Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, known as Jackie O in later years, was a fashion icon. With so much media surrounding her wardrobe, it might seem impossible that she had a secret hidden in plain sight. But she did! The secret was concealed within the former first lady’s shoes! To learn what Kennedy was hiding from the public, though, you’ll have to keep reading.
Kathy McKeon Shared Kennedy’s Secret In Her Book
Jackie Kennedy is widely recognized as one of the most, if not the most, glamorous first ladies. From her pillbox hat to her strands of pearl necklaces, she always looked ready to pose for a magazine cover.
While her style and fashion sense have been written about for years, a new revelation has come to light. The former first lady’s live-in aide, Kathy McKeon, shared a secret in her autobiography, Jackie’s Girl: My Life with the Kennedy Family. And the secret has to do with her shoes.
Kennedy Had A “Dazzling Selection Of Shoes”
In her book, Kathy McKeon wrote of the former first lady’s wardrobe, saying, “The bedroom walk-in closet was jam-packed with Madam’s everyday clothing, all arranged according to color. I had never seen such a dazzling selection of shoes!”
Having access to Kennedy’s closet, it was only a matter of time before the aid spotted the secret the former first lady was hiding. The thing is, she would have had to look very hard.
The “Jackie” Look Cost $145,000 In One Year
Jackie O’s closet wasn’t for the faint of heart. It was jammed packed with various outfits, shoes, and accessories for the many occasions she and her husband attended. In 1961 alone, it’s said that the former first lady spent approximately $145,000 on clothing!
Spending that much money is definitely one way to become a fashion icon and have a look named after you. The former first lady’s style was dubbed the “Jackie” look.
With So Many Outfits, Not Many Noticed The Shoes
Spending so much money on so many outfits, it’s a wonder how no one noticed Kennedy’s shoes. Well, they noticed them. They just didn’t notice the intimate secret they were holding.
But it didn’t matter. People were too enthralled with her three-quarter sleeves on notch-collar jackets, elbow-length satin gloves, A-line sleeveless dresses, and her signature bouffant hairstyle, to think about something as simple as her choice in footwear.
Her Clothing Was Recreated Around The World
Jackie Kennedy’s sense of style quickly made the rounds in the Western world, as many women wanted to embody the iconic and fashionable first lady. As such, many clothing designers around the globe worked to recreate some of her more popular looks, shoes included.
The thing is, designers who never worked with the former first lady would have known about her tiny little secret, something that made her shoes special to her and only her.
When Her Style Changed, Her Shoes Didn’t
Throughout the years, Kennedy’s style evolved, as most fashionistas do. But one thing that never changed was the secret she held in her shoes. That was going to be something she held onto for the rest of her life.
Even when she swapped fitted knee-length skirts for gypsy skirts and her pillbox hats for headscarves, Jackie O never swayed from the one thing she’s always asked her shoe designers to include in her footwear.
Even With Museum Exhibits, Only McKeon Knew The Truth
Even though The John F. Kennedy Library has secured many of Jackie’s more iconic outfits and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art showcased pieces in an exhibit, only Kathy McKeon had the inside scoop on Kennedy’s secret.
It wasn’t until she published her autobiography, Jackie’s Girl: My Life with the Kennedy Family, that the truth surrounding the former first lady’s shoes finally came to light. And it’s something no one really expected.
Jackie Kennedy’s Closet Was Extremely Organized
As Kennedy’s personal live-in aid, one of Kathy McKeon’s many jobs was grabbing clothing, shoes, and accessories out of the former first lady’s closet. And according to McKeon, it wasn’t exactly the worst job in the world since it was so organized.
During an interview with Fox News, McKeon said, “It was extremely easy to find anything in it.” How she didn’t stare in awe of all the gorgeous outfits is such a mystery.
She Had A Vast Array Of Shoes
During the interview with Fox News, Kathy McKeon spoke of Kennedy’s closet, saying, “Everything matched. A pair of pants would always be accompanied with the right blouse… and her shoes were always lined up. Nice and shiny…London-look boots, pumps in every color, spotless sneakers for morning jogs around the reservoir.”
With access to all of those shoes, it was only a matter of time before she found the secret concealed under their soles.
It’s All In The Details
Jackie Kennedy was very meticulous. Everything had to be perfect, down to the tiniest detail. Her attention to detail was seen during her White House renovations and even for the script the tour guides used during public tours of the White House.
