Check out my Youtube video HERE to see all of the outfits!!
1.) The Blue Floral Dress
Norma Jeane Mortenson, about 21, appeared for this picture session to show off her updated appearance. This event happened soon after signing a contract with 20th Century Fox. The world would then know her through her new name: Marilyn Monroe. Compared to her later outfits, this particular one captured the innocence of Monroe and the start of her transition towards the journey to stardom. Even though it still draws attention to her trim waist, the style seems relatively tame compared to the ones she would become famous for in the future. The satin gown embroidered with floral designs and puffed sleeves only helped showcase her natural beauty, while the modest silhouette allowed her star quality to shine all around her.
2.) The Famous Potato Sack Dress
The story of how the blondie ended up in a simple burlap sack has a few different versions, but the most entertaining one goes like this. In 1951, Monroe attended a party at the Beverly Hills Hotel when people noticed her wearing a dress that was more low-cut, much to the annoyance of a female newspaper columnist. This situation caused Monroe to confront the columnist, who demanded that she remove the dress, describing Monroe as “cheap” and “vulgar,” and suggested that she look more put together if she wore a potato sack.
Monroe, whose sense of humor most people underappreciate, took the columnist at her word. Twentieth Century Fox instantly planned a photoshoot for her, complete with an “Idaho Potatoes” sack and red shoes. She looked lovely, which shocked nobody. According to Monroe, an Idaho potato farmer brought her a sack of potatoes to thank her for the attention. Still, she never got to eat them because “there was a potato scarcity, and the boys publicly snatched them all.”
3.) Flying White Dress
While filming The Seven-Year Itch on September 15, 1955, Marilyn Monroe wore a white outfit and posed atop a subway grate in New York City. The wind was blowing up her dress as a train went underground, and Marilyn was being seductive while trying to keep it down. Even though numerous photographers only captured the scenario on film for a few seconds, it became part of some of the most memorable scenes in the history of the film industry. As a result, that tiny white garment is now considered one of the most iconic gowns.
Fun fact: people captured up just that infamous scene on its own 14 times, in which tens of male photographers in large numbers and thousands of onlookers participated the event that made history. Despite this, not a single one of those takes made it into the film’s final cut because the noise from the spectators rendered them all useless.
William Travilla was responsible for this iconic costume and numerous other designs of Marilyn’s clothes for several other films, including the pink dress in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (which we’ll get to later). Even though William didn’t think much of the white dress (referring to it as “that ridiculous little garment”), countless fans had and still are revering the gown even after so many years. After William’s passing in 1990, people auctioned off his costume, drawing for the dress for fifty thousand dollars.
Actress Debbie Reynolds acquired it in 1971 for two hundred dollars, and she subsequently added it to her extensive collection of movie costumes and props. However, way later in 2011, specific individuals put up the majority of Debbie’s collection for auction, and one of the included items was the white cocktail dress. It set a record for the money ever paid for a movie costume when one individual sold it for $5.52 million. Unfortunately, someone placed the winning offer over the phone, and the garment is currently in possession of a private collector; nevertheless, the dress’s unknown owner has not revealed themselves.
4.) The Happy Birthday Dress
At a benefit concert for John F. Kennedy and the Democratic National Committee on May 19, 1962, Marilyn sang the infamous and seductive song “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” to the birthday boy himself: John F. Kennedy. At Madison Square Garden, ten days before, the fundraising event for his birthday celebration took place. After Kennedy’s brother-in-law Peter Lawford made a few “fake” introductions during which Marilyn Monroe was not there, and after some of the audience began to question whether or not she was actually in the room, Lawford then ultimately made the proper introduction. She entered the stage, removed her white fur coat, revealed the stunning marquisette dress, and executed the well-known performance.
Jean Louis designed and constructed Monroe’s dress out of a marquisette fabric that was translucent and flesh-colored, with over 2,500 sparkling rhinestones sewed into it. However, the garment was so constricting that sewists had to stitch her into it. In addition, it was so tight that she also opted to wear nothing underneath it so that the fit would be perfect. She did this to intentionally court the “scandalous” conversation that she knew would surround the dress and her performance and was aware that this discourse would occur.
It wasn’t easy to imagine anybody besides Marilyn Monroe wearing it until Kim Kardashian managed to pull it off. At the 2022 Met Gala, which had the theme “Gilded Glamour,” Kim Kardashian attended in a dress previously worn by Marilyn Monroe. According to Vogue, Kardashian wore the original dress for a concise amount of time (we’re talking barely minutes) while going up the steps of The Met, taking great care not to damage the historically significant clothing. Of course, she quickly transformed into an exact duplicate shortly after that. Still, the time she spent in the Marilyn Monroe gown at the Met Gala was sufficient to make it look like one of the most talked-about events of the evening, if not the most talked-about event overall.
