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    Posted on Feb 5, 2015

    Fashion Deja Vu--Marilyn Monroe Edition

    Nowadays, two big stars wearing the same outfit is a major fashion faux pas, but back in Hollywood's heyday it was common practice to recycle clothes so the studios could save a few bucks. While many of Marilyn's dresses and costumes are considered to be style icons, she often wasn't the first (or the last!) to wear them. By Marijane Gray for Immortal Marilyn

    Marilyn's Sister, Berniece Baker Miracle

    Sisters often share clothes, and Marilyn and her sister Berniece were no exception. On the left, Berniece borrowed Marilyn's seagull printed two piece on a trip to California in 1946. On the right, Marilyn wears the same one a year earlier in a photo shoot with Joseph Jasgur.

    Ann Miller

    Seagull bikinis were evidently very popular back then, because Ann Miller had one too.

    Daun Kennedy

    Pin up and actress Daun Kennedy wore this striped two piece for a photo shoot for Yank Magazine in 1945; Marilyn wears the same one in a photo shoot with Joe Jasgur the following year. These were called 'diaper suits' before the term 'bikini' was coined.

    Shelley Winters

    It's unknown if Shelley and Marilyn swapped this striped bikini or if they each had one, but Shelley has said that they were roommates in the late 40's when they were both starting out in their careers.

    Grace Kelly

    Grace Kelly wore this white bandeau two piece for Elle Magazine in 1955. Marilyn donned it for a photo shoot with Bruno Bernard ten years earlier.

    Ann Miller

    Ann Miller and Marilyn seemed to have the same taste in swimwear......

    Hazel Brooks

    Apparently this was a VERY popular swimsuit. Here it's shown on Hazel Brooks and again on Marilyn in August 1947 when she was a guest caddy at Cheviot Hills Golf Course.

    Ann Sheridan

    Marilyn wore this white dress with it's unique adjustable neckline in a series of photos for Earl Leaf in 1950;Ann Sheridan wore the same dress in a publicity shoot. The designer also made a bathing suit version of it.

    Marie McDonald

    Marie McDonald also wore this dress in 1950, in a photo shoot with her son Harrison.

    Unknown Chorus Girl

    This dress by designer Jean Louis was part of Columbia Pictures stock wardrobe. It was first spotted by an eagle eyed Marilyn fan on a chorus girl in the 1945 film The Dolly Sisters, then was brought out again in 1949 for Marilyn's first headlining role in Ladies of The Chorus.

    Valentina Cortese

    Marilyn wore this Charles LeMaire gown to present the Best Sound Recoding Oscar at the 1951 Academy Awards. She borrowed it from the studio's wardrobe department, where it had been stored since being worn by Valentina Cortese in The House On Telegraph Hill, filmed a few months prior.

    Ava Gardner

    Ava Gardner wore this dramatic LBD by Renie in publicity shots. Marilyn liked it so much she wore it multiple times in 1951: at the Hollywood Foreign Correspondents Association dinner (pictured above), in the film As Young As You Feel, and again visiting members of the Navy on the USS Benham.

    Jean Peters

    Marilyn wore this lace and eyelet Renie dress in the 1951 movie As Young As You Feel. The dress reappeared in 1952 in another Marilyn movie- Niagara- but on her costar Jean Peters.

    Jane Russell

    Marilyn's Gentlemen Prefer Blondes co-star wore this yellow button up bathing suit in 1952. Marilyn wore the same one in a photo shoot with Earl Theisen, also in 1952.

    Gene Tierney

    Gene Tierney's husband Oleg Cassini designed this gown for her to wear in Where The Sidewalk Ends in 1950. She was offered a chance to keep the gown, but turned it down because the dress was so tight she could barely walk in it. Marilyn had no such complaints after buying the dress at Cassini's boutique; she wore the dress on several occasions in 1952, including to receive her Henrietta Award for Best Young Box Office Personality. The dress was later declared ''the most risque design of the year'' by a fashion magazine.

