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Iconic movie stars-Marilyn Monroe

November 24, 2014

There’s been much written on the style of Marilyn Monroe, focussing mainly on what she wore in her professional life as “Marilyn” but very little dedicated to her personal style. Marilyn Monroe the movie star wore figure hugging dresses and heavy make-up, fur stoles and diamonds. The Marilyn Monroe that lived off screen was a different person altogether and dressed in a more simple, stylish way.

Iconic movie stars and the costumes of the period – Marilyn Monroe

Film style

Although we will pay homage to her onstage persona in terms of style, we will also focus on how she dressed in private, for a smart, timeless way of dressing that’s as much in vogue today as it was when she was alive.


Marilyn Monroe’s  dresses that were worn to premiers and in films are famous enough –there’s the white halter dress for The Seven year Itch, the bright pink column gown for Gentleman Prefer Blondes both by William Travilla. And remember that gorgeous day dress with a cherry print that she wore for The Misfits by Jean Louis?

Figure hugging and curvaceous

Marilyn Monroe’s film star look always followed a strict criterion, figure hugging gowns, with bare back and shoulders, plenty of draping fabric at specific areas of the body, such as the waist and hips. There were fur stoles and heels as accessories. Shoes would be Salvatore Ferragamo, which Marilyn loved. They were nowhere near as high as they are now, but they were kittenish and sexy and completed the movie star Marilyn look. Skin tight sequins flaunted her curves to perfection.Make up was winged black eyeliner and bright red lipstick, set hair in curls and waves.

Personal style

In her own personal time, the look was dressed down considerably when movie star Marilyn was switched off. Marilyn would wear only the minimum of make-up with pale lipstick and a clean face.


Marilyn Monroe’s style was simple – Capri pants, t-shirts, pumps, simple sweaters and headscarves. A white shirt worn with Capri pants and messy just-got-out-of-bed hair and Marilyn created a silhouette as sexy as her alter ego. Fabrics were silk, jersey and cotton. Sometimes she’d wear colour, such as a sweater with a splash of yellow, or a pair of blue slacks. She would often wear suits for more serious occasions and wasn’t afraid to cover up, but they would always be tight and figure hugging. She was a great lover of the “wiggle dress,” a favourite of the fifties that was so tight around the waist and upper legs that the wearer, more or less “wiggled,” rather than walked.


Marilyn Monroe was a great fan of pants, or slacks as they were known then by “Jax” and came to love Emilio Pucci later in her career, as she embraced more colour and patterns into her wardrobe.

A timeless look

Looking at Marilyn Monroe’s pictures now, especially the ones taken of her relaxed and dressed casually, you get the impression of someone that, in terms of style, was way ahead of her time. You could take anything from those pictures, the kitten heels, the calf length capri pants, the black jersey sweaters and wear them down the high street tomorrow. You wouldn’t look out of place. The figure hugging black shift in black jersey worn with sling backs.


Marilyn Monroe created a style that was both relaxed and laid back and sexy all at the same time. She embraced the fifties and yet raged against it, insisting on wearing her hair in a more relaxed style in her own time, while everyone else wore it stiff and coiffured. She wore little or no make-up in private, and unlike many stars today, she didn’t rely on an army of stylists to create her own individual looks when she went out.

Marilyn Monroe and the last photo shoot – Bert Stern

If you want to see Marilyn at her best, at her most beautiful, then look at the photos by Bert Stern, the last photo shoot she would ever do. Here, she manages to look effortlessly beautiful with little effort. Stern seemed to bring something out in her that really was more beautiful than she’d ever looked in early years. The coats are tight at the waist and wider at the hips with three-quarter length sleeves – the hats are floppy and endearing. She wears her hair piled up and her smile is coquettish and as beautiful as the sequined gloves.

Want to emulate the Marilyn Monroe style?

If you’re looking to copy the Marilyn Monroe look, you don’t have to dress like the movie star Marilyn, after all, you may look rather odd in a floor length column dress and a fur stole.


However, Marilyn Monroe’s make-up and personal style can be emulated with a little imagination. Wear simple clothes, and simple lines. Winged black eyeliner and some red lipstick, if you’re going out, simple make-up and nude lipstick if it’s a casual affair, wear your hair piled up or left down with a few strands left to frame the face. Tight fitting knee length cotton pants, sweaters that hug the chest, and a pair of pumps with kitten heels. A simple shift dress with a bare breastbone and simple jewellery – button earrings perhaps and a ring, or maybe a white shirt and some beige pants.

Scour the vintage shops

Keep an eye out in vintage stores for Pucci prints, and pastel coloured to-the-waist sweaters, waist high pants with narrow bottoms and kitten heels with pointy toes.Jax pants and Ferragamo shoes.


Keep it simple and don’t overdo it, and you can emulate that effortless Marilyn Monroe look easily – blonde hair is optional.




MARILYN MONROE. by Bert Stern Los Ángeles, 1962


In the film “misfits”



Marilyn Monroe in Capri pants