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TikTok star and internet personality Jasmine Chiswell may be the spitting image of Marilyn Monroe, but she didn’t start out planning to emulate one of Hollywood’s most iconic celebrities.
Chiswell, who grew up in Scotland, was drawn to old Hollywood and vintage fashion at a young age. “What first attracted me to dressing vintage, it was really just the old Hollywood actors and watching old movies with my grandma,” Chiswell tells Yahoo Life. “I was like, ‘Wow, they look like princesses. I would love just to dress that way.’ And at the time I was really insecure.”
She shares she had doubts about dressing in vintage clothing every day because “it's not what everybody dresses like,” Chiswell says. “And then one day I was like, ‘Okay, I'm going to just do it,’ and I've just absolutely loved it ever since.”
However, Chiswell admits that dressing vintage in modern day society wasn’t always easy. “I'm not going to lie — the first time I wore it, I opened my car door and I was going to get out, and then someone stared [at me] and I ran back,” she says. “It took me some time to build the confidence to dress vintage outside of my house. And then I was like, ‘Do you know what? This is the way I want to dress and I have to just build my confidence up and just do it.”
Most of the clothes in Chiswell’s closet are authentic vintage, including dresses and pencil skirts from the 1950s, which she found on eBay and Etsy, as well as at swap meets and vintage stores. “I love going to vintage stores,” she says.
Chiswell, who has more than 11 million followers on TikTok and more than 700k followers on Instagram, didn’t set out to look like Monroe, however. Although she says, “I've always loved Marilyn Monroe," Chiswell explains that "I didn't go in with the intention of dressing or looking like Marilyn Monroe at all. I just wanted to dress that way and how the old Hollywood actresses would dress — and that's kind of where it started. I think after a while, I noticed a lot of people were saying to me, ‘Oh my goodness, you look so much like Marilyn Monroe,’ and it kind of just started from there.”
It was Monroe’s pencil skirts and dresses that really spoke to Chiswell at first and made her think, “I really want to dress and wear those every day,” Chiswell says, adding: “She had amazing style.”
Even Chiswell’s house has a connection to Monroe. When she and her husband Maverick McNeilly were checking out old Hollywood homes, they went to see one of the star’s former houses — the one Monroe had lived in while married to Joe DiMaggio — and realized it was for sale. “We absolutely fell in love with it,” says Chiswell. So the couple bought the house. “It's just been like a dream come true,” she says.
Over time, Chiswell has honed her vintage look, but fashion-wise, the 1950s era is a particular favorite of hers. “I think it was the glamour that came with the 50s,” she says. “I loved just the fashion,” including pencil dresses and red lipstick. “I love red lipstick, and I always wanted to be able to wear red lipstick when I was younger,” Chiswell says. “I just didn't have the confidence to do so.”
Once she gained that confidence, Chiswell started collecting different red lipsticks. Her favorite one, though, is Parisian Red by Bobbi Brown. “That was always my go-to if I'm going out somewhere — that's my favorite red,” she says. “It's like an orangey red.” Or she reaches for a red lip liner from MAC Cosmetics, which she blends with some gloss.
While finding the right red lipstick was relatively easy, getting her vintage hair just right was a real challenge. “I tried to curl it and it just went straight,” she recalls. “I tried everything and it just didn't work.” So she watched YouTube videos “just to see how they would do their hair and none of them actually worked for me.” Chiswell ended up finding a vintage pin curling guide and “for some reason, it just works.”
To pin curl her hair, Chiswell rolls it up one section at a time and then secures it in place with bobby pins. She sleeps with her hair pinned at night and then removes the bobby pins in the morning. “Surprisingly, it doesn't take that long — it's like 15 minutes at night and then like five minutes in the morning and then that's it,” she says. "[It's] a lot of hairspray and no heat.”
But that’s not the only retro-related challenge Chiswell has faced: She recently announced to her followers on her YouTube channel that she is pregnant, and tells Yahoo Life that it hasn’t been easy to wear her beloved vintage clothes because they’re closely tailored to the body and there’s “no stretch.” So she’s taken to wearing more dresses, including modern day ones with a vintage feel, to accommodate her growing baby bump.
While she plans to share her love of vintage clothes with her baby, Chiswell adds that “obviously, once they get older, I'll let them dress whatever way that they want to dress. I'm not going to force them into dressing vintage.”
As Chiswell says: “I always say that if you want to dress any way you want, just do it and just be who you are.”
Video produced by Stacy Jackman.
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