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.
This is the last post in a series of posts exploring how to combine your personal color palette with your style type.
Each of the 12 color palettes has a unique rainbow of colors. When you know your own correct palette, you know dozens of colors that are gorgeous on your skin. But because different colors express feelings and imply different associations, particular colors within your personal palette will be particularly harmonious for you, depending on your style type.
If your beauty is Ethereal, it's a grown-up kind of beauty, and it's noticeably feminine, but not in a girly or sexy way. You may have been told that your beauty is "unusual" or "striking." You may have a long or oval face, a high forehead, a long nose, gently sculpted cheekbones, and wise, oval eyes.
Ethereal beauty reads as supremely peaceful and gentle. Because of this, an Ethereal woman will look good in gentle gradations of color.
(This is true even if her palette colors are very saturated; bright colors can still grade gently into each other, and the effect will feel gentle on a woman whose coloring can carry those bright colors.
Ethereal beauty feels intangible, so if you're an Ethereal type, you'll also be flattered by your palest neutrals. Wearing them together helps to project a light-as-air feeling.
Dawn and dusk are magical, in-between times, so they belong to Ethereal. Combinations from your palette that suggest sunrises and sunsets will be good for you.
Ethereal beauty feels like it's from another world, and the sea and the sky are metaphors for the otherworldly. (They're the "other worlds" in this world!) So you'll feel right in combinations of your deep and mid-range greens, blue-greens, blues, and purples.
Shimmer is Ethereal, so sheeny silver and gold fabrics are great for Ethereals. The non-shimmery versions of those metals -- in other words, yellows, golds, tans, and grays -- can be beautiful on you too, especially when they're paired with other Ethereal colors.
Almost all women are blended types, not pure types. (Based on my experience doing personal style analysis, I estimate about 2% of women are pure types.) So even if your beauty is strongly Ethereal, you likely have at least one other core essence playing a role in your overall impression. That gives you more options, color-wise. (Check out my posts from the last few weeks to read about colors for the other six core essences.)
If you don't love the Ethereal tones in your palette, focus on your second or third essence for your color schemes, and bring Ethereal into your look in other aspects
I'm an Ethereal Natural, and I have always gravitated to blues and greens. It's interesting that blues and greens are two hues where Ethereal and Natural overlap!
If you're an Ethereal blend, how do you use color? Please share in the comments!
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!
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.
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.
The Ethereal type embodies a variety of beauty that exists, but that most systems don't allow for: feminine beauty that's neither youthful nor sexual.
Some systems describe the Ethereal type as the most "yin" -- a synonym often used for "feminine." But I don't think that's accurate.
Physically, the Romantic type -- not the Ethereal -- most closely embodies a physical form with exaggeratedly estrogenized features. So Romantic, I think, comes closest to being the most feminine type. Romantic is certainly the most womanly type.
Ethereal beauty, like Ingenue beauty, reads as distinctly feminine but not overtly sexy. Ingenues are girlish and perpetually youthful, while Ethereals are at the other end of the spectrum: even at a young age, they have an air of great maturity and wisdom. You might use the word "ancient" to describe them, but in the sense that they seem to be old souls. It's easy to imagine that they've traveled here from a far-distant time.
Physically, Ethereals are defined first by the curving line, as all feminine types are. But their curving line is an elongated S or oval. Their faces tend to be long and gently sculpted.
Ethereals look very much like themselves when they're looking into the distance, with a knowing half-smile or an air of distraction. One gets the impression they're actually looking inward, or seeing something others can't see.
Faded-looking, subtly colored hair and skin read as Ethereal, for a few reasons:
- Subdued colors suggest age, since human coloring naturally fades with age. So muted coloring helps create the ancient or timeless quality that Ethereals have.
- As objects move farther away in our vision, they appear less saturated. So people of low saturation often have the Ethereal quality of seeming to retreat or fade into the distance.
- Misty coloring on an Ethereal contributes to the impression that she is a misty entity, only partially present on this plane.
Look at actors who have played magical beings or figures from myth or legend, and you'll likely see people with Ethereal qualities. Casting directors know how important appearance is in communicating a character's nature.
