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Marilyn Monroe

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Finding Marilyn Monroe: 12 Style Elements to Try on for Size


This is supposed to be a Get the Look post, specifically how to get the look of Marilyn Monroe. However, emulating the enigmatic icon without devolving into mockery (think Vegas impersonator) could never be easy. There will always be only one Marilyn.

My suggestion? To find the part of her look that works for you, whether it is the elegant drape of her dress, the simple palette of colors, or the blond curls. Maybe there is something of her attitude that works for you.


Some elements to try on for size:

1. Embrace your curves, and wear clothing that fits exactly. How often have you seen a photo of Marilyn Monroe in something sloppy and over-sized? True, she had a perfect hourglass figure, but there is not a single one of us that wouldn’t look best in clothes that fit us exactly right.

Marilyn Monroe as Rose, costume test for Niagara, 1952, costume designer Dorothy Jeakins. Marilyn was known to wear her movie costumes in real life.


2. Diamonds just might be a girl’s best friend. Not that Marilyn always dripped in bling, but when she did, she glistened. Glittering jewelry seemed to augment the sparkle that was so much a part of her look and act.

3. Find a style and stick to it. Marilyn Monroe had a makeup routine, a hair color, a palette of hues and a personal vibe that were all part of her signature look. Find, hone, repeat.




4. Up the vampage. It’s a given that Marilyn dressed in ways that enhanced and flaunted her shape, but is it ever trampy? No. Think vintage vamp instead, including va-va-voom heels, sweater girl sweaters, halter necklines, finely-fitted sheath dresses and pencil skirts.




5. Classics always work. For many style icons this was true, so it is sometimes easy to dismiss this aspect of Marilyn’s style, but she was a great wearer of a camel coat, a white shirt, capri pants, a simple pullover sweater and other classics.




6. Go with a simple color palette. You don’t see a lot of photos of Marilyn wearing prints. She favored neutral shades and black and white, with stand-out shades of red, pink, green or blue for emphasis.




7. Oh, but don’t be afraid to sparkle. I mentioned diamonds, but also consider clothing in gold and silver. Do you have your headlights on?

The famous gold lamé gown designed by William Travilla for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, 1953

8. Structure is another of a girl’s awfully good friends. Of course, it was the norm for the era, but we can all learn from the positive influence of the right underpinnings. At the very least, consider a swimsuit with a well-designed inner framework (vintage of course!) and the right bra under a sweater.


9. Find a signature red for your lips. Of all her trademark style elements, possibly nothing says Marilyn more loudly and clearly than bright red lips...and red lips are a whole lot easier than platinum blonde hair.




10. A fabulous shoe might also be in the running for a girl’s best friend. As Marilyn said herself “Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.” Strappy sandals, peep toes, slide-on mules...and who wouldn’t feel like conquering the world in Lucite platforms?




11. Show joy. It seems like fashion comes and goes on this point—first there’s a fad for smiling, then there’s a fad for pouting. Marilyn always appeared natural, healthy, and radiant. She gave joy—she still gives joy—with that beautiful smile.




12. Be bold. It took a heck of a strong woman to grow up not knowing her father, having a mentally unstable mother, living in a series foster homes, and laboring at a young age before being hurled into super stardom. If you want to be like Marilyn, persevere.



“I am trying to find myself. Sometimes that's not easy.” 

“I am not interested in money. I just want to be wonderful.” 
—Marilyn Monroe

Elliott Erwitt photo
Whatever part of Marilyn you find and make your own, I hope it makes you feel wonderful.




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Marilyn Monroe: 50 years later


It has been 50 years to the day since the death of Marilyn Monroe.
When I was young I didn’t really care for Marilyn because she didn’t seem the model of the strong woman I wanted to be. Her weakness now seems to me to be her inability to reconcile her working life with her inner life, which only occasionally overlapped. I now love her for the wonderfully talented actress she was along with the golden lady that she became. Her beauty and intensity were so real, yet the look in her eyes often was so vulnerable, it is hard for an onlooker to reconcile. I can only imagine how difficult it was to be behind those eyes. I am so sad for all that brought her down. I’m positive she was so much more than she got to be by the terribly young age of 36.
Marilyn Monroe photographed by Bert Stern, 1962

Marilyn, in a few of her own words:
“No one ever told me I was pretty when I was a little girl. All little girls should be told they’re pretty, even if they aren’t.

