Marilyn Monroe is a 20th century icon. She is admired for her beautiful looks, her amazing body, her comedic talent and her serious acting skills in films such as ‘Bus Stop’ and ‘The Misfits’. She has millions of adoring fans, including actresses Megan Fox and Lindsey Lohan. Yet in terms of her personal fashion style, she seems to rate much lower than her contemparies Jackie Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn.
When I talk about personal fashion style, I am not refering to her screen costumes. Millions of column inches have already been given over to discussions about the Travila created white dress from ‘The Seven Year Itch’, the pink dress from ‘Gentlemen Prefer blondes’ and the cherry print dress from “The Misfits”. But this was not Marilyn’s personal style but her props, things she wore to do her job.
Marilyn’s personal style was much simpler and far more stylish. In her early career she favoured capri pants and simple jumpers, that accenusted her figure whilst helping her to appear as the all-American girl. She was an early follower of jeans, so much so that Lee named a pair after her – the ‘Norma@ jeans. Photographs of her on the set of ‘The Misfits’ show her totally modern look of jeans and a crisp white shirt, a cool and contemperary look.
In her later years she was photographed by renowned photographers George Barriss and Eve Arnold. For Eve she was photographed in simple black dresses and casual looks on the set of “The Misfits”. Whilst George photographed Marilyn in the fateful summer of 1962. Some of the photographs show Marilyn in a house, wearing white trousers and brightly coloured Pucci tops. Others show a windswept Marilyn on a Santa Monica beach in an orange costume, and most famously, a chunky knit belted cardigan. Later idol Kylie Minogue wore an almost identical knit 30years later in a video for her hit single ‘If you were with me now’. This Marilyn was a casual, comfortable women, light years from the bubblegum movie star, but beautiful and glamorous all the same. She favoured neat Norman Norell cocktail dresses and Salvatore Ferragamo heels. She was chic and stylish, and totally age appropriate.The personal style of Marilyn Monroe is due a re-evaluation. She may not have been waiflike like Audrey Hepburn, or rich and WASPish like Jackie Kennedy, but she was as stylish and glamorous as both of those style Icons, and deserves to be recognised as such.