    Gene Tierney

    Another fashion repeat of both Gene Tierney and Oleg Cassini. Tierney wore this red and purple jersey Cassini gown for the 1951 film On The Riviera. Marilyn wore it a year later to the premiere of her film Monkey Business and for two series of publicity photos taken by Frank Powolny and Frank Livia.

    This dress is now part of the Greg Schreiner collection.

    Julie Newmar

    Marilyn wore this pleated brown Travilla dress in the film Monkey Business. She didn't like it, the combination of a high neck and a full skirt were not her taste. Julie Newmar wore the design in the 1959 film The Rookie. She has said that the Fox wardrobe department made the exact same dress for her in her size-at 5'11, she was significantly taller than Marilyn.

    Hildegard Knef

    Hildegard Knef wore this embellished gown in the 1952 film The Snows of Kilimanjaro, where the design is credited to both Charles LeMaire and Sam Benson. Marilyn borrowed it from the wardrobe department for a series of publicity photos with Frank Powolny.

    Hildegard Knef

    Hildegard Knef also wore this golden fringed gown in The Snows of Kilimanjaro, and Marilyn once again borrowed from the wardrobe department for publicity pictures, this time with photographer John Florea.

    This dress is now part of the Greg Schreiner collection.

    Rhonda Fleming

    Rhonda Fleming wore this black one piece swimsuit with a criss crossed neckline in a publicity shoot. Marilyn wore an identical bathing suit in a publicity photo shoot with Frank Powolny in 1952, also posing wearing it with a Navy cap and a Miss Naval Air Station sash.

    Nina Vale

    Nina Vale wore this intricate lace dress designed by Renie in the 1945 film Cornered. Marilyn pulled it out seven years later for a photo shoot with Ernest Bachrach to promote Clash By Night.

    Sheree North

    This unusual dress was backless and had a twisted strap that circled behind the shoulders and around the front of the neck, where it was wrapped in faux pearls. Marilyn's was a darker shade and was worn in this studio shot with Bruno Bernard in 1952. Sheree's was worn in the 1956 film The Best Things In Life Are Free.

    Barbara Nichols

    Marilyn wore this pink halter dress designed by Dorothy Jeakins more than once: a charity baseball game, in an interview on a trip to New York in August 1952, and in publicity photos for the film Niagara. (although it doesn't appear in the movie). The dress was recycled in 1959 when Barbara Nichols wore it in A Woman Obsessed.

    This dress is now part of the David Gainsborough Roberts collection.

    Mitzi Gaynor

    Mitzi Gaynor first wore this black and gold sequinned leotard, designed by Renie, in the 1952 film The I Don't Care Girl. Marilyn and Jane Russell wore the same leotard in 1953 in publicity photos for Gentleman Prefer Blondes.

    This leotard is now part of the Maite Minguez Ricart collection.

    Mamie van Doren

    The leotard got brought out again in 1956, when Mamie van Doren wore it to the Association of Advertising's Ballyhoo Ball.

    Sheree North

    This black silk Travilla leotard was designed for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes for the deleted sequence 'Four French Dances'. Sheree North borrowed it in 1955 for an appearance on the Lewis & Martin Show.

    This costume is now part of the David Gainsborough Roberts collection.

    Sheree North- Double Take

    In 1955, Marilyn refused to appear in the film How To Be Very, Very Popular and was replaced with Sheree North. Sheree was given a costume made from parts of two of Marilyn's Gentlemen Prefer Blondes costumes-the black silk leotard (notice the same flesh colored panels above the thighs) and this elaborate rhinestone top. The top had been part of a sparkling ensemble meant for Marilyn to wear while singing Diamond's Are A Girl's Best Friend, but was ultimately determined to be too risque to get past the censors.

    The leotard is part of the David Gainsborough Roberts collection.

    The bottom of the diamond costume is now part of the Greg Schreiner collection.

    The whereabouts of the top of the diamond costume are unknown.

    Mitzi Gaynor

    This blue violet Travilla dress was worn by Marilyn (with matching jacket) in Gentleman Prefer Blondes. Marilyn's No Business Like Show Business co-star wore it in a sultry publicity shoot.

