What Would Jackie Do?: An Inspired Guide to Distinctive Living

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9781592402717: What Would Jackie Do?: An Inspired Guide to Distinctive Living

We can’t help but want to be like her: Exuding unmatched poise and style, Jackie O continues to fascinate women and men of all ages. But how would Jackie have handled the twenty-first century? What would she have thought of a society defined by casual rules of conduct? Gathering intriguing research, commentary from today’s experts, and fond reminiscences about the first lady of perfection’s day-to-day decisions, journalists Shelly Branch and Sue Callaway offer a sparkling answer to the question: What Would Jackie Do?

Applying Jackie’s philosophies to every aspect of contemporary life, including relationships, office politics, family matters, household bills, and entertaining, What Would Jackie Do? is a trove of advice, featuring:

· Noblesse oblige for beginners
· How not to be an interchangeable woman
· Mastering the effortless rich look
· The art of attachment: lessons on sex, marriage, and men of consequence
· Career whirls: pearls for getting ahead

What Would Jackie Do? portrays the practical wisdom behind an icon. The next best thing to having Jackie O as a personal adviser, What Would Jackie Do? gives readers a piece of the Jackie mystique.

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About the Author:

Shelly Branch is a reporter at The Wall Street Journal, and has written for Fortune and Money, among other publications. In 1997 she authored a book for Money’s "America’s Financial Advisor" series. She is a graduate of Barnard College and the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

Sue Callaway is a journalist who has worked for Esquire, Harper’s Bazaar, Men’s Journal, and Fortune. She also served as the director of marketing for Ford’s luxury brands and as general manager of Jaguar Cars North America. She is a graduate of Smith College.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:


What was it about her, dammit?

Almost from the moment she made her debutante turn at Hammersmith Farm in 1947, it was obvious that the elegant sylph known simply as 8Jackiee possessed something enviable, intangible.

A true 8American Idol,e she represented a standard that many women have tried to copy, from her clothes to her gestures. But it was her cloak of unusual dignity that earns her the greatest admiration. You canft help but want to be like her. Who can resist such effortless, multilingual poise? People the world over have long marveled at how she handled the jagged, painful turns of the Kennedy legacy and the Onassis years. And how, beneath those iconic pillboxes, she never seemed to sweat.

Which brings us to the point of this book. Dozens of works have sought to portray the 8reale Jackie, and fix her mark on events historic.

Yet no book has applied Jackiefs day-to-day philosophies to your life, or extrapolated her timeless coping skills for the twenty-first-century woman. With the publicfs interest in all things Kennedy hardly abated, it seems appropriate=even necessary=to now view Jackie through a more modern prism. To connect the dots of her richly textured life and distill them into a practical, instructive guide.

Over the last four decades, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis has attracted almost as many writers as fans. Her public life as a young mother in the White House, followed by more Garbo-like periods in Greece and New York, continue to fascinate people who knew only her photograph. Her allure, and her example, go well beyond the printed page: When New Yorkfs Metropolitan Museum of Art displayed her White House finery in a 2001 costume exhibit, it attracted an international sell-out crowd. And two Sothebyfs auctions featuring items from her estate and her homes yielded dizzying bids.

Still, the somber words and the artifacts are not enough. We are ever fascinated by this private woman=our royal equivalent=who will always be the pinnacle of beauty and wisdom. What Would Jackie Do? explores the alchemy of Jackiefs timeless living arts to show what it takes to be a creature of true substance today. The first book of its kind, it aims her famous gaze in the readersf direction through advice, insight, and humor (Jackie did, after all, possess quite the wicked wit).

At a time when classic smarts have gone missing in our fractured popular culture, this book is meant to serve as the print equivalent of having Jackie herself analyze=indeed, make over=your life. What Would Jackie Do? will show you how to be steely yet soign+e=a tonic that the Jennifer Anistons and J.Los (starlets with only fleeting fame)=crave. With the Elegant One as your personal advisor, you can acquire some of that Jackie O magic, be it of the heart, the mind, or the home.

Youfll know, for example, when a designer is worth his couture costs, and when you are better off with a good knockoff. Youfll learn to deftly approach everything from mating rituals to office politics with as much savoir faire as Jackie did in her time. If she could make guests both plain and privileged feel at ease in the White House, how can you do the same in your own home? As for her famously strict and successful child-rearing ways, how might you translate and apply similar methods? And how can you interpret for your own purposes her complex ability to handle powerful men?

By definition, this is a work that must straddle the lines of history and myth, observation and advice, reverence and irreverence. We also suggest what Jackie might do today in a world where the rules of social conduct are ever more fluid. Would she e-mail thank-you notes? Use a BlackBerry to deliver bad news? Consign old clothes? Try Pilates? Withhold sex until the second date or fifth? Fly the kids first class or coach?

