Scarlett Johansson, Renee Zellweger, Cynthia Erivo, Florence Pugh -- what did you think of their Oscar looks? Here, I share my thoughts about their color and style choices.
I made a video!
Watch as I evaluate different outfits and talk through the process I use to decide whether they are appropriate for Gamine style blends.
I'm looking forward to making more videos in the future!
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 small nose, and a round or square face all help to create an impression of youthfulness.
One way to think about the seven style types is to think about the words we use to describe the type of beauty 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 stereotypically 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 reads as feminine, and feminine 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.
(Dramatic color contrast feels serious or intense, not playful; playful color contrast is Gamine. The difference here is sometimes just the size of the color blocks. The lines of the overall garment can push the effect one way or the other -- intense or playful -- as well.)
Any head-to-toe monochromatic look generally reads as Dramatic.
A monochromatic look in one of your palette neutrals will feel particularly intense.
Even if you're a Light Season or a Soft Season, color blocking and monochromatic schemes will look Dramatic on you. The colors have their effect relative to each other and to your skin tone. :-)
Are you a Dramatic or a Dramatic blend? How have you combined your palette with your style type? Please share in the comments!
You'll want to do a Google image search, of course. Here are some specific search strings I suggest you use to find visual inspiration for your style type's best hair. I use some search operators in my search strings, such as - and OR , so try pasting the exact search string.
(Google recently removed some of its most helpful image search tools, such as the ability to get only faces as search results. To get this and other tools back, do an advanced image search here. )
hair glamorous long -wig -extensions
(The minus signs tell Google terms to exclude. If you're doing an advanced search, you can just type "wig" and "extensions" into the field for words you want to exclude.)
Other Romantic keywords to try: curls full sexy
hair neat curls medium "little girl" -frizz -wild
(I know it may seem odd, as an adult Ingenue, to search for pictures of little girls as hair inspiration. But many of the best pics online of Ingenue hair are pics of little girls.)
hair mature medium
Also, this one works well:
hair tv anchor
Other Classic keywords to try: elegant coiffed "first lady"
hair long layers shag OR wild
Other Natural keywords to try: natural mane messy
hair short boyish
You may have noticed that these search results are mostly white ladies. :-/ That's obviously not helpful if you're a WOC with a specific hair texture! If you want hair styles specifically for women of color with specific hair textures, try adding, for example, "african american" or "asian" to your search string.
If you're a blend of two or more core types, try searching for a few key terms from each core type.
For example, for Romantic-Dramatic-Classic, I used "glamorous" for Romantic, " sleek" for Dramatic, and "elegant for Classic. Here was my search string:
hair glamorous sleek elegant
I got some pretty good RDC ideas:
I'm an Ethereal Natural. When I combine Natural and Ethereal search terms, I get my favorite hair for myself:
hair layers long curls
My best hair has Ethereal's mermaid curls, but Natural's layers and wildness.
Tip: if your hair has a particular texture that's non-negotiable, try adding that to your search string. For example, if you're predominantly Ethereal but you have straight hair, try searching
straight hair long mermaid
(If you don't want all the dyed hair results for 'mermaid', try adding this to the end of the search string: -dye -ombre -pink -blue)
Do you know some search terms that have worked well for your style type? Please share them in the comments!
Not sure of your style type? Try the Style Identity Calculator, or consider a Virtual Analysis.
A version of this article was first posted in December of 2018.
Romantics, Ethereals, Classic, and Dramatics are each best in a head-to-toe look. If you think about it, this makes sense, because all four of these types are formal and grown-up in their own way: the Romantic is mature womanly sexiness, the Classic is a "ladylike" adult woman, the Dramatic is a powerful ruler, and the Ethereal is an immortal being. None of these pure types is youthful or casual enough to look her best in an obvious use of separates.
Creating a head-to-toe look can seem difficult, because pretty much everything in the stores these days is separates. You'll occasionally have opportunities to purchase items as a set, but they can be hard to find.