    This dress was sold at auction December 3, 2011 for $260,000

    Gypsy Rose Lee

    Marilyn wore this elaborately sequinned gown in the opening number of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in 1953. Gypsy Rose Lee wore the dress, sans jewels, in the 1963 film The Stripper, although it's unknown if it was Marilyn's or Jane's costume she was wearing.

    One copy of this dress is part of the David Gainsborough Roberts collection.

    Another was sold at auction June 18, 2011 for $1.2 million dollars.

    Sheree North

    The red dress appeared again on Sheree North in 1954, but again, there's no way of knowing if it was Marilyn's or Jane's she was wearing.

    Abby Lincoln

    Marilyn wore this showstopper of a Travilla dress in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Abby Lincoln wore it in the 1956 film The Girl Can't Help It. However, she was not impressed with wearing Marilyn's gown and in an interview said: "They weren’t interested in what I was singing. They were just interested in me wearing that Marilyn Monroe dress...... That’s all they were interested in: me wearing Marilyn Monroe’s dress. They were creating some rep for me as some breasty sexy woman. But I wasn’t never really that. I can’t stand some man looking at me and just thinking about sex."

    Lincoln was so upset at being called 'the black Marilyn Monroe' that she took out her anger on the dress: ``I burned the thing,'' she said. "I burned the dress that Marilyn wore in an incinerator where I lived in my house in New York.....I sacrificed it. I knew that it was a famous dress. I burned it, and I burned that part of my career."

    Ginger Rogers

    Ginger Rogers wore this gold lame Travilla dress in the 1952 movie Dreamboat. Marilyn wore the same pleated gown in silver to the Photoplay Awards in 1954, where she received an award for "Best New Actress".

    Marilyn's silver dress is now part of the Greg Schreiner collection.

    Jayne Mansfield

    Marilyn wore this green velvet saloon dress in River of No Return in 1954. Jayne Mansfield borrowed it from the Fox wardrobe department in 1967 to wear to a costume party.

    This dress was sold at auction October 22, 2011 for $521,600

    Corinne Calvet

    Corinne Calvet wore this flower corset with lace embellishments in 1953 in Powder River. It was brought out again in 1954 for Marilyn to wear in publicity photos for River of No Return.

    Jayne Mansfield

    Marilyn wore this orange ribbed sweater dress to a press conference in April 1954. Jayne Mansfield wore the same dress on a European promotional tour for Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter in 1957, and again in 1960 at the contract signing ceremony for the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

    Barbara Nichols

    Marilyn wears this polka dot Travilla dress in her first scene in The Seven Year Itch in 1954. The silk jersey dress actually had small weights sewn into the hem to help it cling to Marilyn's figure. In 1958, Barbara Nichols was given the dress to wear in the film Ten North Frederick.

    This dress is now part of the Gene London Collection.

    Hazel Brooks

    Hazel Brooks wore this striking feathered robe in 1952's The I Don't Care Girl, which also starred Mitzi Gaynor wearing a costume that Marilyn wore. Marilyn wore a very similar robe for a scene in The Seven Year Itch that was ultimately cut from the film.

    Roxanne Arlen

    The single most iconic dress in cinema history was worn in more than one film. Travilla designed the fit and flair halter dress wanting to make her look "talcum powdered and adorable". Marilyn wore the dress in the scene most associated with her: as she stands on a subway grate and enjoys the breeze from the passing train it lifts her skirt up above her knees. "Isn't it delicious?" she coos.

    The dress was seen again on Roxanne Arlen in Bachelor Flat in 1962. The dress Arlen wore was instantly recognizable as the same as Marilyn's, but is it THE dress with alterations, or is it a different dress entirely? Scott Fortner of The Marilyn Monroe Collection has written a meticulous analysis that can be read here:

    The dress--one of the dresses?--sold at auction on June 18,2011 for $5.6 million dollars.

    Jayne Mansfield

    Marilyn wore this striped Walter Bass dress in a photo shoot with Ted Baron in 1954. Jayne Mansfield wore the same dress in 1957 on a USO tour as well as in a makeup advertisement.

