Jackie Kennedy's Black Boucle Swing Coat
While JFK was a senator, he suffered from chronic back pain due to an injury incurred during WWII, after saving the lives of his surviving crew members during a severe enemy attack to their boat: PT-109.
Years later, on December 21, 1954, then-senator John F. Kennedy was hospitalized in Boston for what would be one of many back surgeries. Following the operation, he was photographed leaving the hospital on a gurney, with Jackie by his side, wearing the now-famous black boucle swing coat.
(Photo shows her clutching the coat against the bitter Boston Winter cold.)
Years later, after Senator Kennedy received the nomination for president, Jackie brought the beautifully custom-designed coat and numerous other personal possessions to a second-hand store outside of Washington D.C. It was clear that she was in hurried preparation to (hopefully) become First Lady, where she would be focusing on creating a new (fashion) image of herself. The coat and those other Kennedy family relics became valued heirlooms for the store owner, who kept them for over 40 years.
It was in 1998 that one of the store owner’s daughters sold the coat through the famous Kennedy auction of Guernsey’s Auction House in New York to a famous collector. Several years later, Great American Doll Company co-founder, Michael R. Lam, acquired the same coat from the collector by trading a famous necklace he had purchased at the historic Sotheby’s Auction of the Estate of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis held in New York City in 1997.
This is black wool, fully-lined in silk, Boucle swing coat, typical of the 1950’s styles. It is unique in its construction in that all seams are totally hand-stitched (not by machine), indicating that it was professionally designed and custom-made to Jackie’s exact tastes and specifications. In addition to the the silk lining, there is an extra layer of light wool fabric between the silk and outside wool fabric which provided extra insulation against the colder northern nights. Buttons are absent from the front, save for the single decorative one inch diameter black buttons sewn onto the sides of each sleeve. (From this photo, you can see Jackie holding the coat closed with both hands. It is interesting to note that at one point during the life of the coat, the sleeves were lengthened and the buttons changed.