Schedule your virtual analysis now, and you'll receive a free What Not To Wear guide.
It's a great tool for purging your closet. Consult it when you shop to remind yourself what to say No to.
|Truth is Beauty||
We often naturally gravitate toward the clothes that best suit us. So knowing what we should stay the heck away from may be even more useful than knowing what to seek out.
Schedule your virtual analysis now, and you'll receive a free What Not To Wear guide.
It's a great tool for purging your closet. Consult it when you shop to remind yourself what to say No to.
Last week I posted some suggestions for dressing casually when your style identity seems rather formal.
A Romantic Natural reader asks, "What about more casual style identities that need formal solutions?" She needs to manifest her style identity, which is inherently somewhat laid-back, in a more formal work environment. A lot of us find ourselves i a similar situation.
Let's start by assuming that we need to wear a suit or a suit equivalent. We can do this while still bringing in a lot of R and N. To do this, we'll choose a few options from the first list below, and a few from the second.
To add R elements to your basic office suit look:
- choose skirt suits that you buy as a set
- ...or if you go with a pants suit, make sure the slacks are fitted, tapered, and ankle-revealing
- try a lacy camisole under your blazer
- choose a blazer that emphasizes your waist and shows your wrists
- add chandelier earrings or an ornate necklace
- choose sexier shoes, with a tapering heel and perhaps a peep toe
- create an hourglass silhouette
- overall, go for items with feminine details, such as ruffles, lace, rounded edges, and gathers
To add N elements to your basic office suit look:
- create your "suit" look with separates
- choose straight-leg slacks
- choose a blazer that's straight through the waist, not fitted, and longer (hitting at the hips or upper thighs)
- accessorize minimally, with a simple, larger necklace or a simple pair of distinctive, larger earrings
- choose comfortable, simple shoes with a stacked or lower heel
- go for a loose, easy fit
- overall, choose items that have a more masculine appearance, with straight lines and very little detail
If you only do the first list, you'll be completely Romantic; if you only do the second list, you'll be completely Natural. So to read as Romantic Natural, combine a few elements from each.
(It's important to note: for this combo identity, and for every combo identity, your effect is not created by averaging the two identities or finding some middle ground. Your effect is instead created by combining elements of each of the core identities.)
A reader writes,
I loved your style calculator and found out that I am a Romantic-Classic-Ingenue. It fits me perfectly! But I am a stay at home mom with three small children and need to dress casually a lot of the time. I'm having a hard time finding casual looks that fit my current stage of life. Any ideas?
Gamine and Natural style identities and blends lend themselves easily to casual clothes; the others, not so much. But with a little creativity, you can dress comfortably while still projecting your style identity. Let's do this for Romantic-Classic-Ingenue:
I see bottoms as the biggest hurdle in adapting RCI to a casual look.
Romantic and Ingenue both call for dresses and skirts... but "casual" probably means dresses and skirts are out.
Let's assume we'll be wearing pants, then. That would probably be manifesting the Classic element, since Classics are better in pants than Rs and Is.
But, for a SAHM, slacks aren't practical either. S
o the key is choosing casual pants that are as Classic as possible: they should fit well, they should have straight legs, they shouldn't be particularly detailed, and they should be medium-weight.
If they're somewhat stiff and tailored, like khakis, that would be ideal . But if you absolutely must wear yoga pants, make sure they're heavier and as elegant-looking as you can find.
Alternately, tight pants that show the ankle would be R/I and could be quite comfortable. They should look cute and sexy, not boring; you could manifest the cuteness and sexiness with pattern and color.
If you are implementing C from the waist down, focus on R and I from the waist up. Try R shirts: emphasize your waist and show your cleavage, but in more in comfortable fabric.
Cs and Is both get simple flats, so go with those. Choose feminine colors and patterns.
Consider I earrings, since bigger R earrings might be impractical with kids. Accessorize as much as you practically can, to bring the feminine impact from the waist up.
Consider a headband (I) to keep your hair back, if it's straight. If you have curls, consider wearing them layered around your face. If you've managed to work in a lot of R or I in other parts of your ensemble, perhaps go with a simple chignon or low bun (C).
Patterns and prints would be an easy way to bring in C, R and I without sacrificing any comfort.
One of my missions is to make color and style analysis accessible to people at all income levels, in all locations.
Toward that end, I offer affordable home draping cards for color self-analysis, and the Style Identity Calculator for style self-analysis.
Most people find the color self-analysis pretty easy. But style self-analysis can be challenging for a woman who has absolutely no idea what looks good on her.
If you're that woman, Virtual Style Analysis is for you.
How it works:
With your answer, you will also receive the Visual Style Guide for your style identity.
The cost is $125. That's not cheap. But it's an investment. Over the long term, you'll save much more than that because you'll no longer buy clothes that are wrong for you. You will be off of the fashion merry-go-round. :-)
Click here to book your virtual style analysis.
