Mrs. Kennedy wore the pink suit the day of President Kennedy's assassination on this day 56 years ago

By Sean Neumann
November 22, 2019 12:33 PM

Jackie Kennedy’s pink suit, worn on the day of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, is one of the most heartbreaking reminders of the horror of Nov. 22, 1963. But it won’t be seen again until at least 2103 — or perhaps ever.

The National Archives confirms to PEOPLE that Mrs. Kennedy’s double-breasted wool suit is being held from public view in a custom-made, acid-free box with temperature and humidity control at the National Archives and Records Administration’s College Park facility in Maryland.

The suit won’t be available for viewing until at least the year 2103, when, according to the National Archives, the Kennedy family will reconsider whether there would ever be any sort of access.

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Mrs. Kennedy staunchly wore the blood-soaked suit from the time her husband was shot at 12:30 pm CT on Nov. 22, 1963 until the early hours of the next morning. She had the suit on during the swearing in of President Lyndon B. Johnson on Air Force One on the way back to Washington D.C., about two hours after her husband was assassinated.

Though she was urged multiple times to change out of the suit, which was covered in President Kennedy’s blood, Mrs. Kennedy insisted, “Let them see what they’ve done.”

Jackie Kennedy arriving in Dallas, Tex. wearing her famous pink suit on Nov. 22, 1963, the day of John F. Kennedy's assassination.
Art Rickerby/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty

The pink suit — sometimes described as “watermelon pink” or “raspberry pink” — is kept in a “secure area, under climate-controlled conditions, and stored flat in special containers for preservation purposes,” according to the National Archives.

Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy’s daughter Caroline Kennedy, now 61, donated the suit to the National Archives in 2003 but requested that it not be displayed for public viewing in order to avoid “dishonor the memory” of her parents or “cause any grief or suffering to members of their family,” according to a deed given to the National Archives along with the donation.

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It’s said that the pink suit was one of President Kennedy’s favorites in the fashion icon’s wardrobe. “Mrs. Kennedy was that magic that you cannot explain,” fashion designer Manolo Blahnik previously told PEOPLE. “She typified America — just shining, full of optimism and intelligence.”

Although the suit is often confused for Chanel, it was actually a line-for-line copy from a New York shop Chez Ninon, which was approved by Chanel in France, according to Justine Picardie’s 2010 biography of Chanel.

The outfit was accompanied by a pink pillbox hat, white gloves, a navy collar and gold buttons.

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The suit was first shown in Coco Chanel’s 1961 fall/winter collection, and Mrs. Kennedy had been photographed wearing it at a handful of events before that fateful day in Dallas.

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