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Marilyn Monroe's Top Ten Fashion Moments in Film

Rachel M. Johnson is a lover of all things pop culture. She's been writing about music and entertainment online for years.

10. V-Neck Jumpsuit & Sash (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes)

William Travilla designed many of Marilyn Monroe's iconic on-screen outfits, including this gorgeous, jumpsuit-like pants and blouse. The high-waisted trouser was perfectly tailored to Marilyn's measurements and the emerald green v-neck knit blouse hugged her famous curves. I particularly loved the added pop of color with the lavender sash; it was both sophisticated and playful and was a different look than what Marilyn usually wore. With the chunky necklace and earrings to match the green of the blouse, Marilyn truly knocked this outfit out of the park.

Did You Know? William Travilla designed costumes for Marilyn Monroe for 8 of her films, including two of the most iconic dresses in cinematic history: her hot pink dress in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and the ivory cocktail dress in The Seven Year Itch.

9. Pencil Skirt & Scoop Neck Blouse (Bus Stop)

Marilyn looked both chic and sexy when she wore this green, lacy blouse and curve-hugging black pencil skirt in Bus Stop (1956). The capped and slightly puffy sleeves and belted skirt add an elegant touch to the ensemble, and the soft green color of the blouse perfectly complimented Marilyn's bright blonde hair. While rocking the outfit, Marilyn posed for many now-famous photos and added accessories, and these shots have gone on to become fan favorites.

Did You Know? For the Entertainment & Music Memorabilia Signature even held by Heritage Auctions, this Bus Stop ensemble sold for $399,000.

8. Plunging Red Sequin Gown (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes)

Who could possibly forget this stunning, plunging red sequin gown both Marilyn and Jane Russell rocked in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)? The jaw-dropping number was a floor length gown featuring a sheath silhouette, long sleeves and a plunging v-neck with an equally risqué thigh-high slit. Once again the gown was designed by William Travilla, and both Marilyn and Jane looked gorgeous in the garment. Draped in diamonds galore, the ensemble was perfect for Marilyn's money loving character, Lorelei Lee.

Did You Know? Gossip columnists tried to create a "feud" between Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell, but the pair got along too well during filming and remained close friends thereafter.

7. White Mermaid Gown (The Prince and the Showgirl)

Marilyn clearly had no problem being the sexy blonde bombshell we knew her to be, but she was also able to effortlessly wear more elegant and chic ensembles. This white satin mermaid gown featured delicate beading and chiffon draping with tiny embroidered flowers. The sweetheart neckline and 3 quarter sleeves also added a demureness to the outfit. Marilyn's soft and subdued makeup paired gorgeously with the gown, and her creamy skin and pale blonde hair gave her an angelic look.

Did You Know? 4 different copies of the dress had to be created to account for Marilyn's fluctuating size during filming. At the time, she was suffering from various illnesses that caused severe amounts of water retention. She also sadly suffered a miscarriage during production.

6. Red Pinup Swimsuit (How to Marry a Millionaire)

Like everything Marilyn wore, her red sweetheart neckline bathing suit from How to Marry a Millionaire is one of the most popular swimwear looks in cinema. The pinup style, rhinestone accented swimsuit was strapless and perfectly showcased Marilyn's killer figure. The color complimented Marilyn's skin tone wonderfully and really popped onscreen, further cementing the swimsuit's status in film history. As designer William Travilla once said, "No matter how you dress her, she looks sexy."

Did You Know? When Marilyn's character Pola is modeling the red swimsuit in the film, the description given for the outfit in the scene was: "You know, that diamond's are a girl's best friend." This is a nod to Marilyn's previous role in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

5. White Sequin Cocktail Dress (The Seven Year Itch)

There are many stunning looks Marilyn wore in The Seven Year Itch (1955) (including an iconic outfit that you are probably familiar with), and this white sequin cocktail dress is one of them. In the film she also briefly rocked a similarly structured polka dot dress, but this sequined number really takes the cake. The embroidered, curve-hugging cocktail dress perfectly molded to her figure and the sequins added a touch of glamour. The unique crisscross straps was a fun and flirty twist, and paired with a bold red lip and her iconic platinum hair, Marilyn absolutely glowed in the outfit.

