1960: The Queen of Fashion

Emily King, guest writer

The hot afternoon sun beat down on the green lawn behind the Kennedy’s waterfront estate, and a cool breeze blew through the tall, pitch pine trees, bringing a moment of relief to the two women out walking. It was surprisingly hot for early July in Massachusetts, and a warm bead of sweat trickled down Kathleen’s neck.

“What are the summers like in Louisiana?” questioned Jackie.

Kathleen was silent for a moment, contemplating the question. She had never enjoyed the heat. In fact, she despised it. As a child, she had lived in a small house in Louisiana and was forced to spend the summers outside. The long days always resulted in sunburns and sweaty skin, causing her to develop animosity toward the unpleasant season.

“They’re usually pleasant,” Kathleen said with a smile.

Fortunately, Jackie didn’t catch on to her lie, and both women continued walking in peace.

As a child, the only thing worse than being outside in the heat was the reason Kathleen had been forced to stay outside. The summer she turned thirteen, a tragedy occurred. Early in July, her father was driving home from work late at night and became the unfortunate victim of a fatal car accident. After the funeral, her mother couldn’t seem to move past the incident and decided to deal with it by isolating herself from everyone, including her two young daughters. Every morning, Kathleen and her sister were forced outside and were not allowed to enter the house again until the sun had set.

Kathleen had never been able to bring herself to tell Jackie about her family, even though they had been close friends for years. The two women met while Jackie was living in New York and Kathleen was attending college. They frequently crossed paths at a local coffee shop called Caffe Reggio and quickly bonded over their love of coffee and fashion.

At the time, Kathleen was studying to become a designer and had a unique eye for clothing. Jackie quickly realized Kathleen’s potential and asked her to work as her personal stylist, which included moving wherever Jackie and her husband, John, decided to go. Kathleen was eager to take the job, especially since working as a personal stylist for Jackie Kennedy, who was growing as a popular fashion icon, would be a great way to gain recognition in the fashion industry. Also, in addition to the fame, she would get the chance to work for her closest friend.

After eagerly accepting the job, Kathleen dropped out of college and moved in with Jackie. Although they grew closer as friends, a deep feeling of jealousy began to grow within Kathleen. Jackie had always been a “bright and beautiful young woman” who was known for her elegance and poise (Jacqueline). Kathleen had always been in her shadow, and no matter what she did, she could not surpass Jackie’s beauty and fame. As time went on, Kathleen’s jealousy grew and a rift began to develop in their once close friendship, but she always kept her feelings to herself.


“Now that John has been elected as the Democratic candidate, you need to develop a signature look. You need to represent a ‘new type of American woman,”‘ (Cosgrove) Kathleen said.

Jackie stood in front of the mirror in her bedroom and turned her head toward Kathleen.

“So what are you thinking?” Jackie questioned.

“I’m thinking pearls, white gloves, and an ‘exquisitely tailored skirt-suit'” (Olivier).

Jackie’s eyes lit up, and her mouth curved into a smile. She nodded her head in agreement, and Kathleen smiled back.



Kathleen sat in front of the television in Jackie’s kitchen and watched attentively as Jackie appeared by John’s side for the first time. She wore a pale pink skirt-suit, classic white gloves, and a short strand of pearls around her neck – her signature look. She looked absolutely exquisite and stole the attention of everyone in the room. However, it wasn’t just her clothing that stole everyone’s attention, but her stunning face and charming personality as well. She was youthful but sophisticated, and “with her Irish and French ancestry, indefinably and refreshingly exotic” (Cosgrove).

Kathleen waited anxiously for her moment of recognition as Jackie approached the microphone to answer questions. After Jackie had finished answering a few political questions about her husband, one reporter finally asked who had styled her look of the evening. Kathleen’s heart soared with excitement but dropped quickly when Jackie gave a big grin and told the reporter that her look was a Jackie O original that she had put together herself.

Fury and jealousy bubbled up inside Kathleen as she stared at the screen in shock. She quickly shut the television off, stormed out of the room, and headed down the hall to her bedroom, slamming the door behind her as she wiped the hot tears from her cheeks.


“I can’t believe how the crowd reacted! You were absolutely right about the outfit,” Jackie told Kathleen.

“Yeah, that whole thing was really unbelievable,” Kathleen retorted.

“You don’t sound very excited. I thought that you would be happier about your success,” replied Jackie as she stepped away from the window and turned to face Kathleen.

“Of course I’m excited. I’m just tired, that’s all.”

“I know how you feel. You should head to bed. We can talk more in the morning.”


Exactly one month had passed since Jackie’s first television appearance, and the Kennedy home was busier than ever. Aside from John running for president, Jackie had announced that she was pregnant, and the entire nation was filled with excitement.

Kathleen sat on a large white couch in the living room and watched as Jackie danced around to the radio that was playing Save The Dance For Me. As she spun around the room, she sang along to every word perfectly, and her beautiful silk dress floated lightly through the air. Her baby bump peeked out, and she was expected to give birth in late November. The entire Kennedy family was overjoyed, and they eagerly awaited the arrival of their newest member.

