Arts & Culture

CNN's American Style Chronicles How the Kennedys Shaped the Look of the 1960s

Watch a sneak peek of the new fashion-focused documentary here.
IMAGE GETTY IMAGES / NATIONAL ARCHIVE
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Jackie Kennedy, perhaps more than any other first lady, issued in the idea that the president's spouse could be an American style icon, setting trends and influencing popular fashion.

So it's no surprise that the Kennedy administration is a key topic of a new four-part docuseries on CNN called American Style.

While the first episode, "War Boots to Work Suits," focuses on World War II's impact on how Americans dressed, the second, "Born to Be Wild," highlights how the Kennedy administration helped to shape the aesthetic of the 1960s.

"There was a reason that John Kennedy took his hat off for his inauguration," Vanessa Friedman, chief fashion critic for the New York Times, explains in a clip from the upcoming episode. "He choose to signal to, you know, the millions of people who were watching, that this was a new generation, it was a new time." 

Valerie Steele, the director of the museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, agrees. "You see with Jack and Jackie this idea that they represented something that was young and aspirational, and that seemed to people strikingly different from the last few presidential couples," Steele says.

Part of that difference, she suggests, was JFK's preppy New England style—an aesthetic that has been so frequently copied in the decades since that it seems ubiquitous."John Kennedy had the style of a kind of wealthy upper class New England person, so it was more casual than they typical ruling class person," says Steele.

American Style will stream live on January 13 and 20 at CNN.com/go

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This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

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Caroline Hallemann
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