Here are hairstyle ideas for the two-identity blends.
For each blend, the suggestions are jumping-off points. Use them as inspirations.
If you're a blend of three identities, try combining suggestions from the different two-ID blends that apply to you. For example, if you're a Romantic-Ethereal-Natural, take a look at suggestions for Romantic Ethereal, Romantic Natural, and Ethereal Natural.
Don't know your style identity? Try the Style Identity Calculator!
Romantic Ethereal: Aphrodite
Soft & flowing.
Fullness and height at the crown.
Long, luscious and full.
Low side pull-backs.
Touchable curls or waves.
Soft, sexy updos with lots of free curls.
Ethereal Dramatic: The Sorceress
Flowing but controlled.
Dramatic in length.
Low, sleek side pull-backs.
Striking winged effects.
Long blunt cuts.
Frozen waves or cascades.
Severe or sleek updos with side parts.
Ethereal Natural: The Earth Goddess.
Flowing & free.
Low, wispy ponytails.
Low side pull-backs.
Tousled or braided updos.
Loose, floaty braids.
Hair that's more narrow than full.
Diaphanous & tousled.
Long, cascading layers.
Ethereal Classic: The Delicate Sophisticate
Flowing but controlled.
Braided or "period" updos.
Low, neat side pull-backs.
A narrow hair silhouette.
Neat, elegant braids.
Neat bobs with some float or wisp.
Ethereal Gamine: The Sprite.
Spunky, diaphanous, floaty, boyish, tousled.
Short and wispy.
Cute or witty "period" looks.
Playful, unexpected braids.
Ethereal Ingenue: The Fairy.
Longer hair. Narrow, not wide.
High or low side pull-backs.
Long, wispy, low pigtails or pigtail braids.
Medium-length, gently cascading, sweet.
Innocent "period" looks, such as crown braids.
Center parts with curls or waves.
Mystical floral accessories.
Romantic Dramatic: The Femme Fatale
Dramatic in length or shape.
Touchable, but sleek and intense.
Sleek, oversized updos with rounded shapes.
Exaggerated height at the crown.
Sexy and striking.
Full, sculpted waves or curls.
Full, wavy blunt cuts.
Dramatic Natural: The Amazon Queen
Shaggy, extreme, intense.
Big and wild.
Key ideas: Dramatic Classic: The Art Critic
Avant-garde, but neat.
Face-framing and striking.
Dramatic, stiff updos.
Sculptural bobs and blunt cuts.
Every hair in place.
Dramatic Gamine: The Punk Rocker
Short and striking.
Spunky high ponytails.
Dramatic Ingenue: The Childlike Czarina
Simple, sculptural curls.
Modest and controlled, but striking.
Sleek or striking low pigtails.
Simple, sharp bobs.
Sleek center or side parts.
Sleek, high side pull-backs.
Striking floral accessories.
Romantic Natural: The Babe Next Door.
Medium to long, but with face-framing layers.
Waves or soft curls.
Asymmetry. Side parts.
Messy crown bumps.
Touchable, uncontained, uncomplicated, free & easy, tousled and full.
Sexy low ponytails with loose curls.
Romantic Classic: The Sexy Sophisticate.
Sexy but restrained.
Sideswept, curly updos.
Height at the crown.
Full but neat.
Soft, touchable bobs with curls or waves.
Romantic Gamine: The Firecracker.
Short but touchable.
Playful height at the crown.
Face-framing, with some tousle.
Sexy and spunky.
Full curls, waves, or playful ringlets.
Romantic Ingenue: The Demure Seductress.
Sweet, touchable, face-framing, styled, medium-long.
Center parts with full, sexy curls or waves.
Side parts with simpler, neater curls.
Soft, sexy bangs.
Gentle, high side pull-backs.
Sexy pigtails (high or low) or pigtail braids.
Larger feminine accessories, perhaps with sparkle.
Natural Classic: The Prep.
Simple, neat, medium-length, relaxed, face-framing.
Pulled back simply but not severely, perhaps with a little tousle.
Simple, loose updos.
Simple ponytails, low or straight back.
Simple, low-maintenance bobs with movement.
Natural Gamine: The Tomboy
Boyish and spunky.
Shorter, messy ponies or pigtails.
Short and tousled.
Natural Ingenue: The Outdoorsy Sweetheart
Relaxed, unstructured bangs.
Messy low pigtails; loose pigtail braids.
Simple ponytails with neat curls.
Casual high side pull-backs.
Center parts; tousled or mussed.
Layers of sweet curls.
Simple floral accessories, or simple ribbons.
Classic Gamine: The Prep Schooler.
Boyish, but neatly styled.
Simple, neat updos with bangs.
