John F Kennedy's wife Jackie wore her husband's favorite pink suit even though it was splashed with his blood. She is a true symbol of resistance.
Jacqueline Kennedy was more than just the First Lady of the United States, she was a style icon who redefined how wives of powerful men were viewed by the public. She carried herself with poise and grace, and while her outfits too added to her elegance and style, there was one particular Chanel suit, with a matching pillbox hat, that ended up being more than just a fashion statement.
Hours after losing her husband to a very public assassination, 44-year-old Jackie was seen wearing the blood-spattered pink suit to the presidential swearing-in ceremony of Lyndon Johnson.
November 22, 1963, was a day that sent shockwaves across the nation. President John F Kennedy was assassinated as he rode in his presidential convertible through Dallas, Texas, alongside his beautiful wife Jacqueline Kennedy, known widely as Jackie. When the president took the bullet to his head, blood spattered on his wife and the pink Chanel suit she was wearing that day, one of her husband's "particular favorites". According to Vintage News, Jackie refused to change out of the blood-stained suit that day and even wore it on the swearing-in ceremony of the new president Lyndon Johnson.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy took oath as the 35th president of the United States. His beloved wife Jackie took on the role of the First Lady. She was a strong woman with a great style of her own and worked hard in contributing to the duties of her new role. She was committed to her country but always prioritized her family. She focused on raising her three children well and supported her husband and what he believed in.
On November 1963, the President asked his wife who was already known for her unique style on what she planned to wear for the presidential event in Dallas. According to an interview, she gave years later, he said, "There are going to be all these rich, Republican women at that lunch … wearing mink coats and diamond bracelets. And you’ve got to look as marvelous as any of them. Be simple – show these Texans what good taste really is," quoted Groovy History.
Following her husband's advice, Jackie took to work. She selected a number of dresses which he considered would be suitable and asked her husband for his approval. After a round of discussion, the first lady decided to settle with one of her husband's "particular favorites", a pink wool-bouclé double-breasted Chanel suit with the fashionable matching pillbox hat which would later become a famous part of history.
The couple dressed up reached Dallas for the event. Nobody knew that the incident which followed will soon become of the most heartbreaking event in American History. Jackie was seated left to her loving husband when the bullet shot into the head of the President. Blood splashed over her face and her pink suit.
"I cast one last look over my shoulder and saw in the President’s car a bundle of pink, just like a drift of blossoms, lying in the back seat. It was Mrs. Kennedy lying over the President’s body," said Lady Bird, the wife of Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson quoted Vintage News. The president was soon rushed to the hospital with Jackie still dressed in the blood-stained suit. Though several people asked her to remove her blood-stained suit, the shocked first lady in pain said," Oh, no … I want them to see what they have done to Jack." Despite all the efforts, adamant Jackie did not change into fresh clothes.
She also wore the same bloodstained suit at the swearing ceremony of Vice President Johnson as President. “Her hair [was] falling in her face but [she was] very composed … I looked at her. Mrs. Kennedy’s dress was stained with blood. One leg was almost entirely covered with it and her right glove was caked, it was caked with blood – her husband’s blood. Somehow that was one of the most poignant sights – that immaculate woman, exquisitely dressed, and caked in blood,” recalled Lady Bird. However, Jackie regretted washing the blood on her face before the swearing ceremony.
Though her matching pillbox hat was lost that day, she removed her pink suit blooded suit and stored it a box. The box was then sent to her mother with a note that said “November 22nd, 1963.” The box which was stored at her mother's attic was later donated to the National Archives in Maryland. The suit is now preserved in an acid-free container in a windowless room for public viewing. The bloodstained Chanel suit came to be known as the “emblematic of the ending of innocence”. Jackie's act is a symbol of her resistance and resilience.