My Nan tells me that, “back in day”, the clothes you bought in store were also tailored to fit you in store. And if not, you’d go immediately with your new dress to the tailors, and have it pinned and sewn exactly to you. The personal fit of a garment will make or break an outfit, and I envy the mentality that my Nan’s generation had about clothes. They would never even begin to consider buying a piece of clothing that didn’t fit them exactly, made to measure.
All of this has come to my mind after watching the movie ‘My Week With Marilyn’. It happened to be on BBC the other evening, and engrossed me just as wonderfully this time as it did the first. Michelle Williams is riveting as Marilyn. I romanticise Marilyn Monroe just like almost everyone else does. Is it because we can see now, in hindsight, the sadness in her smile? Her melancholy made her only more beautiful. I wonder if, whilst she was alive, people could tell that her heart was broken or that this was the reason for the depth of her eyes, within which everybody fell. She reminds me of the Nat King Cole song, ‘Mona Lisa’.
Marilyn’s style was absolutely sexy, oozed with class, effortlessly hugging her in every gorgeous place. Her feminine figure is famous, we know this. But I do believe that, with the correct outfit architecture, a similar feel can be achieved. High, belted waists; tight skirts or ankle-grazing trousers with heeled pumps; and perhaps my favourite part, wide, curving necklines to reveal pretty collar bones and soft décolletage. Mesmerising.
It would be marvellous to have a life that allowed for dressing like Marilyn Monroe everyday. However, even for a current celeb, our culture isn’t that same kind of glamour anymore. You could pull up to Tape or Roka in a tangerine chiffon Swarovski crystal gown if you wanted to – really, you can do what you like. Realistically though, most people won’t, including myself. So how do we channel Marilyn’s grace and style to work in the 21st century? I’ve been having visions of a modern-day Monroe and how she walks into the room.
The style board above was obviously inspired by vintage eras although the outfit is still contemporary, and the current Brigitte Bardot, off-shoulder trend lends itself well to the Monroe look. Typical of me, the blouse and skirt are both solid black, but are accessorised with tropically coloured Dolce & Gabbana pumps, and deco gold and onyx drop earrings by Signature Gold. Playing to the palette of the heels, a slick of moisturising, burnt orange lipstick by Ellis Faas finishes everything so beautifully.
Isa Arfen’s tulle, knotted-front top bares some skin beneath the sheer, providing temptation, yet the fabric is so light and precious, a paradox that could be used to describe Marilyn: both naughty and nice. The Isabel Marant mini skirt sits there on the waist, with tight buttoned tabs like warm hands. It’s asymmetric shape is modern and the black silk-chiffon is almost gothic with its dull shine, yet a close fit around hips and bum that then playfully flits into frills and curls, has that wondrous, enticing element of the Hollywood star. Look but don’t touch!