When you know your Style Identity, you save time and money because you only buy the clothes that are right for you, and you don't spend unnecessary time agonizing about whether something looks good on you. You also feel more confident, because you leave the house knowing you look your best.
This is beauty for women who want beauty to be quick and easy. :-)
There are seven core style essences, and most people are a blend of two or three of them. For example, I'm an Ethereal Natural, and my sister is a Romantic-Dramatic-Classic.
Figuring out your Style ID can be a little tricky. The Style Identity Calculator has helped many women, but there is an element of art to identifying beauty, and that art eludes some of us.
Also, it can be hard to see ourselves objectively! (Pictures help a lot with this -- I always use pictures instead of a mirror when I'm judging myself in a particular outfit.)
Fortunately, you can often close in on, or rule out, a few essences without too much difficulty, and this can bring you closer to your Style ID.
Having at least a rough idea of your Style ID can significantly increase your confidence, because even if you haven't IDed yourself with 100% accuracy, once you've ruled out the essences that are no good, you know you still look a lot more authentic than you used to.
Here are some tips for ruling out certain essences, or narrowing your Style ID down a bit.
1. Positioning yourself on the masculine-feminine spectrum can help rule out or zero in on certain essences.
If you could pass as a boy in the right clothes, you might have a lot of Gamine.
If you could do drag convincingly, like Glenn Close or Julie Andrews, you might have a lot of Natural or Dramatic.
If you could never do either in a million years, you probably don't have much of those three essences, and that leaves Romantic, Ingenue, Ethereal, and Classic.
2. How childlike or mature do you look? Have you always looked older than your age, or younger than your age?
If your overall look is rather childlike, and if you're often mistaken for much younger than you are, or called "cute" or "adorable," that can signal that you have a lot of Gamine or Ingenue, the two youthful essences.
If, even as a child, you looked like a little adult, that can signal that you have a lot of Dramatic or Ethereal. (Or, occasionally, a lot of Natural. )
3. If your face is impossible to caricature, that's a hint that you have a lot of Classic.
Caricature relies on the existence of a feature that sticks out and can therefore be exaggerated. If you're a Classic, no one feature sticks out. In your less confident moments, you may have called yourself plain or boring -- but you're not. You require a very, very simple fashion context in order for the beauty of your perfect average-ness to be revealed.
You can't easily caricature a perfectly average face. A caricature should look a little grotesque or bizarre, but that just can't be done with a strongly Classic woman such as Zhang Ziyi. There's nothing to exaggerate.
4. What hairstyles can you never pull off?
If you can't do shaggy or tousled hair, you can probably rule out Natural -- both male and female Naturals look awesome in shaggy layers.
If you can't do big, luscious curls, you can probably rule out Romantic. An extravagant circle is the defining shape of Romantic, and Romantics look great with these circles near their face. (Ingenues get smaller, neater circles, so if curly hair of any kind is really bad on you, you can probably rule out both Romantic and Ingenue.)
If you can't do super-long hair, you may be able to rule out Ethereal, Natural, and Dramatic. All three of these essences are defined in part by elongated lines, so people high in one or more of these three essences are usually flattered by long hair.
If you can't do super-short hair, you can probably rule out Gamine and Dramatic. Gamines, our boyish beauties, are easily identified by how good they look in very short cuts. Dramatics, in addition to being flattered by long and narrow hair, are also flattered by hair that's completely off the face -- whether it's extremely short or slicked back.
As a woman with a lot of Dramatic, Kim Kardashian can pull off both long, straight hair and slicked-back hair.
The Style Identity Calculator, as I mentioned above, has helped a lot of women, and it's pretty affordable. For best results, use it with the input of a brutally honest friend or relative, and use pics or yourself, not a mirror. (A still, frozen image is much easier to analyze.)
If you're absolutely lost, consider investing in a virtual style analysis.
Are any of these tips helpful to you? Please share in the comments!
This post first appeared in July of 2018.
A reader asks, "There are a lot of nuances between Soft Summer and True Summer. How do you know that Kristen Stewart is Soft Summer and Emily Blunt is a True Summer?"
This is a really good question.
I often find Summer celebs difficult to narrow down into subseasons - perhaps because the differences in the muted colors of Summer are harder to discern on a computer screen than the differences in the vivid colors of Spring or Winter.
But after a lot of thought, I eventually came to the conclusion that Kristen's a Soft Summer and Emily's a True Summer.
I'll describe my thought process:
To my eye, both look obviously coolish, but not particularly saturated. Cool and muted is Summer.
But my first impression might be wrong. To determine season, we can't rely on what a person looks like; we have to examine how a person looks in certain colors. So I'll check the other seasons.
Could either woman be a Winter?
Well, both are clearly overwhelmed by black. That rules out all three Winters.
I do make note of the fact that Emily is less overwhelmed by black than Kristen. So I think perhaps Emily has a higher natural saturation.
How about Autumn?
Hmm. I think both are meh in Autumn colors.
Notice, though, that Kristen is almost pulling off Autumn color, while Emily isn't at all. So I'm thinking Kristen has more Autumn-like warmth than Emily.
Spring: Testing Spring will be tough, because it's very difficult to find either woman in sure-fire Spring colors like peach, lime, or sunny yellow. So I need to test Spring for them in another way.
I've already seen that both women are overwhelmed by black, so Bright Spring's unlikely for either one. (Black alone is not a great look for Bright Spring, but it's not so much overwhelming as it is boring.)
