From fashion to finance, a sophisticated and entertaining guide that shows readers how to attain the elegance and practical smarts that defined Jackie O
We can’t help but want to be like her: Exuding unmatched poise and style, she continues to fascinate people of all ages. But how would Jackie have handled the twenty-first-century? What would she think about a society that celebrates outsized egos, instant everything, and casual rules of conduct? How might she dress for the office, scan for a man, accessorize a home—and get away from it all when necessary? With intriguing research, commentary from today’s experts, and fond reminiscences from those who knew and admired the first lady of perfection, journalists Shelly Branch and Sue Callaway now offer a sparkling answer to the question, What Would Jackie Do?
Applying Jackie’s philosophies to every aspect of contemporary life, including relationships, office politics, family matters, and entertaining, What Would Jackie Do? is a trove of advice, featuring:
• Noblesse Oblige for Beginners
• How Not to be an Interchangeable Woman
• Mastering the Effortless Rich look
• The art of attachment: lessons on sex, marriage, and men of consequence
• Career Whirl: Pearls for Getting Ahead
• Caftan in a Kelly bag: How to travel beautifully
• O- Behave! Anti-brat strategies for parents
* En Suite Home: Perfecting Your Domestic Pitch
The next best thing to having Jackie O. as a personal adviser, What Would Jackie Do? reveals the practical wisdom behind an icon and gives all readers a piece of the Jackie mystique, be it of the heart, the mind, or the home.
What was it about her, dammit?
Almost from the moment she made her debutante turn at Hammersmith Farm in 1947, it was obvious that the elegant sylph known simply as ìJackieî possessed something enviable, intangible.
A true ìAmerican Idol,î she represented a standard that many women have tried to copy, from her clothes to her gestures. But it was her cloak of unusual dignity that earns her the greatest admiration. You canít help but want to be like her. Who can resist such effortless, multilingual poise? People the world over have long marveled at how she handled the jagged, painful turns of the Kennedy legacy and the Onassis years. And how, beneath those iconic pillboxes, she never seemed to sweat.
Which brings us to the point of this book. Dozens of works have sought to portray the ìrealî Jackie, and fix her mark on events historic.
Yet no book has applied Jackieís day-to-day philosophies to your life, or extrapolated her timeless coping skills for the twenty-first-century woman. With the publicís interest in all things Kennedy hardly abated, it seems appropriateóeven necessaryóto now view Jackie through a more modern prism. To connect the dots of her richly textured life and distill them into a practical, instructive guide.
Over the last four decades, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis has attracted almost as many writers as fans. Her public life as a young mother in the White House, followed by more Garbo-like periods in Greece and New York, continue to fascinate people who knew only her photograph. Her allure, and her example, go well beyond the printed page: When New Yorkís Metropolitan Museum of Art displayed her White House finery in a 2001 costume exhibit, it attracted an international sell-out crowd. And two Sothebyís auctions featuring items from her estate and her homes yielded dizzying bids.
Still, the somber words and the artifacts are not enough. We are ever fascinated by this private womanóour royal equivalentówho will always be the pinnacle of beauty and wisdom. What Would Jackie Do? explores the alchemy of Jackieís timeless living arts to show what it takes to be a creature of true substance today. The first book of its kind, it aims her famous gaze in the readersí direction through advice, insight, and humor (Jackie did, after all, possess quite the wicked wit).
At a time when classic smarts have gone missing in our fractured popular culture, this book is meant to serve as the print equivalent of having Jackie herself analyzeóindeed, make overóyour life. What Would Jackie Do? will show you how to be steely yet soignÈeóa tonic that the Jennifer Anistons and J.Los (starlets with only fleeting fame)ócrave. With the Elegant One as your personal advisor, you can acquire some of that Jackie O magic, be it of the heart, the mind, or the home.