Often, the easiest way to create a head-to-toe look is to choose separates that are all the same color. When the color is a shocking hue, or pure white or pure black, this is an especially good look for Dramatics.
If you find it very difficult to create a head-to-toe look, the good news is that if even one of your essences is an essence that looks good in separates -- Natural, Ingenue, or Gamine -- you can bring in that essence through your use of separates. I'm an Ethereal Natural, and I tend to do this, because it's easy. I own a lot of very Ethereal separates, and when I throw them together casually, the effect reads as Natural.
Speaking of which: the message a Natural sends with her use of separates is, "I own nothing but separates, and I basically just throw them together because that's how confident I am, but the effect is never weird, because I can't be bothered to put in enough effort to make it deliberately weird, because that's how casual I am."
A Natural use of separates looks unplanned, but not attention-getting. If it were an attention-getting look, that would imply that a Natural cares what anyone thinks, and part of the Natural impression is the sense that she's not dressing for the viewer.
An Ingenue's use of separates says, "Because of my childlike quality, I own mostly separates, but I am careful to put them together in a way that is harmonious and lovely to the eye, because I want to look pretty and finished."
A Gamine's use of separates says, "I deliberately combine separates no one else would dare to put together, because that's how fun and quirky I am. I want you to notice!"
Like Naturals, Gamines don't aim to carefully coordinate separates. But unlike a Natural, a Gamine looks like she's definitely dressing for the viewer: she wants to make you smile and laugh. So the use of separates looks simultaneously carefully planned and really unusual.
If you're a blend of two or three types, as most women are, and you manifest Natural, Gamine, or Ingenue through your use of separates, you'll want to lean a bit more heavily on your other essence (or two) to balance the effect. So, for example, A Natural-Classic-Ingenue combining separates in a casual, Natural way would take extra care to bring in Classic and Ingenue in other aspects of her look.
If you're not sure of your style type, try the Style ID Calculator!
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.
Of course, it could be argued that Style Type Analysis is inherently objectifying, because it analyzes women based purely on their physical qualities. I don't believe this is true, though. We're not ranking women, or judging their inherent worth, based on their appearance -- we're analyzing appearance for the purpose of helping all women have tools to feel simultaneously authentic and beautiful, if that's something they want. The point of Style Type Analysis is to empower women in their own authentic beauty.
Yet talking about Romantic women's appearance is difficult for me because, traditionally, all women have been judged by how well we conform to the standard of Romantic beauty. And we're all pretty sick of it, aren't we?
Even the Romantic women, who "win" in that system of judgment, are probably tired of being valued for their sexiness.
Is it possible for us to celebrate Romantic beauty without implying that Romantic women's worth lies in that beauty?
I believe it is. I hope it is.
Because there's no way around it: Romantic women embody sex appeal.
Romantic women tend to have sensuous mouths, smoldering eyes, narrow jaws, large foreheads, and full hair. A Romantic woman looks mature and powerful, not inappropriate, with boob and butt emphasis and a super-cinched waist.
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.
Romantics look great with the impression of cleavage, even if they're small-busted. (While some large-busted women, such as Gamines and Dramatics, look best with de-emphasized chests.)
Feminine beauty is defined by the curving line. Perhaps because a curved line is more visually complicated than a straight line, Ethereals and Romantics look great surrounded by a lot of detail. (While Naturals and Dramatics are unattractive in highly detailed contexts.) A Romantic looks gorgeous in ruffles, gathers, ruching, elaborate hair, and ornate jewelry.
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.
But if you dress in a way that doesn't create an impression of softness, curves, and delicacy, the result will be that you look less dignified.
Honor your Romantic beauty by creating looks as feminine and sexy as you are. That reads as dignified and self-aware.
A version of this post was published in May 2015.
Constructed garments have a defined shape that's not simply the shape of the body underneath the garment. You can't easily ball up a constructed garment in your hand; it wants to hold a shape.
Manufacturers also use lining, padding or interfacing to make garments have a defined shape.
