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Book Review: Dressing Marilyn


Quentin Tarantino's Mia Wallace said, "There are only two kinds of people in the world, Beatles people and Elvis people." Yes, you can like them both, Mia says, but no one likes them equally. Playing in the limited confines of this kind of statement, I suggest there are Audrey Hepburn people and Mariyln Monroe people. Although I am an Audrey Hepburn kind of gal, I am loving Dressing Marilyn: How a Hollywood Icon Was Styled by William Travilla by Andrew Hansford.

Available in time for the fiftieth anniversary of Marilyn Monroe's death, Dressing Marilyn devles into the costumes William Travilla created for Marilyn Monroe and the relationship between the designer and the icon. Including never before seen material, the hardcover book is filled with detailed photos, sketches, stories and quotes that flush out even more of the Marilyn Monroe story.


The sections of the book are divided by each of the famous dresses Travilla designed. My favorite part of each section is the inclusion of construction details. Of course, I enjoyed learning the back story, and seeing the outfit that was almost worn for this scene or that, but I adored reading about the materials used for each garment, the techniques involved and why everything was done the way it was done. For example, in reference to Marilyn's purple dress in How To Marry A Millionaire (not pictured in this post), Hansford explains…

"When you first look at [the dress] the bodice appears to be straight across the bust line, but it is not. In fact, it is considerably lower on the right side, which is where the sequin strap starts, and higher on the left side. This is because of the strap coming diagonally across the neckline… if it had actually been cut straight across the bodice, the sequin detail would have made it appear lopsided." 

When dressing yourself and others, it is vital to understand how and why a garment fits the way it does. I can never get enough of  this kind of knowledge when it is packaged in such an attractive and tantalizing manner, as this book has done. If you're a Marilyn Monroe fan, enjoy old school Hollywood glamour or know someone who does, this book is perfect to get or give.


My product reviews are my honest and personal opinion. I never accept payment for product reviews although I am given the sample to keep. If I am sent something that is unimpressive or boring I don’t write about it.

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wardrobe stylist

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