Ethereal beauty is aesthetically appealing but not erotically appealing. It's passionless. For this reason, Ethereal women are often the women that other women find beautiful but that some straight men find weird-looking. If a rude guy has ever looked over your shoulder at a fashion magazine and asked, "Is she supposed to be pretty?" you were probably looking at an Ethereal.
Ethereal beauty is often confused with Dramatic beauty, because it's unusual-looking, and rare, and because both types tend to have long faces and frames.
But Dramatic edges seem pointy, while Ethereal edges are gently rounded. And Dramatic energy is aggressive, even threatening, while Ethereal energy is peaceful. Dramatics look ready to attack; Ethereals look as if they can maintain Buddha-like calm even if they're punched in the nose. Dramatics feel like they're moving toward you and Ethereals feel like they're drifting away.
Ethereals are flattered by light-as-air fabrics, translucency, ornate detail, and anything suggesting flight, such as winged shapes or feathers. Ethereals look like themselves when they look as if they're clothed in clouds, mist, starlight, or moonbeams.
Almost a decade ago, just before the beginning of the new school year (I teach, as many of you know), I went to the mall with my credit card and spent several hundred dollars on new clothes.
This was a carefully considered decision. It had been years since I'd bought myself actual new clothes. And I had calculated that I would be able to pay off the balance plus interest over the next 12 months.
In the years prior to that shopping trip, I had bought and thrown away a lot of thrift-store clothes. I felt unable to make myself look beautiful, and I knew I was wasting money. I thought if I spent some serious money on really nice clothes, I'd feel and look different.
I'm a grown-up and a professional, I told myself. It's not unreasonable for me to make a financial investment in my wardrobe.
I was right about that last idea, I think; it makes sense to spend money on clothes you know you'll be wearing for years.
Yet I don't own any of those clothes anymore.
The reason for that, as you may have guessed, is that I had a style analysis not long after that shopping trip, and discovered that most of the expensive shopping-trip clothes were wrong for me.
I had chosen mostly Classic and/or Dramatic pieces -- very stiff, structured, sharp-edged items. I think on some level I believed that the dignity of the clothes would automatically elevate the impression I made.
Yet my style analysis revealed that Ethereal and Natural garments, which are completely unstructured, were actually more dignified for me. They made my somewhat otherworldly and somewhat rough-hewn features read as noble and magical. In Dramatic and Classic lines, by contrast, my face looked a bit coarse and a bit weird... like, out of place. (You don't put Mother Earth in a suit, right?)
I was able to return, resell, repurpose, or gift most of the brand-new clothes, thank goodness.
My style analysis cost $350. That's a fraction of what I spent on the wardrobe that was all wrong for me. And that's more than I've spent on any shopping trip for myself in the years since then.
In fact, I rarely shop for clothes these days. Many of the items in my current wardrobe are several years old; when I find an Ethereal Natural garment, I keep it until it wears out, because it works for me every time I put it on.
For example, I'm on my third pair of these sandals:
They last about two years. (Thin soles!) I wear them all summer. When they wear out, I order another pair.
I've had this skirt, in off-white, for about six years. (I used scissors to cut off the highest ruffles, the ones at the hip -- I needed a narrower silhouette.)
Most of the clothes currently in my wardrobe are thrift store finds. Knowing my style ID means I zoom in on the items that will work for me, and ignore everything else, so shopping is a fast and easy process. It also means that I look better, now, in a shirt I paid seven dollars for, than I looked in anything I bought before I knew my style ID.
I spend so little time and money on clothes now. And I feel really confident when I leave the house, every day.
My hair is a similar story. I've had the same basic hair for years now. I spend zero time agonizing about what hair style looks best on me, or worrying about whether I should change my style, because I know that what looks good in my clothing also looks good around my face: layers, sinuous lines, rough edges, and a lot of length. Basic Ethereal Natural.
Some people really enjoy changing their look every season. And some people really enjoy spending hours trying on clothes. For those people, a style analysis would be a waste of money.
But if you're like me, you don't have the time or patience for all of that. You want to know, once and for all, and have it settled, so you can get on with the more important parts of your life. (I work crazy hours, and I have two jobs and two kids, for goodness' sake. I'm guessing you're as busy as I am.)
