Style

What Marilyn Monroe Can Teach Us About Fashion Today

By Alyssa Vandermeulen
·  4 min read
marilyn monroe skirt
Instagram/@marilynmonroe

Marilyn Monre is one of the most iconic blondes in history. Formerly Norma Jeane Mortenson, her old-Hollywood glam made her a memorable young woman who left the world far too early.

The new film Blonde, directed by Andrew Dominik, has received mixed reviews since opening day. Some fans argue that the film isn’t true to Monroe’s story (which is correct since it's based on a fictional book), while others claim that the film exploits her yet again for fame and fortune. The film has also inspired discussions about Hollywood’s treatment of young female stars, and the emotional and physical trauma that often follows. 

In any case, Marilyn Monroe’s face and name are trending once again on the movie screen. Other than her famous blonde hair and looks, Monroe was an outstanding actress and style icon, who starred in at least 33 different films, such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) and Some Like It Hot (1959). She was also the second woman to start her own production company with photographer Milton Greene, and Marilyn Monroe Productions (MMP) was founded once she left the studios of Hollywood to pave a new path for herself and her career. 

While her fashion on-screen was all kinds of Hollywood glamorous, her personal style was minimalist and beautiful. Every part of her outfit had a purpose and there was no excess fabric, patterns, or length on any of her pieces. While we have all seen the famous subway grate photo, Marilyn Monroe’s style is much more than can be captured in a single photo. This Hollywood beauty queen has a lot to teach us about elegance and beauty, as well as fashion, today. So let’s get into it!

Makeup Tips

Lipstick and mascara are the essentials. Everything else is extra, but a good mascara and flattering lip color are all you really need for a glam look. Her signature red lips were the focal point of her makeup look, which can be achieved today with a few coats of a classic red lip color. 

When it comes to nails, Monroe had two must-have shades: a warm neutral and a red. Often worn to match her lipstick, she channeled the best of 1950s fashion and beauty trends, as red was very much her color. Nowadays, a fun shade of red and a neutral polish are necessities for every woman, especially for fans of the actress. 

Find Your Color

Knowing the color you look best in is an easy way to always look good! For Marilyn Monroe, that color was white. She stunned in white dresses, white tops, and white bathing suits, which matched her bright blonde hair. Once you find your color, whether it’s light blue or brown, build your wardrobe around it. She was the original queen of the neutral palette! 

Some of her most memorable looks are based on her signature color, like her famous subway grate moment or the dress she wore sightseeing in New York. 

Stay Away from Patterns

Another key component of her style was her gravitation towards solid colors. With the exception of the occasional striped top, polka dot piece, or gingham pants, Monroe focused on solid neutral colors, with a pop of pink and blue here and there. Her casual looks were simple and understated, and allowed her beauty to shine without being overshadowed by a loud pattern. If you’ve been looking to update your wardrobe to match her ‘50s era style, stick with solid colors and build looks with a variety of different fabrics, instead of patterns. 

Simplicity Is Elegance

Sometimes the meaning and beauty of true elegance gets misconstrued in fancy jewelry and other bold accessories. Marilyn Monroe teaches us that real elegance is found in simplicity. Simple hair, simple makeup, simple clothes put together well with an attitude of elegance and beauty speaks louder than any one piece of clothing. 

Some of her outfits over the years exemplified this simplistic elegance, such as her dress in The Prince and the Showgirl (1957). A classic sweetheart neckline and minimalist beading exemplified her beauty against the simplicity of the gown. 

High-Waisted Everything

Marilyn Monroe settled the debate for us: High-waisted pants are superior to low-rise styles. Built to hug curves and flatter your waist, Marilyn showed us that high-waisted pants are every woman’s staple piece. She wore high-waisted pants and shorts with a variety of different tops, and let the (Levi!) jeans do the talking. 

Closing Thoughts

Marilyn Monroe is one of the most recognizable stars in the world, even 60 years after her death. What is your favorite fashion tip from the Hollywood star? 

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