No history of the pencil skirt is complete without reference to Marilyn, as Rosalind Jana writes for Australian Vogue.
“The pencil skirt became a defining garment of the 1950s and early 1960s. It could be luxuriously smart, as seen in lime green on Grace Kelly in Rear Window. It could exude sex appeal, as demonstrated by Sophia Loren who paired it with strappy tops and tightly tailored jackets. It could be chic in black on Audrey Hepburn. For Marilyn Monroe, perhaps the most famous wearer of the pencil skirt, it came to define an entire aesthetic: one predicated on a particularly voluptuous projection of femininity, complete with tight sweaters, crisp white shirts and an overarching emphasis on her hourglass figure. Like the hobble-skirt, it required a very particular way of walking—see Monroe’s famous wiggle epitomised in Some Like It Hot, her wide-eyed character Sugar Kane sashaying provocatively in the skin-tight skirt.”
Pencil skirts are back in style, according to The Guardian‘s Hannah Marriott (although I was unaware that they ever weren’t), proclaiming Marilyn – along with Marlene Dietrich, Meghan Markle and others – a ‘pencil skirt icon.’
“Marilyn Monroe’s walk down a steamy train platform in Some Like it Hot is the archetypal pencil skirt fashion reference, harking back to a time when form-fitting skirts were pretty shocking. (So tightly did they cling to curves that they are said to have inspired ‘the twist’, the only dance move women could do while wearing them.) The modern equivalent of the va-va-voom look is the stretchy pencil skirt favoured by Kim Kardashian and the Instagram set, usually paired with a crop top.”
Julien’s Hollywood Legends 2014 auction, set for April 11, features many Marilyn-related items (she is pictured with Marlon Brando on the back cover.) Highlights include rare behind-the-scenes photos from Niagara; original photos by Manfred Linus Kreiner; the rhinestone clip-on earrings worn to the Rose Tattoo premiere; a black ruched Ceil Chapman cocktail dress, worn on several occasions in 1953; a Mexican painting and tapestry from Marilyn’s Brentwood home; personal correspondence to Inez Melson, and letters from Jean Negulesco and William Inge.