And this is my point: if you love feeling beautiful, but you hate wasting time and money, a style analysis is a good investment for you.
Your virtual style analysis comes with a report that describes the process by which I arrived at your result. It also includes specific percentage recommendations for lines lengths, shape sizes, construction/draping, and your masculine-feminine balance. You'll receive your Visual Style Guide and your What Not to Wear as well.
At $279, it's kind of a lot of money. I get that. But it's an investment in your future and your peace of mind. And I expect you'll recoup that investment, as I have recouped mine.
(Originally published August 2016.)
This is a revolutionary new way of thinking about style.
All of the advice you've received, all of your life, has been about how to dress your body. "If you're petite, avoid long pants. If you're curvy, emphasize your waist. "
As far as I can tell, every other style system advises you to dress primarily for your body.
But your body isn't what people are mainly looking at.
They spend the vast majority of their time looking at your face.
And dressing for your body at the expense of your face means you end up looking all wrong.
Let me offer you several examples to demonstrate this phenomenon.
Here's Ellie Kemper:
You might know her from "The Office" or "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt." She's adorbs, right?
If you're guessing that she has a lot of Gamine and a lot of Ingenue (and maybe some Classic?), I'd agree with you. Those stripes are cute on her. (The palette is a separate issue, but never mind.)
Another pic of her looking fantastic:
The headband! The bangs! The cardigan! The tiny earrings! The Nancy Drew hair! So, so right for her. So much Gamine and Ingenue. (And maybe some Classic.)
Here, tiny ruffles, tiny necklace, yoke emphasis -- so Ingenue, and so good:
And here: adorable, face-framing curls, small geometric print, simple, round neckline, high waist -- again, lots of Gamine and Ingenue, very good:
Just a few more images of her looking awesome with lots of Gamine and Ingenue (and some Classic):
But let's imagine that Ellie Kemper's going to get style advice that considers her body as a significant factor.
I don't know if you noticed, but Kemper actually has a super-curvy, very Romantic body.:
Most style systems will assign Ellie Kemper a style type that dresses her for her curvy body.
But that would be all wrong.
See how uncomfortable, how not-herself, this Gamine Ingenue (or Classic-Gamine-Ingenue) looks in Romantic styles:
Thank goodness Kemper (or her stylist) usually understand that she needs to dress for her face, not her body.
Here, Kemper's waist is obscured and her bust is unemphasized. And it's sooo much better!
(Jenna Fischer, also from "The Office," is another example of a woman with a Romantic body but a very youthful face. Like Kemper, Fischer looks all wrong in overtly sexy clothes.
By contrast, Mindy Kaling of "The Office" has quite a bit of Gamine, like Kemper and Fischer do -- but she also has enough sexy Romantic in her face to totally pull off figure-emphasizing clothes. )
"If you got it, flaunt it" is not a thing. Let it go.
Only emphasize your curvy body if it also harmonizes with your face.
Dress for your face.
Other celebrity examples of dressing primarily for one's face, not one's body:
A rather Ingenue face (tiny chin, high forehead, big eyes.)
Is she better in Ingenue or Natural?
Ingenue bows, ruffles, puff sleeves, cap sleeves, high waist, feminine hair, midi length skirt: so good.
Natural t-shirts, layers, separates, shaggy hair, undefined neckline, geometric shapes -- not great.
Jane Krakowski is lovelier when she dresses her face, not her body.
I'm not saying to totally disregard your body. There are individual tweaks your body may call for that are consistent with a style your face doesn't manifest.
For example, Jane Krakowski is flattered by open necklines; they elongate her rather short neck.
That's consistent with Natural, not with Ingenue.
But her open necklines are best when they're adorned with ruffles or bows. True Natural necklines are wrong for her.
extremely tall, mostly Dramatic body.
Christie is so tall -- 6'3" -- and relatively narrow, most style systems would require her to dress as a Dramatic, or a Dramatic/Natural blend.
But that's really wrong for her.
Mostly Dramatic, and so not great:
Much more feminine, and so much better for her:
Even more celebrity examples:
To sum up:
1. Identify your style identity based primarily on your face.
2. Make a few tweaks in the direction of a different style identity if you know your body calls for it.
Dress for your face!
