Marilyn Monroe was a Gemini–a classic dual personality in the best possible way. This isn’t necessarily visible unless you watch her movies after having seen some of her most famous portraits. In most of her pics (like Andy Warhol’s classic), Monroe takes on a polished, glossy appearance. But if you watch her act, you’ll see immediately how her charm’s completely in the light and fluttery mannerisms she uses, the timbre of her voice, and that sense of something darker, well-hidden underneath the image.
That’s why I love this photo. It’s so much more “Marilyn” than her studio portraits. Why? Take a look…
Classic 1950s “low-key.”
Why It’s So Marilyn
She’s breezy and lighthearted here, which goes so much better with her acting persona. But I love that there’s also a hint of complexity, even in this seemingly simple photo. The expression on her face, for example, is actually pretty inscrutable. Is she smug? Happy? Self-satisfied? Sleepy? Up to you.
Ready to hear about the craziest beauty tips from Classic Hollywood? Grace, Audrey, Marilyn and more star in Old Hollywood Glamour!
Why It’s Classic
- The Hair! Marilyn’s usual 1950’s ‘do isn’t anything I’d recommend to anyone in this century–waaay too overdone, short, and generally unflattering if you don’t, well, look like Marilyn Monroe (and let’s face it–who does?) But loosen it up, get some salt water in the vicinity, and you actually have a hairstyle that transcends the era. Also, I know it’s the lighting here, but her hair looks a lot healthier than it usually does (bleach, baby).
- The Makeup! Who doesn’t wear liquid eyeliner and lipstick to the beach? Human women, that’s who. But even Marilyn’s made a concession to nature and toned down her signature red lips for this flattering coral.
- The Clothes! In every article on “investment” pieces, magazines are always going on about how jean jackets are classics. Are they? Really? This one, though, might be the closest I’ve seen to a true classic. It’s got a bit of an aviator look with the beige collar, and while it isn’t doing Marilyn’s figure any favors, let’s face it: her figure didn’t need any more favors.
Make It Your Own
This one’s easy to copycat. Clean face, coral-pink lipstick and blush, eyeliner (go lightly here–you might actually want to get in the water). Unless you’re feeling early ’90s, you might want to give paler jean jackets a miss, but a darker one, especially with interesting details, will pay proper homage to the queen of glamour.