Woman stunned to learn $15 Goodwill dress has star-studded past


One man’s trash may be another man’s treasure — but sometimes that treasure turns out to be a gown designed by none other than Jacqueline Kennedy’s personal dressmaker.

Kansas Michalke, a content creator and mom of two in Austin, Texas, said she always had a knack for finding hidden gems while thrifting.

“[My family] was not well off in any capacity,” she told Fox News Digital. “My mom was a single mom, my dad was a single dad, and we would do garage sales … and this was something I grew up with.”

“We never really cared about designers or brand names or anything like that,” she said.

“We were just simple little country people who [would] go straight to the clearance section or thrift shops. It wasn’t anything that I was ever ashamed of. And I always liked having things that were different.”

Michalke was nearing the end of her shopping excursion when she came across a bright, shiny evening gown.

“I did my last lap and I saw the twinkle of the dress and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this will be so fun to play dress up with,’ and I just tossed it in the cart,” Michalke recalled.

“I didn’t look at the label. I didn’t look at anything. I was like, ‘My daughters will love this. I hope it fits.’”

It wasn’t until Michalke got into the passenger seat with her husband at the wheel that she realized she’d found something special.

“When I typed in [the designer’s] name, Jackie Kennedy popped up and I thought, ‘No way, this is crazy.’ And then that’s when I did start doing full research on Oleg Cassini, and [discovered] just how iconic he was,” Michalke said.

Kansas Michalke found a dress by Jackie Kennedy’s personal designer at Goodwill. Courtesy Kansas Michalke

Michalke had purchased a vintage Oleg Cassini-designed dress. 

The ticket price was $15.

While the initial glitz and glam of the garment first caught Michalke’s attention, she also noticed the craftsmanship of the gown — specifically, the sequin work and the two-sized pearl detail.

She continued to dig more into the work and life of Oleg Cassini, discovering his connection to the starlets of Old Hollywood such as Grace Kelly.

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But it was Cassini’s relationship with Jackie Kennedy that really solidified his place in the history of fashion.

The fashionable former first lady even referred to him as her “secretary of style,” according to L’Officiel, a French fashion magazine.

The dress only cost $15. Instagram / @kansasmichalke

Cassini was Jackie Kennedy’s principal fashion designer. He even designed the gown she wore during her husband John Kennedy’s presidential inauguration in 1961, according to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. 

Cassini died in 2006, and was “the oldest living fashion designer in the history of American design,” according to this biography in the museum’s digital archives.

Michalke shared her Cassini find on social media, where many users told her about their own Cassini-branded garments — but the Texas mom’s gown was a bit different.

“What I found is different because mine wasn’t a mass-produced item. I can’t find the dress anywhere online,” she said.

“It’s definitely ’80s or earlier because of how the tag [is] hand-sewn in, and they didn’t use machine sewing until the ‘90s, so I know that it’s either ’80s or before, but there’s nothing else I can find on it.”

She started to do research on the tag and found that the dress may have been a part of Cassini’s “Black Tie Collection.”

Michalke has tried to find other styles similar to her dress by Cassini, but said she cannot find anything that resembles her glistening gown.

“I can’t find anything like it, and so I’m thinking that’s what makes it even more special. Is it potentially like a one-off piece? Maybe a runway piece. I just don’t know,” she added.

While Michalke hopes to one day learn more about the dress and figure out its actual worth, she mostly cares about wearing it while playing dress-up with her girls.

Michalke has been a long-time lover of thrifting. Courtesy Kansas Michalke

“My four-year-old Memphis is obsessed with fashion, and her exact words were, ‘Mom, this is iconic,’” Michalke said with a laugh.

What made the $15 find even more exciting was that the moment Michalke tried on the dress, it fit like a glove.

Michalke said she lives by the phrase, “Boycott being boring” — and this gem is arguably anything but boring.

Her love of thrifting and finding great pieces at Goodwill has inspired her to write a thrifting guide for others filled with tips and tricks on how to find exactly what you want while hitting the clearance rack.

“I’m convinced that there’s not a bad thrift store. I’ve never met one, and I go thrift shopping [at] second-hand estate sales, at least four times a week,” she said.

A representative at Goodwill Industries International told Fox News Digital that its staff loves hearing when Goodwill customers find “exciting and rare pieces like this.”

“It just goes to show the beauty of thrifting and that you can find just about anything at Goodwill. It really is a treasure hunt in every store,” the rep said. 

“One of the cool things about shopping here is each piece has a past life, sometimes with a pretty great story behind it. We hope she loves this iconic find!”

Fox News Digital reached out to the Oleg Cassini brand for comment as well.

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