What Would Jackie Do? takes its cues from dozens of original interviews, as well as biographies, historical references and documents, articles, oral histories, photographs, and other previously published works. As a reality check, let us underscore two key points. First, Jackie, for all her gemlike facets, was hardly without flaws. To that end, this book will help you understand what she knew all too well: How best to transform your weaknesses into strengths. Second, most women lack the financial resources and/or social connections to lead the life that she did. With that in mind, we reveal how even Jackie cut corners and pinched a few pennies.

In summary, this book is designed to give you a solid yet whimsical foundation from which to draw inspiration and advice. To compel you to ask, when confronted with matters sartorial, ethical, practical: What Would Jackie Do?

Chapter 1
Daily Bred:
Exude Grace in Everything You Do
8A beautiful gesture is really a very rare thing . . .e

Shall we dare to be . . . like her?

Itfs an alluring=and terrifying=idea. After all, Jackie O was the model for how to do practically everything right. There was the indestructible coif, chic whether windswept or tethered by a silk scarf. A whispery voice that could alternately charm, devastate, captivate. Even her physical carriage had an easy grace that seemed lit from within. Then, of course, there were the outfits=beaded bodices and A- line coats. They dazzled in the absence of colossal gems. The very image is enough to make us straighten our backs, pat our hair in place, and pull our beau a little bit closer.

And no wonder. Much that wefve seen and read about her is so reverent, distant, unattainable. But at a time when everything in our world is so brilliantly recherch+=from clothes and entertaining to manners and even language=what better opportunity to intrigue as if 8Jack-leene?

Perfection isnft the goal, of course. To transcend the ordinariness that Jackie so feared in youth means feasting on a diet of discipline and restraint=whether youfre into dungarees or Dior. As Jackie knew, fabulousness is a state of mind, something you harness day in and day out to neutralize the 8drearye things and people that threaten to drag you down.


It wonft, it canft, it mustnft always be about you. And even if you donft agree, youfd do well to at least pretend so some of the time. A substantive woman=and Jackie was nothing if not that=can check her hubris as easily as she does her evening wrap. Itfs always there, of course, but sometimes itfs better left in the background.

Shift the spotlight. Self-promoters, Jackie once said, 8really get my back up.e But because people tend to crave the limelight so much themselves, theyfll be thrown (and delighted) when you transfer some of the attention you command. Out for aperitifs with girlfriends? Insist that the cute guy in the opposite banquette is ogling one of them, not you. Tell your hairdresser that his splendid updo=not your fine form=drew gasps at the charity ball.

A master at shifting the spotlight, Jackie would playfully say to friends that the press 8must know youfre here!e when helicopters buzzed overhead. Even when the pressure was on, she knew to turn the focus away from herself. Once, when one of Jackiefs Doubleday authors=Tiffany design director John Loring=asked the editor to do a rare interview on his behalf for The New Yorker, Jackie at first agreed, but ultimately reneged by using a clever deflection technique. She told him, 8You donft really want me in that profile, because people will only remember me, and youfll just be forgotten completely.e

Overlook faux pas. You mustnft let the minor transgressions of others interrupt your daily flow=or block your precious chi. When people stumble with their words, their manners, or their wit, therefs just no need to take an emotional tumble. Jackie wouldnft give a damn if you said, 8I love your Gucci!e (if in fact she was wearing Pucci) or 8How was the bear hunt?e (when foxes were her thing).

To show how deftly Jackie handled such potentially embarrassing moments, a Doubleday colleague recalls how she stopped by his office to bum a book of matches. 8As I was handing it to her, I noticed it had a JFK memorial stamp on it,e he says. 8It was a fleeting moment, not more than a second.e Jackie didnft acknowledge any awkwardness. Ditto when interior decorator Mario Buatta came to dinner at her Fifth Avenue apartment and promptly split his pants on a chair. Without missing a beat, Jackie covered his back at the buffet.

Invoke othersf names. Need a favor? Need to curry favor? Put a brake on the number of times you say 8mee and 8I.e Youfll seem like less of an egomaniac=and more of a conciliator=if you pin your request on someone else. Jackie was known to use such harmless substitutions to get what she wanted, saying things like, 8Jack wants . . .e or 8My sister advises against,e or 8So-and-so wonft allow . . .e The less-than-overt method had its charms. 8She could impose that will upon people without their ever knowing it,e observed White House usher J. B. West.

Be a master flatterer. The point of advanced flattery is to remind someone how special he or she is, while also hinting at your utter dependency on them. This technique comes in handy when you are trying to salvage professional relationships or have something very specific to gain.