”

“The truth is I’ve never fooled anyone. I’ve let people fool themselves. They didn’t bother to find out who and what I was. Instead they would invent a character for me. I wouldn’t argue with them. They were obviously loving somebody I wasn’t.”



“It’s better to be unhappy alone than unhappy with someone - so far.”

“To put it bluntly, I seem to have a whole superstructure with no foundation. But I’m working on the foundation.”

“It’s often just enough to be with someone. I don’t need to touch them. Not even talk. A feeling passes between you both. You’re not alone.”

“Dogs never bite me. Just humans.”

“Men are so willing to respect anything that bores them.”

“I want to grow old without facelifts... I want to have the courage to be loyal to the face I’ve made. Sometimes I think it would be easier to avoid old age, to die young, but then you’d never complete your life, would you? You'd never wholly know you.”

“I knew I belonged to the public and to the world, not because I was talented or even beautiful, but because I had never belonged to anything or anyone else.”

“I’ve never dropped anyone I believed in.”

“I restore myself when I’m alone.”

“I am not interested in money. I just want to be wonderful.”



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Finding Marilyn Monroe

This is supposed to be a get-the-look post, specifically how to get the look of Marilyn Monroe. However, emulating the enigmatic icon without devolving into mockery (think Vegas impersonator) could never be easy. There will always be only one Marilyn.

My suggestion is to find the part of her look that works for you, whether it is the elegant drape of her dress, the simple palate of colors, or the blond curls.

This week, the members of the Vintage Fashion Guild have shown some of their glamorous Marilyn-style vintage clothing in the fashion parade. Of the many breathtaking items, these are a few:

50s-60s black fringed dress from magsrags, 50s Foster Grant sunglasses from Proper Vintage Clothing, 50s royal blue draped dress from Miss Martys Vintage, 50s Ceil Chapman pale taupe silk gown from Poppy's Vintage Clothing, 50s Roxanne swim/play suit from Damn Good Vintage, 50s black satin 2-piece halter dress from Viva Vintage Clothing, 60s rhinestone bracelet from Aarayln's Velvet Dragonfly, and black suede high heel pumps by Valentine from JoulesVintage

I'm showing some unused 1950s shorts and also unused—amazingly—is a black Travilla dress. I have a gold tissue lamé Hardy Amies dress. All remind me of Marilyn, but the connection to Travilla is especially close, as he was the designer of a number of the most iconic outfits Marilyn wore for her movies, including that white halter dress over the subway grate. You know the one.
All among my eBay offerings this week

Whatever part of Marilyn you find, I hope it makes you feel wonderful.

I am not interested in money. I just want to be wonderful. —Marilyn Monroe

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Happy Birthday Marilyn

“No one ever told me I was pretty when I was a little girl. All little girls should be told they're pretty, even if they aren't.

“The truth is I've never fooled anyone. I've let people fool themselves. They didn't bother to find out who and what I was. Instead they would invent a character for me. I wouldn't argue with them. They were obviously loving somebody I wasn't.”

“It's better to be unhappy alone than unhappy with someone - so far.”

“To put it bluntly, I seem to have a whole superstructure with no foundation. But I'm working on the foundation.”

“It's often just enough to be with someone. I don't need to touch them. Not even talk. A feeling passes between you both. You're not alone.”

“Dogs never bite me. Just humans.”

“Men are so willing to respect anything that bores them.”

“I want to grow old without facelifts... I want to have the courage to be loyal to the face I've made. Sometimes I think it would be easier to avoid old age, to die young, but then you'd never complete your life, would you? You'd never wholly know you.”

“I knew I belonged to the public and to the world, not because I was talented or even beautiful, but because I had never belonged to anything or anyone else.”

“I've never dropped anyone I believed in.”

“I restore myself when I'm alone.”

“I am not interested in money. I just want to be wonderful.”


5 Comments