Marilyn Monroe’s True Size

Marilyn Monroe is undeniably one of the most famous women today, even though she passed away over 55 years ago. The mystery surrounding her death is still ever present in modern society. There is another mystery that’s also a constant topic of conversation and debate, and it’s one of those questions I’m asked in nearly every interview: “What was Marilyn Monroe’s true size?”

You can learn the truth in this article.  Please note, however, that every use of the term “plus sized” is in quotes because the term itself is derogatory and demeaning. (Have we ever heard the term “minus sized?”) #DropThePlus!  A woman’s size or weight doesn’t define her.  Be happy with who you are, and don’t look to others to set a standard for what’s beautiful and acceptable. 

Many people believe that Marilyn was a larger “plus sized” woman.  Even celebrities have chimed in on Marilyn’s weight and clothing size.

Marilyn-Monroe-Roseanne-Barr

Marilyn-Monroe-Elizabeth-Hurley

A quick Internet search pulls up countless articles focused on the topic of Marilyn’s size. People write about vanity sizing and claims of Marilyn’s measurements as reported by her dressmaker, (though the source of the dressmaker’s claim isn’t cited anywhere).

I’m going to shed some light on Marilyn’s TRUE physical size using seven items of clothing from her own personal wardrobe, which will finally close the debate on just how large (or in actuality, small) she really was.

Marilyn’s Measurements and Weight


Available documentation verifies Marilyn’s height and weight at several different times during her life, and her first modeling contract verifies her measurements:

Marilyn-Monroe-Hourglass-Figure

August 2, 1945
Blue Book Modeling Agency
5’ 6”, 120lbs
36-24-34
“Size 12”

February 8, 1954
DOD ID Card
5’ 5 1/2”, 118lbs

August 5, 1962
LA Coroner Medical Report
5’ 5 1/25”, 117lbs

 

While these documents suggest that her weight was a constant 117-120lbs, she was actually much heavier during the late 1950s, for example, the Some Like It Hot premiere on March 29, 1959 (below).  Some have speculated she weighed close to 140 lbs at this point.

SLIHMuffC2[1]

“The Hourglass”


Marilyn wasn’t like most women in that she had an extreme hourglass figure. Many modern size charts like the ones below don’t even reflect Marilyn’s physical dimensions.

In 1945, Marilyn’s dimensions were 36-24-34.  The red circle on the charts below demonstrate how her body was different.  Note the “X-Small” and “Medium” sizes.

Marilyn-Monroe-Size-Chart-1

Note that the “plus sized” chart in the second example doesn’t reflect Marilyn Monroe’s measurements for bust, waist and hips.  So much for Marilyn being “plus sized!”

Marilyn-Monroe-Size-Chart-3

Marilyn Monroe’s Clothing Tells the Truth


While some say Marilyn Monroe was a large “plus sized” woman, her personal clothing items tell a different story.  Below are several examples of Marilyn’s clothing worn at varying times in her life, displayed on a size 6-8 dress form, with measurements of 33.5″ (bust), 24.5″ (waist), and 34.5″ (hip).  With these images and video clips you can get an idea of her true size.  Most important, even at her heaviest weight in 1959, her waist still measured just 28.5 inches.

1951 – Marilyn’s Personal Leather Belt

Marilyn-Monroe-Leather-BeltThis belt measures 27 inches (on the outside of the belt) when fastened.  Of course, this doesn’t even take into account the layers of clothing Marilyn wears under the belt.  Marilyn is pictured wearing this belt at RKO Studios.

Marilyn-Monroe-Real-Size-Belt

1953 – Marilyn’s Personal Wool Skirt

This wool skirt is one of two that Marilyn owned.  She had one in gray and another in purple. Marilyn was known to buy the same item in multiple colors and this is an example of that. The photo below shows Marilyn wearing the purple skirt, which is exactly the same as this gray skirt.  No size is present on a tag inside.  When fastened, this skirt also measures 27 inches.  Again, this doesn’t account for layers of clothing.  The photo was taken during the filming of “River of No Return.”

Marilyn-Monroe-Real-Size-Skirt

1955 – Marilyn’s Personal Evening Cape

Marilyn-Monroe-CapeMarilyn Monroe’s silk evening cape, fashioned in a brocade pattern depicting roses and leaves, the interior lined in champagne-colored silk, worn to the 1955 premiere of “East of Eden” in New York City. This is a custom design, believed to have been made for Marilyn by George Nardiello.  This cape fits perfectly on this size 6-8 dress form.

1958 – Marilyn’s Personal Maternity Dress

Marilyn-Monroe-Maternity-DressThis red cotton button-down casual garment with a pattern of roosters and chickens was worn while Marilyn was pregnant in 1958 during and after the filming of “Some Like It Hot.” There is no size present inside the garment. The photos show how loosely the garment hangs on Marilyn, even while she’s pregnant. The seams at the shoulder measure 15 inches apart.

Marilyn-Monroe-Real-Size-Red-Dress

1959 – Marilyn’s Personal Cocktail Dress

Marilyn-Monroe-Black-Cocktail-DressMarilyn wore this black silk cocktail dress to a 1959 event honoring husband Arthur Miller. The dress was hand-tailored for Marilyn, and it’s one of a kind.  As it was handmade for Marilyn, this dress certainly provides an exact representation of Marilyn’s physical form.  At this point in her life, Marilyn was at her heaviest, with some speculating she weighed nearly 140lbs.  Even still, when displayed on the dress form, her waist measured an astonishing 28.5 inches.

