Over the last few weeks, I've talked about how to combine your color palette with your style type.
Because, although every color in your palette is flattering to your skin, your style type will affect how you combine colors to look your most beautiful.
If you're strongly Gamine, which colors in your palette should you focus on?
Gamine's vibe is fun, playful, and high-energy.
As a Gamine, aim to create unexpected combinations of your pallete's most vibrant colors. Colors that people would not normally expect to see together will look great on you. If your mom would have told you, "Those colors clash!", it's probably a Gamine color combination.
Color-blocking reads as Gamine, as long as it it feels playful and fun. (If it reads as aggressive and intimidating, it will read as Dramatic, not Gamine.)
Your palette's version of primaries - - your reddest red, your yellowest yellow, and your bluest blue -- will also read as Gamine.
This is true even if you're a season with a soft or muted palette; your "soft" yellows, reds, and blues look plenty vivid on your soft coloring! For example, Autumn "primaries" would read as Gamine on an Autumn woman, and pastel Summer "primaries" would read as Gamine on a Summer woman.
Are you a Gamine or a Gamine blend? How have you combined your season with your style type? Please share in the comments!
Not sure of your style type? Try the Style ID Calculator!
I've shopped for myself a little this week, as a reward for how hard I've been working. I recommend you do the same for yourself!
From Wednesday, Nov. 27th through the following Monday, Dec. 2nd, every document on this site will be 25% off!
That's 25% off of all
and, of course, 25% off my best-selling item, the Style Identity Calculator!
Use discount code STRESSFREE
Also, you'll save $20 if you book a virtual analysis between now and Monday!
I am thankful for all of you, my readers. :-) Enjoy the rest of your week!
Note: Due to the anticipated high order volume, please allow up to 2 days for any non-downloadable documents to appear in your inbox. I'll try to be faster than that, though. :-)
When you know your color season, you'll know dozens of colors that are gorgeous on you. But different women within the same color season will wear their colors different ways, depending both on their own coloring and on their style types.
In my last post, I talked about how Dramatics can best use their color palettes. Today, I'll give you tips for how to use your palette as a Natural (or a Natural blend.)
Naturals look great in colors that feel simple and confident, and colors that suggest the outdoors.
As a Natural, your go-to colors will be your calm neutrals (relaxed greys, browns, whites, and blacks), your blues, your greens, and perhaps an occasional red, orange, or yellow for contrast.
Natural color combinations feel unstudied -- like you didn't overthink the colors before you paired the items. They don't feel shocking, nor do they feel carefully planned or matchy-matchy.
Even on a cool-season woman, greens, browns, blues, yellows, and neutrals can feel outdoorsy and earthy when worn in combination.
The Natural use of color has a relaxed, easy heartrate. It shouldn't feel as still and silent as Ethereal's use of color, but it definitely shouldn't feel as high-energy as Dramatic's or Gamine's use of color.
Are you a Natural or a Natural blend? How have you used your seasonal palette? Please share in the comments!
All of the colors in your seasonal palette will be harmonious on you. But some of them will work better for you than others.
Part of that will have to do with the unique way your individual body -- your skin, hair, and eyes -- displays your palette. And part of it will have to do with your style type. Different style types use colors differently to achieve their best looks.
So if you're a Dramatic or a Dramatic blend, how should you use the colors in your palette?
Bold color contrast reads as Dramatic -- one of your very light is colors with one of your very darkest colors, for example, or two colors that are far apart in hue.
Any head-to-toe monochromatic look generally reads as Dramatic.
A monochromatic look in one of your palette neutrals will feel particularly intense.
Are you a Dramatic or a Dramatic blend? How have you combined your palette with your style type? Please share in the comments!
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.
(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
Other Ethereal keywords to try: flowy long curls
hair neat curls medium "little girl" -frizz -wild
Other Ingenue keywords to try: sweet girlish ringlets
(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
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. :-/ 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.
I didn't even think about separates before I knew my style type. But how you put separates together actually has a big effect on the impression you make.
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.
Another easy way to do a head-to-toe look is to just wear a dress. Ethereals, Romantics, and Classics have a lot of great dress options.
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 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!"
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
If you know what looks good on you, but you don't know your style type, try the Style Identity Calculator.
A version of this post was published in May 2015.
A reader writes, "Your guides have been incredibly helpful to me. However, there is one part of your guides that confuses me. What exactly does it mean for a piece of clothing to be "constructed" or "unconstructed"?"
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.
