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

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

2.2 12
by Shelly Branch

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We can’t help but want to be like her: Exuding unmatched poise and style, she continues to fascinate people of all ages. But how would Jackie have handled the twenty-first-century? What would she think about a society that celebrates outsized egos, instant everything, and casual rules of conduct? How might she dress for the office, scan for a man,


We can’t help but want to be like her: Exuding unmatched poise and style, she continues to fascinate people of all ages. But how would Jackie have handled the twenty-first-century? What would she think about a society that celebrates outsized egos, instant everything, and casual rules of conduct? How might she dress for the office, scan for a man, accessorize a home—and get away from it all when necessary? With intriguing research, commentary from today’s experts, and fond reminiscences from those who knew and admired the first lady of perfection, journalists Shelly Branch and Sue Callaway now 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, 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 Whirl: Pearls for Getting Ahead
• Caftan in a Kelly bag: How to travel beautifully
• O- Behave! Anti-brat strategies for parents

• En Suite Home: Perfecting Your Domestic Pitch

The next best thing to having Jackie O. as a personal adviser, What Would Jackie Do? reveals the practical wisdom behind an icon and gives all readers a piece of the Jackie mystique, be it of the heart, the mind, or the home.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Never mind what Jackie would do. The bigger question is, what would she think about having her name attached to this chatty, gossipy manual that covers everything from how to gracefully decline a date ("Oh, you're so thoughtful but I'm terribly busy these days") to how to avoid a "customs confrontation" regarding your overseas spending ("book your flight through an airport where the agents are apt to be less savvy" about recognizing Prada). Journalists Branch and Callaway have mined every detail of Jackie's life to generate such advice as "Do suck up to people with private craft" and interviewed a variety of incongruous experts like designer Oleg Cassini and Thom Filicia of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, who observes, "So many clients want to create a facade.... Jackie would never do that." Branch and Callaway deem Jackie "the model for how to do practically everything right," but leave wiggle room to point out her shortcomings, among them smoking, skipping meals and using appetite-suppressing medications. As a guide to the social niceties (and sometimes not-so-niceties) this should be taken with a pile of salt; gossip hounds may take a look just to feed their appetite for all things Jackie. (Jan.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

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5.76(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.18(d)
Age Range:
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Read an Excerpt

What Would Jackie Do?

By Shelly Branch Sue Callaway

Gotham Books

ISBN: 1-592-40190-2

Chapter One

Daily Bred: Exude Grace in Everything You Do "A beautiful gesture is really a very rare thing ..." -JBKO

Shall we dare to be ... like her?

It's 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 we've 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 "Jack-leen"?

Perfection isn't the goal, of course. To transcend the ordinariness that Jackie so feared in youth means feasting on a diet of discipline and restraint-whether you're into dungarees or Dior. As Jackie knew, fabulousness is a state of mind, something you harness day in and day out to neutralize the "dreary" things and people that threaten to drag you down.


It won't, it can't, it mustn't always be about you. And even if you don't agree, you'd 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. It's always there, of course, but sometimes it's better left in the background.

Shift the spotlight. Self-promoters, Jackie once said, "really get my back up." But because people tend to crave the limelight so much themselves, they'll 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 up-do-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 "must know you're here!" when helicopters buzzed overhead. Even when the pressure was on, she knew to turn the focus away from herself. Once, when one of Jackie's 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, "You don't really want me in that profile, because people will only remember me, and you'll just be forgotten completely."

Overlook faux pas. You mustn't 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, there's just no need to take an emotional tumble. Jackie wouldn't give a damn if you said, "I love your Gucci!" (if in fact she was wearing Pucci) or "How was the bear hunt?" (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. "As I was handing it to her, I noticed it had a JFK memorial stamp on it," he says. "It was a fleeting moment, not more than a second." Jackie didn't 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 others' names. Need a favor? Need to curry favor? Put a brake on the number of times you say "me" and "I." You'll 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, "Jack wants ..." or "My sister advises against," or "So-and-so won't allow ..." The less-than-overt method had its charms. "She could impose that will upon people without their ever knowing it," 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 "magnificent" 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: "You, Mr. Annenberg, are the first citizen of Philadelphia," she purred. "And in his day, Benjamin Franklin was the first citizen of Philadelphia. And that's why, Mr. Annenberg, I thought of you...." 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 you're 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 "this old dump." Even among those who sought to impress her (folly indeed), she held back. If someone prattled on about an obscure book, for example, "Jackie would be well mannered enough to say "I've never heard of that" when she'd read the whole thing," says her friend Carly Simon.

