Don’t Say I Didn’t Warn You

Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy

How I think I look when I get a bit windblown.

Hello, and welcome to our newest feature over here at Luxury Underpass. Think of it as a bit of trend forecasting, possibly mixed with some wishful thinking on my part!

I love keeping an eye out for trends that I think will become things. I’ve been wearing animal print for years now! And I spotted the hair clip obsession well over a year ago. But see the thing is, telling you all that now is pointless. That’s what everybody is saying! But had I actually told you a year ago that soon you’d be wishing you hadn’t let your mom dump all your old Claire’s Accessories hair clips when you moved out, you would have thought I was crazy! But by now, you’d be saying “shoulda listened to Luxury Underpass.”

So here I am telling you first, that I think we are going to be seeing a huge resurgence of Carolyn Bessette Kennedy‘s style. She was the personification of the look I like to call extreme-90’s-Manhattan-minimalism. (see also 90’s era Gwyneth, with the leather and the tiny shades and an ever present cigarette, what would Queen Goop say now!) But no one did it like CBK.

Literally what I’m going to wear tomorrow.

Carolyn is known for her very high profile marriage to JFK Jr., but her Cinderella story started long before they even met. It was her singular style and way of presenting herself when she was a Calvin Klein sales associate that first got her noticed by the higher ups and allowed her to start climbing the ranks in the company. And it was through her role there that she first met John.

She’s amazing, but can we all agree that John John was probably a bit of douche (look at the hat!)?
Cute dog tho.

A lot of styles and style icons get called timeless, but nearly any look of hers would look as good today as it did in the 90’s. I would argue that it is only her eyebrows that date the looks (it was a rough time). I mean for god’s sake, padded headbands have started to make a comeback!

It is hard to say anything new about her style that hasn’t been said already. Clean, pared back, sleek, chic, effortless, neutral, and yes timeless. You cannot throw the keywords minimal and fashion around on Pinterest without landing on a picture of her. But more than to praise her style for the umpteenth time, I’m here to say that I think Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy is about to reenter the mainstream fashion conversation in a big way.

Wearing mules gets me half way there, right?

The 90’s are back, and with them spaghetti straps, slip dresses, jeans that aren’t skinny (praise hands emoji), blazers and sandals with squared-off toes (even I did not see that one coming). These items, shapes, and concepts made up most of CBK’s wardrobe, so fashion is, as ever, repeating. But it goes deeper than just fashion’s 20 year cyclical nature.

The Strategist have singled out both her lipstick and scent of choice as current must haves. We are also moving away from the contoured full face makeup look that has dominated the scene for a few years now. Carolyn’s simple but still striking makeup is great inspiration for the more laid back look we’re going to start seeing.

Somehow, against every fiber of the universe, she makes those eyebrows work.

Marie Claire has recently written a piece about how she has remained a fashion icon in the 20 years since her death. If Marie Claire doesn’t strike you as the kind of place to be getting your cool girl fashion news, AnOther Magazine crowned her “Queen of 90’s Minimalist Fashion” way back in 2017.

It is also worth noting that this July will mark the 20th anniversary of her death in a plane crash alongside her husband and sister. And because media loves an anniversary, no matter how tragic, she will be coming back into the cultural consciousness and discussions a lot over the next few months. As the tributes and memorials start coming in, a new generation will be getting their first real looks at her style and hopefully a better understanding of who she was and how she dressed.

Though she worked at Calvin Klein, arguably the brand most associated with the minimalism trend of the 90’s and possibly of the decade as a whole, Carolyn was not a trendy dresser. She had a very sharp sense of her own style. It was unwavering, she was not one to experiment with looks or wear things just for the sake of it. She essentially had a capsule wardrobe before we knew what that was.

There is a lot of 90’s happening in this photo, but also I’ll probably be trying to find some flared jeans tomorrow.

As the conversation around fashion swings more and more towards sustainablity and transparency, the example she set of working with fewer pieces, and honing your own style so that nothing you own is out of place will become the working model we aspire to. Her approach to fashion and the general move towards minimalism means you’ll be hearing a lot about Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy going forward. I’ll leave it up to you whether you want to dive into headbands though. (I’m tempted, but then I remember how bad they squeezed my head!)

Click through the slideshow below to shop some current pieces that’ll give you that timeless CBK look!

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