“What you wear is how you present yourself to the world, especially today, when human contacts are so quick. Fashion is instant language.” Miuccia Prada, Italian fashion designer
I have never thought about clothes more than since our daughters entered adolescence. It’s a mine field out there. If designers aren’t making something too short, too low-necked or with odd-yet-strategic pieces missing, you can see right through it.
We go through stores and I say, “no,” “no,” “over my dead body,” and so on to the point we’re practically baring our teeth at each other by the end of the day. I also say things like, “Stand up straight and smile. Every outfit looks better if you do that,” and “Don’t wear anything that would look ridiculous if you had an apple pie in your hands.” Cue the teen girl eye rolls.
But, hah, I have recently found an unlikely ally. Marilyn Monroe.
It’s true! According to Christopher Nickens and George Zeno, authors of Marilyn in Fashion: The Enduring Influence of Marilyn Monroe, Monroe was (and is) to the culture of beauty and clothing as Mark Zuckerberg is to social media.
The woman was a strategist. If she was performing for troops in Korea, she wore sky-high heels and a cocktail dress even though it was freezing simply because she knew that was what young soldiers wanted to see. When she attended a movie opening with a pre-adolescent boy co-star, she refused to take off her wrap for photographers, claiming the dress underneath was “too extreme.” She rarely wore jewelry off screen because she considered it visually distracting.
If her weight (and bustline) shrank a bit, she did creative things like wearing the shoulder straps draped in front of her body to create a more flattering silhouette. If she was practically bare on top, she wore opera gloves or demure shoes as a balance. She wore her hair loosely styled and shorter than what was considered “bomb shell” because that is what flattered her face. She wore jeans purchased in the boys’ department because that is what fit her high-waisted shape best.
While I love the way she rocked many dresses and jeans/sweater combos, I wouldn’t like to see my daughters (or anyone else, for that matter) in many of the outfits Monroe chose to fan the flames of superstardom. But, I sure wish all of us females would put that kind of thought into our clothing instead of drifting aimlessly along with the culture.
Monroe was deliberate. She knew exactly what she was wearing and why. So should we.