While I was pretty young in the ’90s, there’s no doubting the effect that the decade had on me in terms of fashion. Saturday mornings were always reserved for thumbing through the latest issues of Vogue with Mom, tearing out Levi’s ads and pages shot by Arthur Elgort and pinning them to a mood board in my room (this was long before the days of Pinterest, everyone). Trends like the popular grunge movement didn’t really grab me, but I was all about minimalism and clean silhouettes that were hallmarks of that time.
In keeping with those themes, it’s pretty clear that one of the decade’s biggest fashion icons—Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy—had an impact on me. Both she and her husband, John F. Kennedy Jr., were a case study in cool sophistication, one that has been preserved in the many grainy paparazzi shots of them crossing the streets of Manhattan (many of which have made it to my Pinterest board now). Bessette-Kennedy worked as a publicist for Calvin Klein and embodied a distinctly ’90s style that was minimal yet incredibly chic. Her style reads equally cool to this day, where her impact can be seen at brands like The Row that place an emphasis on timeless elegance above all else.
It occurred to me that many of her staples are among the greatest ’90s fashion trends and also happen to rule my current closet. Scrolling through some of my recent outfits on Instagram, one could find throwback essentials like slingback heels and structured tops could have easily been plucked straight from Bessette-Kennedy’s very own wardrobe. Of course, there are some outliers I haven’t personally adopted (yet)—but not because they’re outdated.
In fact, her standby straight-leg jeans with a high rise have more or less eclipsed my go-to skinny jeans in the trend wave of late, and her signature small oval sunglasses? They’ve returned in a major way via the endorsement of celebs like Bella Hadid, but they’re really a trademark of the ’90s, when Bessette-Kennedy helped put them on the map. I’ll admit that I haven’t tested them yet, but I’m ready to give them a try. After all, her style hasn’t steered me wrong yet.
For more evidence of Bessette-Kennedy’s style influence, take a look at some of her signature ’90s pieces below and the current market to get the look for yourself.