In order to create a particular impression with your appearance, you have to put yourself in the shoes of a viewer, and work backward from what that person sees.
This is easier to do if you notice what your own brain is thinking when you look at an outfit for the first time.
An image like the one below contains a ton of information that a viewer processes almost instantaneously, and largely unconsciously. All of this information will register to the viewer's conscious mind as one, two, or perhaps three main emotions or ideas.
When I look at this outfit, I ask myself, "What's the first thing I think?"
What I come up with isn't necessarily a single word; in this case, it's a single feeling or concept -- something like "polished/expensive/pulled-together."
That impression tells me that this outfit has a lot of Classic.
(If I challenge myself to identify which details are creating this response in my mind, I come up with these: the structured, expensive-looking bag; the gold jewelry; the neutral color scheme. But I'm not starting with the details and working outward to the Classic impression; I'm starting with the Classic impression, and only then figuring out which details are creating that impression.)
I then ask myself, Is Classic the only impression I'm getting? What else do I immediately notice?
Or, put another way: Is this a completely Classic outfit?
It's not! Now that I am looking at this outfit through a Classic lens, the baggy top, the elongation of the necklace, and the size of the bag really stand out.
Baggy + elongated + oversized = Natural. So, this outfit has Natural and Classic.
I'll go back one more time and ask myself, Is this completely a Natural Classic outfit?
If I look at this outfit through the lens of Natural Classic -- "The Prep "-- there's one more element that stands out: sexiness.
Check out the cleavage, the high heel, the peep toe effect. Those aren't preppy; those are sexy.
Sexy is Romantic.
So, I call this ensemble Romantic-Natural-Classic.. Also known as "Alluring L.L. Bean," or "Sexy Prep," or "Today's Southern Belle."
I'll double-check this determination by asking myself, "Is this outfit refined (Classic)? Is this outfit comfortable (Natural)? Is this outfit sexy (Romantic)?"
Yes, yes, yes.
I may take an extra moment to rule out the other four essences by asking myself, "Is this outfit otherworldly (Ethereal)? Is it innocent (Ingenue)? Is it avant-garde (Dramatic)? Is it playful (Gamine)?"
No, no, no, no.
* * *
I find selfies really helpful; for me, and perhaps for many of you, it's very difficult to see a mirror image objectively. If I'm not sure what impression my ensemble creates, I take a selfie, sit down, open the picture on my phone, and ask myself, "What's the first thing I think when I look at this woman?"
I'm an Ethereal Natural. Here I am in a top I recently bought and returned. I loved the top when I first saw it, and I wanted it to be right for me, but a little voice in my head told me something was off. I was only able to identify what was wrong after I took a selfie of the top and went through the mental exercise I describe above: "What's the first thing I notice?"
"Loose and comfortable" -- that's Natural. Check.
"Delicate and kind of Renaissance-y" -- that's Ethereal. Check
Oh, I see it: There is sweetness, a preciousness, a childlike quality. That is Ingenue. And Ingenue is what's not working for me.
(I do have a tiny bit of Ingenue: enough for a single delicate necklace, as you see here, but not enough for a strongly Ingenue top.)
If I press myself with the question, "What makes it sweet?", I can articulate that it's the flowers, the wrist emphasis, and the overall babydoll-dress-like impression. But I can say that this top is sweet and girly without being able to say why.
Does an ensemble ever send more than three main messages? Occasionally, but it's very, very rare. The only time I ever encounter this is in some haute couture designs. Some designers are expert at sending multiple messages simultaneously in a single outfit. I can't remember encountering that effect in an outfit put together by a regular woman.
So, if you're not sure whether an ensemble is creating the effect you want to create, take a picture of yourself in it and ask yourself, "What's the first thing I think?"
If you've benefited from personal color analysis or personal style analysis, you know from experience that it's truly a gift that keeps giving.
Years after my own color and style analyses, I get dressed with confidence literally every single morning. <3
It's hard to put a price on that!
If you need a last-minute holiday gift for your sister or sister-in-law, your mom, your niece, a cousin, a aunt, a best friend, or a co-worker, a Truth is Beauty Gift Card is a thoughtful and unique gift that may well change a woman's life.
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Happy holidays, dear ladies. I'm grateful to be a part of your lives, and to have you in mine. :-) <3
Note: f you'd like to treat someone you love to a Virtual Style Analysis, please contact me directly at email@example.com.
Most of us go to the internet to get hairstyle ideas. But how can you zero in on the best hair for your style type? Some of us aren't sure how to go about searching.
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.
hair glamorous long -wig -extensions
Other Romantic keywords to try: curls full sexy
Other Ethereal keywords to try: flowy long curls
hair neat curls medium -frizz -wild
Other Ingenue keywords to try: sweet girlish ringlets
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
Other Dramatic terms to try: "slicked back" futuristic -men
hair short boyish
Other Gamine keywords to try: spunky tomboy
You may have noticed that these search results are mostly white ladies. :-/ 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.
For blends of the seven 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. Here's my favorite hair for myself, combining Natural and Ethereal search terms:
hair layers long curls
Pro tip: after you have your image results, click on Tools, then Type, then Face. That will eliminate photos you don't want, such as pictures of shampoo bottles.
Also, 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, 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.
In my style system, there are seven main types and 56 two-way or three-way type blends. Some of you have written me to ask what it signifies that I call a woman, for example, Natural-Classic-Gamine and not Gamine-Natural-Classic or CLassic-Natural-Gamine. What does the order of the words mean?
When I named each of the blended types, I wanted to come up with a consistent set of rules for word order -- in other words, either a woman with Ethereal and Romantic would be an Ethereal Romantic or a Romantic Ethereal, consistently.
I did consider, but eventually reject, the idea of switching the word orders around based on the relative amounts of each essence in an individual woman. (In other words, calling a woman Romantic Ethereal if she's predominantly Romantic, and Ethereal Romantic if she's predominantly Ethereal.) I realize that many of you use this system among yourselves, and I'm all for that use! But it doesn't work when I'm writing about the types theoretically, without regard to a particular woman. I need something more consistent.
I also considered but discarded the idea of beginning each combination with feminine type words first. "Ingenue Natural," for example, didn't sound as good to me as "Natural Ingenue."
The fact that "Ingenue Natural" sounded weird to me, but "Natural Ingenue" did not, led me to consider the "adjectivity" or "noun-ness" of each word -- in other words, whether the word makes more sense used as an adjective or as a noun. This quality, in the end, is what drove my decision.
I basically decided which of the seven words (Natural, Ethereal, etc.) worked best as an adjective, and which worked least well, and made rules for the word order based on that decision. For example, "Romantic" is easily understood as an adjective, so I made the rule that, in any combination type that features the word "Romantic," that word would appear first. The remaining six words always appear in this order:
Ethereal Dramatic Natural Classic Gamine Ingenue
The order reflects my subjective judgment about whether each word works better as an adjective or a noun.
As I use it, the word order doesn't imply anything about the balance of essences for any person. For example, some Romantic Gamines might be 70 Romantic and 30 Gamine, while other RGs might have the reverse balance.
As I mentioned above, if you prefer to refer to yourselves by listing your essences in order from greatest to least, I think that's awesome. I just thought it would be useful to you to understand why I put my essence words in a particular order.
Not sure of your style type? Try the Style ID Calculator.