The way a garment is sewn can give it a defined shape. This is easier with heavy, stiff, or crisp fabrics.
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.
Romantics, Ethereals, and Naturals all look their best in unconstructed clothes. For Romantics, this means sexy draping that appears to hug the body. For Ethereals, this looks like floaty, trailing garments that seem about to take flight. For Naturals, this looks like garments that are supremely comfortable and unfussy.
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.
That is, do Light Summers and Light Springs have pale eyes, pale hair and pale skin?
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.
Both of my kids are Light Springs. It's true they're both fair-skinned, but they also both have hazely-brown eyes,, and my son has brown hair. The only way I know they're Light Springs is that their best colors are Light Spring colors. They are both gorgeous in light fuchsia, light lime green, light aqua, camel, light peach, and khaki.
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.
The test is always which colors make your skin look the most healthy.
If you're not sure of your season, try the quiz!
I'm bummed that summer is over (for those of us in the northern hemisphere.) Here's something to cheer us up: a sale!
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.
If your best colors are warm and earthy, you're an Autumn. But there are actually three Autumn palettes. Determining which Autumn you are can be tricky. At first glance, these palettes all look pretty similar.
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're a Soft Autumn, black is one of your worst colors, and you may feel that almost every color makes you look "blah." You may feel your natural coloring is rather mousy and boring. Any attempts you make to enliven your coloring with extreme makeup or hair dye will only make your actual skin look even more washed out and "blah." You'll only come to life in very subtle, very gentle colors. And they won't look subtle or gentle on you! When it comes to color, context is everything.
(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.)
I think of these colors as Halloween colors, or Byzantine colors. They're definitely warm, and definitely earthy, but they're intense too. Sort of charred and vivid at the same time. When I think of Dark Autumn, the combination of black and gold is one of the first things that comes to mind,
(If your best colors are warm, and you know you can wear black, but you also look good in a light, bright fuchsia, you're probably a Bright Spring, not a Dark Autumn.)
Are you an Autumn? How did you figure out your exact type? Share in the comments!
Once we turn the corner from July into August, I start to think about summer ending, and I feel a little bummed. Maybe you feel that way too.
To cheer us all up, I'm discounting makeup lists 20% this week. :-)
From now through August 19th, use the code SUMMERMAKEUP to get 20% off of your seasonal makeup list.
Remember -- use SUMMERMAKEUP to get 20% off, this week only!
I haven't found a more comprehensive gallery of real-life True Summers than this one, on Elea Blake Cosmetic Studio's Facebook page.
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.
A version of this post ran in July of 2011.
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.
So I've been asking myself, was I wrong about Linda Cardellini?
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:
The first thing I notice as a color analyst is that she's not overwhelmed by this big block of black right under her face. Her skin looks healthy, not blurry or washed out. We're seeing her, not her dress. So I feel confident she's one of the five seasons that can handle black -- the three Winters, Bright Spring, and Dark Autumn. All three Winter seasons are cool-toned, while Dark Autumn and Bright Spring are warm-toned. (You can see this more easily if you just look at the reds and pinks.)
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?
I do think she's a Winter. Perhaps she's a Dark Winter instead of a True Winter; sometimes Dark Winters can look almost right in the colors of neighboring Dark Autumn.
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?
I've worked hard to develop tools that help women identify their own style types. But some of you may still want more specific, personal help. That's why I also offer virtual style analysis.
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.
Now I'll talk about your personal style ID in minute detail.
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.)
With your personal style analysis, you'll also receive the Visual Style Guide and the What Not to Wear for your style type, as well as a 10% off coupon that works site-wide and never expires. :-))
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.
It's been a while since I talked here about my Seasonal Color Analysis Quiz. But I used it myself just the other day. I was trying to determine the color season of a male friend of mine, but I didn't have my drapes with me, and I was stuck between a couple of seasons. On my phone, I went to my own quiz and took it on his behalf; lo and behold, the answer I came up with turned out to be correct.
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.
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.
First published Feb. 2016.
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
This post first appeared in January of 2016.
First published May 2016.
Elements of the Ethereal style identity haven't been clearly and fully articulated before.
Here, I'll identify several of them, and -- more importantly -- explain the logic behind them.
My hope is that you’ll be able to extrapolate from this this logic to predict other Ethereal elements .
Braid detail is, of course, also Ethereal then. This includes braided metal in jewelry.
Spaced beads -- like those you see on a rosary -- are Ethereal, again because of the S curves created.
