Over the past couple of months I’ve been reading the Marilyn Monroe biography. As a kid I was a bit obsessed with conspiracy theory books from the library (GEEK!) and one story that came up again and again was the death of Marilyn Monroe. As I grew up, it was less about conspiracy and more about a fascination with the life of people like Marilyn. What was it that made her so magnetic, especially to men? As it turns out her story is very sad, but the glamour of the movies she made remains, and you can’t help but be inspired by her all the same.

Her influence is still seen as much now as ever. I went to a Marina and the Diamonds gig this month which showcased tracks from her new album Electra Heart and you can see Marilyn running all through it. Plus, earlier this year I read Madonna’s biography and although the two are very different women indeed, Madonna definitely borrowed from Marilyn and must have been fascinated by what made her such a huge celebrity.

My sister bought me the Forever Marilyn Blu-ray box set for my birthday and when I was stuck indoors unwell for two days I figured I’d stick them on. I’ve watched three out of the four movies so far…

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

I love this film and the fashion is fabulous. When Marilyn gets on the boat she’s wearing the most amazing navy dress with a leopard stole. I would definitely wear that outfit today. And someone please tell me what kind of lipstick stays on that perfectly? Jane Russel is the tomboy to Marilyn’s overtly sexual yet vulnerable character and some of her outfits are so covetable. Marilyn trumps Jane again when the pair arrive for dinner in the ship’s ballroom in her orange dress that looks as if Marilyn had to be sewn into it, in fact she probably was. The zip was actually at the front and it had boning from armpit to waist, so I’ve read. There’s a little trick to take away though… her chiffon scarf is draped across the front of her neck and then tucked under the straps of her dress and left the hang down behind her shoulders. Of course, probably the most famous dress in this film is the pink satin evening dress with big bow from the ‘Diamonds are a girl’s best friend’ number, it’s been copied again and again and Madonna’s Material Girl music video makes direct reference to the number.

My favourite quote: “A lady never admits her feet hurt”

Find out more about Marilyn’s dresses in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in a great piece over on vintage blog I get a kick out of you.

Get the look…

How to Marry a Millionaire

Another fun film with plenty of style moments. Apparently Marilyn insisted on only wearing tight fitting skirts in this movie because the new way of filming made the actors and actresses appear wider. In comparison to the glitz of the last film I watched, Marilyn starts this film in a rather demure mink coloured ensemble, fitted at the waist and with a pencil skirt. It doesn’t take long for us to see Marilyn all dressed up though. The girls attend a party filled with oil tycoons and Marilyn’s character wears a purple, asymmetric jewel strap dress. I love the scene on the plane where Pola reveals she’s blind as a bat, and it gives her the opportunity to wear some stunning retro specs. Her character in this film really reminds me of Paulette in Legally Blonde. The way she talks is a complete caricature of Marilyn Monroe. Another memorable scene, and outfit, is the one where the models all come out to showcase beachwear and Marilyn (Pola) is wearing a shimmery red bathing suit with glittering detail, plus glam red high heels.

My favourite quote: “Once you get one foot on the ground you’re really quite a jerk aren’t you!”

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The Seven Year Itch

When we first see Marilyn in this film she’s wearing an amazing polka dot white dress which hugs her curves and flatters her figure perfectly. This movie features another iconic moment, the white dress above the subway grate, lifting Marilyn’s skirt in the air. I’ve read that her husband Joe DiMaggio wasn’t too pleased about her revealing quite so much either. The orange and black sequin dress that Marilyn wears when she joins her neighbour for a drink (in his daydream) would be a dream Halloween costume, her hair is done in a more twenties style for this look too. Much more serious than her playful curls.When Marilyn’s character really does join her neighbour for champagne and potato chip she changes from a pink shirt and ‘matador pants’ to a white glitzy gown. It’s all very ’50s and very fabulous.

My favourite quote: “When it’s hot like this you know what I do? I keep my undies in the icebox.”

Get the look…