Neat, elegant pixies.
Face-framing, with just a bit of tousle.
Classic Ingenue: Nancy Drew.
Simple, neat bangs.
Precise center parts.
Precise, high side pull-backs.
Neat-as-a-pin pigtails (low or medium-height).
Longer simple, sweet bobs.
Modest, simple updos and buns.
Elegant, modest floral accessories.
Gamine Ingenue: The Girlish Mod.
Short, sweet, tousled.
Playful, short pigtails -- low or high.
High side pull-backs, perhaps with barrettes.
Cute floral accessories
I'm so excited to finally offer a tool that provides visual examples of how to wear your Style Identity!
The Style Identity Calculator helped you figure out your Style Identity.
But it can be difficult to know how to translate that Style ID into an ensemble each morning.
The new Visual Style Guides help solve that problem.
Each guide shows three different women dressed as your Style Identity. Annotations explain each element of the ensemble.
The guide is a one-page PDF, so you can print it and hang it in your dressing area, and also pull it up on your phone when you're shopping.
You deserve this!
(A thoughtful and affordable holiday gift idea: Analyze your loved ones with the Style Identity Calculator, and then surprise them with a Visual Style Guide.)
Let me back up a bit before I proceed: I believe every one of us is beautiful in exactly one of the 12 palettes of color identified by Kathryn Kalisz. I mostly believe this because I haven't yet failed to match a real-life person to a palette.
So, two big assumptions underlie this whole site: there is one right answer, and the right answer is knowable.
I also believe that experienced people with great eyes for color can pick the wrong answer sometimes. The analyst can get it wrong.
Things that might cause an analyst to make a mistake:
- Poor lighting.
- Dyed hair that isn't covered.
- Spray tans.
- Other colors in the room.
- The analyst's biases and assumptions.
- Your wishes and expectations., which the analyst senses.
So you've been analyzed, and perhaps now you're thinking the analyst got it wrong.
Reasons you might be thinking your season was diagnosed incorrectly:
1. It actually was diagnosed incorrectly.
That's the obvious reason, and it may be correct.
2. It's not the season you were hoping for.
3. You dislike closure.
4. The initial high from the analysis has worn off, and you think the absence of that feeling means your season is wrong.
5. You thought that when you found your correct season you'd finally feel right. You still don't feel right, so you assume your season must be wrong.
This last point, this is what I really want to write about. This is what I think often happens but is never discussed.
Perhaps this is your situation: Something feels wrong. Something's missing. You've felt that way for a long time.
And you've decided that when you know your correct season, you won't feel that way anymore.
Now you've been analyzed and told a season.
But you still feel wrong.
I want to suggest to you, as gently as I can, this:
Even if you're feeling this way, your analyst may be right about your coloring.
It may be that the feeling of wrongness is something that knowing your season can't erase.
Not to say that the analyst is always right. That's just impossible. Sometimes the analyst is wrong. That bears repeating.
What I'm saying instead is, don't assume that knowing your correct season will finally give you inner peace. It may not. (If only it did!)
And the lack of a feeling of peace is not conclusive evidence that the analyst got it wrong.
Sometimes, "trust your gut" is a great rule to follow. And sometimes it's not.
So, I've developed an outfit generator tool.
It's an Excel file and I believe it only works on PCs. I haven't tested it on a Mac.
It randomly generates one-sentence descriptions of possible separates and dresses for the Romantic-Dramatic-Classic Style ID.
What I'd like to know is,
-- Would such a tool be useful for you, in your own Style ID?
-- How much would you pay for such a tool?
If you're willing to give me some feedback, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will email you this tool. I'll take the first 25 inquiries.
The weather is getting colder and the days are getting shorter. If you're like me, you could use a little pick-me-up at this time of year.
The Head to Toe Special may be just the thing.
Throughout October, order the 12 Season Home Draping Cards and receive the Style ID Calculator for free!
Settle your colors and your lines once and for all, with one purchase.
You save more than 20%. Treat yourself!
The Head to Toe Special ends October 31st.
Says reader D.C.
She seeks help determining her season, and also wonders whether she should make her hair darker or lighter.
When a woman tells me she hates her natural color, I immediately suspect she's a muted season - i.e., a Summer or an Autumn. Those are the seasons whose colors are in-between, hard to describe, often nameless. We think with language; I believe we dislike in-between colors in ourselves because we don't have the language to conceptualize them.
Here's the thing: If you think your hair is "blah," chances are the rest of your coloring is similarly subtle and blended. Putting Crayola-colored hair next to your blended skin will only make you disappear.
Keep your hair as muted as your skin, and surround the whole vision with similarly quiet colors, and watch everything suddenly come into focus.
Your natural hair color flatters you more than anything that could come from a bottle, and its subtle beauty is always revealed when it's placed in the context of your best colors.
