This is an amazing summer dress from the film Niagara, that Marilyn’s character Rose wears on a supposedly romantic holiday with her husband. The story is great too, with a definite Hitchcockian feel to it. Marilyn gets to play a darker role and pulls it off with flying colours.
I needed help to draw up the pattern for this, and my Mum did an amazing job. I’m a hard taskmaster for accuracy! I’m not too keen on wearing hot pink, although the colour looks good on Marilyn with her bottle blonde hair. I chose a teal cotton, which I think looks better with dark hair and pale skin.
Niagara dress side
Niagara dress front
Niagara dress back
Unlike similar reproductions you Ind online I kept the skirt looser from the hips down by cutting it straight, and also putting the split at the back. As there are no pintucks at the front, the curve of the waist to hip was sewn in the side seam. The fastening is a front zip, with the gathers stitched in place.
For a smooth look, I sew bullet bra pads into the top. Marilyn didn’t need to do this, but I think it gives a better shape and makes me feel like I am wearing something underneath! This is a good trick for tops or dresses with cutouts in awkward places. Multilayer bras aren’t always hidden, and stick ons don’t give an authentic vintage silouette. You can buy these from What Katie Didin black or white.
Marilyn style sandals
Niagara tie front dress
The sandals have been the closest similar to the original photos as I have found so far. See more about these sandals here. I have accessorised with gold hoops and heart charm bangles. I think Marilyn’s bracelet is a chain with a single charm.
In the film, she accessorises with a pale, possibly white, floaty scarf and a white clutch.
I’ve worn this dress to, among other times, a summer wedding abroad and a surfer/ Hawaiian themed party. Red or hot pink go well with teal.
I hope to recreate some of her other outfits from this film in the future. The wool jackets are beautiful.
I recently had the chance to dress up for a weekend in Devon. I took my orange ‘Paris When it Sizzles’ Audrey Hepburn dress and a floaty peach dress. I also made a new dress with some vintage lace fabric.
Audrey Hepburn style dress
‘Paris When It Sizzles’ dress
Wearing with pearl clip on earrings from a vintage fair, Next kitten heels and underpinnings all from What Katie Did.
Seventies style pleated summer dress
With box jacket and gold heels
Worn with matching flower headband, coral chandelier earrings (matching No.7 nail polish), pink rose ring and belt from another dress. The box jacket is more Sixties but the colours go perfectly. I think the tailoring grounds all the floatiness! I’m wearing my gold Marilyn Monroe heels, from ‘Bus Stop’. I got these from Topshop.
White lace Sixties dress
As I don’t have a bob like Shirley Maclaine in ‘Gambit’, I wore my hair in a big bun instead of a beehive. I’m really pleased how this project turned out, even though I’m sure the original doesn’t have a zip up the back. I couldn’t see how to get my head through the mandarin collar without it! Worn with Marilyn style sandals from Dune, in place of white slingbacks, which I’m still hunting. See my Marilyn Monroe Sandals post for close-ups of them.
Watch the films and see what you think of the original dresses. I ‘researched’ these films to draw out my patterns and make the dresses. How did I do?
Translating Summer 2016 into vintage and retro styles.
I love this bucolic/ pastoral theme as it makes me think of the rare sunny days we get here in England. It brings back looks from history and inspiration can be found in literature and costume dramas. Imagine roaming the green hills and wild flower meadows.
Flowers in my hair and natural curls. Although I love the perfectly done look of the Fifties, I’ll always include some costume drama! It’s amazing how even vintage eras cross over, and the teddy girls of the Fifties and the costume films of the Sixties give a good mix of old and new.
Embroidered daisy headband – a gift
Black ribbon choker home-made
Mini dress worn as blouse – George at Asda
Gingham skirt – home-made (film reference The Assassination Bureau)
Buckle sandals – La Redoute
This dress is wonderful to wear, and is a typical Thirties style (watch Katherine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby). From the label I think this is a Seventies dress in the popular original Laura Ashley style.