A reader in a previous post asked about handkerchief hemlines. They are Ethereal (when they are gradual, not excited) because of the diagonal lines.
Diagonal lines, as long as they're not sharp or geometric appearing, are Ethereal.
This is because, as lines, they're elongated, but they're also in motion, and movement is Ethereal.
(Diagonality suggests movement; the diagonality is a way of a line traveling from one point to another.)
Handkerchief hems are also Ethereal because they flutter, and fluttery movement is Ethereal in part because it suggests birds and flight.
For that same reason, flutter sleeves are Ethereal, winged shapes are Ethereal, feathers are Ethereal, and birds and winged motifs in prints are Ethereal -- as long as they're abstracted or stylized, not realistic. If they're realistic, they can be Ethereal plus a more literal style ID, such as Gamine, Ingenue or Classic.
Shimmer, shine and sparkle are Ethereal, in part because light itself is Ethereal, and in part because a shiny or sparkly finish reads as feminine.
Abstract prints and motifs that suggest the heavens or the cosmos, or that you'd describe as celestial, are Ethereal. Prints that suggest the sea are also Ethereal. (Think of the sea and the heavens as other worlds, and this will make sense.)
If the prints are realistic, they're Ethereal plus another, more literal style ID, such as Gamine.
Godet skirts are Ethereal because they create sinuous lines and because they evoke mermaids, which are Ethereal. For the same reason, flares are Ethereal. (If they're flared jeans, that's Ethereal Natural.)
Speaking of which, waterfall effects, cascading effects and tiers are Ethereal, partly because they create the impression of gently diagonal downward movement, and partly because they evoke waterfalls, which we associate with infinity, beauty, and the ephemeral and intangible.
Art Nouveau designs, if rather abstract, are often Ethereal, because they consist of narrow, elongated lines, they're very detailed, and the edges are generally rounded.
(I know David Kibbe assigns Art Nouveau jewelry to Soft Natural.
But realize that Kibbe groups all feminine identities -- Romantic, Ethereal, and Ingenue -- into one descriptor: Soft.
As a result, his recs for Soft types are sometimes more accurately assigned to Ethereal types and Ingenue types.
For example, Art Nouveau jewelry is really better for Ethereal Natural than it is for Romantic Natural. Romantic Natural needs more sexiness in her accessories; Art Nouveau design is generally rather chaste.)
This isn't an exhaustive list of Ethereal elements, but I hope it helps you think more clearly about the Ethereal style identity.
If you think you might be Ethereal, please check out my tools for identifying your own style identity!
And if you know you're Ethereal, please check out my Visual Style Guides and What Not To Wear guides.
If you've been thinking about trying the Style ID Calculator, but you've felt unsure whether to go for it, now is the time.
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If you're as nerdy as I am and you'd to read one customer describe, in detail, her work validating the Style ID Calculator as an instrument, click here.
Romantic is the style type that's most flattered by traditionally "sexy" clothes and details, such as cleavage emphasis, skirt slits, cinched waists, red lips, et cetera.
On a woman without a lot of Romantic, these elements will read as awkward or unharmonious, not sexy.
But many of us want to appear "sexy" at some point.
How does a woman who's strongly Natural -- a woman like me, whose beauty has a rough-hewn, masculine quality -- create a sexy impression?
Not like a Romantic would, with pouty lips, smoky eyes, an abundance of jewelry, and butt & bust emphasis. Those tend to make us Natural women look mannish.
Instead, Naturals do sexy with bare arms and legs, mussy hair, very open necklines, little makeup, tank tops, oversized sweaters, and cowboy hats.
You might be thinking, "Those are elements Naturals always look great in."
If a Natural simply turns up the intensity on an already Natural element, it tends to look sexy.
Go with even barer arms and legs. Make that hair even more messy. Go with an even bigger sweater, perhaps falling off one shoulder.
Below, see Sheryl Crow, Jennifer Aniston, Sandra Oh, and Elisabeth Shue. These are strongly Natural women who look sexier and more confident when they don't try so hard. In looks with bust emphasis, jewels, shiny finishes, careful curls, and lots of makeup, they appear awkward.
If you're a strongly Natural woman, one of your gifts is the ability to look your best with almost no effort. (Typically, the more effort you put in, the less good you look!)
This is why Natural beauty is often described as "confident"; the viewer assumes you must have a lot of courage to present yourself so casually.
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 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 have probably don't have much of those three essences, and that leave Romantic, Ingenue, Ethereal, and Classic.
2. How childlike or mature do you look? Have you always look 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!