    Jane Kean

    Marilyn wore first wore this red and white polka dot Ceil Chapman dress to a press event with women military members in Atlantic City in 1952, while on a promotional tour for Monkey Business. She wore it again at a reading at Fox in 1952 (pictured above) and a third time in 1953 to a Fox employee baseball game.

    In May 1953, Jane Kean wore the same dress to Walter Winchell's birthday party....and sat next to Marilyn!

    Mitzi Gaynor

    Mitzi Gaynor wore this red velvet Travilla dress in the movie There's No Business Like Show Business, in which she costarred with Marilyn. Marilyn borrowed the dress from the wardrobe department in November 1954 to wear to a party at Romanoffs. The party is often cited as marking her official arrival in Hollywood as a star.

    Betty Grable

    This evening stole of black jersey with white fox fur trim was worn by Betty Grable, date unknown. Marilyn wore one just like it on December 12, 1955 to the premiere of The Rose Tattoo. Her escort that evening was Marlon Brando.

    The fur was sold at auction in 1999 for $46,000

    Leslie Caron

    Marilyn wore this green satin Travilla designed leotard for her role as Cherie in Bus Stop in 1956. The costume resurfaced in 1959 on Leslie Caron in the movie The Man Who Understood Women. There are two copies of this costume in existence: one in the collection of David Gainsborough Roberts and one that was sold as part of the Debbie Reynolds costume collection. It is unknown if two copies were made for Marilyn or if one was Marilyn's and another separate one was made for Leslie.

    One of these costumes was sold December 3, 2011 for $230,000

    Susan Hayward

    Marilyn found this lace blouse while rifling through the Fox wardrobe department in search of costumes for Bus Stop. It had previously been worn by Susan Hayward in With A Song In My Heart in 1952.

    This blouse is now part of the Gene London collection.

    May Britt

    Marilyn chose this black satin pencil skirt to wear in Bus Stop. May Britt wore the skirt with an orange top in 1959 in The Blue Angel. Coincidentally, the role in the movie was initially offered to Marilyn, who turned it down.

    This skirt is now part of the Gene London collection.


    Madonna borrowed Marilyn's actual costume, both the blouse and skirt, in 1991 for a photo shoot for Vanity Fair with photographer Steven Meisel.

    Ladies' Home Journal Model

    This tiered polka dot sundress appeared in the July 1957 issue of Ladies' Home Journal. That same month, Marilyn was photographed by Sam Shaw wearing the dress in Amagansett.

    Mamie van Doren

    This Norman Norell sequinned halter dress was a favorite of Marilyn's. She wore it on many occasions, from publicity photo shoots to public events. Mamie van Doren wore the same gown in a photo shoot and to the Thalians Ball in 1957.

    Barbara Nichols

    Designer Orry-Kelly won an Academy Award for Best Costume Design for the 1959 film Some Like It Hot. He dressed Marilyn in this glittering dress of nude souffle with black sequins and beads and butterfly appliques. In 1961, Barbara Nichols wore the same dress in the movie The George Raft Story.

    This dress is now part of the David Gainsborough Roberts collection.

    Doris Day

    In Marilyn's final unfinished film, Something's Got To Give (1962) she played a woman who had been on a deserted island for five years. She returns home wearing sailor pants and a denim shirt. As filming was never completed, the movie was recast with Doris Day , retitled Move Over Darling and released in 1963. They kept the same denim-on-denim look though.

    THAT Gold Dress

    Travilla's sunburst pleated gold lame is one of Marilyn's most recognized dresses, even though it only appears from the back in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes for a few seconds. However, wearing it in photos and an extremely memorable appearance at the 1953 Photoplay awards cemented it as being the gown of a bombshell. Travilla made several different copies of this dress. Marilyn was photographed in costume test shots in at least two different ones and it is unknown which made it into the movie.

