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Thread: For the last time: What size was Marilyn Monroe?

  1. #16
    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
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    I could definitely see a 4 or 6 in today's sizes, taking into account how pictures skew perception to make her look a little bigger than she might have looked in person.

  2. #17
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    She's never looked big to me just curvy with that extreme hourglass. In my observations, someone in a size 14 or 16 is not slim in the middle at all.
    Last edited by qwerty; June 23rd, 2009 at 08:37 PM.

  3. #18
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    I'd say based on those pictures her size ranged from a modern day 4-8 with all the weight fluctuations.

    There is no way she was ever a size 16, even with old school sizing. A 10-12 probably.

    My grandmother used to make clothes for me way back when and patterns use old school sizing. When I was a young teen I had a 26 inch waist and wore a size 8 pattern. That was probably equivalent to a modern day 2 or 4. In the early 80's I wore a junior size 7. That was before vanity sizing.

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brookie View Post
    I'd bet my next check that if she were an up-and-comer today and trying to get a part, some casting director would tell her to lose weight first and try again in 6 months.
    You're damned right there
    Quote Originally Posted by hotncmom View Post
    I'd say based on those pictures her size ranged from a modern day 4-8 with all the weight fluctuations.

    There is no way she was ever a size 16, even with old school sizing. A 10-12 probably.

    My grandmother used to make clothes for me way back when and patterns use old school sizing. When I was a young teen I had a 26 inch waist and wore a size 8 pattern. That was probably equivalent to a modern day 2 or 4. In the early 80's I wore a junior size 7. That was before vanity sizing.
    First off it was a UK size 16 which is a US12... Plus a UK 16 back then was a 34 inch bust. I have a pattern from 1955 in front of me & it says "size 14 32" bust 35" hip". I'm happy to scan it for you/anyone if you want to see it....
    Its not a) a "modern" size 16 or b) a US size 16 (this was stated in the op).

    Also no-one has mentioned the heavy corseting that went on during this period. It all helps (even when later you're in a bikini or something light).



    What is puzzeling to me is why does a discussion on what size MM was turn into a anti-fatesto? Some of the comments are more worthy of a pro-ana site.

  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laurent View Post
    Sizing has changed so much from the late 50s and early 60s, that saying someone was a "size 12" or "size 16" means very little today.

    So true!! Even about 3 years ago a shift happened - I swear - Marks 'n sparks definitely "downsized" clothes: size 12 got size 10 labels, 10 became 8, 16 became 14 and so on and so on. ..

  6. #21
    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    You will always need a size smaller at Neiman Marcus,than say Target!
    I wish more women had a 22 inch waistline. Like me! It looks so great.
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Novice View Post
    . . .
    What is puzzeling to me is why does a discussion on what size MM was turn into a anti-fatesto? Some of the comments are more worthy of a pro-ana site.
    i agree with this.

    and liz hurley is smoking crack. i saw some of MM's clothes on display, can't remember where, maybe the sotheby's auction. anyway, they were pretty small but curvy. granted they were tightly fitting, it is said that the dress that she wore to sing to JFK was so snug she could barely sit in it.

    i have seen pics of her (similar to the ones posted above) where her size varied. it may be due to camera angles or slight weight gain as suggested here. regardless, leave the dead chick alone. this is all crazy.

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by czb View Post
    i agree with this.

    and liz hurley is smoking crack. i saw some of MM's clothes on display, can't remember where, maybe the sotheby's auction. anyway, they were pretty small but curvy. granted they were tightly fitting, it is said that the dress that she wore to sing to JFK was so snug she could barely sit in it.

    i have seen pics of her (similar to the ones posted above) where her size varied. it may be due to camera angles or slight weight gain as suggested here. regardless, leave the dead chick alone. this is all crazy.
    Wasn't she sewn into that dress?

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Novice View Post
    Wasn't she sewn into that dress?
    maybe. it was TINY. don't know what clothes liz saw. i've seen pics of MM wearing baggy clothes so maybe that is what she is talking about. for example, saw a pic of her jogging in a pair of jeans. they were equivalent to the current 'boyfriend jeans' style. hardly indicative of her size.

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by czb View Post
    regardless, leave the dead chick alone. this is all crazy.
    It's only an issue because it makes fat women feel better to point to Marilyn Monroe and say, "She and I both wear plus sizes and she was considered the most beautiful woman in the world, therefore I must have a stunning figure also." It's just a way to gloss over the fact they're overweight.

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by czb View Post
    regardless, leave the dead chick alone. this is all crazy.
    Word.

    The brain doesn't need blood. It just needs to be kept wet.

  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Laurent View Post
    It's only an issue because it makes fat women feel better to point to Marilyn Monroe and say, "She and I both wear plus sizes and she was considered the most beautiful woman in the world, therefore I must have a stunning figure also." It's just a way to gloss over the fact they're overweight.
    ok, maybe i'm just mean but if some two-ton toni said that she had the same physique as marilyn, i would burst out laughing.

    have people actually heard women make this claim??