Dramatics and Gamines are flattered by sharp-cornered squares and rectangles. These aren't the shapes of the human body, so Dramatics and Gamines usually need constructed garments to create those shapes.
Classics are lovely with a few sharp corners, but they shouldn't overdo it. Classics represent the beauty of balance, moderation, and perfect proportion. This means they are gorgeous in clothes that fit them perfectly, with a lot of tailoring that's precise but not dramatic, and some draping that's feminine without feeling excessive.
It's not as easy to find constructed clothes as it was 100 years ago. As a society, we've all mostly agreed to dress like Naturals most of the time. Which is great for us Naturals, but a challenge for everyone else.
Garments that are tailored into defined shapes are usually more expensive than unconstructed garments, because that kind of sewing is labor-intensive. If your style type calls for construction, you may choose to spend the money on those more expensive items. You might also save some money by focusing on clothes that are stiff not because of their tailoring but because they're made from stiffer fabrics.
If you're willing to buy second-hand, you'll find that a lot of vintage clothes are more structured than what you typically see in stores today.
Also, consider using spray starch to give your garments more stiffness! You don't hear much about it these days, because fashion is mostly so unconstructed, but clothing starch is still a thing.
Often, but not always.
Do Soft Summers and Soft Autumns look "soft? Are they visually very low-contrast?
Often, but not always.
Let's think about Light Spring and Soft Autumn, which I discussed here.
The Light Spring palette is light, warm, and clear. The Soft Autumn palette is muted, warm, and medium-dark.
Ultimately, what determines your season is how your skin reacts to color, not what your skin, hair, and eyes look like. So it's not precisely true to say, for example, that a Light Spring is herself light, warm, and clear; instead, we say that her best colors are light, warm, and clear.
I'm a Soft Autumn. One could argue that my overall contrast level is higher then either of my kids', because I have fair skin but darker hair than either of them. Yet I know I'm a Soft Autumn because my best colors are Soft Autumn colors. I look my most lovely in warm, dusty rose, gentle olive, gentle yellow, muted turquoise, and dusty periwinkle.
You can absolutely be a Soft season even if you don't think you look low-contrast. Many Soft Summers and Soft Autums have fair skin and dark hair.
And you can be a Light season even if you have brown eyes, brown hair, and/or tan skin. (Think about it this way: both Light seasons have versions of brown in their palettes, right?) People with all three -- darker hair, eyes, and skin -- aren't usually Light seasons, but it does sometimes happen.
If you're not sure of your season, try the quiz!
From now through September 3rd (Tuesday), take 25% off every document on my site!
If you're a mom, you've probably spent a lot of money on your kids this month. I know I did. I wanted a treat for myself as well, so I got my nails done. :-)
If you want a treat for yourself too, consider trying the Style ID Calculator (now $11.25!) and determining your style type. Once you know your type, you start saving money on clothes.
Or if you already know (or suspect) your type, complete your collection of documents by picking up the Shopping Guide (now $19.50), the Visual Style Guide (now $11.99), the What Not to Wear (now $11.99), the Infinite Outfit Generator (now $8.99), or the Fragrance Guide (now $8,99).
If you know or even suspect your color season, try your season's Makeup Guide (now $11.99), which lists hundreds of products that will harmonize perfectly with your skin.
Or buy your mom, sister, or BFFL a gift card, and send it to her in an email that says, "This is that thing I've been telling you about!"
Use promo code LABORDAYTREAT.
Soft Autumn is the most faded Autumn palette, and it's the lightest as well. Soft Autumn colors are faded earth tones -- desert colors, or safari colors.
(If you know your coloring is warm and gentle, but you also look good in lime green, you're probably a Light Spring, not a Soft Autumn.)
If you're a Dark Autumn, you may be confused, because on the one hand you know you're best in rich earth tones, but on the other hand you seem to be able to wear black. That's correct -- Dark Autumn is the darkest Autumn palette, and also the most vivid. Dark Autumn is the only Autumn palette that includes black.
