I recently decided to try to answer this question.
My interest in the question was sparked when I noticed that some men who appear to have a lot of Romantic or Ethereal -- which are feminine essences -- -- are more attractive with full beards than they are clean-shaven.
This was initially a puzzle to me, because beards, I was thinking, are iconically masculine, and these men are otherwise flattered by feminine details such as soft fabrics and draping. (Kit Harington is gorgeous in a draped scarf.)
But a couple of possible explanations have occurred to me.
Romantic and Ethereal essences require soft edges and a lack of structure. Hair is inherently soft-edged and unstructured, right? A person has to go to a lot of effort to make hair look stiff or sharp.
So perhaps a full beard on a very Romantic man (a man with sexy, voluptuous features) or a very Ethereal man (a man with angelic, otherworldly features) is flattering because the beard adds soft edges and a lack of structure to the face.
I think Benedict Cumberbatch has a lot of Ethereal, and I love him with facial hair.
(Though the right is too scraggly! It's tough to find a pic of him with a full but neat beard.)
Same with Keanu Reeves and Tyson Beckford.
In all of these men, I think the beard, in addition to adding softness, brings out the "wise" quality Ethereals have.
(Keanu has some Dramatic too, I think. More on those guys below.)
But how do we explain men with a lot of Ingenue (a youthful, pretty, girlish beauty) who are flattered by beards? Because that's totally a thing.
Ingenue is a feminine essence, but unlike Romantic and Ethereal it calls for clean edges and a bit of stiffness. So you wouldn't necessarily think a beard would flatter an Ingenue man's face.
Yet I notice a lot of men who seem to be quite Ingenue are improved by beards.
Rainn Wilson (Dwight from from The Office) has a high forehead, a tiny nose, a small mouth, and a tiny chin -- all features that read as girlish. I'm guessing he has a lot of Ingenue. And he's much improved by a beard.
I suspect Eddie Redmayne has a lot of Ingenue as well. (He's so pretty, and see how well he passes for a girl.) And again, look how much better he is with a beard.
Jeffrey Wright is another actor I'd call "pretty" without a beard, and who looks much more handsome bearded:
I think beards do flatter Ingenue men. The question "why?" is one I'm still mulling over.
To my eye, beards on these men bring out quite a bit of manliness that wasn't previously there. They seem to bring these men into balance as men. Without the beards, these men are too Ingenue, IMO.
Is it the case that a beard, despite being iconically masculine, is actually feminizing in its visual effect? ... because it's soft and round-edged? And that adding the feminine element to an Ingenue man emphasizes his masculine qualities by contrast? -- just as adding the masculine elements to Dramatic, Natural, and Gamine women actually make them appear more feminine? (Great example: short hair s. long hair on Winona Ryder.)
I think I'm on to something here.
* * *
Who else is flattered by a beard? Well, our craggy, rough-hewn, approachable Naturals, of course. That shouldn't surprise anyone. They're like the poster guys for beards.
See Jeff Bridges, The Rock, and Will Ferrell, three guys I think have a lot of Natural:
(Though the Rock has perhaps Classic and Dramatic too?)
In the case of Naturals, I think the explanation is obvious: Naturals are good with shagginess. Beards have a shaggy quality. Easy peasy.
(This is analogous to Natural being the only masculine essence that is flattered by round edges instead of sharp corners, and by flow instead of structure.)
So, who isn't great with a full beard?
Well, Gamines, for one -- men whose handsomeness is boyish.
Leonardo DiCaprio has a ton of Gamine (which is why he can wear bow ties even though he's over six feet), and he is definitely more handsome without a beard.
This makes sense -- Gamines need straight lines and sharp corners.
The only facial hair I've seen look appropriate on Gamine-influenced men is controlled and mischievous-looking:
But for a very Gamine man, even a groomed, devilish goatee is too much:
Meh. Baby-faced Leo is just better clean-shaven.
Classics, too, are not at their best with beards. I suspect Jon Hamm has Classic with some Dramatic, and I don't think a beard is an improvement on him.
(He may have some Natural too, but not enough to pull off that beard.)
It makes sense that men with a lot of Classic wouldn't be flattered by beards; Classic beauty derives almost totally from regular, symmetrical features, and a beard would just obscure those perfect features.
Is George Clooney better with a beard? I don't think so, and I suspect the explanation lies in how much Classic he has.