5.) Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ Pink Dress
This fabulous pink dress first appeared when Monroe played the role of “Lorelei Lee” in the iconic scene. She sings the song “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” with choreography that involves the accompaniment of several suitors in dinner clothes. The outfit featured a bright pink bustier combined with matching opera gloves and a huge knot at the waist. The satin stiletto heels by Salvatore Ferragamo and the tons upon tons of diamonds that adorned the garment were the attire’s accessories.
At first, Marilyn Monroe was going to appear in public dressed in a magnificent showgirl outfit adorned with many diamonds. Nevertheless, while filming was underway, it came to light that the general public saw photographs of Monroe’s naked body that she had shot before she became famous. So that the studio would resolve the issue as soon as possible. They gave tight orders to the costume designer Travilla to design a new outfit that was less exposing, leading to the conception of the pink dress.
Designers used “Peau d’ange” silk in the garment’s construction, lined with silk and satin in black. The floor-length dress had no straps, a straight neckline, and a side slit on the left side to allow mobility. The enormous bow that adorned the dress was not a separate accessory but an integral component of the garment’s creation, with a lining of black satin pleated in the back. In addition, they fashioned the palms of the short pink gloves that came with the dress so that they resembled suede. Finally, Marilyn’s diamonds were not natural; but rather replicas.
Since then, Marilyn Monroe’s iconic pink dress continued to show throughout the film industry for several decades. As a result, the dress became a style and cinematic symbol. In addition, it is frequently replicated or parodied by other Hollywood superstars, such as Madonna, in the music video for her famous song “Material Girl,” released in 1985.
6.) Niagara Dress
Though not as stylistic as the other dresses, this one still has a pretty neat background. Used in Henry Hathaway’s 1953 picture “Niagara,” costume designers Dorothy Jeakins and Charles Le Maire wanted something to show Monroe’s grace and charisma in her role as Rose Loomis. With that said, the designers gave her a look that would become legendary.
They made two versions of Marilyn Monroe’s iconic gown: one in brilliant red and the other in hot pink. The pink variant, they decided, would be the best decision, as naturally pink became Marilyn Monroe’s hallmark hue since the actress’s stunning pink gown in Howard Hawks’ Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
This dress continues to influence many designers and fast-fashion firms today. Pink frenzy controlled the decade, from Chanel to Balenciaga and even VETEMENTS. They even connected the hue with feminist groups, which recovered and exploited the “girly” color. In addition, Chloé, Prada, and Chanel embraced the pink trend for Spring/Summer 2021, injecting a healthy dose of brightness and femininity. Many marketed duplicates of Marilyn Monroe’s dress worldwide, despite having a strictly 1950s cut. They finally finish the style with a pair of high heels for a sleek finishing touch. What’s the last timeless detail? Her golden ear studs. Every summer, this jewelry trend appears to return to brighten our appearances and make us feel like Hollywood stars.
7.) Something’s Gotta Give Bikini Outfit
In 1962, 20th Century Fox was having problems at home with Monroe on the set of “Something’s Got to Give.” In this film, she was supposed to play a homemaker rescued after being stranded on a deserted island for five years and returns home, only to discover that she was declared legally dead. But, again, the film was a remake of the original comedy from 1940. Then, to make matters even more complicated, her spouse recently tied the knot with another lady.
Monroe, who hadn’t produced a movie in the previous 18 months, was chronically late or gone for days at a time, and sickness was the typical explanation given for her absence. Finally, after 30 days of shooting, during which she was absent for 17 of those days, director George Cukor shot around her while recording sequences with her co-stars, but in the end, they sacked her, and the whole film was left incomplete. Two months later, at the age of 36, Monroe was discovered dead of an apparent suicide.
It wasn’t until 1989 that they rediscovered the material. The following year, a one-hour documentary allowed us to get another glimpse of this fashionista, providing us with never-before-seen outfits, including this simple yet irresistible swimsuit. Though it’s a shame that it never got to be shown on the big screen, we are fortunate enough to obtain at least some tidbits. Who knows how the film would’ve gone off if the studio finished it? That’s certainly something I would like to know.
8.) Outfits in Korea
On July 27, 1953, the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed, officially ending the Korean War. However, there were still 225,590 American forces stationed in Korea by 1954. Monroe took a flight to Korea when she was on her honeymoon with her new husband, Joe DiMaggio, in Japan. They said that the baseball star was irritated that more people went to see Marilyn in Japan than him, and he declined to join her in Korea. It claimed to be the case because he refused to join her in Korea.