Youíll know, for example, when a designer is worth his couture costs, and when you are better off with a good knockoff. Youíll learn to deftly approach everything from mating rituals to office politics with as much savoir faire as Jackie did in her time. If she could make guests both plain and privileged feel at ease in the White House, how can you do the same in your own home? As for her famously strict and successful child-rearing ways, how might you translate and apply similar methods? And how can you interpret for your own purposes her complex ability to handle powerful men?
By definition, this is a work that must straddle the lines of history and myth, observation and advice, reverence and irreverence. We also suggest what Jackie might do today in a world where the rules of social conduct are ever more fluid. Would she e-mail thank-you notes? Use a BlackBerry to deliver bad news? Consign old clothes? Try Pilates? Withhold sex until the second date or fifth? Fly the kids first class or coach?
What Would Jackie Do? takes its cues from dozens of original interviews, as well as biographies, historical references and documents, articles, oral histories, photographs, and other previously published works. As a reality check, let us underscore two key points. First, Jackie, for all her gemlike facets, was hardly without flaws. To that end, this book will help you understand what she knew all too well: How best to transform your weaknesses into strengths. Second, most women lack the financial resources and/or social connections to lead the life that she did. With that in mind, we reveal how even Jackie cut corners and pinched a few pennies.
In summary, this book is designed to give you a solid yet whimsical foundation from which to draw inspiration and advice. To compel you to ask, when confronted with matters sartorial, ethical, practical: What Would Jackie Do?
Exude Grace in Everything You Do
ìA beautiful gesture is really a very rare thing . . .î
Shall we dare to be . . . like her?
Itís an alluringóand terrifyingóidea. After all, Jackie O was the model for how to do practically everything right. There was the indestructible coif, chic whether windswept or tethered by a silk scarf. A whispery voice that could alternately charm, devastate, captivate. Even her physical carriage had an easy grace that seemed lit from within. Then, of course, there were the outfitsóbeaded bodices and A- line coats. They dazzled in the absence of colossal gems. The very image is enough to make us straighten our backs, pat our hair in place, and pull our beau a little bit closer.
And no wonder. Much that weíve seen and read about her is so reverent, distant, unattainable. But at a time when everything in our world is so brilliantly recherchÈófrom clothes and entertaining to manners and even languageówhat better opportunity to intrigue as if ìJack-leenî?
Perfection isnít the goal, of course. To transcend the ordinariness that Jackie so feared in youth means feasting on a diet of discipline and restraintówhether youíre into dungarees or Dior. As Jackie knew, fabulousness is a state of mind, something you harness day in and day out to neutralize the ìdrearyî things and people that threaten to drag you down.
OBSCURE YOUR EGO
TO REVEAL YOUR TRUE QUALITIES
It wonít, it canít, it mustnít always be about you. And even if you donít agree, youíd do well to at least pretend so some of the time. A substantive womanóand Jackie was nothing if not thatócan check her hubris as easily as she does her evening wrap. Itís always there, of course, but sometimes itís better left in the background.
Shift the spotlight. Self-promoters, Jackie once said, ìreally get my back up.î But because people tend to crave the limelight so much themselves, theyíll be thrown (and delighted) when you transfer some of the attention you command. Out for aperitifs with girlfriends? Insist that the cute guy in the opposite banquette is ogling one of them, not you. Tell your hairdresser that his splendid updoónot your fine formódrew gasps at the charity ball.
A master at shifting the spotlight, Jackie would playfully say to friends that the press ìmust know youíre here!î when helicopters buzzed overhead. Even when the pressure was on, she knew to turn the focus away from herself. Once, when one of Jackieís Doubleday authorsóTiffany design director John Loringóasked the editor to do a rare interview on his behalf for The New Yorker, Jackie at first agreed, but ultimately reneged by using a clever deflection technique. She told him, ìYou donít really want me in that profile, because people will only remember me, and youíll just be forgotten completely.î
Overlook faux pas. You mustnít let the minor transgressions of others interrupt your daily flowóor block your precious chi. When people stumble with their words, their manners, or their wit, thereís just no need to take an emotional tumble. Jackie wouldnít give a damn if you said, ìI love your Gucci!î (if in fact she was wearing Pucci) or ìHow was the bear hunt?î (when foxes were her thing).