  13. #28
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    I know you guys think that I'm a PITA but the original Times article is much more interesting (to me) as it has specific costume references & more detail. So for the others of us who are interested in this stuff.... here it is.



    April 11, 2009
    Was Marilyn Monroe a size 16?

    An exhibition of Marilyn Monroe’s costume reveals the truth about those famous curves

    Sara Buys
    There has been much debate about Marilyn Monroe’s vital statistics. She possessed one of the most celebrated bodies in the world and the ludicrous rumours, hyperbole and aura of enigma that surrounded her image were all part of the Marilyn machine. They certainly contributed to the extraordinary level of fame she had acquired by the time she was found naked and dead in bed on August 5, 1962, at just 36 years old.

    After all these years, mystery and conspiracy theories still surround her death, but when it comes to her physical attributes, I can put a few facts straight. Contrary to received wisdom, she was not a voluptuous size 16 – quite the opposite. While she was undeniably voluptuous – in possession of an ample bosom and a bottom that would look at home gyrating in a J-Lo video – for most of the early part of her career, she was a size (UK)8 and even in her plumper stages, was no more than a (UK)10. I can tell you this from experience because a few weeks ago, I tried to try on her clothes.

    The opportunity arose thanks to David Gainsborough Roberts, a retired investment banker, whose collection of Monroe’s costumes and clothes is currently on display in Jersey. I have always been a massive Marilyn fan. When I was 11 years old, I took full advantage of my parents’ separation by insisting my loving, generous father spend his weekend visits buying me Monroe paraphernalia. By the time their divorce came through, I owned almost every inanimate object in existence – tin cigarette cases, dustbins, badges, postcards, combs, mirrors, books and magazines – anything, as long as it had a reproduction of the screen idol’s face on it. (One year later, much to my long-suffering father’s horror, I did it all over again with Madonna.)

    And so, rather egotistically, I’d had visions of myself hamming it up in Monroe’s actual outfits – but in a punky kind of way, a bit like Madonna in Material Girl. I wanted to get to the heart of this enigmatic woman, and I guessed the closest I could get to being in her skin would be being in her second skin.

    One of the first things that struck me about the costumes Monroe wore in her various films is that they were designed with one thing in mind: nudity. Even when they did cover her up – an essential requirement given the studios’ general censorship and the Hays Code (a set of guidelines governing what was “morally acceptable” on screen until 1968) – they were layered with suggestion. It was the costume designer’s task to make the ultimate showcase for that famous body while remaining within the realms of decency.

    One of the outfits considered most risqué was a black, heavily beaded, Twenties-inspired dress, by legendary costume designer William Travilla, which she wore in Some Like it Hot. Gainsborough Roberts bought it through Christie’s for $38,500 in 1993 and it got its outing in the latter part of the film in which Sugar, Monroe’s character, sings the beautifully dejected ballad, I’m Through With Love.

    Although she eventually won a Golden Globe for Best Actress, Monroe was, famously, a nightmare during the filming of Some Like It Hot. As Billy Wilder rather harshly put it: “We were in mid-flight and there was a nut on the plane.” In 1957, while the film was being shot, Monroe discovered she was pregnant – only to suffer a second miscarriage in 1958 as the film was being completed. Her marriage to the playwright Arthur Miller was breaking down and was eventually to end in divorce three years later, so one can only suppose that Sugar was singing from the heart.

    As I tentatively tried to coerce my way into the Some Like It Hot dress, Valerie Nelson, the woman charged with caring for the pieces in the Jersey exhibition, talked me through Monroe’s body shape. Monroe was 5ft 5in (I’m an inch shorter); just over eight stone* (I’m ¾ of a stone heavier); she had a respectable BMI of 21 (don’t ask). She had an incredibly narrow back and rib cage but big boobs, so if she were to pop into Rigby & Peller for a bra fitting today she would probably be a 30E.

    She didn’t have a long body, and although her legs were a lovely shape (beautiful bony ankles and knees) they weren’t particularly long. She had a very short rise (the distance from waist to crotch), but what made her body so extraordinary was the 13-inch difference between her breast and hip measurements and her waist. In her younger years her vital statistics would have come in at 36 23 35, and although her weight fluctuated throughout her career, she always maintained that out-of-this-world body ratio. A real life Jessica Rabbit.

    Nelson tells me that they had to get a special mould made for the corset and swimwear dummies in the exhibition because Monroe was such an extreme hourglass shape that no off-the-peg dummies existed in those measurements. The Some Like It Hot dress just about zips up on me – which is pretty mortifying, considering I had always thought of her Sugar phase as a gloriously plump one.