* * *

"If 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." -DR. DEEPAK CHOPRA

* * *

NOBLESSE OBLIGE FOR BEGINNERS: 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 driver's 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 don't let your own splendid qualities trickle down to others?

Coddle bit players. It's 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 you're so lucky-the cook and pilot. In Jackie's 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.

Don't (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: There's 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 you've 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. Don't be too proud to ask an influential friend to step in on behalf of someone you know-even if the two have never met. That's 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: "Now they don't feel that they are just a cipher because they are poor," she scrawled on her Doubleday stationery. "Whatever happens, they know that someone with a noble heart made it possible for them to get the best care they could."

Turn the other silken cheek. Sometimes you must show people what you are made of by staying elevated when you'd least like to-say, when someone zips into your primo parking space, or snatches the last pair of Loro Piana gloves on sale at Bergdorf's. Like Jackie, you'd 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 Athenee, and demanded that the doorman who disclosed their whereabouts be fired. Informing Jackie of the fait accompli, Hoving recalls, "She got mad at me." She said: "You suffered a man's livelihood because of that?"

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

Don't gab on about money either-yours, your parents', your boyfriend's-or your over-the-top plans for it. When Jackie received a $26 million settlement from Aristotle Onassis's estate, society types needled the widow about how she intended to spend the windfall. "You don't talk about things like that," was her stunned reply.

To be a cut above, don't 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 else-or avoided them altogether-rather than nudge her way to the front of movie-house and museum queues.

FIRST LADY-LIKE IMPRESSIONS: How Not to Be an Interchangeable Woman

* * *

"You can polish, arrange, fix, but you cannot fool people. Jackie was a total woman, not like anybody else you know. It wasn't sex appeal, it was magnetism." -MANOLO BLAHNIK, SHOE DESIGNER

* * *

It's important to be more than witty, pretty, and splendidly turned out. And who cares if you make a swell crowd-pleaser, or man teaser? If you are content to be a like-kind, same-this-or-that chick, ready and willing to swap lipsticks, secrets, jobs-men!-with the next gal, then you risk being an Interchangeable Woman.


Excerpted from What Would Jackie Do? by Shelly Branch Sue Callaway Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
Fresh anecdotes and insights from friends and fans . . . an entertaining trifle of a self- help book. (New York Post)

Reveals the art of living, Jackie O-style. (Boston Herald)

A style tome that answers scorching etiquette what-ifs. . . . [The authors] whimsically apply the most fabulous former First Lady’s philosophies to every aspect of contemporary life. (Daily News, New York)

This delicious, witty book shows that her life lessons are as timeless as the woman herself. (Charlotte Ford , author of 21st-Century Etiquette)

A funny, fact-rich, and surprisingly motivating manual about how to move through life with Jackie Kennedy Onassis–like smarts and grace. . . . What would Jackie do with this witty little book? She’d read it. (More magazine)

Meet the Author

Shelly Branch is an editor at The Wall Street Journal, where she also writes on retail, fashion, and pop culture. She was a staff writer at Fortune and Money, and has contributed to numerous other national publications. She lives in New York City.
Sue Callaway has been an editor at Fortune, Esquire, and Men’s Journal. She has also served as general manager of Jaguar Cars U.S. and as director of marketing for Ford’s luxury brands. She lives in Laguna Beach, California, with her husband and two children.