They treated the American troops stationed in Korea to a performance by the famous actress Marilyn Monroe in February of 1954. For four days, she put on a play that she had cobbled together hastily and named Anything Goes for an audience that numbered over 100,000 people. The film actress conquered at least some of her stage fear throughout the trip, which served another purpose. Her journey to Korea, she stated, “was the nicest thing that ever happened to me.” I had never felt like a star before in my heart. So, I was pleasantly surprised to find another person beaming at me when I looked down.
During one performance where they moved the start time back, the audience became agitated and threatened to incite a riot; as a result, they had to scrap the opening acts so that she could take the stage sooner. However, the crowd adored her, and they had a wonderful time during her appearance. She looked stunning in her big army outfit and her beautiful sparkling one.
Monroe was at her peak in Korea; she was self-assured, spontaneous, and breathtakingly gorgeous. She could do everything without the guidance of her hired Hollywood handlers or her domineering spouse and accomplished it all independently. Following her final performance for the 45th Division, she spent a solid half an hour blowing kisses to the crowd. “It is undoubtedly the most fortunate event that has ever taken place in my life. My honeymoon with the 45th Infantry Division was an experience that I will never forget.”
Monroe received the genuine outpouring of affection she had always sought over those four carefree days, which helped the hundreds of homesick young troops who visited her and raised her spirits. Even though Monroe contracted a severe case of bronchial pneumonia due to her prolonged exposure to the frigid temperatures in Korea, her tour in that country was an undeniable triumph.
9.) Gold Lamè Halterneck Gown
In another outfit that appeared in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” Monroe wore a gold lamé halterneck gown with sunray pleats and a deep V neckline that made her look stunning. But, again, it was for Travilla to prepare her for her role in the film.
Although some have only seen the actress wearing the gown for a few seconds from behind in the film, she later requested to wear the garment to the 1953 Photoplay Awards. According to The Telegraph, Travilla declined, stating that the design was “far too sensual and flamboyant” for actual use. In addition, the magazine said Monroe approached the head of 20th Century Fox for permission to wear the outfit and granted her permission to do so. Monroe’s company was deemed “vulgar” by Joan Crawford, yet the newspaper featured the actress on the front headlines the following day.
10.) Silky Satin Gown
Monroe wore this stunning ensemble when she walked the red carpet at the premiere of “There’s No Business Like Show Business” in 1954. Although not many know about the designer of the belted dress, the garment was quite similar to the previously mentioned pink dress in her musical performance. The exception, however, was that this one has a more form-fitting silhouette and does not have a bow in the back. In addition to a luxurious ermine stole, Marilyn flaunts white satin shoes and elbow-length gloves made of the same material, with no requirement for any obtrusive jewelry because she was already shining like one.
11.) Evening Mermaid Gown
When entering the reception at the Waldorf Astoria hotel with Arthur Miller in December 1956, just after the premiere of Baby Doll, she stunned everyone with Norell’s iconic “mermaid” evening dresses, which encased her completely. This gown is made of navy-blue jersey and features heavy embroidery in a similar shade of blue sequins. It has a halter-style top, a plunging neckline, and a bareback. A few months later, she donned the gown when she returned to the Waldorf to attend a party hosted by Elsa Maxwell and was themed “April in Paris. Finally, Monroe opted to wear the Norell mermaid gown once more when she struck one of the most audaciously erotic positions of her career for the illustrious photographer Richard Avedon.
12.) 1956 Black Satin Dress with Spaghetti Straps
Usually, when at home, Monroe would often resolve to wear more minimalist slip dresses. One example is that during a party at her California home in 1956, they captured her wearing a dress that, by some miracle, still outshone her beauty and wondered out of everyone else there.
Anne Greene, who was married to the photographer Milton Greene, is credited by Vogue with giving Monroe a makeover in 1954. According to the journal, Greene commissioned designers George Nardiello and Norman Norell to construct a wardrobe for Monroe that included pieces from Anne Klein. Greene also reportedly purchased Monroe clothing from them. “The result was a collection of black sheaths and slips, sensual but simple and wonderfully in sync with Marilyn’s tastes,” Elizabeth Winder said in her book “Marilyn in Manhattan: Her Year of Joy,” referenced by Vogue. Winder said Monroe had more affordable knockoffs of the couture outfits manufactured after that.
13.) River of No Return’s Yellow Silk Gown
In the 1954 film “River of No Return,” Monroe appeared in the last scene wearing this asymmetric dress she had worn earlier in the role of Kay Weston. At this moment, she sang the film’s theme song. According to Julien’s Auctions, costumier Helen Rose designed the dress for Betty Grable to wear in the movie “Coney Island” in 1943. However, Travilla added the red beading and the back bow to adjust the design so that Marilyn Monroe could wear it ten years later. Based on a particular auction, they predicted that the gown would sell for between $60,000 and $80,000 in 2019, but it fetched $175,000, more than twice as much as the expected range.