If you can rule out Dark Autumn (because you're overwhelmed by black) and Soft Autumn (because those colors are much too weak for you), then you're likely a True Autumn, also known as Warm Autumn.
True Autumn is one of the rarer seasons, so congratulations, unicorn! :-)
Your colors are the stereotypical Autumn foliage colors: very rich, very warm, neither super-light or particularly dark.
Are you an Autumn? How did you figure out your exact type? Share in the comments!
To cheer us all up, I'm discounting makeup lists 20% this week. :-)
If you're still not sure what your color season is, this is the perfect time to buy a seasonal list, Take it into Ulta or Sephora, and try some products. When you're using the list that is right for you, you'll see that product after product looks amazing on you.
Have I told you lately how powerful it is to own your seasonal makeup list?
Every one of the hundreds of products on the list matches one of the colors in your seasonal palette. That means every product is harmonious with your skin. Every lipstick and blush is one of your reds or pinks. Every eyeliner and eyeshadow is one of your greys or browns (or blues, or greens, or purples, if you feel like getting creative.)
It's been more than 10 years since I started using only makeup that matches the Soft Autumn palette. So that's ten years since I got off of the makeup merry-go-round.
Not once in the last ten years have I bought a lipstick because a magazine told me it was in style, or it was a "universally flattering" color. (There's no such thing!)
Not once in the last ten years have I bought an eyeshadow because I thought it looked awesome, only to have it look awful on my face.
I spend very, very little money on makeup now. I use every product until the pan or tube is empty, because everything I buy looks great on me. I have one extended-wear lipstick that's perfect for me, and I buy it in bulk on eBay. (I actually buy most of my makeup online; I just order from my list.) And I have one lippie I use for a fancy night out -- it's Soft Autumn's version of a deep red. (Dozens of products match this exact shade of red, but the one I use is Tarte Tarteist in Bling.)
Remember -- use SUMMERMAKEUP to get 20% off, this week only!
Personal color systems other than the 12-tone system usually rely on hair and eye color to determine your color palette. These systems tend to incorrectly type light-eyed, fair-haired women as Summers, even when they're not. And they tend to to ignore the possibility that women with darker hair and eyes can be Summers.
A quick glance through Elea Blake's True Summer album will give you a snapshot of what True Summers really look like. It's a varied picture!
You'll see loads of brunettes. You'll see women with red hair, brown eyes, freckles, and other features that you don't think of when you think of True Summer. You'll see women of color who would surely be mistyped as Dark Autumn or Dark Winter in most other color systems.
In the 12-tone system, all that matters is which colors best complement you-- and that's determined by your skin's undertones. That's the correct way to determine your best colors.
If you're not sure of your color season, consider trying the Truth is Beauty Color Analysis Quiz. When you know your color season, you can stop buying the wrong makeup because makeup that matches your color palette also complements your skin.
Here's to really seeing ourselves. Truth is beauty!
I recently binge-watched Dead to Me with my special someone, and I was happy to see Linda Cardellini in it. I liked her in Mad Men.
On Dead to Me, Cardellini's character is styled as a True or Dark Autumn. Her costume colors are consistently warm-toned and somewhat dark. Her makeup is browns, golds, and peaches, and her hair has warm caramel highlights.
But in a previous post about the actors on Mad Men, I typed Cardellini as a True Winter. I thought she was gorgeous on that show in very dark hair and Winter colors. I especially liked her in black and white, which is excellent on True Winters.
She's beautiful on both shows. But at least one of these shows is successfully presenting her in colors that aren't her best.
(An actor can look lovely in the wrong colors if her costume, hair, makeup, and lighting work together to create the false impression; see Light Summer Cate Blanchett passing as an Autumn in The Aviator. Notice how orange the lighting is! That's necessary to make a cool-toned actor like Blanchett look warm.)
To figure out actor Linda Cardellini's actual color season, we need to focus on real-life pictures of her. I like using pictures from premieres, because those pics are generally taken outdoors, with a lot of light.
