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Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ Pink Blood-Stained Chanel Suit the Entire Day After JFK’s Assassination

Icons | March 14, 2018

John Connally with Jackie and John F Kennedy, President John Kennedy rides in a motorcade from the Dallas airport into the city with his wife Jacqueline and Texas Governor John Connally.

JFK’s Presidential Motorcade, November 1963. 

In November 1963, then President John F. Kennedy asked his beautiful and sophisticated wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, what she planned to wear to the upcoming presidential event. JFK had an upcoming interview with William Manchester. As he informed her:

“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.”

Jackie Kennedy’s style as the first lady was unmatched!

Well, the classy first lady considered the weather conditions when choosing all of her possible selections. She then commenced marching right into and out of the room, where her husband was, holding up various dresses for his opinion and ultimate approval. None of the potential options were nothing new to her wardrobe; but all wardrobe veterans including feminine suits of navy blue, pink as well as the pink and yellow suit.

When John Fitzgerald Kennedy took the oath of office to become the nation's 35th president, Jacqueline Kennedy became the first lady. With her good taste and personal style, she worked hard to be worthy of her new role. She had a deep sense of obligation to her country, but her first priorities were her husband and mother to her children. She told a reporter that "if you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do well matters very much."

Mrs. Kennedy greatly influenced the world of fashion. Her unique and refined sense of style made her a trendsetter, although she did not encourage the newspapers, magazines and general public to focus on her appearance.

These days, first ladies seem to set the fashion trend, rather than conform to it.

As a final decision, Jacqueline Kennedy had chosen the, now famous, strawberry pink, wool bouche, double breasted Chanel suit with the fashionable matching, pillbox hat. It had been one of President Kennedy’s “particular favorites,” not to mention that she rocked it on any given day!

Later that day, the beautiful first lady, and her strawberry pink suit, would become spattered and stained with President Kennedy’s blood.

Kennedy was assassinated later that very same day.

President John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy as they arrived at Love Field in Dallas, Texas.

Jackie Kennedy was seated to the left side of her beloved and famous husband, President John F. Kennedy. They were in the back seat of the presidential, “open-top” limousine as it traveled through Dallas, Texas. The events that followed would go down in history as one of the most heartbreaking events in America.

Following the assassination of the President of the United States, his devoted wife, still wearing the blood-stained Chanel suit, rushed to Parkland Hospital to be with her husband.

Lady Bird Johnson, wife of, then, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, had some words of her own.

She was reportedly quoted as saying, “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.”

“The Lincoln flew down the boulevard’s central lane; her pillbox hat, caught in an eddy of whipping the wind, slid down over her forehead, and with a violent movement she yanked it off and flung it down. The hatpin tore out a hank of her own hair. She didn’t even feel the pain.”

Soon after the first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, had arrived at the hospital, her husband, the (then) President of the United States, had been pronounced dead. The ever poised, first lady had been asked by several people to change out of her blood soaked, pink, Chanel suit into something cleaner and much more comfortable. After all, it was stained with the blood of her one true love.

So, why did Jackie Kennedy wear her famous pink suit after JFK’s assassination?

But first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, was obviously still in shock from the day’s horrific events. In the throws of her initial grief, she was said to have assertively refused to change her blood splattered clothes. She was quoted as saying:

“Oh, no … I want them to see what they have done to Jack.”

Jack was the familiar name that President John F. Kennedy had come to be known by. Jacqueline Kennedy, even in the midst of her grief, had the presence of mind to make sure that the devastating assassination touched the public on a personal level, as it had touched her.

President John F. Kennedy, first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, Texas Governor John Connally and his wife, Nellie, in Dallas, Texas just minutes prior to his assassination.

Despite all of the efforts that were made to convince the grieving, new widow to take off her blood-stained clothing, Mrs. Kennedy continued to wear the pink, Chanel suit. It is now widely and historically known as, “the most legendary garment in American history.”

She wore her pink, Chanel suit while standing alongside Vice President Johnson as he was sworn into office, in the place of her beloved husband, Jack, as the 36th President of the United States. Johnson’s wife, Lady Bird Johnson was reported to have recalled the following of Jacqueline Kennedy:

“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.”

Surprisingly, the one reported regret that Mrs. Kennedy had regarding that entire day was that she had washed the blood off her face before the swearing in of Vice President Johnson. She so wanted the world to experience the brutal totality of the tragic event that took her husband’s life.

Jacqueline Kennedy wore her blood-stained, pink suit while Johnson took the oath of office as president.

Somewhere along the line, the pink pillbox hat that matched Mrs. Kennedy’s Chanel suit, got lost. To this day, its whereabouts remain unknown, Jackie Kennedy eventually removed the blood-stained suit the next morning. Without cleaning the blood off the suit, her assistant folded it and stored it in a box.

The box containing the suit was later sent to Jackie Kennedy’s mother who wrote and included a note that read, “November 22nd, 1963,” and placed in the attic. The box was eventually donated to the National Archives in Maryland. There, it is kept out of public view in an acid-free container in a windowless room. Beautiful, first lady, Jackie Kennedy, in that pink Chanel suit, was the President Kennedy’s last sight before he was fatally shot in the head.

Jackie Kennedy’s blood-stained Chanel suit has been described as the, “emblematic of the ending of innocence.”

Although the assassination of JFK has been called the end of innocence, we know it certainly was just the beginning of the end. As time marches on, we never cease to be amazed at the turn of current events. Unfortunately, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated during a trying time, but he wasn’t the first American President to have been assassinated. Fortunately, though, he has been the last one, to date.

So, How Many American Presidents have been Assassinated?

President John F. Kennedy is the latest American President to have been assassinated in the United States of America. In our history, there have been only 3 other Presidents that have met the same demise; 4 in total counting President JFK. They are Abraham Lincoln (I cannot tell a lie). James Garfield, and William McKinley. Hopefully, there will be no others in our future.

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Rebeka Knott

Writer

Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.