The Ethereal type embodies a variety of beauty that exists, but that most systems don't allow for: feminine beauty that's neither youthful nor sexual.
Some systems describe the Ethereal type as the most "yin" -- a synonym often used for "feminine." But I don't think that's accurate.
Physically, the Romantic type -- not the Ethereal -- most closely embodies a physical form with exaggeratedly estrogenized features. So Romantic, I think, comes closest to being the most feminine type. Romantic is certainly the most womanly type.
Ethereal beauty, like Ingenue beauty, reads as distinctly feminine but not overtly sexy. Ingenues are girlish and perpetually youthful, while Ethereals are at the other end of the spectrum: even at a young age, they have an air of great maturity and wisdom. You might use the word "ancient" to describe them, but in the sense that they seem to be old souls. It's easy to imagine that they've traveled here from a far-distant time.
Physically, Ethereals are defined first by the curving line, as all feminine types are. But their curving line is an elongated S or oval. Their faces tend to be long and gently sculpted. Their bodies also tend toward elongation and narrowness.
Ethereals look very much like themselves when they're looking into the distance, with a knowing half-smile or an air of distraction. One gets the impression they're actually looking inward, or seeing something others can't see.
Ethereals look gorgeous, not messy, with a wispy halo of hair. Not just the tousled hair that looks great on Naturals or Gamines; beautiful Ethereal hair can seem to float away from the body.
Faded-looking, subtly colored hair and skin read as Ethereal, for a few reasons:
- Subdued colors suggest age, since human coloring naturally fades with age. So muted coloring helps create the ancient or timeless quality that Ethereals have.
- As objects move farther away in our vision, they appear less saturated. So people of low saturation often have the Ethereal quality of seeming to retreat or fade into the distance.
- Misty coloring on an Ethereal contributes to the impression that she is a misty entity, only partially present on this plane.
Look at actors who have played magical beings or figures from myth or legend, and you'll likely see people with Ethereal qualities. Casting directors know how important appearance is in communicating a character's nature.
Ethereal beauty is aesthetically appealing but not erotically appealing. It's passionless. For this reason, Ethereal women are often the women that other women find beautiful but that some straight men find weird-looking. If a rude guy has ever looked over your shoulder at a fashion magazine and asked, "Is she supposed to be pretty?" you were probably looking at an Ethereal.
Ethereal beauty is often confused with Dramatic beauty, because it's unusual-looking, and rare, and because both types tend to have long faces and frames.
But Dramatic edges seem pointy, while Ethereal edges are gently rounded. And Dramatic energy is aggressive, even threatening, while Ethereal energy is peaceful. Dramatics look ready to attack; Ethereals look as if they can maintain Buddha-like calm even if they're punched in the nose. Dramatics feel like they're moving toward you and Ethereals feel like they're drifting away.
Ethereals are flattered by light-as-air fabrics, translucency, ornate detail, and anything suggesting flight, such as winged shapes or feathers. Ethereals look like themselves when they look as if they're clothed in clouds, mist, starlight, or moonbeams.
Romantic beauty is feminine beauty in its mature, womanly form.
It may be the easiest type of visual feminine to spot, because it's the kind of feminine beauty hetero men are most interested in -- so it's a beauty we often see portrayed in popular culture.
Other systems call this type Sensuous, Soft, or Alluring. They're beating around the bush.
The straight truth is this: Romantic beauty is sexy beauty.
I've thought for months about a better way to word this, because I have been afraid of coming across as objectifying Romantic women.
It goes without saying that Romantic women are no more or less sexual than any other women. But visually, they read as pure womanly sexuality.
Think about what happens to the female body at puberty. Push those changes to the extremes, and you're picturing a Romantic.
Romantic women tend to have small waists, ample hips, full breasts, soft arms and legs, delicate hands and feet, sensuous mouths, smoldering eyes, narrow jaws, large foreheads, and full hair. They are padded, curved, and delicate all over, with small bones, not much muscle, and plenty of adipose tissue.
Let's put aside that this is the embodiment of the hetero male fantasy. What's important is that it's the Romantic woman's reality. For that reason, and no other, we celebrate it.
[NSFW pics below...]
The fact that straight men idealize this beauty is neither here nor there.
It's beautiful because, for Romantic women, it is real.
Dark hair reads as Romantic because human hair naturally darkens with sexual maturity. (Just as light hair reads as youthful because prepubescent children tend to have lighter hair than adults.)
A flush in human skin is an indicator of sexual arousal. So palette-appropriate reds, which echo that flush, look perfect on Romantics.
Romantics look like themselves with half-closed eyes, a cocked eyebrow, and a knowing smile -- or no smile at all. This "come-hither" face is silly on pretty much everyone else, but on Romantics it's perfect. It looks wise and confident.
