Last Updated on February 17, 2023 by Josh Wilkerson
It’s no secret that Marilyn Monroe holds the title for one of the most iconic women in the world for fashion and style. Her particular sense of style can be seen in classic white flowing halter neck dresses and curled blonde bobs, and of course, her cat eye glasses. Marilyn Monroe’s glasses were first featured in How to Marry a Millionaire, and her appearance in them highly popularized the glasses as a statement of femininity and confidence in women.
Glasses in Marilyn Monroe’s films
In the timeless film How to Marry a Millionaire, Monroe expresses how self-conscious she is about wearing her glasses stating that, “Men aren’t attentive to girls who wear glasses.” This is because wearing glasses initially came with an association of someone who was not attractive or looking for love. Throughout the film, she is shown constantly whipping off her glasses as soon as a man comes into her view, convinced that he would find her immediately unattractive if she kept them on. As some glasses lenses can make eyes appear smaller, it is understandable that Marilyn Monroe’s glasses would make her character feel less attractive. However, in a major scene of the film, her love interest insists that she try them on in front of him, and she complies. He states that she in fact looks much better with the glasses on, and she proceeds to gain confidence in wearing her cat-eye glasses. Though in a sense this movie gives off the impression that women will do anything to look more attractive for a man, it actually eventually prompted women to start styling their glasses and to start wearing them as an accessory that showcased their fashion sense. At the time, Marilyn Monroe’s glasses became a statement of attractiveness and pushed for value in intellectualism for women.
Similarly in the film Some Like it Hot, Marilyn mentions how she hopes that the man she marries will wear glasses, as “Men who wear glasses are so much more gentle, sweet, and helpless.” The values that she wants her man to embody through his glasses were the opposite of the impression that she wants to give. Marilyn Monroe’s glasses indicated the same impression for herself, which to be “gentle, sweet, and helpless,” something that she thought would make her less attractive. Her appeal was more promiscuous, and the ideal of beauty portrayed was one in which women had more sex appeal. However, by wearing her frames, she not only emphasized this style of beauty but also opened the doors for women to express themselves more freely.
How Marilyn Monroe styled her glasses
At first, Marilyn Monroe’s glasses were only worn during times when she needed to see more clearly. In How to Marry a Millionaire, she takes off her glasses at every moment possible. However, after her love interest approves of how she looks in them, she begins to wear them more often and begins to wear the frames with dressier outfits. When glasses before had been associated with secretarial work or were worn by women who did not care much for their outer appearance, they began to represent instead an accessory that women could style on themselves. In the film, Marilyn Monroe’s glasses were styled with a few different outfits. When she first discovered on the plane that glasses made her look more attractive, she was wearing a black pencil skirt, a black jacket, and a colorful scarf. This just so happened to be a perfect outfit for Monroe’s first confidence boost in the film, as the glasses added an element of intelligence to her otherwise simple outfit. In another scene, she is wearing a solid brown knee length dress with a fur collar. Though this also seemed like another plain outfit, once Marilyn Monroe’s glasses were on, it immediately transformed her ensemble into a more sophisticated outfit. Monroe also shows how glasses can even be worn with evening gowns or fancier outfits as well. At one point, she dons a long white ball gown with a white fur pashmina, and completes the look with a pair of jeweled cat-eye glasses. The sparkling jewels that sit on the tips on Marilyn Monroe’s glasses also help to make the glasses fit the fancier occasion and outfit. The jewels on Marilyn Monroe’s glasses are actually what make these glasses more accessible to fancier occasions, as they give the outfit more style. It is not unlikely that these sparking frames can be worn with casual outfits as well, as she regarded these as her everyday glasses. We are all well aware of the love for diamonds that Monroe expressed in her films and adding the diamond-like jewels to her classic specs was the perfect touch to her style.
How to style Marilyn Monroe’s glasses
Because the film was made in the 60s, the style featured in Marilyn Monroe’s movies was significantly different than what it is today. Marilyn Monroe’s glasses, because of their classic shape, can be regarded as vintage today and can actually go along with any outfit. Monroe’s glasses and sense of style back then can in fact be slightly altered to fit the fashion trends of today and many still draw inspiration from her iconic fashion image. In order to style Marilyn Monroe’s glasses in a way that draws from her fashion image, you must embody the full essence of femininity. Monroe is always remembered as wearing fancier, feminine outfits with a complete face of makeup done and presented herself with a classy aura. Thus, if you are looking to embody the full look of Marilyn Monroe, the glasses would be the last structure in your piece that would make that statement. More than anything, Marilyn Monroe’s style was all about embracing your body type and being able to stick with the particular style that makes you the most comfortable and confident in who you are, as she famously says, “Your clothes should be tight enough to show you’re a woman, but loose enough to show you’re a lady.” She embodied and managed to balance the elements of class and sex appeal, something that many struggle to achieve today. On celebrities today, Marilyn Monroe’s glasses still make appearances in altered ways. Singer Katy Perry has been seen sporting the sparkling cat-eye glasses in casual outfits, and many others wear the frames according to their style, with or without jewels. As sunglasses are a staple for celebrities who need to hide from the paparazzi and the public, she wore hers in a way that always went with her style. Monroe showed how glasses did not have to just be an item that helps you to see, but also an item that can be worn at any occasion from casual to fancy.
How Marilyn Monroe’s glasses adjusted to her face shape
A classic beauty, Marilyn Monroe had a heart shaped face and wore makeup to accentuate her face in a way that she thought would be the most flattering. Marilyn Monroe’s glasses were also centered around flattering her face shape as well and she choose them according to her classic heart-shaped face. Because she had a broader forehead, she chose a style in which the frames were wider than the width of her face, namely cat-eye glasses. Marilyn Monroe’s glasses style also extends to a number of different sunglasses shapes that were focused on flattering her face shape as well and gave her that iconic image we remember today. Monroe can also be seen wearing glasses that are top heavy, in order to balance out her pointier chin. Wayfarers are one option that she wore for sunglasses because of their rounded out bottoms, but structured tops. This helped to draw attention away from the point of her chin. Monroe also helped to popularize the wayfarer style sunglasses and was often seen wearing them with more casual outfits, while her cat-eye frames were utilized for more sophisticated wear. She often styled these with head wraps and well composed outfits that were never less than what she wanted to express. Marilyn Monroe’s glasses always managed to fit with the occasion that called her to dress a certain way. Because she is known as one of the greatest sex symbols of our time, it is important to note that she styled her glasses in a way that appealed to this reputation. Marilyn Monroe’s glasses made her look more intellectual which contributed to her sex appeal and perhaps gave name to that “sexy librarian look” that some still try to achieve. She helped to instill confidence in women and men that frames should be worn with confidence and that they way they are seen is determined by how you wear them. Monroe believed in and promoted self-confidence when it came to style. As she says, “Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world.”