Dress – eBay
Mini straw boater – check out my post on The Assassination Bureau
Parasol – Irish craft shop
Vintage earrings, and grosgrin ribbon tied at waist. All clothes La Redoute.
Red checked blouse made from a vintage pattern, and gingham skirt as before. Red gingham tie from another dress.
Embroidered cream waistcoat – H&M
Lace and pintuck detail skirt – Primark (altered to fit at waist and panel added along bottom to get length.)
Knitted waistcoat – from my childhood
Blue floral and crochet detail blouse – Dorothy Perkins
One of my favourite summer outfits, but not the most practical, being all white. Phantom of the Opera is one the references here. Blouse, skirt and Turkish slippers all La Redoute. Broderie Anglaise corset top from New Look.
I changed the plain buttons on the back of the blouse for some painted buttons. The printed fabric has been embroidered over in matching thread. I think it was from New Look. My Mum made the skirt. It’s cut double the width of the front, so it gathers into a bustle. Platforms from Matalan.
Frilly ankle socks with peep toe heels
Broderie Anglaise blouse and coral peep toe heels from La Redoute
Dress and socks – Matalan
Fifties style gingham and checks
Blouse – La Redoute
Belt – vintage
Skirt – made using an old skirt as a pattern
Wedges – Clarks
Lemon bag – Avon
Red cropped top – vintage
Gingham cropped trousers – made from vintage pattern in the style of Marilyn Monroe.
Translating Summer 2016 into vintage and retro styles. Let’s look at stripes.
Going for a nautical or school girl theme. References are Gigi going to school or Agatha Christie’s Poirot ‘Cat Among the Pigeons’ and Endeavour episode ‘Nocturne’.
Mini straw boater/ tilt or perch hat altered from a large boater. I explain how I did this in my ‘Assassination Bureau’ post.
Vintage white lace gloves
White peacoat style jacket – Matalan
Stripe dress and belt – La Redoute
Red Seamed stockings – What Katie Did
Cut out lace-up shoes – Clarks
Some Like it Hot and Thoroughly Modern Millie are great films set in the roaring Twenties. This dress is actually from the Eighties, but the drop waist and knee length lend itself nicely to the flapper style. I sometimes wear this dress with a Sixties twist, as both decades share similar styles.
Mauve straw hat (cloche) – Liz Claiborne
Earrings – Matalan
Dress – ebay vintage
Sandals – Avon
Instead of wearing the dress like a pinafore, I am wearing the blouse over the top, so it looks like it’s worn with a skirt. Tied at the waist, it gives definition without the need for a belt. The stripes are all vertical, and navy and white, but different thicknesses. The pinstripe on the shirt is so fine it blurs in the photo. I’m wearing a tulle skirt as a petticoat to give the skirt volume. For this shape and style, look at photos of Brigitte Bardot for inspiration.
Shirt & dress – Primark
Grey tulle skirt – Mademoiselle R from La Redoute
Black peep toe heels – George at Asda
There are some beautiful photos of Marilyn Monroe when she was married to Arthur Miller, wearing a blue and white tiered sundress. I was thrilled when I found this similar dress from Joe Browns.
I think the suede look A-line wrap skirt is a key look for the Sixties, as are block heels. They have both come round again, so it’s easy to find interpretations of these on the high street. Although my skirt is longer, it’s surprising to see photos of Marianne Faithful and Anita Pallenburg, both girlfriends of various Rolling Stones in more modest ensembles than the minis of the late Sixties and early Seventies. Jane Fonda wears a brown suede A-line in Barefoot in the Park, too. Check out my post on this film and her outfits.
Skirt – Gok Wan for Tu Sainsbury
Block heel sandals – La Redoute
Fifties style candy stripes
Fifties style beaded fascinator
I love these candy stripes. All I need is a retro diner! I made this blouse based on a photo of Marilyn Monroe wearing a similar shirt. It’s a pretty classic shape, so it works for different decades. Watching Miss Marple, especially the newer Marple episode ‘The Moving Finger’ with Emilia Fox, is great for Fifties inspiration. Her outfits are colourful and the overall look is striking.