Red roses symbolize romance and sexuality, and a Romantic woman is like a red rose: beautiful, delicate, detailed, and composed entirely of curving lines.
So you're a Romantic, but you don't want to be defined by your sexy appearance. As a woman, I completely get that.
Realize, though, that if you dress in a way that doesn't reflect your softness and curves and delicacy, the result will be that you look less dignified.
Squeeze yourself into stiff, structured clothes that fit your skeleton, and all anyone will see is the most feminine parts of you:
This actually looks like your intention is for people to stare at your curves.
If you instead choose shapeless clothes with room for your bust and bottom, you'll look dumpy and unprepared.
Honor your Romantic beauty by choosing clothes as feminine and shapely as you are. That reads as dignified and self-aware.
If you know what looks good on you, but you don't know your style identity, try the Style Identity Calculator.
Ingenue beauty is often what you're seeing if someone is clearly "pretty," but you'd feel uncomfortable styling her in overtly sexy clothes because she just looks too darn sweet.
The curving line is the defining line of all the feminine types, but Ingenue's circles are small and restrained, rather than large and lush.
Ingenues look appropriate, not ridiculous, in girlish details such as small bows, tiny flowers, headbands, simple lockets, and puffed sleeves.
The Ingenue frame is petite. The Ingenue figure is identifiably feminine, but more trim than lush. Ingenue hands and feet are small and delicate. The Ingenue face is quite round, with a tiny, tapered chin, a small, pert nose, round, wide-set eyes, a large forehead, round cheeks, and plump lips. Ingenues often have naturally curly hair; if they don't they are still flattered by curls. Overall, an Ingenue reads as girlish.
By contrast, they look silly -- like a kid playing dress-up -- in anything "sexy" or womanly, such as elaborate jewelry or a plunging neckline..
And of course, Ingenues are no less sexual than any other people. It's just that visually, they read as girlish rather than womanly.
Eyes that appear very light relative to the overall coloring read as youthful, and therefore Ingenue (or Gamine).
Note that this signifier should be interpreted relative to the overall coloring. On a pink-skinned, yellow-haired person, deep blue eyes probably won't read as Ingenue. On a brown-skinned person with black hair, caramel or light brown eyes will read as youthful.
Ingenues appear authentic and relaxed with sincere, joyful smiles.
Ingenues often hear "pretty," "cute," "sweet," and "adorable." They're not perceived by strangers as intimidating, mysterious, tough, or intense.
This can be frustrating to an Ingenue with a more assertive, competitive, or no-nonsense personality.
If that's you, my advice is to take advantage of the element of surprise that your innocent appearance grants you. They won't see you coming. :-)
Before discussing Romantic, Ingenue, and Ethereal types in detail, I want to generally discuss what feminine means in the Style Identity system.
Let me start by being clear that feminine beauty is not the only type of beauty. Dramatics, Naturals, and Gamines all embody beauty that isn't traditionally feminine, but is powerful nonetheless. And Classics are beautiful with a femininity that is subtle and restrained.
Before continuing, I should also let you know that right after this paragraph is a picture of a sculpture of a naked woman. Art, as far as I'm concerned, but probably NSFW for some people.
Pause, pause, pause...
OK, let's dive in. :-)
Feminine Visual Beauty
When we look at another human, we perceive their physical characteristics and make a judgment about their gender almost instantaneously.
This is usually an unconscious process. When it's not unconscious and not immediate, it surprises us -- hence our fascination with androgynous people.
Humans are not as sexually dimorphic as many primates. Average visual differences between women and men are objectively small. A visitor from another planet might not notice the differences.
But we humans are exquisitely sensitive to them.
Which makes sense from an evolutionary perspective: if an animal can't easily tell who's a potential mate, that animal might not pass on her genes.
Here are many of the ways in which men and women, on average, visually differ.
Descriptors of the masculine and feminine style identities derive from these differences.
For example, because narrow-seeming eyes are more characteristic of men than of women, they characterize the masculine (or "yang") style identities.
Because narrow chins are more characteristic of women than of men, they characterize the feminine (or "yin") style identities.
And so on.
The curving line.
Perhaps the defining element of visual femininity -- what immediately and strongly reads as feminine -- is the curving line.
Curved lines read as feminine because, from head to toe, the average human female has more obvious curving lines than the average human male -- in the curved hip, in the breast, in the apparently rounder eye, in the apparently rounder face, in the fuller lip, and so on.
All of the feminine style identities are defined by curving lines.
But the type of curving line depends on the style identity. More on that soon.
Categorizing the visual feminine: Romantic is not the only type of feminine beauty.
The Romantic type, which is present in all style systems that I know of, is defined by lush, round curves and mature, womanly femininity.
In many systems, Romantic --also called Alluring, Sensuous, Soft, or Sexy -- is the only type of feminine beauty.
