What would the 1950s be without Marilyn Monroe?
Let us know what your favourite Marilyn movie costume is.
Some of her most iconic 1950s costumes are pictured here. Enjoy!
The hot pink cut-out dress with a bow tied between the bust in Niagara (1953). A red and a pink version were created and the pink version was used in the movie. Costumes by Dorothy Jeakins.
Pink became Marilyn’s signature colour when she appeared again wearing a hot pink dress in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) designed by Travilla.
It is made of d’ange silk, has a large bow at the back and was worn with two-tone opera gloves. There are of course many iconic outfits worn by Marilyn in this movie but the pink one is the most recognizable as she wore it during her performance of ‘Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend’. Madonna recreated that scene in her music video for Material Girl in 1985. Originally, Marilyn was supposed to wear a revealing showgirl costume but when it became public knowledge at the time that she had previously posed nude, the producers wanted her in something less revealing (below). We think it worked out! Mattel created a Barbie doll of Marilyn wearing this dress in 1997. The dress sold at auction in 2010 for $370,000.
An homage to the dress was seen in many shows and films including Gossip Girl and Birds of Prey.
Another pinkish dress appears in How to Marry a Millionaire (1953). This floor length satin sheath dress features a train and an asymmetrical bedazzled strap across the chest with matching belt. Costumes by Travilla, for which he was nominated for an Academy award.
The results of an Instagram poll we conducted reveal that How to Marry a millionaire was the favourite pink dress!
The show-stopping embellished flesh-tone crepe and net gown worn in There’s no Business Like Show Business (1954). She wore this during her performance of ‘After You Get What You Want, You Don’t Want It”. This dress sold at auction last year for $218,750. Costumes by Travilla, for which he was nominated for another Academy award.
The white subway grate cocktail dress from The Seven Year Itch (1955). This image of her standing on the grate with the wind blowing the dress is one of the most iconic images of the 20th Century. It was designed by Travilla and there may be have been between 2 and 4 versions of this dress.
The dress was altered slightly for its appearance in the 1962 B movie Bachelor Flat, when it was worn by Roxanne Arlen (below). After Travilla’s death in 1990, it joined a private collection owned by Debbie Reynolds. It was sold at auction in 2011 for $5.6 million.
A more understated costume but still lovely was the Cherie ensemble she wore in Bus Stop (1956). She wears a green lace peasant blouse and black satin wrap pencil skirt designed again by Travilla. This outfit sold for $399,000 in 2020. Madonna wore it in a 1991 Steven Meisel Vanity Fair shoot. One of these images was used as the cover for her documentary ‘Madonna: Truth or Dare’.
The pearl encrusted silk mermaid gown from The Prince and the Showgirl (1957) designed by Beatrice Dawson.
The fitted 1920s-style sheer black embellished butterfly dress from Some Like it Hot (1959). It had an illusion deep plunge back and protected Marilyn’s modesty with just a few strategically placed beads! She wears this sitting atop a piano singing ‘I’m Through with Love’. Costumes by Orry-Kelly, for which he won an academy award. It was sold at auction in 2016 for $460,000.
An Instagram poll revealed that The Seven Year Itch dress was the favourite in this bunch!