What I Learned from Doing Jackie Kennedy's Beauty Routine for a Week
A lot, no exaggeration.
All my life, I have been fascinated with Jackie Kennedy. The pink pillbox hat, the signature black, oversized sunglasses, her effortless (but totally elegant) beauty. All of it. Next to Audrey Hepburn (real original, I know), she's been one of my all time idols. So, in advance of JFK's 99th Birthday anniversary this month, I thought that it be really interesting to attempt to do Jackie's beauty routine — to step into a part of her world. But, I didn't really know where to start.
In my absence of a starting point, I turned to Pamela Keogh, the author of Jackie Style. She is beyond a wealth of Jackie anecdotes. First things first, Jackie was very fastidious. She took excellent care of herself. She was athletic, worked out everyday, and always ate properly. And of course, she had access to the top people in the beauty industry and used Erno Laszlo products to maintain her complexion. She also wore Joy by Jean Patou as a signature scent for a period of time.
Another thing to know? Keogh explains, "Jackie was very diligent about maintaining her appearance, but also with keeping up with the times. Once a style was over for Jackie, it was over." Keogh adds, "She was always dressed for what was appropriate for the time, and she always wore a killer dress."
As you can imagine, the former first lady was nothing if not a perfectionist, and her discipline was reflected in all areas of her life. According to Keogh, she always took her makeup off at the end of the day, and when she had her makeup done, "she took notes on legal pad to remember how to replicate the look on herself."
To sum things up: I was going to have to be diligent about my routine for a week. No running to the grocery store in a messy bun and no makeup. I peppered my beauty routine with products that Jackie loved, namely her fragrance and her favorite Phormula 3-9 cream from Erno Laszlo ($275; sephora.com). I also made sure that I left my apartment every single day, foundation blended, lipstick on, and without so much as an eyebrow out of place. Oh, and of course, I would give myself a couple of spritzes of Joy by Jean Patou ($190; neimainmarcus.com), which instantly made me feel like I was a fancy lady from a bygone time — no day would have been complete without it.
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Little did I know, this routine would teach me a lot more than I had expected. Yes, the results of having discipline are often far more satisfying, but last week, things took a turn for the unexpected. I lost my great aunt, who much like Jackie, although not a public figure of astronomical proportions, was a picture of beauty and elegance and incredibly disciplined. For all 24 years of my life, I always saw her with her eyebrows penciled in, hair coifed, and wearing flourishing array of lipsticks. She loved her lipstick. She was breathtakingly beautiful (pictured below on the left), and remained so even at 87 years old.
So when I received the unfortunate news, Jackie's fastidiousness and maintenance of routine took on new importance. Esteemed beauty editor and author Sali Hughes has written about this, and it really is true. During trying times, of heartbreak, sickness, loss, whatever have you, taking the time to take care of yourself can help you cope. Feeling like you look like crap makes you feel even crappier, but also the maintenance of some sort of constant is incredibly comforting. Things may be unpredictable, but you still have your routine in the morning and evening to mark the beginning and end of your day.
Each day and night, following my aunt's passing, I woke up every day, and continued my practice of grooming like Jackie would. I cleansed and massaged Erno Laszlo's decadent Phormula 3-9 repair cream all over my face, neck and décolleté. If you want a luxury experience that will make your skin look like you get a facial on the reg, this is your pick. My skin looked incredible all week. I put frizz serum in my hair to tame flyaways. I made sure there were no chips in my manicure. I wore lipstick every day. And you know what? Those things helped to keep me from feeling like my life was spinning out of control.
Yes, I felt a wounding sadness that will probably take a while to fade, but I also felt a feeling of control because I had the comforts of my beauty routine to soothe some of my anxiety of the unknown.
In hindsight, I now have a greater understanding of how Jackie herself maintained such poise in the midst of such enormous and public loss. I would never compare myself to Jackie because I am lightyear's away from being the woman she was, but I can say that her discipline, the discipline that I appropriated, helped me maintain a sense of dignity and composure.
I'll never be able to swipe a lipstick on without thinking of my beloved auntie first, but I also have a renewed appreciation for disciplined routine. And for that, I have to thank Jackie Kennedy.