Systems who conceptualize Romantic as the only type of feminine beauty are flawed, though, because people can read as beautiful and distinctly feminine without reading as va-va-voom.
Romantic does seem to be the variety of feminine beauty that men mainly notice -- which might explain why it's the only kind of visual feminine in some systems created by men.
But I agree with John Kitchener and others who believe that visual femininity can be fairly divided into three subcategories.
Romantic, Ingenue, and Ethereal.
All people who are discernibly female have some amount of Romantic, Ethereal, or Ingenue. These are the the three feminine style identities.
A woman without any amount of any of these would appear as a man, or completely androgynous.
If someone visually reads as distinctly feminine, you're seeing a rather large portion of Ingenue, Romantic, or Ethereal.
But which is it?
My next posts will be more detailed individual explorations of Romantics, Ingenues, and Ethereals, in that order.
I know many of you are like
The good news is, they're already partially drafted. :-))
A fun way to gauge your relative amounts of masculine beauty (Dramatic, Natural, and Gamine) and feminine beauty (Romantic, Ingenue, Ethereal) is to determine whether you'd be convincing in drag.
If you're a woman, could you pass as a man? If you're a man, could you pass as a woman?
Here, Glenn Close is pulling it off pretty well. There's no question she has a lot of Natural or Dramatic.
Hillary Swank -- Another beautiful woman with a lot of Natural or Dramatic.
Not even a Photoshopped beard can make Salma Hayek look masculine, though. She has too much Romantic.
Here's a man, Cillian Murphy, who makes a gorgeous woman. He's got a ton of Romantic or Ethereal.
Lee Pace has a lot of Ingenue, I'm thinking? Very believable.
Liev Schreiber, not so much. I'm thinking he's mostly Natural with some Classic and Gamine.
I want to introduce the seven pure style identities by starting with Dramatics.
People whose style identity is purely Dramatic create an overall visual impression of dignity, intensity, and theatricality.
They may remind us of big cats, or birds of prey.
The physical features in a woman that tend to create this impression include:
But don't get wrapped up in trying to figure out the style essence of each discrete body part.
In other words, it's not about whether or not your nose is Dramatic.
It's about whether your overall impression - the gestalt of your parts and manner - is unusual, intense, and even intimidating.
Dramatic energy is generally called "yang" energy. Belle Northrup originated this use in the 1930s, I suspect because she sensed women wouldn't want to identify with an energy described as "masculine."
But can we get real here and cut the euphemisms for a moment?
Dramatic women look masculine.
And they are stunning.
Dramatics look good in sharp-edged, man-tailored clothes because those clothes repeat the stunning masculine beauty of the physical appearance.
Now, Dramatic woman, this doesn't mean that your personality is masculine or theatrical or intense. The idea that appearance = personality is bull***.
Inside, you might be a wallflower, or a fairy princess, or a clown.
When there's a contrast between the truth of your exterior and the truth of your interior, the contradiction just makes getting to know you even more delightful.
* * * *
If you're a Dramatic, you probably look great with your hair pulled back severely from your incredible face.
If you're a Dramatic, you probably look great when you're not smiling.
If you're a Dramatic, we can probably see your cheekbones even when you're not smiling.
Pure Dramatics don't look innocent.
Pure Dramatics don't look traditionally sexy, though they are gorgeous. Their eyes don't say "Come hither;" they say "Watch out."
Pure Dramatics don't come across as approachable. (Though they might be the sweetest people you'll ever meet.)
Pure Dramatics are, by all accounts, rare. Please let me know if you can think of some.
Classics are so interesting to me.
If you're like me, you are accustomed to thinking about beautification as a process of adding things.
Add accessories, add makeup, add costume, add scenery, add hairstyle.
But Classics become more beautiful the more you remove.
Diane Kruger. The less detail she has near her face, the more beauty we see.
Classic beauty exists in the seemingly perfect balance and symmetry of the form and features. In a Classic face, no one feature jumps out. The nose, eyes, mouth, chin, and forehead aren't remarkably large, or remarkably small, or noticeably close together, or noticeably far apart.
Imagine you're a schoolyard bully: what nickname could you make up for that face? If you can't think of anything, you're likely looking at a Classic.
That impression of perfection can only be created when the form and features are all we see.
Add details to the image, and the perfection becomes harder to discern. The Classic fades into the background. She becomes merely pretty, or even boring-looking.
Classics can become visually forgettable if the chiseled perfection of their features is not highlighted by simple, carefully sculpted hair and the removal of all extraneous details.
Classic clothes are boring on everyone but a Classic. And attire that would be interesting on someone else overwhelms a Classic.
When people ask "Am I pulling this off?", they may be asking, "Are my features as complicated as this item I'm wearing?"
The answer to a Classic is usually "No."