Marilyn-Monroe-Real-Size-Black-Cocktail-Dress

The inside of the dress is shown below.Marilyn-Monroe-Real-Size-Cocktail-Dress-2

1961 – Marilyn’s Personal Overcoat

Marilyn-Monroe-Owned-OvercoatMarilyn wore this overcoat as she exited Polyclinic Hospital on July 11, 1961, following gallbladder surgery. Photos from that day show she has slimmed down and appears to be near her average weight. This coat hangs loosely around her shoulders as she exits the hospital and makes her way to a waiting limousine.

1962 – Marilyn’s Personal Pucci Blouse

Marilyn-Monroe-Pucci-BlouseFrom the 1999 Christie’s Auction, “The Personal Property of Marilyn Monroe,” Marilyn’s lime green Pucci blouse. The label in this blouse reads size 14. In footage and photos of Marilyn wearing this blouse, she appears to have lost even more weight, as she looks slimmer than she did in 1961 as she exited Polyclinic Hospital.

Marilyn-Monroe-Real-Size-Pucci-Blouse

Yes, you read it right, size 14. Marilyn Monroe in fact wore a size 14 blouse, but a 1962 size 14. Today, Marilyn’s clothing fits very well on a size 6-8 dress form, and this is where vanity sizing comes into play. Throughout the years, clothing sizes for women have decreased while the actual size of women has increased. To complicate matters even further, clothing brands today don’t follow a systematic approach to sizing. The chart below shows how different clothing lines use different measurements for sizes.  It’s practically impossible to know what size Marilyn Monroe would be today.Size-Variances-by-Brand

Marilyn Monroe Lifted Weights


Marilyn herself knew the importance of physical exercise. She owned her own weight set and she worked-out years before most people understood the benefits of staying fit and healthy.

Marilyn-Monroe-Personal-Weight-Set

Marilyn’s personal weight bench and weights.

Marilyn was also aware of the importance of her figure and staying in shape.   She’s known to have referenced her physical form in at least two separate interviews:

“I don’t want to be bone thin, and I make it a point to stay the way I want to be.”
Movieland Magazine
July, 1952

“The working men, I’ll go by and they’ll whistle. At first they whistle because they think, oh, it’s a girl. She’s got blond hair and she’s not out of shape, and then they say, “Gosh, it’s Marilyn Monroe!” And that has it’s, you know, those are times it’s nice.”
LIFE Magazine
July, 1962

While many believe that Marilyn Monroe was a “plus sized” woman, the fact is that’s just not true. Even during the late 1950s when she was at her heaviest, her custom made dress indicates her waist still measured a tiny 28.5 inches. She had an extreme hourglass figure.  The interesting part is that the hourglass may have varied over the years, but she was never obese.  Unfortunately, Elizabeth and Rosanne, Marilyn just wasn’t the “plus sized” woman you claimed she was.

2 thoughts on “Marilyn Monroe’s True Size

  1. People are idiots. Even seeing photographs and films she’s clearly not even remotely close to obese as classified by the BMI. The politics of virtuous ignorance has defeated intelligence I think. Poor Marilyn is no exception.

  2. This sizing issue drives me crazy . Elizabeth Hurley’s comment I thought was especially ignorant and hateful . I’m also wondering if she had eye trouble if she actually saw the clothes on the mannaquin. But, again is this the most important thing people worry about? Not the joy she gave , her psychological issues , the pills she was given like candy ,( keep the product going) ..
    If people want an actress who actually did become “plus “ look at Elizabeth Taylor, who did lose it ,but fluctuated often . A beautiful woman’s weight is a huge interest avd it’s sickening . Look at Denta Burke in 80s! Natural curiosity is one thing but people seem obsessed by weight of stars.
    I am 5”4 116/129 pounds. Usually 117 or so. I gave MS , so if I’ll abd on steroids I tend to gain , I can also get very sick abd get to 98lbs, ( look awful) I have a terrible time finding clothes, I am 37D 24 waist ( 23 before children and 35 hips. I wear anywhere from6-10 , even 12 depending on brand . I usually wear two piece outfits or make my clothes .. learned out if necessity and I like vintage look. Jeans are almost impossible to find .. an hour glass figure is hard to dress …
    The point I’m making is natural curiosity is one thing but I wish others ( not here ) would focus on her thirst for knowledge, her interest in civil rights, the awareness her death brought to pills, her acting , her love for animals and children . Not just make it about her body , even after death …
    Also , anyone can look at nude scene in Something’s Got To Give, she was in best shape ( physically) I mean figure as she was also ill with viruses and such during that time ..also the great photos George Barris took beginning on June 1,1962. He phototherapy and interviewed her over next 6 weeks. The book he wrote with her words and his and wonderful photos is called Marilyn,Her Life in Her Own Words.
    Thank you for wonderful site and article , and let’s allyry to watch out for our Marilyn , she deserves it..
    I know my childhood was rough , not financially , but therr was a stepfather … and a mother who wouldn’t leave the money .. I found Marilyn at 13, first book I read was Goddess by Anothony Sommers. ( great book) I then read everything else .. I learned so much from her , what not to do, how to go for my dreams , she was an inspiration for me as I’m sure for many others . I often think I would have been found overdosed if I wasn’t blessed with a great marriage and children . But , partly because of Marilyn I wasn’t ashamed to go for psychiatric help and get off the pills my mother started pushing on me at 12/13..
    Im going on and I’m sorry , but I wish so many people would realise she was so much more than a great body or a photo on a calendar .
    Thank you.
    Gena

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