Marilyn Monroe wasn’t the most physically beautiful woman, but what she did possess she knew how to present to her best advantage.
Marilyn was an intelligent person who was very perceptive of how she looked to others and seemed to have a sixth sense for where cameras were in relation to her. She’d always pose herself in the most flattering manner while looking as natural as possible.
There are at least a handful of candid photos where Marilyn was aware that someone was attempting to photograph her from what she felt was a bad angle and she’d place her fingers to the tip of her nose to hide a perceived imperfection.
There was also the matter of her makeup. Allegedly, she carried a large chest full of different kinds of makeup. She had learned a great deal about makeup from not only her years of modeling, but also from the makeup artists who taught her what colors were flattering and how to apply everything to look great depending on the situation she was going into.
Out of makeup and without her hair being done up, people were always surprised at how ordinary she actually looked.
There is a possibly apocryphal story about her being out of makeup in everyday clothes and sunglasses with a friend. He had stopped for fuel at a gas station and one of the attendants asked if she was Marilyn Monroe. She told him no as she didn’t want to draw attention since she wasn’t made up.
He then told her that he’d made a bet with another attendant that she was Marilyn but would have to pay up if he was wrong. She was embarrassed to see him fishing out his wallet to pay his co-worker as her friend started to pull away and she made him turn around to go back. She took off her sunglasses, pulled off her kerchief and smiled radiantly in the direction of both men, admitting she was indeed Marilyn. She also made them promise not to bet money based on her and asked them to keep her visit quiet.
Overall, Marilyn Monroe was a sponge when it came to learning everything possible about makeup, posture, clothing and many other things that she could work on to present herself at her best. She always befriended beauticians and makeup artists as they always had good advice for her. Her early years as a model/starlet had taught her how to walk, stand and how to smile correctly as well as moving in relation to a camera and lighting.
In short, she wasn’t the most beautiful woman who ever lived, but she had presence due to her uncanny ability to project her best side to anyone looking.