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What Would Jackie Do?: An Inspired Guide to Distinctive Living 2.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book in error, thinking it would be a nice tribute to Jackie's life, such as 'What Jackie Taught Us', well I was so very wrong. I definitely, emphatically do not recommend this book. I don't know if the authors intentionally set out to tarnish Jackie's image, but that is surely what they have done, having her appear as though she were a spoiled brat, with maybe only half a brain. Which is not at all an accurate portrait of her. Yes, Jackie is someone to admire, someone to gleen inspiration from, but this book takes it too far by making it look like the book is a cloning manual. I can just see all the mindless ninnies walking around in their leopard print pillbox hats, oh the horror!! If nothing else, Jackie was her own woman, she did things her way, and never allowed anything or anyone to influence her too much. That is the lesson you should take from her life, be your own person....be yourself. Now, put down this book and go read something more meaningful, like Tess of the D'Urbervilles.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Normally, I would not have an interest. I used to when I was 17 in 1961. I always felt sorry for her, especially losing a child. But when I got older, I didnt feel sorry. I think it wasbecause I didnt see her as a Godess like everyone else. I didnt worship her. Did see she had faults like us all. And, like us all had to live in an unperfect world where we chose to come back to...i did not seeher do anything great for our country or its people. I am talking about Elinor Roosevelt, she wasnt a fashion horse, but she tried to be with us the people. Yes, jackie was a good person, but never interested in the American people
Guest More than 1 year ago
when i fliped through this book, I thought it was going to be great. It's nice and thick and looked like it was full of jackie o wisdom. The truth is that it is dull and boring. This lady's advice is not clear and she doesnt give reasons why we should fallow it.You would be better off reading a biography on Jackie Kennedy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I not really sure Caroline would be terribly happy about this book. I dont' think anyone sensible and bright person would find this book very helpful. Now, it is true that in the early 21st century we do have a glut of affluent people with more money than sense. So you as a group will grab this text and read it through. And I suspect feel you have a 'Jackie' aura ever afterwards. However, sad to say, you won't. To have what Jacqueline had you would first have to be born in the circumstances she was born in and even money, your 21st century fortunes, can't buy that. Nor can your money buy entre, even now, into the mileau in which this unique woman was raised and educated. So like all hangers on and wannabes, you'll think you have her style even if you have her type of money. But you will never will. You never can. And I suspect Caroline, being cut from the very same cloth is doing what we do with books and people like you. Either laughing behind our hands or, more likely, simply ignoring you and considering the source. My advice don't waste the money.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I purchased this book because I thought it would be a cute, entertaining and factual account, detailing how Jackie handled everyday problems like co-workers, frenemies, family obligations, etc. But I was disappointed. It not only pictured Jackie as a spoiled young woman who always got her way, but also as a manipulative and calculating individual. I am hopeful that this was not the "real" Jackie. I would not recommend this book to anyone who admired Jackie.
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I haven't even picked this book up to know that it's poorly written and horrible. Using Jackie's name to justify being snobby and rude in the name of being elegant is pitiful and downright obnoxious. I was fully intent on buying this book. I thought that it would be a book about the life she lived, the manners she practiced, and ways to emulate her style and class in today's world. Based on the description given and the reviews submitted, I can clearly tell that it's just using Jackie to lure in readers, then totally giving personal advice that has no correlation to Jackie Kennedy whatsoever. Save yourself the money and time. I know I did. And if you are really intent on being informed on how Jackie Kennedy would have lived today and how she lived her life in general, I'm here to humor you. First off, she would have no social media. She wouldn't put her life on display. I would hope that that would be something that would have never changed within her, as it was a fine quality. She wouldn't be cashing in on her fame or life experiences, either. That's distasteful (yes, I am talking about the Kardashians and any other reality television show). Jackie would disapprove of reality television, I can safely assume. She wouldn't find pleasure in observing other people's lives. She would style be a style icon and would be establishing herself apart from her husband's death and everything that circulates that. She would make sure that her husband would remain the legacy that she hoped him to be, and keep his memory alive. She would style have classy, elegant style. She wouldn't encourage others to dress like her, though, because she was keen on individuality. And she definitely would not approve of yoga pants and hoodies as everyday apparel. Yuck. And if you can't gather that from her infamous, gracious legacy and lifestyle, then you will not receive any of it from this book. Read "What Jackie Taught Us" or "Mrs. Kennedy and Me" if you truly want insight about her life. She was a fantastic person and doesn't really deserve to be used in a slandering way that depicts her as a spoiled brat. Her life wasn't that easy.