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A History of Style: Fashion Inspired by Marlene Dietrich


Marlene Dietrich

When you think of a fashion icon from the past, who is the first person that comes to mind? Marilyn MonroeAudrey HepburnEdie Sedgwick, perhaps? While all three of those women have enviable styles that we absolutely love, there are so many other fashionable women that have graced the history pages.

This biweekly column focuses on just that: unexpected and out-of-the-box fashion icons from the past. We feature women who have not only made an impact, but also have distinct signature styles that we can still draw inspiration from today.

If you haven’t seen them already, be sure to check out our other “A History of Style” posts on Amelia EarhartBillie HolidayJoan JettLouise BrooksDorothy DandridgeElizabeth TaylorEdith HeadMary Tyler MooreSylvia Plath and Edith Bouvier Beale.

This week we’ll be taking a closer look at actress Marlene Dietrich‘s androgynous, yet glam style. Read on to learn more about Marlene’s life and unique style, then check out some outfit ideas to help you channel her look for yourself:

Marlene Dietrich Style 1

5 Facts About Marlene Dietrich

  • Marlene was born Marie Magdalene Dietrich on December 27, 1901 in Berlin, Germany.
  • She began acting in the early 1920s, but didn’t gain huge success until her role in the 1930 film, Blue Angel. After that, Marlene was offered a contract with Paramount Studios and she immediately relocated to Hollywood. Marlene was one of the most famous actresses of this period and perhaps the century – in 1999, the American Film Institute named her the ninth greatest female star of all time.
  • Marlene became an American citizen in 1939 and was also well-known for her staunch support of the troops during World War II. She was one of the first celebrities to raise war bonds and even performed for the Allied troops on the front lines.
  • From the early 1950s through the mid-1970s, Marlene worked primarily as a cabaret artist, traveling to major cities and performing song and dance routines. During this time period, she also appeared in several films and had a brief stint on Broadway.
  • Marlene passed away in 1992, but her legacy and iconic style still live on today. In fact, during this past fashion week, Marlene served as the muse for several designers’ Fall 2012 collections, including Jason Wu and Peter Som.

Marlene Dietrich Style 2

 Marlene’s Style 101

  • Androgyny. The most famous aspect of Marlene’s style is her penchant for menswear. She wore masculine three-piece suits to create a distinctly androgynous look that helped to revolutionize and redefine women’s fashion. In fact, during the 1930s, she (along with Katharine Hepburn) helped to popularize and make pants acceptable for women to wear. Thanks, gals!
  • Glamour Girl. Although she loved menswear, Marlene didn’t wear suits 24/7 – she also had a fondness for all things luxe. She wore pencil skirts, form-fitting dresses and silky blouses for a sultry look that exuded Old Hollywood glamour.
  • Hats off. No matter what she was wearing, Marlene usually topped her outfits off with a chic hat. Whether it was a cloche, fedora, beret or top hat, Marlene rocked each one with confidence and ease. Mimic her look for yourself by finding a modern-day interpretation of one of her caps for a stylish aesthetic.

Outfits for Inspiration

Outfit #1

Marlene Dietrich Inspired Outfit 1
Product Info: Romper- ModCloth, Blazer- H&M, Hat- ASOS, Clutch- Dorothy Perkins, Oxfords- ASOS, Earrings- Madewell

Outfit #2

Marlene Dietrich Inspired Outfit 2
Product Info: Hat- American Apparel, Blouse- Anthropologie, Watch- ASOS, Skirt- Dorothy Perkins, Loafers- American Eagle Outfitters, Bracelets- ASOS

Outfit #3

Marlene Dietrich Inspired Outfit 3
Product Info: Blouse- Topshop, Hat- Forever 21, Necklace- Miss Selfridge, Ring- Charm & Chain, Trousers- H&M, Shoes- Endless, Satchel- ModCloth

What do you think?

Do you find Marlene’s style inspiring? What do you think of her look? Would you wear any of these outfits? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below!

Posted on on February 19, 2012 / Filed Under: Inspiration / Tags: , , , , , , ,

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15 Responses to “A History of Style: Fashion Inspired by Marlene Dietrich”

  1. 1
    February 19th, 2012 at 11:51 am

    A woman who wears a hat is my kind of woman!

  2. 2
    February 19th, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    I really admire Marlene Dietrich’s whole look, so confident, so stylish, so empowered. I wish there more of this kind of style amongst younger Hollywood icons.

  3. 3
    February 19th, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Great post, Ashley! Marlene Dietrich has always been an inspiration to me, so I love the sample outfits you put together.

  4. 4
    February 19th, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Love her look! I love every outfit and would wear them all but #1s my favorite!! :) Great post!

  5. 5
    February 19th, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Wow! She’s beautiful

  6. 6
    February 19th, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    loove her style!! amazing outfit propositions!!

  7. 7
    February 19th, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    I love how she managed integrate hats into her outfits! Her style is the perfect balance between androgynous and feminine. Love outfit 2!

  8. 8
    February 19th, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    Love all three outfits! Particularly the blouse from the second one. Oh! And the hat from the first one. Not really a “hat person”, but maybe I should try it out. Dietrich looks so stylish! Defiantly an inspiration.

  9. 9
    February 19th, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Definitely** Autocowrecks.

  10. 10
    February 21st, 2012 at 9:23 pm

    Love this post! Oh, and I love that you put more detailed product info at the bottom of the screen…

  11. 11
    February 23rd, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    I love every single outfit- such an inspiration! I definitely want to incorporate this look into my own

  12. 12
    February 27th, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    One of my favorite posts yet; such beautiful outfit ideas. Thank you.

  13. 13
    January 17th, 2014 at 5:48 am

    Love al the outfits. is there any more ideas?

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