10 looks that made Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy the '90s minimalism It girl

Simple, sophisticated and oh so chic

Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy style
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy's style is synonymous with classic 90s minimalism. From her timeless street style looks to her classic evening wear; and lest we forget, that iconic wedding dress—she was the face of quiet luxury before it was even a thing. 

The effervescent look of classic minimalistic pieces, which is now often seen on Kate Middleton and most recently on Kylie Jenner is nothing short of a timeless source of inspiration. Bessette-Kennedy's style has certainly not failed to inspire fashion's it-girls, but also many influential brands for decades. From The Row, to Phoebe Philo, and even Bottega Veneta.

So much so that the former publicist and socialite's style is now the subject of author, Sunita Kumar Nair's latest book CBK: Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy: A Life in Fashion. This book is the ultimate commemoration of Bessette-Kennedy's style, fashion code, and the impact she left behind nearly two decades later. 

Over on social media, TikTok has reported the hashtag #carolynbessettekennedy earning a whopping 46.5 million views this month, with users eager to share their favourite looks inspired by the fashion icon. And to be totally truthful, I have also participated in the phenomenon with one or two (hundred) outfits saved on my Pinterest board. 

If you too are seeking how to emulate Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy's style, read on for some inspiration as this It-girl had no shortage of iconic looks.

Pared-back bridal

Carolyn Bassette-Kennedy’s iconic wedding dress is nothing short of spectacular and a key staple in my wedding dress- inspo Pinterest board. 

The dress, which helped catapult designer Narciso Rodriguez's own label, is an immortalised design that paved the way for minimalistic wedding dresses. The dress itself held a subtle cowl neck detailing with a silk tulle veil and matching gloves: classic simplicity and elegance. 

Classic shirting

Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy style: Caroline's evening wear

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When it came to blending evening wear and day wear, no one could compare to Bessette-Kennedy. For a black-tie gala, she opted for a crisp white, slightly unbuttoned shirt with a form-fitting maxi skirt. Allowing for a simple formula that gives a slightly masculine piece a more feminine treatment, all whilst merging seamlessly with her style. Genius.

The tortoise shell headband and oval frame sunglasses combo

Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy style: Street style image

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When it comes to accessories, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy wasn't much of a jewellery girl. You guessed it, she much preferred a minimalist approach and often times went for a tortoiseshell Alice headband with oval framed sunglasses. You would see Bessette-Kennedy sporting this combo throughout the streets of Tribeca.

True blue jeans and naked sandals

Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy style: CBK walking her dog

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Before there was Emily Ratajkowski and Colombo, we had Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy and Friday. The It-girl was photographed walking her and JFK Junior's dog on multiple occasions. Each look holding the same minimalistic, classic approach and sporting key capsule wardrobe pieces. 

From block-heeled naked sandals to true blue jeans, Bassette-Kennedy's dog-walking uniform is all things practical, stylish, and versatile.

The Slinky Black Dress

Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy style: evening look

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Party dressing  doesn't get more classic than a chic LBD- as proven by the ultimate source of chicness herself. 

When she was not wearing a crisp white shirt and black skirt for her evening appointments, Bessette-Kennedy was often seen wearing a slinky black dress that was both comfortable and figure-hugging, topped with arm length gloves. Party dressing inspo anyone?

The Contradicting Neautrals

carolyn bessette-kennedy: knee-high boots

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The idea of mixing black and brown was often seen as a fashion passé. However, for Bassette-Kennedy this couldn't be further from the truth. She was often seen blending neutral brown hues with a black knit and shoulder bag. This look she opted for her classic Prada boots and a fawn-coloured midi skirt with a silken cashmere sweater.

The Commuter Chic Formula

Carolyn Bassette-Kennedy style

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Keeping up with her go-to accessories, Bessette-Kennedy's commuting formula is definitely one to look at for inspiration. On this occasion, she opted for a stylish mid-length wool coat paired with a classic slinky dress and knee high boots to complete the look. Often times, she was seen wearing a classic patent-leather bag for a slight pop of texture to elevate a monochromatic black outfit, and I am definitely taking notes.

The Rare Print

Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy style

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Leave it to Bessette-Kennedy to elevate the classic printed floral frock. Despite prints being a rare sighting in her street style repertoire, she was never one to shy away from a sophisticated print paired with her classic patent-leather bag and kitten-heel pumps. 

The Chic red coat

Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy style

(Image credit: Getty Images)

An image that truly lives rent free in my mind. This 90s outfit could not be more relevant today, especially given that red is the colour of the season. The bright red checkered Prada coat paired with flared blue jeans, a simple black beanie, and boots is just quintessential care-free Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy. 

The monochrome hues

Because it wouldn't be a classic It-girl outfit formula without including a monochrome number with a Birkin. Bessette-Kennedy's light-hue neutral look follows her classic pared-back outfit blueprint: an oversized white shirt paired with a tailored maxi skirt, and of course, a trusty pair of ballet flats.

Sofia Piza
Fashion Writer

Sofia Piza is the Fashion Writer at Marie Claire UK. 


Sofia Piza is a Fashion Writer with experience working across runway trends, shopping picks, creative production, and celebrity fashion news. Born in Mexico and raised in five countries, Sofia decided to settle in London after spending four years at the London College of Fashion, studying Fashion Journalism. When she's not sourcing inspiration from social media, you will most certainly find Sofia anywhere from a local vintage market to busy central London streets people watching - the possibilities are endless.