Fashion & Style

Channel Jackie O’s Vacation Style: The Timeless Skirt

Though the influence of the 1970s in shaping fashion has simmered down slightly, it’s still going strong (and boiling over when it comes to Gucci).

If you want to partake in the neo-’70s trend without parting ways with your own, not especially retro style, consider Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, as pictured here, on vacation in Capri, in June, 1971: Her button-front midi-skirt—of its era but not cartoonishly so—was echoed this season by a number of designers such as Lisa Marie Fernandez and Rebecca Taylor.

The photo was snapped by a paparazzo as she was spending the day on the idyllic Italian island with her sister, Lee Radziwill, and Ms. Radziwill’s children, Anthony and Anna Christina. Ms. Onassis was 41 at the time, about two years into her marriage to Aristotle Onassis, and, judging by her garb, perhaps feeling more comfortable in her own skin than she had several years prior as first lady of the United States. Her hair was tied in a low chignon, her feet clad in the flat sandals now synonymous with Capri style, and she paired the silk-tie-print skirt with a simple, scoop-neck top and wide metallic belt.

Her look rather seamlessly and chicly translates to 2017. “In the ’70s there was a lot of craziness going on in fashion, and [Jackie and Lee] just ignored it,” said Jennifer Alfano, founder and editor of fashion website the Flair Index. “They were really true to being elegant and understated.” Emma McClendon, assistant curator of costume at the Museum at FIT, at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, concurred: “While [Jackie] was fashionable, she wasn’t dressing in extremely directional clothing. Images of her have a feeling of the era but aren’t so tied to that moment in time.”

The skirt has other bona fides. New York designer Rebecca Taylor, who’s offering four versions this season, praised its ability to leave you practically covered up but not dowdy. “I‘m a mom of three, and my legs have seen better days,” said Ms. Taylor, “but it gives you the feeling of being slightly sexy without wearing a mini.” Another fan of the silhouette, Monica Paolini, co-designer of label Sea New York, appreciates its flattery: “You can show more leg, it accentuates your waist and hides hips well.”

Flat, strappy sandals are inarguably the ideal footwear for this skirt. But what to wear on top? Avoid anything too billowy, which can skew overly retro. Opt for a fitted, simple tops, like a T-shirt, camisole or even a bodysuit. The Flair Index’s Ms. Alfano warned in particular against the now ubiquitous tops that are both off-the-shoulder and ruffled. “You could do an off-the-shoulder, or one ruffle, but be careful. You don’t want to look like a wedding cake.”

Corrections & Amplifications
This image of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Lee Radziwill was shot in June 1971 by an unknown paparazzo. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that it was from August 1970 and attributed the photograph to Ron Galella. (June 20, 2017)

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