If you're a Classic, you may have grown up hearing you were "pretty" - as opposed to cute, adorable, stunning, gorgeous or handsome.
In your self-critical moments, you may have seen yourself as plain or boring.
But would you call this ring boring?
A solitaire diamond engagement ring is a good metaphor for a Classic. The jewel's perfection is front and center when the setting is simple.
As a Classic, your seeming perfection will blow people away, if you allow it to be seen by keeping all of your lines simple and controlled.
All of the strategy of dressing faithfully to your Style Identity boils down to one idea: creating context for yourself.
The clothes and hair that you put on are your portable context.
When you choose clothing and hair that are congruent with your physical self, your physical self makes visual sense.
That's our goal here: to present ourselves in a way that says "I am real. My existence makes sense."
When we surround our physical selves with incompatible context, our physical selves don't make sense.
And we're signaling to anyone who looks, "I deny the reality of me."
If you compress soft, bountiful flesh into hard, unyielding fabric forms, you deny the reality of that soft flesh. (So, Romantics, no tailored suits in stiff fabrics.)
If you bind wide, muscular frames with constricting styles, you deny the reality of those big muscles and bones. (So, Naturals, no pencil skirts.)
If you surround a face and form that's perfect in its balance and simplicity with extravagant and outsize detail, you deny the reality of the simple perfection. (So, Classics, don't gild the lily.)
An adult who seems always to have a youthful or childlike quality, regardless of age, likely has a strong dose of Ingenue or Gamine.
Big eyes, a large forehead, a round face, and a short, straight body all help to create an impression of youthfulness.
One way to think about the seven style identities is to think about the words we use to describe the type of attractiveness each identity embodies.
Which isn't to say Gamines aren't incredibly attractive. They are incredibly attractive. Women who have a "yang" or masculine quality to their beauty are no less attractive than their more "yin" counterparts. They only appear unlovely when they're placed in a clothing context that's more traditionally feminine than they are.
You can see the boyish quality of a Gamine in the following ways:
Which isn't to say that Gamines need little detail. They look great with a lot of detail in the clothing -- pockets, buttons, cuffs, etc. But the jewelry is best when it's minimal. A lot of jewelry = girlish, and girlish context around a Gamine will make her look masculine.
The effect of clothing context on our apparent masculinity or femininity is analogous to the effect of color on our skin.
The apparent color of your skin changes, for better or worse, depending on what color is next to it. That's because of simultaneous contrast.
And the apparent qualities of your face and figure, including the apparent masculinity or femininity, change depending on the context that surrounds it.
If almost everything in the frame reads as boyish, then the viewer mainly notices what's not boyish - and so the Gamine's feminine qualities actually stand out more.
The more boyish the context, the more beautiful Gamines look.
Surround them with traditionally female decoration like long locks, ruffles, and lavish jewelry, and they become less lovely.
Both Classics and Gamines need well-tailored clothes. Classics look their best with very little detail, and Gamines look their best without a lot of feminine frill. How do we tell them apart?
For one, Classics literally need every hair in place, while Gamine hair looks better with some tousle.
(Tousle suggests motion in the hair. Details that makes us think of movement -- such as zigzag lines, nautical themes, running shoes -- are generally good on Gamines. That comes from the boyish quality. When think of boys, we think of bodies in motion.)
Classic or Gamine?
Both Classics and Gamines look good in fitted, tailored pieces. But the overall Classic vibe is elegant and ladylike, while the overall Gamine vibe is spunky and playful. A Classic isn't her best in sneakers, rolled-up jeans and a striped sweater. A Gamine isn't great in a sweater set, pearls and high heels.
And Classics are particularly lovely in their palette's neutrals and understated colors, while Gamines are particularly lovely in highly contrasting color combinations from their palette. (Again, it's about an impression of movement. Neutrals feel still; contrasting colors feel energetic.)
Gamines (and Ingenues) are tiny, right?
I haven't talked a lot about height as a prerequisite for Gamine identity. Gamines and Ingenues are characterized mainly by their small stature -- right?
What I've come to believe is that the Gamine and Ingenue quality of petiteness is more about impression than reality.
Isn't it surprising to learn that Audrey Hepburn, practically the definition of Gamine, was 5' 7"? She looks little.
Big eyes, high foreheads, round heads, slender necks, and heads that look large relative to the size of the body are characteristics of children. So these features read as youthful.
Dress a person with these features in similarly youthful clothes, and it will look right.
Leonardo DiCaprio is 5'11". (Some sources say 6'.) But that baby face looks better in a bowtie, the Gamine man's iconic dress accessory, than in a standard necktie.
So if you're petite, certainly consider Gamine and Ingenue first. For some reason that I don't understand, petite people seem often to have the features I described above.
