A Week with Marilyn – The Ingenious Breast Dress

Ahh……loved, loved , loved “A Week With Marilyn”. Michelle Williams is incredible – absolutely breathtaking – in fact I’m going to see it again!

One of the things I want to pay particular attention to is the dress that Marilyn Monroe  (Michelle) wears when she steps off the plane in England. You’ll know what I mean if you have the seen the film – it’s a total scene stealer. The construction of the bust line on this dress is seriously ingenious. I was totally transfixed – it looks really quite risque, but technically, she is covered from her neck down to her knees! Take a look at the trailer for a quick taster>>

Is the dress the same design as the real one? It’s a bit like “spot the difference” – there is more of a drape in the neckline of Marilyn’s – probably because the proportions of the two women are so different. Let’s face it Marilyn had a lot going on in the bust area! Marilyn’s dress also had a band around the middle – which gave more of an hourglass shape. I think I prefer Michelle’s though – what do you think? (check out Maitha’s blog which features an interview with the costume designer)



The costume designers of the day were a savvy lot, as the restrictions on what you could show and what you couldn’t, were extremely tight. Breasts caused a lot of controversy – particularly Marilyn Monroe’s – who once quipped,” The trouble with censors is that they worry whether a girl has cleavage…They ought to worry if she hasn’t any!

In the book “Dressed – A Century of Hollwood Costume Design“, Landis writes “the MPAA warned 20th Century Fox..”The business of the girls’ dressing should be kept within careful limits of good taste.” Determined designers came up with a number of clever ways to comply with the Hays Code regulations, to the letter if not the spirit. “So long as there was a covering, however thin, the studio could claim that the actress was fully clothed”, Irene Sharaff said.”

By the time of “Some Like it Hot” in 1959 – this ingenuity reached its limit with Sugar Kane in a dress that just covered the right bits (yes..bits!)!

Marilyn Monroe, Some Like it Hot, Black flapper dress

Marilyn Monroe, Some Like it Hot, black flapper dress

So is there a Marilyn dress out there – with similar attention to detail? I believe there is and not just one!

Take a look at the detail in this dress from Asos – it has very similar darts around the bust area and not a bad investment at £112.50. For the higher end of the market there is a gorgeous metallic knit dress from L’Agence and if your looking for the Sugar Kane look, a to-die-for Oscar de la Renta, both available at http://www.netaporter.com.

Finally, if you just want to get that look without a new dress, then What Katie Did do a fabulous bullet bra and you can even get pads if your lacking the raw material…then we can all do a “some don’t feel the cold” like the lovely lady below – Marilyn would definitely approve!

That’s it for now folks. Cxx

Photographic credits: Marilyn in England AFP & Hulton -Deutsch Collection/ Corbis. Some Like it Hot: Floyd McCarty /United Artists/Kobal Collection.


  1. I have to say that I much prefer the modern take on Marilyn’s dress that Michelle wears in the film to the original that Marilyn herself wore. I suppose it’s what you get used to.

    Marilyn had such style. I can’t see many women pulling off those almost invisible dresses but she looked incredible. Super curves!

  2. You see I much prefer the original Marilyn dress. It’s much more subtly detailed and adds softness in the waist and gathering detail. The modern take, for me, looks constructed and engineered. Much more structural giving the character a harder edge. I loved that whole vibe of Marilyn, which was cleverly reflected in her clothes. The none threatening softness / kookiness for the girls vibe and the poke your eye out (‘whoops my wafer thin strap holding me in just broke’) sassiness vibe for the boys. I can’t wait to see the film. I so loved the little book – such sweetness and love for her on every single page.

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