14.) The Misfits’ Denim Outfit
Marilyn Monroe was known as one of the first women and Hollywood stars to show that jeans, namely the pair of Levi’s in the film “The Misfits” (1961), can still appeal to a broad audience. Although many have constantly recognized Jean Louis for the stunning gowns, she designed for Marilyn, her decision to focus on a more casual style is not shameful. Because not only did she make that pair of jeans famous, but she also wore the denim-on-denim style with ease, punctuating it with the ideal piece to break up the outfit, which was the white shirt. The jacket was a Storm Rider by Lee, which was a type introduced in 1933. It had a blanket inside and a corduroy-lined collar, and many knew actors such as Paul Newman and Kirk Douglas wore it. However, it quickly became the most influential denim jacket when she started wearing it, especially among males.
This outfit reveals a side of Marilyn that we rarely got to see: that of a tomboyish, typically American girl, with a very natural and understated way of dressing, in contrast to her other glamorous outfits in fur, sequins, pink, and silver that the image the public has associated chiefly with her. This image is what the public has most commonly associated with her. It was astonishingly fantastic, ahead of her time style. She would often mimic off-screen and characterize by simplicity, self-assurance, and modernity in colors that they kept to a minimum. Unlike a love of fashion, a sense of style can see here.
Monroe may as well have been responsible for some of the most iconic denim moments in the annals of fashion history, and jeans are likely the most important garment of the 20th century. While jeans were a symbol of defiance and sexiness in the 1950s, thanks to actors like James Dean and Marlon Brando, Marilyn was able to become the feminine embodiment of the style, which was just as rebellious and seductive. I believe that her penchant for wearing jeans is mainly responsible for Monroe’s status as one of the most significant icons of young culture in the United States. Her ubiquitous image has been a productive force for successive generations ever since her time in the spotlight.
15.) Airport Chic Outfit
Marilyn has been known for her numerous “airport outfits” that earned her a famous reputation amongst fashionistas, even making herself the name “airport chic.” And this outfit is undoubtedly one of them. Marilyn Monroe was not an exception to the rule that Hollywood celebrities did not appear to do off-duty looks. Many have seen the actress arriving at New York International Airport wearing a plain and figure-flattering dress. She paired it with a patterned coat over her shoulder and was even accessorized with black sunglasses and white shoes to complete the ensemble.
16.) Gardening Outfit
As mentioned earlier, Monroe usually wore more casual and laid-back outfits when she was not on screen or constantly exposed to the public eye. And this picture of her gardening is another great example of it.
People who worked with Monroe described her natural sense of style as “slovenly” on more than one occasion. This sense of style started to give rise to problems at some point. Milton Greene was a close friend of Marilyn Monroe and was a photographer. After some time, he concluded that she required a new wardrobe. According to reports, he told her, “You have something that looks fantastic on screen, but you walk around like a slob.” He was referring to her appearance. “Take Katharine Hepburn for example; she embodies a particular fashion… You require a particular something, something that is not a low-cost blonde sexpot ” (via Vogue). Therefore, Greene and his wife assisted her in locating comfortable, casual clothing that was still consistent with her image as a glamorous actress in the public eye. According to the article in the magazine, they eventually collaborated with the designers George Nardiello and Norman Norell to develop an entirely new wardrobe comprising glamorous outfits that they described as “skintight.”
17.) The Old Black Magic Outfit
And for the last outfit, we have the dress from the film “Bus Stop,” released in 1956. Marilyn Monroe wore a tiny green bodysuit covered in a fish scale pattern for this last outfit. They finished the garment with gold tassels, and it had a black tulle train. It was one of the most revealing dresses that Monroe ever wore. It was a sultry and alluring image ideal for her saloon performance in the film.
Fans of Monroe most likely believe that this was only another dress that the film’s costume designers created for her to wear specifically. But as it turns out, there’s a bit more to the story than we initially thought. Martin Nolan, the executive director of Julian’s Auctions, was a guest on “Lorraine” in 2016 and discussed the significance of the ensemble during the conversation. Monroe did not want the costume to have too much of a “fresh” vibe. Therefore, it appeared that the designer, William Travilla, would construct a new suit for the scene. But, according to what he said, “she felt that the item should be more vintage for her character.” “So, she searched through the Twentieth Century archives, and that’s where she found the garment … as a design by Charles La Maire. Now that’s some extreme commitment!