(He has a little Natural, but, again, not enough to work that beard, IMO. And he also has some Gamine, which is contraindicating the beard as well.)
Michael C. Hall is also too regular-featured for facial hair:
Last but not least, let's look at highly Dramatic men -- men with masculine features that are sharp, narrow, and intimidating.
I don't love them with full, uncontrolled beards, but they can be flattered by very controlled and/or imposing facial hair. A beard that's groomed to be very full only around the mouth (like a very full Van Dyke beard) is good for Dramatics. And I keep coming back to highly Dramatic men as the only men who seem able to pull off a full (not thin or fine) solo mustache -- especially when it's turned down at the corners.
What do you notice about the men in your life?
And how do we explain beards for Ingenue men?
Let me know what you think.
A reader recently asked me this question. It's a fun question for me, data nerd that I am. :-)
To answer it, I took a quick look at my last 26 virtual style analyses. I counted the number of occurrences of each of the seven individual essences.
A couple of clients have come out as pure types -- for example, I have had a pure Natural and a pure Dramatic -- but most women turn out to be a blend of two or three essences.
It turns out that all seven main essences were more or less equally represented in my last 26 style analyses.
At the high and low ends, I had seven appearances of Ethereal and ten appearances of Gamine.
Each of the other five basic essences -- Natural, Dramatic, Classic, Romantic, and Ingenue -- appeared eight or nine times.
So perhaps Gamine is slightly more common, and Ethereal is slightly less common?
Or the difference could just be due to chance -- though I didn't test it, I doubt these differences are statistically significant.
And there's also the possibility that women who contact me are not a representative sample of all of the types.
Which style combination types are the most common? I tried to answer this by looking at which of my personal style products are ordered the most frequently.
The style types most frequently requested are:
Natural-Classic-Gamine - The Posh Tomboy
Natural-Classic-Ingenue - The Polished Farmgirl
Romantic Natural - The Babe Next Door
Romantic-Natural-Classic - The Sexy Prep
As for the question which combinations are the rarest, there are a couple of combinations that stand out as being very underrepresented in products ordered from my store. They are:
Dramatic-Gamine-Ingenue - The Childlike Czarina
Dramatic-Natural-Gamine - The Casual Punk
Ethereal-Classic-Gamine - The Polished Sprite
Ethereal-Gamine-Ingenue - The Spunky Fairy
Dramatic-Natural-Ingenue - The Dark Mori Girl
Dramatic-Gamine-Ingenue, the Childlike Czarina, is far and away the least ordered type. So perhaps it's the rarest type?
Or it could be that DGI woman are less likely to type themselves as such, or to visit my site, or to order from my site. Hard to know. :-)
The trend I notice above is that each apparently uncommon type combines a supernatural-ish essence (Dramatic or Ethereal) with a childlike essence (Gamine or Ingenue.) I do think it's rare to see people with those combinations.
Here's a narrative from a recent client that I analyzed as an Ethereal-Natural Gamine (one of my favorite types!) Also, I answer a question from a reader about whether Ethereal Naturals get to wear pants.
- - - - - - - -
First there was David Kibbe. His style system opened up a new world for me and my sister. Before him there had only been four or five archetypes. Kibbe introduced different style blends and we were fascinated. We tried to figure out our own style-IDs according to his style system, but we didn't succed. That doesn't surprise me because this was all new to us. But more importantly, his system was incomplete. We discovered that later.
Then there was Rachel. Another world opened up for us. Rachel's system was complete. There were even blends of three essences and blends of four essences. There was also two new essences: the Ingenue and the Ethereal. After reading the pages of Truth is Beauty I was pretty sure that I had Natural and Gamine. My sister was convinced I had Romantic, but I wasn't sure. I read Rachel's pages so many times I became quite an expert on typing celebrities and others. But I felt that I couldn't be fully objective about myself. That's why I sent Rachel some photos of myself and asked her about her first impressions. I didn't think she would respond, but she did. She believed I was a Romantic-Natural-Gamine.
I had to believe the expert, right? Well,I tried the RNG style-ID for quite some time, but somehow it didn't really feel right for me. I couldn't put my finger on what felt wrong, but something was not right and I believed it was the Romanic element. Wearing romantic clothes made me feel uncomfortable. I knew I must have a feminine essence apart from Natural and Gamine, but I was not convinced Romantic was the one. So I compared my photos to the style boards again and then something happened. Suddenly I discovered how good the Ethereal lines looked on me. I read some more about the Ethereal style type and I compared myself to Ethereal celebrities. And then everything fell into place. I had found the missing piece! I realized that the Ethereal element had been a part of me all the time, I just hadn't noticed it before. Or at least I thought so. But I didn't really trust my own instinct so I contacted Rachel again for a style analysis. I didn't want to guess anymore. I wanted to know! And I was still confused about the Romantic element. Should I include that or not?