To snare a 8magnificente portrait of Benjamin Franklin for the White House, for example, Jackie rang up publishing magnate Walter H. Annenberg. She was ready to grovel, all right, but with an air of decorum and purpose: 8You, Mr. Annenberg, are the first citizen of Philadelphia,e she purred. 8And in his day, Benjamin Franklin was the first citizen of Philadelphia. And thatfs why, Mr. Annenberg, I thought of you. . . .e She went on to remind him that the White House=and America=desperately needed his tasteful acquisition. Are we at all surprised that he handed over the $250,000 painting by David Martin?

Dare to diss yourself. How to boost the comfort level when youfre mingling outside your own social set? Knock yourself down by a precious peg or two. Jackie had a talent for making herself seem less rich, less smart, less beautiful when the situation warranted it. She was known, for instance, to refer to her Fifth Avenue manse as 8this old dump.e Even among those who sought to impress her (folly indeed), she held back. If someone prattled on about an obscure book, for example, 8Jackie would be well mannered enough to say dIfve never heard of thatf when shefd read the whole thing,e says her friend Carly Simon.

* * *

8If you want the world to adore you, you must take a deep
interest in other people. Jackie was full of wonder and
enthusiasm=with her, you felt you were the most
important person.e

* * *

How to Be a Goodwill Ambassador to Strangers,
Colleagues, Malcontents

Jackie preferred hailing taxis to get about in New York City. And in those yellow chariots, she would sometimes lean forward and do what so few ever bother to do: ask how the driverfs day was going. In one case, she beseeched the cabbie to quit his shift in order to get home safely in soggy weather. What good is it, after all, to be a cut above if you donft let your own splendid qualities trickle down to others?

Coddle bit players. Itfs terribly wicked not to give props to all of the people who make your path smoother in life. These include the doorman, the mailman=and if youfre so lucky= the cook and pilot. In Jackiefs case, the list also extended to all sorts of minor politicos. Go beyond tips and nods. As a campaign wife, Jackie was able to recall the names, unprompted, of umpteen mayors and convention delegates. And in the White House, she stunned her new staff by properly addressing members upon their first face-to-face meeting.

Donft (publicly) criticize your enemies or opponents. Leave such base behavior to modern-day politicians and reality show contestants. Particularly resist the temptation to bad-mouth people by e-mail: Therefs nothing worse than electronic slurs, which can be endlessly forwarded. Though surrounded by enemies (political) and jealous types (frumpy women), Jackie refused to get nasty. During the 1960 campaign, she declined to take potshots at Hubert Humphrey. And two decades later, when Nancy Reagan got swamped with negative publicity, Jackie waxed empathetic, going so far as to call her to offer advice on handling the press.

Tap higher powers to help the helpless. After youfve maxed out your immediate resources, look to your left and right, above and below to harness those six degrees of separation between you and the solution to the problem at hand. Donft be too proud to ask an influential friend to step in on behalf of someone you know=even if the two have never met. Thatfs what connections are really for.

In 1980 Jackie summoned medical philanthropist Mary Lasker to help an impoverished sick boy, the son of a manicurist, gain access to proper treatment. As a follow-up to the favor, Jackie wrote her friend Mary a heartfelt note: 8Now they donft feel that they are just a cipher because they are poor,e she scrawled on her Doubleday stationery. 8Whatever happens, they know that someone with a noble heart made it possible for them to get the best care they could.e

Turn the other silken cheek. Sometimes you must show people what you are made of by staying elevated when youfd least like to=say, when someone zips into your primo parking space, or snatches the last pair of Loro Piana gloves on sale at Bergdorffs. Like Jackie, youfd do well to let mild acts of ugliness pass without much fuss.

Traveling with Thomas Hoving, then-director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Jackie was stunned=and frightened=by the French paparazzi who swarmed her at a low-key Left Bank restaurant. An infuriated Hoving returned to their hotel, the Plaza Ath+n+e, and demanded that the doorman who disclosed their whereabouts be fired. Informing Jackie of the fait accompli, Hoving recalls, 8She got mad at me.e She said: 8You suffered a manfs livelihood because of that?e

Mute the call of mammon. The classiest cash is also the quietest. So if youfre fortunate enough to have an endless supply of crisp bills, just donft crumple them under the noses of those with less. This doesnft mean you should deprive yourself of fine things. Certainly our lady did not. But wealth does require you to be somewhat stealth about what youfve got.

Donft gab on about money either=yours, your parentsf, your boyfriendfs=or your over-the-top plans for it. When Jackie received a $26 million settlement from Aristotle Onassisfs estate, society types needled the widow about how she intended to spend the windfall. 8You donft talk about things like that,e was her stunned reply.

To be a cut above, donft cut. Even if your social status or connections somehow permit it, resist any temptation to leapfrog over more common folks. This means no line- jumping at Disney World, no flashing that Burberry plaid to snare the next cab. In New York, Jackie waited in crowds like everybody e...

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