To show how deftly Jackie handled such potentially embarrassing moments, a Doubleday colleague recalls how she stopped by his office to bum a book of matches. ìAs I was handing it to her, I noticed it had a JFK memorial stamp on it,î he says. ìIt was a fleeting moment, not more than a second.î Jackie didnít acknowledge any awkwardness. Ditto when interior decorator Mario Buatta came to dinner at her Fifth Avenue apartment and promptly split his pants on a chair. Without missing a beat, Jackie covered his back at the buffet.
Invoke othersí names. Need a favor? Need to curry favor? Put a brake on the number of times you say ìmeî and ìI.î Youíll seem like less of an egomaniacóand more of a conciliatoróif you pin your request on someone else. Jackie was known to use such harmless substitutions to get what she wanted, saying things like, ìJack wants . . .î or ìMy sister advises against,î or ìSo-and-so wonít allow . . .î The less-than-overt method had its charms. ìShe could impose that will upon people without their ever knowing it,î observed White House usher J. B. West.
Be a master flatterer. The point of advanced flattery is to remind someone how special he or she is, while also hinting at your utter dependency on them. This technique comes in handy when you are trying to salvage professional relationships or have something very specific to gain.
To snare a ìmagnificentî portrait of Benjamin Franklin for the White House, for example, Jackie rang up publishing magnate Walter H. Annenberg. She was ready to grovel, all right, but with an air of decorum and purpose: ìYou, Mr. Annenberg, are the first citizen of Philadelphia,î she purred. ìAnd in his day, Benjamin Franklin was the first citizen of Philadelphia. And thatís why, Mr. Annenberg, I thought of you. . . .î She went on to remind him that the White Houseóand Americaódesperately needed his tasteful acquisition. Are we at all surprised that he handed over the $250,000 painting by David Martin?
Dare to diss yourself. How to boost the comfort level when youíre mingling outside your own social set? Knock yourself down by a precious peg or two. Jackie had a talent for making herself seem less rich, less smart, less beautiful when the situation warranted it. She was known, for instance, to refer to her Fifth Avenue manse as ìthis old dump.î Even among those who sought to impress her (folly indeed), she held back. If someone prattled on about an obscure book, for example, ìJackie would be well mannered enough to say ëIíve never heard of thatí when sheíd read the whole thing,î says her friend Carly Simon.
* * *
ìIf you want the world to adore you, you must take a deep
interest in other people. Jackie was full of wonder and
enthusiasmówith her, you felt you were the most
important person.î óDR. DEEPAK CHOPRA
* * *
NOBLESSE OBLIGE FOR BEGINNERS:
How to Be a Goodwill Ambassador to Strangers,
Jackie preferred hailing taxis to get about in New York City. And in those yellow chariots, she would sometimes lean forward and do what so few ever bother to do: ask how the driverís day was going. In one case, she beseeched the cabbie to quit his shift in order to get home safely in soggy weather. What good is it, after all, to be a cut above if you donít let your own splendid qualities trickle down to others?
Coddle bit players. Itís terribly wicked not to give props to all of the people who make your path smoother in life. These include the doorman, the mailmanóand if youíre so luckyó the cook and pilot. In Jackieís case, the list also extended to all sorts of minor politicos. Go beyond tips and nods. As a campaign wife, Jackie was able to recall the names, unprompted, of umpteen mayors and convention delegates. And in the White House, she stunned her new staff by properly addressing members upon their first face-to-face meeting.
Donít (publicly) criticize your enemies or opponents. Leave such base behavior to modern-day politicians and reality show contestants. Particularly resist the temptation to bad-mouth people by e-mail: Thereís nothing worse than electronic slurs, which can be endlessly forwarded. Though surrounded by enemies (political) and jealous types (frumpy women), Jackie refused to get nasty. During the 1960 campaign, she declined to take potshots at Hubert Humphrey. And two decades later, when Nancy Reagan got swamped with negative publicity, Jackie waxed empathetic, going so far as to call her to offer advice on handling the press.
