“I want them to see what they have done.”
The blood-stained pink suit of Jackie Kennedy, worn on November 22, 1963, has been locked away since the day of her husband’s assassination. The public has not seen it and will not see it until 2103. With this understanding, Caroline Kennedy gave the suit as a gift to the people of the United States, stating that the Kennedy family will still have to be consulted before it is revealed 90 years from today.
According to CNN News, Mrs. Kennedy was still wearing the blood-stained suit when she got to the White House in the early-morning hours after her husband was shot, refusing to take it off at the hospital, the flight back to Washington with her husband’s body, or the emergency swearing in of Lyndon Johnson.
When White House aides suggested she change her clothes, she refused.
“Her remark, I think she made it more than once is, ‘No, I’m going to leave these clothes on. I want them to see what they have done,'” said Philip Shenon, author of A Cruel and Shocking Act. “That whole scene is obviously just surreal. She arrives in the cabin in Air Force One in these clothes, covered with the President’s blood, and she’s expected to stand there and witness the swearing in of her husband’s successor.”
The suit was a knockoff Coco Chanel, made in the United States.
She looked “smashing” in the suit, according to President Kennedy, who asked Jackie to wear the outfit to Dallas on November 22, 1963. In fact, that very morning he had joked about her impeccable fashion sense. “Two years ago, I introduced myself in Paris by saying that I was the man who had accompanied Mrs. Kennedy to Paris,” he said. “I am getting somewhat that same sensation as I travel around Texas. Nobody wonders what Lyndon and I wear.”
The location of the pink pillbox hat Mrs. Kennedy wore that fateful day is still a mystery.
“The hat apparently goes to the Secret Service initially and the Secret Service turns it over to Mrs. Kennedy’s private secretary, and then it disappears. It has not been seen since,” Shenon said.
Today, the suit is stored in the National Archives building in Maryland in an acid free container, where the temperature is kept between 65 and 68 degrees to properly maintain the wool and cloth.
It has never been cleaned.
Image via: Wikimedia Commons