    Other stars who have worn the Travilla gold lame are Jayne Mansfield (to a move premiere in 1957), Marilyn Maxwell (in a 1954 Las Vegas show), Betty Grable (Shower of Stars TV special in 1954) and Jeanne Crain (at the 1955 premiere of Gentlemen Marry Brunettes). It was also spotted by an alert Marilyn fan worn by an unknown model in a vintage advertisement.

    Marilyn Vs. Marilyn

    Unlike her on-screen roles of Lorelei, Pola, and Sugar, Marilyn Monroe was extremely non-materialistic. She knew how to glam it up for public events, but more often than not it was in a borrowed gown from the wardrobe department. Her everyday clothes were simple, comfortable, and classic.

    In modern times a celebrity would be eviscerated in the tabloids for wearing the same thing multiple times, let alone to premieres and other big events, but Marilyn did just that frequently. Maybe it was her upbringing during the Depression that made her appreciate getting some use out of her clothing, maybe it's just that such things didn't matter to her. Either way, she looked stunning whether she wore an outfit twice or ten times.

    White Satin Travilla Gown

    This gown is actually a white version of the famous pink dress she wore while performing Diamond's Are A Girl's Best Friend, without the large bow on the back. Marilyn was photographed in this dress three times in the same year:

    January 1, 1953 to the Cinerama party at Coconut Grove in the Ambassador Hotel.

    March 4, 1953 to the premier of Call Me Madam

    May 13, 1953 to Walter Winchell's birthday party at Ciro's.

    Black Sequinned Norman Norell Gown

    It's said that Marilyn bought this Norman Norell halter gown off the rack at a department store. She obviously favored it because she wore it frequently.

    Some time in 1956 in a Milton Greene photo shoot with Laurence Olivier to promote The Prince And The Showgirl

    December 18, 1956 to the premier of Baby Doll

    May 6, 1957 for a photo shoot with Richard Avedon

    April 11, 1957 to the April In Paris ball at the Waldorf Astoria

    Fall 1958 for another shoot with Richard Avedon

    Black John Moore dress-Marilyn's favorite.

    Marilyn loved-LOVED- this black crepe and chiffon dress by John Moore. It came with a matching bolero jacket that she occasionally wore with it. She wore this dress very frequently, including for two films. The dress was sold at auction in 1999 for $30,000

    May 13, 1959- to the reception to receive her David di Donatello award, Italy's equivalent to the Oscar.

    September 19, 1959--to a luncheon for Soviet premier Nikita Khruschev at Fox Studios.

    September 27, 1959--to a charity event at the American Friends of Hebrew University

    February/March 1960--shooting scenes for the movie Let's Make Love

    June 7, 1961--to Las Vegas to see a Frank Sinatra show

    June 22, 1961--to the christening of Clark Gable's son

    February 23, 1962--to a restaurant during her trip to Mexico

    April 10, 1962--Wardrobe and hair tests on the set of Something's Got To Give

    The Checked Pants

    Marilyn had no qualms about wearing the same thing over and over again, but nothing in her wardrobe comes close to how many times she wore her favorite black and white checked pants. She was photographed in them over a fifteen year period, from 1945 to 1960. She had multiple pairs in varying lengths and wore them to photo shoots, while relaxing, and in between scenes on film sets.

    One pair was sold at auction June 4, 2005 for $2,600

    Another sold June 27, 2009 for $26,000

    A pair is part of the Ted Stampfer collection.

    First three photos: by Andre de Dienes, 1945

    Last photo: by Bruno Bernard, 1945

    First two photos: by Richard Miller, 1945

    Third photo: by Bruno Bernard, 1945

    Last photo: by Andre de Dienes, 1952

    Phillipe Halsman, 1952

    First three photos: by Jock Carroll, 1952

    Last photo: by Andre de Dienes, 1952

    First photo: by John Vachon, 1953

    Second photo: by Whitey Snyder, 1953

    Third photo: by Alfred Eisenstadt, 1953

    Fourth photo: on the set of The Misfits, 1960

    To learn more about Marilyn Monroe and her life, please visit

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    Special thanks to Marilyn in Fashion by Christopher Nickens and George Zeno

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