    Not many of the pieces Gainsborough Roberts owns are in good condition (the red show dress from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes bleeds sequins, which have to be painstakingly retrieved by Nelson), but that doesn’t matter a bit to him because, he says, it’s about the stories the clothes tell within their frayed fabrics.

    Monroe’s star would have been in full ascension during the filming of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in 1953. She had just started dating baseball star Joe DiMaggio and had recently appeared on the cover of Life magazine. But although DiMaggio and Monroe cared for each other deeply throughout their lives, their marriage in January 1954 only lasted a disappointing nine months. DiMaggio reportedly found it difficult to reconcile the two Monroes – one, a doting loyal wife; the other, an international movie star and every red-blooded male’s fantasy.

    As Monroe’s career evolved, it turned out to be the photographs – rather than the films – that made her famous. All the really iconic pieces of clothing we associate with her, such as the pleated white halterneck dress that fans above her waist to reveal a touch of knicker in The Seven Year Itch (another thorn in DiMaggio’s side), came about through the publicity she did for the movie.

    As Billy Wilder put it, “Marilyn is not a clothes horse.” Unlike Audrey Hepburn or Jackie O, both of whom it is impossible to think of without immediately envisaging the clothes they wore, she wasn’t a fashion house muse. It was costume designers whom Monroe had relationships with. “When it comes to Marilyn, it’s not about fashion,” says historian Judith Watt. “But it is most certainly about clothes. As we now realise, she was very smart; she understood the power of clothes as she wore them. And she never wore underwear – that became a sartorial rule for her.”

    Certainly future generations within the fashion industry continue to be inspired by Monroe. British designer Julien Macdonald admits the champagne-coloured sheath she wore to sing Happy Birthday to John F. Kennedy in 1962, made by Hollywood costumier Jean Luis, had a big impact on him as a young man. “Monroe had a controversial life and a controversial body, and that gave real frisson to the clothes she wore,” says Macdonald. “Everything she did and everything she wore was carefully constructed and thought about – much like Marlene Dietrich. Monroe was obsessed with her image and she worked hard to construct and control it. There was always plenty of artifice involved and she knew how to use clothes to full effect. Most of the time she couldn’t even walk properly because her dresses or pencil skirts were too tight, and allegedly she shaved off part of one high heel to give her that famous wiggle.”

    The Happy Birthday, Mr President dress went for $1,267,500 at auction at Christie’s in 1999. At the same auction, Tommy Hilfiger bought a pair of jeans that Monroe wore in River of No Return – they were estimated to go for about $30,000; he bought them for $42,550. Hilfiger also bought a pair of brown boots she wore in The Misfits – estimate $6,000; selling price $85,000.


    It seems incredible in the context of our current era of celebrity-cover saturation that, until Monroe sat for the photographer Bert Stern in 1962, only a few months before her death, she had never been shot for Vogue. In his book, The Last Sitting, Stern documents the emotional journey that led to his meeting with the icon and his consequent love affair through the lens.

    The magazine wanted an eight-page high-fashion spread, so they sent along legendary fashion editor Babs Simpson and piles of beautiful clothes. Monroe was probably at her thinnest, and certainly her body was the most fashionable it had ever been – plenty of bones and much smaller breasts. She looks exquisite in the black cocktail dresses and Ferragamo courts; divine and sophisticated in a floor-length chinchilla, and cool and playful dressed up as Coco Chanel in a white silk shirt and black tailored trousers, complete with pearls and a black wig. But it’s the nude shots that are the most compelling. Maybe Stern, who grew increasingly frustrated at Vogue’s attempt to cover her up, had a point when he said, “I wanted to get as close to the real Marilyn as I possibly could, and I didn’t really see what clothes had to do with it.”

    Marilyn at the Jersey Museum runs until December 31. For more information call 01534 633371 or visit Jersey Heritage - Home

    * 112lbs
    Was Marilyn Monroe a size 16? - Times Online


    I notice that for all her broadsheet creadance she's totally neglected to mention that that 16 was a vintage one....

  14. #29
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    ^^^ you are not a PITA and that was an interesting article. i enjoyed reading it. but the article really wasn't about her size as much as it was about her shape and the legacy of her costumes. maybe that's why i liked it.

  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by czb View Post
    ok, maybe i'm just mean but if some two-ton toni said that she had the same physique as marilyn, i would burst out laughing.

    have people actually heard women make this claim??
    Over the years I have read and heard women size 14, 16 and up say things like "well, Marilyn Monroe was the same size I am, and she was considered to have the best body in the world." The idea is they must not be overweight if Marilyn looked like she did at a size 16.

    In the original post of this thread there's this sentence:

    Roseanne, for her part, stated in '96 that, "I'm more sexy than Pamela Lee or whoever else they've got out there these days. Marilyn Monroe was a size 16. That says it all."
    She's conveniently overlooking the 34 years between 1962 - when Marilyn died - and 1996 when she made the statement, and how drastically sizing changed during that time.

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