Tap higher powers to help the helpless. After youíve maxed out your immediate resources, look to your left and right, above and below to harness those six degrees of separation between you and the solution to the problem at hand. Donít be too proud to ask an influential friend to step in on behalf of someone you knowóeven if the two have never met. Thatís what connections are really for.
In 1980 Jackie summoned medical philanthropist Mary Lasker to help an impoverished sick boy, the son of a manicurist, gain access to proper treatment. As a follow-up to the favor, Jackie wrote her friend Mary a heartfelt note: ìNow they donít feel that they are just a cipher because they are poor,î she scrawled on her Doubleday stationery. ìWhatever happens, they know that someone with a noble heart made it possible for them to get the best care they could.î
Turn the other silken cheek. Sometimes you must show people what you are made of by staying elevated when youíd least like toósay, when someone zips into your primo parking space, or snatches the last pair of Loro Piana gloves on sale at Bergdorfís. Like Jackie, youíd do well to let mild acts of ugliness pass without much fuss.
Traveling with Thomas Hoving, then-director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Jackie was stunnedóand frightenedóby the French paparazzi who swarmed her at a low-key Left Bank restaurant. An infuriated Hoving returned to their hotel, the Plaza AthÈnÈe, and demanded that the doorman who disclosed their whereabouts be fired. Informing Jackie of the fait accompli, Hoving recalls, ìShe got mad at me.î She said: ìYou suffered a manís livelihood because of that?î
Mute the call of mammon. The classiest cash is also the quietest. So if youíre fortunate enough to have an endless supply of crisp bills, just donít crumple them under the noses of those with less. This doesnít mean you should deprive yourself of fine things. Certainly our lady did not. But wealth does require you to be somewhat stealth about what youíve got.
Donít gab on about money eitheróyours, your parentsí, your boyfriendísóor your over-the-top plans for it. When Jackie received a $26 million settlement from Aristotle Onassisís estate, society types needled the widow about how she intended to spend the windfall. ìYou donít talk about things like that,î was her stunned reply.
To be a cut above, donít cut. Even if your social status or connections somehow permit it, resist any temptation to leapfrog over more common folks. This means no line- jumping at Disney World, no flashing that Burberry plaid to snare the next cab. In New York, Jackie waited in crowds like everybody elseóor avoided them altogetherórather than nudge her way to the front of movie-house and museum queues.
FIRST LADYñLIKE IMPRESSIONS:
How Not to Be an Interchangeable Woman
* * *
ìYou can polish, arrange, fix, but you cannot fool people.
Jackie was a total woman, not like anybody else you know.
It wasnít sex appeal, it was magnetism.î
óMANOLO BLAHNIK, SHOE DESIGNER * * *
Itís important to be more than witty, pretty, and splendidly turned out. And who cares if you make a swell crowd-pleaser, or man teaser? If you are content to be a like-kind, same-this-or-that chick, ready and willing to swap lipsticks, secrets, jobsómen!ówith the next gal, then you risk being an Interchangeable Woman.
An Interchangeable Woman is neither memorable nor original. She talks a lot and may even have an MBAóyet manages to say precious little. Her gym membership is active, and it shows, but her sense of self is altogether weak. She is quick to please, slow to question, and often overstays her welcome (especially where men are concerned). She uses the word ìmeî too much, and hasnít a clue that others find her redundant.
This shall not be you.
If you take away but a single pearl from Jackieís life, let it be this: Never be mistaken for an IW. Jackie had many enviable qualities, and she was certainly a master practitioner of feminine ways. Yet she disdained ìempty-headed womenî who gabbed about manicures, and even in youth dreaded the company of those who ìjust giggle and are snippy and mean and sort of dumb.î As for women who fling themselves at the other sex? Ugh. The world is overpopulated by such creatures, so sheóand youówouldnít want to be one.