I couldn't wait for Rachel to give me the answer! And at last it came. I am an Ethereal-Natural-Gamine with a dash of Classic. I really like my new style-ID and this time it felt right from the beginning. Now dressing is easy and fun. I know what suits me and what doesn't.
I recommend women to have a style analysis. Even if you are an expert it is difficult to be objective about yourself. I recommend style analysis for those who don't have a clue about these things but I also recommend it for those who think they have figured it out on their own to get confirmation from Rachel. Style analysis will save you time and money.
To those women that don't want to have a style analysis I would like to say: You can do it on your own. I almost did. I also want to encourage women in general to trust their instincts. We are often instinctly drawn to the "right" things, like I was.
Finally, thank you so much Rachel, for your expertise! Thank you for helping women find their beauty. I've learned so much from you. You are a true source of inspiration. I love it that your pages are so informative and educational. That makes it easier for women to analyze themselves. And I really like your blog where women can ask each other for advice or share their opinions. To all of you that are participating by commenting: thank you! Your contributions are making this blog even better.
- - - - - - -
A reader asks, "Can Ethereal Naturals wear pants?"
I'm an Ethereal Natural, actually, so this is a personal question for me.
Pants are awesome for any Natural-influenced type, and one of the reasons I love being EN. I'm all about pants.
Cargo pants, straight slacks, loose capris, and jeans are all great for Naturals.
To manifest Ethereal Natural, a woman can feel free to go fully Natural from the waist down, and then bring in Ethereal in accessories and shirts.
In other words, not every garment has to combine both essences; fully N garments + fully E garments will read as EN.
This reader mentioned Indiana Jones as a touchstone for her own style. Indiana Jones is actually a good starting point for an Ethereal Natural look.
Keep the basic concept, but perhaps make the colors more gentle and feminine. Consider adding Ethereal accessories like elongated earrings or a floaty scarf. Consider changing the fabric on the top to something more light and floaty. Insert some Ethereal details like bishop sleeves or sheeny metallic finishes, or change the pants to a narrow, flowy skirt.
To create an Ethereal-Natural-Gamine look, like Daniela's best look, tweak one of the looks above by adding Gamine elements such as a playful print, a short skirt, a short top, a short necklace, a silhouette with several horizontal lines, very narrow pants, pants rolled to the ankle, a short vest, or ankle boots.
If you've used the Style Identity Calculator, you may have seen that your percent totals don't necessarily sum to 100. Sometimes they sum to 90 or 95.
A reader wrote me about this recently. What's going on here? Where's that missing ten percent?
Well, you may have noticed that the essences for which you weren't given a value say "negligible" instead of "0."
I created the calculator like this because it's possible that you may have a teeny tiny amount of one or more of those negligible essences, but anything less than 10% really isn't worth bothering with; it has no discernible impact on your look. I didn't want to provide that information, because I felt like it might inaccurately imply to women that the 10% is meaningful.
But maybe, like the reader who recently wrote me, you're curious about that missing 10%. I might be, if I were you! :-)
If you have a missing 10%, and you want to know what it is -- just for the sake of satisfying your curiosity -- here's what I recommend:
Use the key at the end of the calculator to list out the Style IDs of every board you gave yourself points for.
Manually count how many times each of the seven essences appears in the name of a board you chose.
Whichever essence appears the most frequently after the essences identified in your total is likely responsible for any missing 10%.
You can of course ignore it altogether, and perhaps you should.
But you can also use the missing essence as a "filler" to complete any small part of an ensemble that's missing.
For example, I have 10% Classic, and I almost always ignore it. But I can also use it to justify, for example, a little Classic pin, or a bit of Classic trim, if that element can't be avoided in an ensemble that otherwise works for me.
You can also use a missing 10% as an enhancer to one of your existing essences. So, for example, if you find out you have a teeny weeny smidge of Gamine, you can add Gamine's youthfulness to a 30% Ingenue to make it "extra childlike," or add Gamine's tailoring to a 40% Classic to make it "extra tailored."