But don't assume Gamine (or Ingenue) based solely on small stature, and don't rule it out just because you're not petite.
Of the seven pure style identities, I believe Natural is the most common type - but perhaps the hardest to define.
The other types are exceptional by definition:
Dramatic are exceptionally imposing.
Romantics are exceptionally sexy.
Ethereals are exceptionally otherworldly.
Gamines and Ingenues stand out because of their seemingly eternal youthfulness and their small stature.
And Classics are unusually symmetrical and balanced.
Naturals, by contrast, are mostly defined by what they are not.
They are not visually extreme in any regard. Not extremely imposing, not extremely small, not extremely sexy, not extremely alien.
Naturals are just that - humans in their typical, average, natural state.
If Naturals get a superlative, it has to be "most friendly-looking." Even Natural supermodels look nice!
Naturals create an overall visual impression of being friendly, sturdy, and ordinary.
The attributes in a woman that tend to create this impression include:
Wait - go back a minute. Did she just call Naturals ordinary-looking?
Well, I did.
The ordinariness, the average-ness, is what makes them so appealing.
They feel familiar. We relate to them. We expect them to welcome us as fellow ordinary people.
Of course, since appearance =/= personality, a friendly-looking Natural may secretly be a right royal b****.
But that's part of the fun, isn't it?
If you're a Natural whose guileless exterior belies a devilish interior, you're twice as fascinating.
Regardless of whether or not you're the girl-next-door that you appear to be, your Natural form will be most flattered by Natural clothes: simple lines, comfortable fits, textured fabrics, functional accessories, and an overall informal vibe.
Natural or Dramatic?
Naturals can be confused with Dramatics. Both types can appear somewhat masculine. ("Yang," other writers say, but I'm trying to eschew those euphemisms.)
To distinguish between a Dramatic and a Natural, you might ask, "Does this face look friendly or threatening?"
Natural or Classic?
A Natural's ordinariness may cause her to be confused with a Classic.
An important difference between a Natural and a Classic is that Classics present an idealized version of the human average: moderate and balanced in every single dimension, without any asymmetry.
Naturals present the actual human average, which comes with asymmetries and lumps and bumps.
A test: Look at a person and imagine a cartoonist's caricature. If that's hard to do, you might be looking at a Classic. It's hard to caricature a Classic because nothing sticks out. But Naturals have plenty that sticks out.
This is why Naturals feel accessible and Classics feel aloof: Classics are so balanced that it feels almost inhuman. Naturals' "imbalances" are entirely human.
I've given copies of the tool to about a hundred people. I'm not giving away any more at this point; I need to take a day or two to read all of the excellent feedback I've received and use it to improve the tool.
I know a lot of people still want it! The good news is, I currently intend to offer it at a price point that most of you will find very reasonable.
I have been attempting to flesh out definable archetypes for three-way style identities.
Initially, I thought it would be impossible. But I'm actually finding it very doable.
For example, I'm thinking of Romantic-Ethereal-Classic as "Elegant Aphrodite."
Other examples of three-way combo archetypes in progress:
Romantic-Natural-Classic = "Alluring L.L. Bean."
Dramatic-Gamine-Ingenue = "Girlish Punk Rocker."
Classic-Gamine-Ingenue = "Darling Prep Schooler, a.k.a. Cher from 'Clueless.' "
My Pinterest boards for each three-way combo are still secret, but I aim to make them public soon. When I do, I'll add info about the trifold combos to this site.
In total, we'll have 63 style identity options:
7 pure essences + 21 doubles + 35 triples.
Do you have ideas about particular three-essence archetypes? Share them in the comments!
Edited to add:
I've made all of the above-mentioned Pinterest boards public. You can see them here:
This is an excellent tool if you already know what looks good on you, but you don't know how that translates into a coherent Style ID.
It's also great for analyzing friends, family, and celebs.
To use it, you'll need internet access and a PC with Microsoft Excel.
The Style ID Calculator was fantastic! Turns out I'm a Natural-Ingénue-Classic. - R.G.
If you've been wanting to buy home draping cards, seasonal color cards, or a seasonal makeup list, but don't have Paypal, now's your chance! Truth is Beauty is now accepting credit cards.
Need a last-minute gift? A long-distance gift? A little treat for yourself to relieve holiday stress?
Get a Truth is Beauty makeup list now for only $10.
Sale ends 12/25.
Happy holidays from Truth is Beauty!
I'm excited to now offer full seasonal color card sets!
For $40 - half the price of other color-accurate swatchbooks - you'll receive 40 very big color cards.
Each individual color is four inches by eight inches - or larger! Vastly larger than the 1 square inch of color you find in most swatchbooks.
The huge size lets you experience the full effect of each color in your own mirror, without having to buy a single shirt.
These enormous swatches definitely aren't for your back pocket. Keep them in a binder or folder.