Never hasten to the side of those who havenít earned the pleasure of your company. Donít be too anxious to lend your charms and talents to folks who donít appreciate them. Always keep people guessing, carefully rationing your clever bits. Deviate from the mean, putting your special spin on everything from Kafka to Catholicism. And if you do decide to be a joineróto a club, a cause, a relationshipóad-lib your own rules.
During her courtship with JFK, Jackie showed the Kennedy clan just how determined she was to not be an IWóeven under seemingly benign circumstances. It was 1953, and the young Ms. Bouvier was still taking her first bows with the family. Ethel Kennedy had decided to have a St. Patrickís Day party and gave the guests a single directive: Wear black. Suspecting troubleóand whiffing, no doubt, the danger of being perceived as an IWóJackie arrived, in black garb, yes, but with more colorful tricks up her sleeve.
Ethel, sure enough, made her entrance in a brilliant emerald gown, reducing the other women to IWs. Canny Jackie triumphed, though, when she showed up last in a chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce and kept it purring by the curb for all to see. (The message: ìIíve got other places to go. . . .î) So as not to be confused with the IWs, she did little mingling and instead held court before the fireplace. She also made sure to depart early, apologizing for a ìdreadful headache,î before stealing au revoirs with each dazzled guest. Sliding into the Rolls as they all watched, a mysterious Jackie lowered her window to wave good-byeóblowing away any notions that she was an Interchangeable Woman.
A few ways to avoid the IW moniker:
Be riveted, not just riveting. When you turn your attention to others, especially new acquaintances, be more than polite. Be truly (if briefly) engaged and grant everyone, even buffoons, a gracious nod or two. Jackie ìnever in public let people know she did not like them,î recalled art critic John Russell. ìPeople always went away thinking, ëShe quite liked me, yes, she was impressed by me.í It was a very endearing quality.î
Strut on an invisible red carpet. Just look around you, at all the slumping bodies! The ìsociety slouchî (i.e., a bored, insouciant hunch) may from time to time find trendy reprisal, but remember, the concave look doesnít become most of us, even the most richly adorned. To stand taller, pretend there is a red carpet before you at all times, and that people are watching. If you look at some old pictures of Jackie, you can almost imagine her doing precisely this.
Do a reflexive roll call. Some IWs have a neat trick of failing to remember namesóespecially those of other women. This is not only rude, but it robs them of the chance to maneuver around a cocktail party or a conference. Jackie learned the value of the personal greeting well before her White House days. This salutatory skill shows that you are a worldly sortóthat indeed you know everyone!óeven if youíve only recently met.
Pump up small talk. Youíve been in situations where the conversation was way below base. What did you do to lift it? The herd mentality often causes IWs to go mute, or nod in unison. When this happens, you might nonchalantly ask whoís been to Afghanistan lately.
Celebrate selectively. Donít be a fixture at trendy clubs, bars, and other IW hangouts, no matter how popular or ìexclusiveî they are. This is simply another version of being too availableósomething Jackieís father warned her against at a very early age. It also distinctly contradicts her rule to be unpredictable, mysterious.
Be a go-to girl. When it comes to the rules of social engagement, youíre better off in many cases by letting others supplicate. Never beg for an invitation to a swank dinner, for instance, or plead to be on a certain manís arm. A mere whiff of desperation is unbecoming.
1. Daily Bred: Exude Grace in Everything You Do 5
Obscure Your Ego to Reveal Your True Qualities ï Noblesse Oblige for Beginners ï First LadyñLike Impressions: How Not to Be an Interchangeable Woman ï Gifting and Getting ï Please Do Come: A Smashing Hostess Makes the Most Sought-After Guest ï Hand Gestures: Scoring Big with Courtly Correspondence ï At Their Leisure? Having Houseguests ï Clan Destiny: Friends and Family Maintenance ïPillar of Strength: Enduring Tragedy and Indiscretion ï Would Jackie . . .