First, we find pictures where Cardellini looks healthy and alive, not tired and not overly made-up. Then we try to identify the color season of her clothes and makeup in the flattering pics.
I think she looks really good here:
I really like her here in a cool-toned pink lippie and a black, white, and grey dress. That makes me think Winter.
Here she is again in black, but with warmer makeup and warmer hair. Are these pictures as good?
Here are more pics of Cardellini that I think are color harmonious. What do you think? Is she a Winter? If so, which one? If not, what do you think is her correct season?
What I provide with each virtual style analysis has evolved and expanded in the years since I first started offering personal analysis. Here's an example of the report you'll receive from me when I complete your virtual analysis.
This particular sample report is 20 pages long; they're generally 15 to 20 pages.
First, you'll learn which of the 63 style IDs is yours, as well as your exact percentages of each core essence. The woman in this sample report, for example, is an Ethereal-Classic-Gamine, with 50% Gamine, 30% Classic, and 20% Ethereal.
Then I'll give you a narrative describing how I arrived at your answer. Usually I'll explain which essences were your least flattering, and why, and which style types were runners-up for you.
Next you'll see a graph showing your exact essence percentages, along with words I've personally chosen to describe your unique beauty.
After that, you'll see detailed descriptions of each of your individual essences, and then a handy chart summarizing key style elements from each of your essences.
At this point, you'll start to see pictures of outfits that I've hand-picked because they are perfect for you, personally. These pictures continue to appear throughout your report.
You'll get exact percentage recommendations for:
* your best line lengths
* your best line shapes (straight or curving)
* your best shape sizes
* your best amount of tailoring
* your best amount of detail
* your best use of separates
* the overall maturity of your best look
* your best feminine/masculine balance
You'll also get tips for how to balance any aspect of your look if you lean too strongly in one direction. (For example, how to pull off a high-detail look if your essences are mostly low-detail.)
In-person style analysis costs hundreds or even thousands of dollars. If you've struggled to find your style ID, virtual style analysis may be a good investment for you.
I think my quiz is the most accurate quiz available online. Unlike most color analysis quizzes, this quiz doesn't depend on a person's hair, eye, or skin tone - since none of those factors can tell a person's season.
Instead, you'll be asked about colors that flatter or don't flatter the person in question.
The quiz is best used by you on a celebrity or a friend, but you can use it to determine your own season if you ask a friend to take it for you.
Two notes on the quiz:
1. I do not include color images in this quiz, and here's why: If I include a picture, the person taking the quiz will naturally answer Yes or No based on the picture, not on the color name. And I can't control how pictures appear on other people's monitors.
Someone taking the quiz for a True Spring might choose No for a picture of bright yellow-green if it doesn't appear as a True Spring bright yellow-green on her monitor. So a picture, I fear, might define the color too narrowly.
By contrast, any Springs, and many Winters, will probably get a Yes for the term "bright yellow-green," even though each quiz taker may have a slightly different mental image of that color, because the quiz-taker can picture some bright yellow-greens that flatter them.
2. Don't take my Yes/No paths as endorsements of particular colors for particular seasons. I have built the quiz based on how I think people may answer, not on what I think actually looks good on them.
For example, I wouldn't recommend any color called "hot pink" for a True Autumn, but a person can answer Yes for hot pink and still reach TA - because I'm guessing that some people will think their TA friend looks good in hot pink. (Because that TA friend probably looks good in some colors that are pretty similar to hot pink, because some of the TA colors are kind of similar to hot pink.)
A version of this post was first published in February of 2014.
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?
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.
First published Feb. 2016.
Bright Spring Colors
Bright Winter Colors
Color Analysis Theory
Dark Autumn Colors
Dark Winter Colors
Figuring Out Your Season
Light Spring Colors
Light Summer Colors
Soft Autumn Colors
Soft Summer Colors
True Autumn Colors
True Spring Colors
True Summer Colors
True Winter Colors