How can I test Light Spring and True Spring? Hmm... Well, neither woman is a convincing blonde, to my eye. Most "blonde" True and Light Spring celebs are actually brunettes, but they do typically make convincing blondes. Yellow is Spring's soul color, so it makes sense that yellow hair would work on Springs.
Yellow hair is clearly not right for these two women, though.
So I think my initial idea was correct: both women are Summers.
But what kind of Summer - Light, Soft, or True?
I'm thinking Light Summer is unlikely for Emily, for the same reason I think Spring is unlikely: I don't find her a convincing blonde. Light Summers can often pull off blonde pretty well. Their palette contains many lovely light yellows, so this makes sense.
You can tell from their roots that these Light Summers are brunettes, but blonde looks appropriate on them.
Again, Emily Blunt with blonde hair: not her best.
On Light Summers, yellow hair can emphasize the delicacy of their coloring; Emily's skin seems to be calling for more depth.
So, Soft or True for Emily perhaps?
In weighing these two seasons, I think about how Emily often wears super-bright colors that look a little but not a lot overwhelming. Here she is in some high-sat choices:
I notice that she can tolerate some brightness of color. In these two pics, she's certainly farther away than the color - but not miles farther away.
So, of Soft and True Summer, I think True Summer - the more saturated of the two seasons - is right for Emily Blunt.
Yes. I like her in these purely cool, somewhat muted colors. They certainly don't look muted next to Emily Blunt - they're exactly the right saturation for her.
With Kristen Stewart, one of the things I notice is that neutral-warm colors aren't awful on her.
On the left, the eyeshadow is warmish, and in this pic it's not glaringly disharmonious. (The skin might appear more even with a cooler shade, but as-is, it's not so bad.) On the right, I could almost believe her as an Autumn.
So I suspect True Summer, which is purely cool, is unlikely for her.
I already decided that a big block of yellow next to Kristen's face was not her best, so that makes Light Summer seem unlikely as well.
That leaves Soft Summer.
Does Soft Summer make sense for her?
Well, Soft Summer's TMIT is softness or mutedness of color. Is Kristen awesome in very muted tones?
Yes, I think. The more subtly colored her makeup and clothes are, the better she looks. She seems so natural in very, very soft shades.
Is she overwhelmed by very saturated colors?
So, I say Soft Summer for Kristen Stewart.
Let's see her against a Soft Summer palette.
Oh, yes. I love this.
This post originally appeared in January of 2014.
A version of this post was published in September 2012.
I have an adorable memory of watching a video of Adele performing "Rolling in the Deep" seated next to my then-three-year-old son. He listened very carefully. When it was done, he turned to me and said, quite solemn, "Mommy, that lady has a fire in her heart."
A reader, C.T., asked me what season I believe Adele is. She pointed out that Adele's often in black but it's clearly not her best color. I have to agree.
Certainly this look is not right for her. The woman is invisible; we only see the too-bright color.
Yet she often gets her makeup right, don't you find? With the exception of the too-black eyeliner and mascara that are sadly de rigeur in show business, her lip and cheek are often natural and not overdone.
Those lip and cheek colors lean warm, to my eye, and are definitely subtle and blended rather than bright or contrasting. Her coloring is so very delicate. The black of the dress and the eye does not belong.
Here, again, eye and top are darker than she is, but not as painfully so. The rest is lovely. I see Autumn - don't you? Warm, blended, rich.
Could she be a True Autunm? Hmm. These very warm colors look, to me, a tad stronger than she is.
I find this warm, deep green, which could be True or Dark Autumn's green, just a tad too much for her.
She really is very neutral. The pink in those lips is actually pink, not salmon.
I think Soft Autumn. Here she is in more SA colors and I think they balance her wonderfully. Gentle, soft, blended, not overdone. We really see her.
I'm calling Adele a beautiful, soulful, Soft Autumn.
ere's hoping that one day she chooses to exchange the black eyeliner for, say, taupe or putty.
What color season do you see here?
One way to think about the seven style types is to think about the words we use to describe the type of attractiveness each identity embodies.
These are probably the women who hear "gorgeous" and "hot" the most often. When they look their best, their friends might call them "glamorous," "alluring," or "sexy."
Ethereal woman are often described by admirers as "unusual-looking." Other adjectives they might hear are "otherworldly," "exotic," "fascinating," or "magical."
These are women who hear things like, "You have a really strong look," or "only you could pull that off." Dramatic women get called "majestic," "stunning," and "magnificent." Like Ethereals, Dramatics also often hear "exotic" and "unusual-looking."
Classic women might hear "lovely," "elegant," and "attractive" a lot. They'll receive a lot of positive but restrained comments like, "You have a timeless look" or "You always look classy." "Graceful" is another word Classics may have heard. This is a beauty that doesn't stand out at all, but is undeniable once it's examined.
Many Ingenue women received compliments on their appearance throughout their childhoods, and they will have heard "pretty," "precious," "darling," "cute," and "adorable" a lot, even as adults.
Gamine women, like Ingenue women, will have heard "cute" and "adorable" in adulthood. They'll also get adjectives like "feisty," "spunky," or "sassy," and "loveable" seems to pop up a lot.
I'd love to hear in the comments what your style type is, if you know it, and which compliments you've received in your life.
I'd also love to learn which compliments you've rarely or never received! I'm an Ethereal Natural, and I've rarely, if ever, been described as "classy," "adorable," "feisty," "darling," "majestic," or "glamorous."
Not sure of your style type? Try the Style ID Calculator!