Beaded fascinator/ hat – similar from Accesorize
Blouse – from vintage pattern
Skirt – ASOS
Petticoat (not seen) – Pinup Girl Clothing
Nude Seamed stockings and other underpinnings – What Katie Did
Mint stilettoes – Dune
Handbag – River Island ( like a Louis Vuitton bag with the metal V at the fastening, but in my price range)
I’ll write more on costume drama dressing in a post about this summer’s bucolic fashion theme.
Tunic worn as blouse – George at Asda
Vintage suede belt with hand painted wooden buckle
Stripe maxi skirt – La Redoute
Changing accessories can update a dress… from Jane Austen to the Sixties. My mum made this dress for me. Wearing it with a pink lipstick and blue eyeshadow, I still got Jane Austen related comments!
Breton stripes – Fifties or 80’s?
Art Deco or 80’s?
I’m not sure which decade I meant this to be, because I started with a Fifties look, but I think Alex Drake could wear this in Ashes to Ashes, set in the Eighties.
Breton stripe boat neck T-shirt – La Redoute
Pencil skirt and belt – Primark
Patterned jacket – La Redoute
Pointed striped kitten heels – Next
When summer comes round, I love to wear Victorian and Edwardian looking clothes. This blouse made by my aunty sneaks into the Stripes category. I always struggle to find a skirt to wear with this blouse, but I recently got this rust coloured skirt at a clothes swap. The lace peeking out is a vintage slip.
How are you wearing your stripes this summer? Any favourite themes?
I love going through Vogue and picking out the trends or photo shoots I like. Then I select pieces I already own that fit with the key themes. Firstly, wearing rainbow colours.
It’s amazing how colourful make-up in the Fifties could be, and magazine covers from that era are good references. I bravely tried coral lips and green eye shadow. I should have used more powder later in the day to even out my complexion. I know for next time.
Sunglasses – ‘Amy’ by Boots
Dress – Love Label
Shoes – H&M
Gloves – Vintage, and belt home-made .
Pink and yellow! The shapes are more early Sixties. Think Brigitte Bardot.
Earrings and crochet top – Vintage
Pink and yellow vest top – Joe Browns
Skirt – Mademoiselle R from La Redoute
Peep toe heels – George at Asda
This is a mix of eras! Thirties with the round sunglasses and wedges, and Fifties with the pencil skirt. I just need an Agatha Christie setting. I was given the shoes and they go so well with my new top.
Bracelets and possibly earings, top – H&M
Headband – Primark
Sunglasses and skirt – Topshop
Picking out the turquoise with my vintage earrings.
Floral blouse – Next (altered from a child’s playsuit)
Vest top – Joe Browns
Cardigan – hand knitted from a Rowan pattern
Skirt – home-made using an old favourite as the pattern
Shoes – Clarks
This looks a bit Debbie Harry with the paint print jeans and white heels, but I started with Marilyn Monroe as my inspiration! Hence, rolling my hair up into a Bob, and the Sixties make-up.
One of the dresses Marilyn Monroe wears in this film is a smart day dress in pale blue. You can find copies of this dress to buy online now, but when I watched the film and wanted the dress there weren’t any! With the help of my amazing mum, we worked out a pattern to make it.
Back: collar and buttons
The bottons are plastic covered with the fabric and also slighty padded. It’s comfortable to sit down in! The belt is made from the same fabric and I just used a pull through buckle. I starch the bows so they don’t droop. As you can see, the fabric creases, but they also fall out easily.
I have to use bra extander straps to lower the back of my What Katie Did bra, so I get a smooth line at the back without underwear showing, but keeping the vintage shape. My seamed stocking’s are also from WKD.
I’d love some triangle earrings like Vicky. The closest I’ve seen so far are some gold ones at H&M.
I was so happy when I found a dress like this. It had a tie neck, so I folded the straps back to make a wider band at the join and added two large old bronze poppers at the nape of the neck. I reinforced the cotton with some leather where the poppers were added.