in office was also  amassed by hugely historic events from the Cuban Missile Crisis to the Space Race, the building on the Berlin Wall and the beginning of Vietnam and the American Civil Right Movement.

This turbulence did nothing to shake JFK’s resolve and he carried himself with firm confidence and casual relaxed nonchalance that put the country at ease. With this natural sense of dignity the Kennedy’s where seen as the nearest thing the American’s had to royalty. JFK’s family were shrouded in political clout and Jacqueline Kennedy, a Bouvier came from America’s social elite and they carried and presented themselves accordingly with all the expected charm and elegance of their class.

The Kennedy’s were the IT couple for the early 60’s and represented the iconic nuclear family of WASP-ish America which was forever immortalised in the advertising campaigns by the Mad Men of Madison Avenue. She was graceful devoted and demure and he was confident, calm and a born leader.

JFK also became the poster boy, along side other iconic men of the era like Paul Newman and Steve Queen for what was popularly coined the Ivy League Look which as a style came to represent what was at the heart of the American people; decency, modernity and confidence. Originated in the universities of the US East Coast the Ivy League Look had a simple clean silhouette built out of a compact capsule wardrobe that every man could construct and keep to.

Kennedy’s style was easily defined and is simple to imitate because of its simplicity and masculinity, a strict attention to detail and no fuss. Clean, sharp and understated it comprised of sharp narrow tailored suits (think Brookes Brother’s) with tight shoulders and a relaxed body favouring two button single breasted jackets in black or charcoal with a narrow tie. The other side of his wardrobe was classic and casual and came to define lounge wear for the man’s man of the mid-twentieth century.

Boat shoes (Sebago’s we hope), loafers, rolled up chinos or slacks just above the ankle, wayfarer sunglasses and a cable knit sweater or sports jacket. Practical, but with a strong design ethic Kennedy created a look of youthful power at play.

He was the epitome of modern America with all the honour of the age as a Second World War hero and a man who loved the finer things in life but also represented family, and devotion, not just to his own but to a nation and sartorially will for ever be seen as an icon of a time so specific in history that he’ll never be forgotten. A brave hero and ambassador for a positive new generation he summed up the youth and energy of a country and gave the Ivy League it’s national emblem of pride.

By Sam Outing