2. O! That Dress: What Your Clothes Say About You 47
How to Master the Effortless Rich Look ï In Praise of the Knockoff ï Vogue-ing ï Appropriateness ï What Works at Work ï Generational Dressing: Grace at a Pace ï Jackie Looks That Always Click ï Wildcards That Win ï Sticky Sartorial Situations ï Would Jackie . . .
3. Bliss and Makeup: How to Affect the Jackie Glow 77
Hairdosóand Taboos ï Makeup, What Makeup? ï Jackieís Justifiable Rites ï Scents and Scents-ability ï Gym Dandy: Chic Physical Fitness ï Body Enhancements: The Dos and Doníts ï Competitive Eating, Jackie-Style ï The Allure of Alternative Cures ï Would Jackie . . .
4. The Art of Attachment: Lessons on Sex, Marriage, and Men of Consequence 97
Acquisition Tactics 101 ï Picking a Date vs. a Mate (and Recognizing the Difference) ï Play with the Boys, But Choose a Man of Substance ï Sexual Conduct In and Out of Marriage ï On Sexual Aids and Elixirs ï Having Your Way with Powerful Men ï Exit Strategies: Drills for Bowing Out ï Other Uses for the Other Sex ï Would Jackie . . .
5. En Suite Home: Perfecting Your Domestic Pitch 125
Art Directing Your Palace ï Define Your ìTreasuresî and ìHorrorsî ï Necessary Objects ï Say It with Flowers ï Manse Modes: Country vs. City Living ï Jackie Dos, Jackie Doníts ï Habitat Habits ï A Room of Oneís Own? ï House Help ï Home Cooking: Learn to Produce Authentic Kitchen Smells ï Would Jackie . . .
6. Building Your Inner Temple: The Art of Self- Enrichment and Fulfillment 155
You Are the Mistress of All You Surveyóand More ï Be a Conspicuous (Culture) Consumer ï Causes: How to Choose Them and Use Them ï Caftan in a Kelly Bag: How to Travel Beautifully ï Head Room: On Privacy and Personal Boundaries ï Sticky Travel Situations ï Heavenly Jackie: A Celestial Account ï Would Jackie . . .
7. Career Whirl: Pearls for Getting Ahead 185
Insert Your Kitten-Heeled Shoe in the Door ï First Career: First Lady ï How to Advance Gracefully ï Making Your Work Fit Your Life ï Men vs. Women in the Workplace ï Upstaging Office Politics ï On Mentoring: How to Look Up and Down ï Plot Your Own Perks ï Would Jackie . . .
8. Goal Digger: Making Your Money Matter 207
Monetary Attitude Adjustments ï ìTit for Tatî and Other Useful Money-Saving Winks ï Slip Your (Elegantly Gloved) Hand into Othersí Pockets ï Ka-Ching! How to Haggle and Hoard Like Jackie ï Ways to Raise Cash in a Pinch ï Identify Potential Investment Advisors Early ï Diversify Your Purse ï Grace and Wills ï To Prenup or Not? ï Would Jackie . . .
9. Heirs and Force: The Tenets of Passing the Torch 227
OóBehave! Jackieís Anti-Brat Strategies ï From Bassinet to Oval Office: Choosing Normal over Formal ï Limiting Privilege ï Come Ye: Fostering Intellectual Curiosity ï Private vs. Public: The Schooling Debate ï Your Nanny Diary ï Discipline: How Much Is Enough? ï Encourage Free Expression, By George! ï Mommy Dearest ï Surviving Stepparenting ï Grand(parent) Gestures ï Would Jackie . . .
10. Jackie Here and Now 255
Style: Clothing and Accessories ï Shopping ï Stocking the Nest ï Ding-Dong: Visiting Places Jackie Called Home ï Travel: Jet-Setting Like Jackie ï Restaurants ï Perfecting the Jackie O Glow ï Favorite Workouts ï On the Table: Food and Drink of Choice ï Cultural Digs ï Paging Jackie: The Editorís Oeuvre ï Spiritual Jackie