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Did You Know? While many actors were considered for the role of Richard Sherman (portrayed by Tom Ewell), no one but Marilyn Monroe was considered for the role of The Girl.

4. Salmon Chiffon Gown (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes)

This is arguably one of my absolute favorite Marilyn outfits from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. The gorgeous salmon pink color made her platinum blonde hair pop, and the elegant chiffon material with matching beaded stole made her oh so chic. I love how the gown had beading down the side and on the bust line, and the boning at the hip and waist only highlighted her killer figure. I think the color of the dress was a bold and unique choice for Marilyn that certainly paid off.

Did You Know? Marilyn reportedly suggested the line, "I can be smart when it's important, but most men don't like it" for the film.

3. Magenta Midi Dress (Niagara)

Marilyn played the devious and seductive villainess Rose in Niagara (1953), and this gorgeous, low-cut magenta midi dress was definitely sultry. The off-the-shoulder, v-neck number with a tie perfectly complimented her figure, and the large gold hop earrings and sensual red lip really brought the outfit together. This was the only film of Marilyn's where she played the villain, and both her amazing performance and on-screen style sizzled in Niagara. Marilyn was so taken with the dress that she wore it for several publicity shoots for the film.

Did You Know? Niagara holds the record for the longest filmed walk in the history of cinema. 116 feet of film of Marilyn in a black skirt and red sweater, walking away from the camera with her hips famously swaying.

2. The Hot Pink Number (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes)

Arguably one of her most iconic performances, Marilyn wore this jaw-droppingly stunning hot pink silk satin gown for her role as Lorelei Lee in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Designed yet again by William Travilla, the gown featured a pink bustier, glamorous knot at the waist and matching pink satin gloves. The rhinestone gloves and necklace added even more drama and flair, and Marilyn effortlessly charmed the audience in the stunning ensemble. The garment was designed last minute by Travilla, who initially was going to dress Marilyn in a lingerie outfit covered in stones. Director Howard Hawks instead opted for something less revealing.

Did You Know? Marilyn was originally supposed to be dressed in nothing but bands of black velvet and masses of rhinestones, creating the illusion of a woman-sized diamond necklace. Alas, this was deemed too revealing and the iconic hot pink gown was chosen instead.

1. Iconic Ivory Halter Dress (The Seven Year Itch)

Regarded as one of the most iconic outfits in the history of cinema, the famous ivory halter dress Marilyn wore while standing over a subway grate made a splash all around the world. The ivory cocktail dress featured a halter-like bodice and pleated fabric, bare back and a plunging neckline. Filming the scene in public required 14 takes, and attracted hundreds of curious bystanders and photographers. The takes were ultimately ruined by the excited audience, and filming had to be completed in studio. The photo of Marilyn over the subway grate has been described as one of the most iconic images of the twentieth century.

Did You Know? The dress joined a private collection of Hollywood memorabilia owned by actress Debbie Reynolds, before being sold at an auction in 2011 for an astounding $5.6 million. It broke the previous record held by Audrey Hepburn's "little black dress" from Breakfast at Tiffany's, which sold for $923,000.

References

marina72. (2021, July 17). Marilyn’s “Bus Stop” Costume Sold for $399,000. The Marilyn Report. https://themarilynreport.com/2021/07/17/marilyns-bus-stop-costume-sold-for-399000/

Reynaud, F. (n.d.). Marilyn Monroe in 5 iconic on-screen looks. Vogue Paris. https://www.vogue.fr/fashion-culture/article/marilyn-monroe-in-5-iconic-on-screen-looks

The Seven Year Itch (1955) - IMDb. (n.d.). Www.imdb.com. Retrieved November 3, 2021, from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0048605/trivia/?ref_=tt_trv_trv

© 2021 Rachel M Johnson

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