“I’m thinking that I’m going to write a book about being a campaign wife. It’ll give me something to do while I wait for this baby,” Jackie announced.

“That sounds like a wonderful idea to me.”

“I think so too. And aside from passing the time, it will reflect well on John and I,” Jackie said with a smile.

Jealousy burned inside Kathleen. Yeah, more popularity and recognition is exactly what you need.


            Three weeks had gone by, and Kathleen’s jealousy had become almost unbearable. Jackie had made countless public appearances, but she still hadn’t given her any recognition. Kathleen had kept her mouth shut, though. Part of her was worried about causing a conflict within their friendship, and the other part of her was just afraid of standing up to Jackie.

It was the night of John Kennedy’s most important conference, and Jackie had requested that Kathleen put together something incredible. Kathleen spent the entire week working on Jackie’s outfit, and she had finally perfected it.

Jackie strolled into her bedroom where Kathleen was pulling out a beautiful dress from the closet, and she quickly hurried over to get a closer look. Kathleen had selected a shiny, pale pink “strapless gown by Christian Dior,”  white satin gloves, and a short strand of pearls, (Olivier).

Jackie quickly hurried into the bathroom and slipped into the gorgeous floor-length gown. A few moments later, she emerged from the bathroom with a smile on her face and spun around in front of the mirror.

“This is absolutely perfect! This dress is by far the most stunning of them all. You really have outdone yourself this time, Kathleen!” Jackie exclaimed.

“Well maybe you’ll actually give me credit for this one,” Kathleen mumbled under her breath.

“What was that?” Jackie said as she turned around looking confused and slightly offended.

“Oh, it was nothing.”

“No it wasn’t. Do you really think that I don’t give you credit for all of this?”

“Well ever since your first big debut, you’ve taken credit for everything that you’ve worn! You can’t just do that. You and I both know that the only reason you’re called the queen of fashion is because of me! The only reason I took this job in the first place is because I thought it would get my name out into the world, but somehow you’ve managed to steal my fame and keep it for yourself!”

Jackie stared at Kathleen in shock, unable to believe what she had just said. Kathleen was in tears as her anger began to melt away, and she finally began to realize what she had just said. A look of anger crossed Jackie’s face, and she stormed out of the room in silence. Kathleen watched from the window as Jackie slammed the front door of the house and got into her car, and  her heart began to sink as she got the feeling that she had just lost her job and her closest friend.


Later that evening, Kathleen sat in front of the television and watched as John and Jackie made their entrance at the conference. Jackie looked radiant as always, and Kathleen could see “her amber eyes sparkle with excitement” (O’Reilly). John made his way up to the podium, spoke for quite a while, and then stepped down, allowing Jackie to have a turn.

For a while, Jackie spoke about her husband, but then she moved on to answer what everyone always wanted to know – who styled her outfit. Kathleen expected to hear that it was another Jackie O original, but she was shocked to hear something entirely different.

“Over the past few years, I have not been the one responsible for turning myself into the queen of fashion. I really cannot take any of the credit for my outfits, because in all reality, my best friend and stylist, Kathleen Margaret Williams, has been responsible for it all. She is the one who truly deserves the credit, and if you’re watching right now, Kathleen, I truly am sorry for not giving you the recognition you deserve.”

Kathleen sat back in her chair completely shocked as she watched Jackie step down from the podium as the audience cheered. Of all the places to apologize, she chose national television. Kathleen hit the power button on the tv, and made her way to her bedroom. Exhausted from the day, she climbed into bed, and was completely at peace knowing that she had forgiven Jackie.


It was surprisingly hot for early July in Massachusetts, and a warm bead of sweat trickled down Kathleen’s neck. She walked next to Jackie, who held the newest member of her family in her arms, and the two women talked as they made their way down the sidewalk.

“Do you like the summer, Kathleen?”

Kathleen hesitated for a moment before speaking.

“To be completely honest, I despise the summer.”

“And why is that?”

“Well, it all started when I was thirteen. . .”

Works Cited

Cosgrove, Ben. “Jackie Kennedy in the Sixties: Classic Photos of an American Icon.”Time.                       Time, 26 Oct. 2013. Web. 3 Apr. 2017.

“Jacqueline Lee Kennedy Onassis.”Newsmakers, Gale, 1994. Student Resources in Context.                     27 Mar. 2017.

Olivier, Lucy. “Jackie Kennedy – a True Fashion Icon.”The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group,   06 Jan. 2017. Web. 3 Apr. 2017.

O’Reilly, Bill. Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot. Henry Holt and Company, 2 Oct. 2012.                   Print. 27 Mar. 2017.


Herbert, Rosemary. “Women of Camelot – Two biographies offer different views of Jackie                       Kennedy Onassis – with and without her sister-in-laws.”Boston Herald, 3 Feb. 2000, p.                     047. Student Resources in Context. 28 Mar. 2017.

“Looks and New Looks: The New High Fashion.”American Decades, edited by Judith S.                         Baughman, et al., vol. 7: 1960-1969, Gale, 2001. Student Resources in Context.                                    27 Mar. 2017.