The Pink Suit That Shook America

The story of the strawberry pink suit worn by Jacqueline Oasis Kennedy, affectionately known as Jackie,

is intimately intertwined with a fashion legend and a tragic event that left an indelible mark on American history.

Designed by the iconic Coco Chanel, Jackie Kennedy was one of the most influential fashion icons of her time. Her life and her choice of attire were perpetually in the public eye, forever associated with a harrowing tale.

In 1963, during one of the most brutal assassinations in American history, President John F. Kennedy (JFK) was tragically shot and killed during a visit to Dallas, Texas. Jackie, wearing the now-famous pink suit, was seated beside her husband when the unthinkable happened. JFK’s blood was splattered all over her.

The scene was nothing short of shocking, yet Jackie made a poignant choice. She refused to change or clean the bloodstains from her suit. 

She continued to wear it, a suit that happened to be her husband’s favorite, even as Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson took the Oath of Office as the new president. Jackie’s intent was clear; she wanted the world to see what had been done to Jack, her husband.

This suit, forever stained with blood, was never cleaned. It was carefully stored with a note that simply read, “November 22nd, 1963”. It became a symbol, often referred to as “the most legendary garment in American history,” representing not just an assassination but a national nightmare.

Today, the pink suit is meticulously preserved in a secure area under climate-controlled conditions, stored flat in specialized containers for its protection, as per the National Archives

Interestingly, it was Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy, who donated the suit to the National Archives in 2003. 

However, she made a heartfelt request that it not be displayed for public viewing until at least 2103.

Her reason? Caroline wished to prevent any dishonor to the memory of her parents and to spare any grief or suffering for her family members, as stated in a deed accompanying the donation.

As a side note about the dress, while it’s often said that the suit Jackie wore that fateful day was designed by Chanel, it’s worth mentioning that according to Justine Picardie’s 2010 biography of Chanel, it was, in fact, a meticulous copy from a New York shop called Chez Ninon. This copy was approved by Chanel herself in France.

Interestingly, the suit had made its debut in Coco Chanel’s 1961 fall/winter collection. Jackie had been photographed wearing it at several events before that fateful day in Dallas.

The pink suit remains not just a piece of clothing but a symbol of a pivotal moment in American history, forever linked to the enduring elegance and resilience of Jacqueline Kennedy.

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