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How To Recreate JFK's Iconic New England Summer Style

Photo by Jennifer Ryan Jones

John F. Kennedy would have been 101 years old this year. And regardless of how you feel about his politics, his classic, Ivy League summer style is still winning in the approval polls. Sure, anyone can look presidential while donning an executive suit and tie. But styling a sportier weekend put-together can prove a bit more challenging. After decades, JFK’s preppy, New England inspired look still reigns supreme. Recreate his clean-cut, casual-cool style with these heritage pieces.

Looking back on vintage images of JFK you’ll notice the same pair of sophisticated tortoiseshell sunglasses. He wore them for both business and pleasure, as they complimented his Brooks Brother’s suits in the oval just as well as his cotton chinos on the Cape. But contrary to popular belief, JFK’s signature sunglasses weren’t the Ray-Ban Wayfarer model you might know and love. He wore the American Optical Saratoga frames. They're now discontinued. You can still get your hands on a pair if you start thrifting, but be prepared to spend. You'll be hard-pressed to find a pair in JFK's shade, demi-amber, on eBay for less than a $1000.

Add a crisp white shirt. JFK would often be seen relaxing in a plain cotton t-shirt, a button-down with rolled up sleeves, or prep school polo. These silhouettes played a big part in his Ivy League summer style story. And all three styles should be a staple in yours. No, we can’t keep you from spilling coffee on your bright whites, but we can help with the dinginess under the pits. The yellowing under the arms of your shirts happens when your body reacts with the aluminum in your deodorant. Do the bright thing and switch to an aluminum-free formulation.

It’s noted that JFK’s Brooks Brothers suits were understated in both color and pattern. And his weekend wardrobe followed suit. He could be spotted sailing in classic slim fitting khakis or white cotton pants. Recreating this part of the President’s casual look is easy. It’s all about fit and Bonobos offers lighter, breathable summer weight chinos in four different ones; Tailored, Slim, Athletic and Straight.

In Hyannis Port, JFK would sport white, clean-cut, canvas sneakers from Tretorn. His preferred summer style, the old school, low profile Nylite is having yet another big fashion moment, as iconic accessories often do. Our guess, it was the non-marking rubber soles and breathable canvas upper that made them the perfect pair of boat shoes for the President as he sailed the Victura.

Of course, the President owned many watches throughout his life but his Omega “Ultra Thin” was probably the most photographed and noted as JFK wore it at his Inauguration in 1961. While the actual timepiece is now back with Omega, you can replicate this thin, elegant tank watch at many different price points. Including this less fiscally responsible version from Cartier.


This article was written and appeared on Grooming Lounge and our Founder, Mike Gilman, were quoted a lot, so we borrowed the article. Giving them credit -- hope it's OK.

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