Your New '90s Style Inspiration: Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy

Photo: Evan Agostini/Getty Images.
If you haven't heard of Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, it's time you do. Before she became one of New York's most photographed dog walkers of New York's upper echelon, the oft-referenced '90s style icon worked her way up from being a saleswoman at a Calvin Klein store in a Boston mall to become the brand's director of publicity in Manhattan. Propelling her into the spotlight was her marrying the son of JFK and Jackie Onassis, John F. Kennedy Jr., after which her every move — from arguments outside of their Tribeca apartment to meals out — was documented.
Though tragedy struck in July 1999 when the couple were killed in a plane crash in Martha's Vineyard, along with Carolyn's sister, the couple lives on in our minds — and Bessette-Kennedy's personal style is still fawned over. Her minimalist aesthetic — see: men's blazers and crisp white shirts, bandanas, and tiny sunglasses (that are now a favorite among the Hadid and Jenner clans) — stood in stark contrast to the glamour of her mother-in-law and other famous politico wives of the time. Her loose hair and barely-there makeup, Alice bands and pencil skirts, all embodied the effortless and moderate look of the decade (and now sit on thousands of Pinterest boards).
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As Alessandro Michele's maximalist tendencies at Gucci are enjoying a full reign (and thus causing a surge on the knockoff market), and Céline, post-Phoebe Philo, could be completely transformed under Hedi Slimane later this year, a look back at the understated style of Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy is a dose of simplicity in the current climate of clashing textures and prints. And, if you ask us, a clean slate is much needed.
Ahead, we've rounded up our favorite Carolyn looks, from slick workwear to weekend casual get-ups. Click through to find all the minimalist inspiration you need.
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Photo: Evan Agostini/Getty Images.
This is how we're wearing our white shirt: open collar, folded cuff, and slick pair of black trousers. Extra points for a sweet evening bag.
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Mules? Check. Bandana? Check. Blazer? Check. Weekend style sorted.
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Photo: Getty Images.
We're digging oversized mannish blazers this season, and as CBK makes clear, all that's needed is a swipe of wine-stained lipstick.
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BRB while we search frantically for square-toed boots.
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Has a stronger case been made for bringing back elbow-length gloves? We think not.
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Photo: Getty Images.
Commuter looks as turned out by both Kennedys here. The micro shades, Alice band, and top-handle bag give Carolyn the edge.
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Further proof your go-to black turtleneck and blue denim ensemble is timeless.
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We'll be copying this look next time we do some weekend window shopping.
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Photo: Evan Agostini/Liaison.
Do bootcut jeans need to come back? Don't tempt us.
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Photo: Getty Images.
Forget that Kardashian corset rigamarole — all you need to tone-up a silhouette is a well-structured dinner jacket.
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Photo: Getty Images.
This riverside photo has us remiss to pack away our teddy coat.
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