So, it stands to reason that she would pay the same or even more attention to her day-to-day outfits, including what she put on her feet.
Kennedy Wasn’t Above Writing Detailed Letters
Jackie Kennedy’s need for perfection is well documented, too. In various letters she wrote to her personal shopper, the former first lady provided sketches of fabric she was looking for as well as catalog pages of specific outfits!
And those letters weren’t just about the clothing; she also provided specific shoe requests, too, including that tiny little secret the public was unaware of until McKeon’s autobiography was published.
Letters Included Size Style, And The Time She Needed Them
One of Jackie’s letters to her personal Bergdorf Goodman shopper, Marita O’Connor, went into great detail regarding the type of shoes she was looking for. In the letter, Kennedy wrote, “Please order me a pair of alligator shoes – size 10A – medium heel – slender – pointed toe but not exaggerated – tricky vamp business…”
“I like elegant and timeless. I must have these for Inauguration Day, so you’ll have to rush.”
Fashion Was Like Jackie Kennedy’s Second Language
Many news outlets were amazed at how hyper-focused the former first lady was about her wardrobe. Her husband had just been named the president-elect, she was about to have a baby, but all she was worried about was what she was going to wear the next day.
Okay, maybe it wasn’t all she was worried about, but it was definitely one of the things at the forefront of her mind. And it makes sense, considering the care she had to take with her shoes.
She Wasn’t Afraid To Tell People What She Didn’t Like
Of course, when a person knows what they like, they know what they don’t like. In that regard, Jackie Kennedy was no different. She had no issue telling her personal shoppers and designers if something wasn’t up to par with what she had envisioned.
She was a true fashionista that way. But if there was one thing that always had to be designed just so, it was her shoes. And the reason is quite astounding.
One Shoe Out Of A Pair Had To Be Lifted A Quarter Of An Inch
As it turns out, the secret Kathy McKeon learned while working as Jackie Kennedy’s in-house aid is that the former first lady wasn’t as perfect as she appeared. The secret that she was keeping within her shoes was the fact that one of each pair was raised by a quarter of an inch!
The lift was due to the fact that one of Kennedy’s legs was a tad bit shorter than the other.
No One Knew
The altered design in the shoes was so no one noticed that Jackie Kennedy had one leg that was a tad shorter than the other. In her book, McKeon wrote, “No one would have ever guessed.”
And she’s right! The public really had no idea that the former first lady had uneven legs or that she went through the trouble to ask her designers to make sure to lift one shoe out of a pair a quarter of an inch.
JFK’s Legs Were Uneven, Too
Reports suggest that the idea to lift one of her shoes was inspired by her husband, John F. Kennedy. When he was suffering from back pain, Dr. Janet Travell noticed that his legs weren’t the same length.
As it turns out, JFK’s left leg was a bit shorter than his right, and the unevenness resulted in his constant back pain. The solution: a tiny heel was affixed to his left shoes.
Her Legs Weren’t Really Uneven Enough To Warrant A Lift
Dr. Janet Travell soon became the Kennedys’ acting physician. And while there is no evidence suggesting he’s the one who discovered Jackie Kennedy’s slightly uneven legs, it’s amazing that she and her husband had the same ailment!
The thing is, the differing lengths of the former first lady’s legs was such a tiny detail. But as previously mentioned, she was a sucker for getting everything perfect, down to the last and smallest detail.
A Pair Of Her Shoes Sold At Auction For $30,000
Even with one shoe in each pair containing a quarter of an inch lift, people are still willing to pay big money to own a pair of Jackie Kennedy shoes. During an auction in Los Angeles, California, in 2013, a pair of her pumps sold for a solid $30,000!
The size 10 pumps were designed by Italian designer René Mancini. And they weren’t the only piece of Jackie O’s closet that went for a large price.
Two Pearl Necklaces Sold For $47,000
Three years before the René Mancini pumps were sold for $30,000, two of Jacqueline Kennedy’s iconic pearl jewelry were sold at an auction in England. The two necklaces were sold for a whopping $47,000!
The kicker is that the pearl jewelry wasn’t even authentic; they were fake! According to Bonhams jewelry expert Jean Ghika, “It’s fair to say that 99.9 percent of the value is because they belonged to Jackie Kennedy.”