Great American Summer

The Kennedys in Summer Whites

From JFK Jr. in short shorts to Ethel on the Nantucket Sound, see highlights of the Kennedy clan's greatest summer style.



The Kennedy family is practically synonymous with classic American summer: tennis and iced teas and taking the boat out on the Nantucket Sound. The seaside village of Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, boasts perfectly weathered wooden docks, briny air, and rows of oversize shingled cottages. It’s there where generations of Kennedys have gathered—in all their nonchalant, preppy glory—to enjoy the warmer months. In honor of Memorial Day, and the kickoff of summer, we relive the clan’s classic American moments, all dressed in white.

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JFK Jr., 1979

Heartthrob John F. Kennedy Jr. walked the streets surrounding his family’s Cape Cod compound in Hyannis Port in true ’70s fashion, wearing teeny board shorts that are outsized by a massive boom-box stereo.

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Ethel Kennedy and Children, 1971

Ethel Kennedy and children spent a typical Cape Cod summer day sailing in the Nantucket Sound off Hyannis Port's coastline. Her shift dress, knotted hat, and round sunglasses pay casual homage to sister-in-law Jackie Kennedy Onassis's prim style. Her children are preppily dressed in Lacoste polo shirts.

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Joan and Patrick Kennedy, 1980

Joan and her younger son, Patrick, hit the Kennedy compound's docks on a gray New England day. Her all-white ensemble, topped off with a regionally appropiate anorak, embodied East Coast panache.

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Stephen Edward Smith and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, 1980

Shriver walked along the Cape Cod shoreline on Labor Day weekend with brother-in-law Stephen Edward Smith, who took advantage of the final days of summer in white slacks.

Leonard McCombe/Time Life Pictures, via Getty

Rose Kennedy, 1970

Family matriarch Rose Kennedy sauntered along a Cape Cod beach near the clan's legendary compound in remarkably dressy attire, wearing white leather loafers and a pantsuit, paired with a nautical headscarf.


Kennedy Family Portrait, 1935

John, Robert, Edward, Eunice, Rosemary, Rose, and others posed for a group portrait under a shady tree on the compound—each wearing classic New England summer attire.

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Courtney Kennedy and Friend, 1963

Courtney, one of Bobby Kennedy's 11 children, enjoyed a summer drink with friend Marion Markham. Their oversize satin hair bows and pristine summer white dresses recall children’s-wear styles common to the Victorian era.


Jackie Kennedy, 1954

Jackie Kennedy took a turn on the catwalk at the annual “April in Paris” fashion show at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. The event hosted stars and social figures who would each model seasonal looks flown in from France for the occasion.

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Jackie Kennedy, 1961

Ringing in the month of May in true spring fashion, Jackie Kennedy wore an all-white evening look to attend a Canadian state dinner in Ottawa.

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Jackie Kennedy, 1962

Jackie Kennedy preened in an all-white outfit while on an official trip to India in early spring, pairing a jacket with a matching hat and shoes.

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Caroline Kennedy, 1961

Armed with a wide smile and open arms, Caroline Kennedy ran in the grass on a family respite in Palm Beach, Florida.