Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy's Swing Coat
When JFK was a Massachusetts 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 swing coat.
(Photo: Jackie is clutching her 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, and she would now be focused on creating a new fashion image.
This coat and 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 coat from the collector by trading it for a famous "Jackie-owned and worn" necklace he had purchased at the historic Sotheby’s Auction of the Estate of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis held in New York City in 1997.
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy's Swing Coat:
Hand stitched and lined in silk satin, the black wool boucle three quarter length swing coat boasts a shawl collar and jet buttons on each cuff.
The coat is unique in its construction because all the seams are 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 were changed.)
There were many social events and formal affairs that Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy was required to attend, being the wife of a United States Senator. Mrs. Kennedy was conscious of fashion and style and dressed with the utmost grace and elegance.