A woman for whom I recently did a virtual analysis offered to write a customer testimonial for me. Now that I'm in my 40s, one of my personal goals is to become more comfortable tooting my own horn. So here it is. :-)
* * *
Why get a Style Analysis from Rachel? After all, can’t you just figure out this stuff yourself? I mean, it costs money, and all that. I can give you one great reason: Rachel’s gift is magical. Her style analysis is spot-on, objective, and exact. She nailed it.
Like most of us, I have been rather haphazard about my style choices. While I like to think of myself as a smart woman, I have a hard time filtering out the style and fashion noise that bombards us daily. Many of us find the process too difficult to navigate, so we opt out. Many just wear sweats and flip flops, unless heading to work. Others, like me, try and try again, spending countless dollars testing out theories and never quite getting it right. Both extremes can justify these choices with the idea that we are not going to be victims of consumerism, or that we can reinvent ourselves as the occasion demands. And many are satisfied with that.
I am not. Like most, I have a lot of demands on my time and money, so I want to make sure I maximize both. These days, at least, image is important, so making the most of that image without breaking the bank is, to my mind, a worthy goal.
I have educated myself about image matters, at least minimally. According to many media sources, I should, at my age, “know what works for me.” I’ve spent more than 50 years as a female marketing target in the United States, though. And I know I am not alone in being more confused about what works for me than ever. Let’s face it: we are constantly being told that we can control or create our image. We can even live virtually behind an avatar, if we choose. This image thing is NOT easy.
Meaningful style analysis was (and is) an elusive target. When I first started spending my own money on clothes, style analysis was limited to the passing reference to types in the back of the Color Me Beautiful books: Dramatic, Classic, Romantic, Natural, and for a small number of people, Ingenue. I never felt drawn to any of those pure types. Based on the offhand comments of family and friends about how small I am (5’4” on a good day, and very short waisted), or how I should look for my various life roles (work, wife, mom) I always distorted the self-test results away from the Dramatic looks that appealed to me. I am too short to pull those off, I would think. High fashion is not for women like me.
I persevered, though. I did not resort to sweats. I watched makeover shows. I bought fashion books. I pinned all the pins about face shape and how to put on makeup for my eye shape. I wore the Lilly Pulitzer dress that matched the pink dress my daughter loved. I wore the Land’s End quilted jacket all the moms were wearing. I developed a utilitarian basic work wardrobe that required no effort on hectic mornings. My image functioned, but it wasn’t great. And it wasn’t cheap.
Trying the latest fad, or buying clothes just for the right color, gets expensive. So does purging your wardrobe of clothes you love because they supposedly don’t work with your angular shoulders. Because, you see, I would focus on individual features of my image without having a vision for the whole.
But Rachel has hit on something the shows, books, blogs, and advice columns won’t tell you: there are parts of your image you can’t change. As she says, your combination of facial features and body parts, the curves and lines they create, give off an impression. Whether you like or accept them, it is good to know what they are.
When I started reading Rachel’s blog a few months ago, I tried to self analyze. I had never heard of the Kibbe types, so I read and looked on Pinterest. I read Rachel’s research on facial typing, and I realized that I probably did not have the discipline to apply this information to myself accurately.
I had never heard of Ethereal as a style type. Flowy clothes were always either Romantic or Natural, but the supernatural Ethereal look is distinct from the others. Gamine is similarly distinct from Ingenue as a youthful look and from the other masculine types. And it makes so much sense to have this symmetrical division from Dramatic on the masculine end to Ethereal on the feminine, with Classic in the middle.
My self analysis wasn’t trustworthy. Years of fashion industry static has made me doubt my eye and my instinct. What’s more, I sometime confuse my mischievous side with a visual style: in short, I saw myself in all of the types. I am small, so I could argue the Ingenue or Gamine essences, but I don’t like the fussiness they need. I am not symmetrical enough to be a Classic, but I do like proportion. I have some rounded features, so maybe there is some Romantic in there. I have some rather average features, and earth tones work for me, so maybe a Natural. Dramatic and Ethereal really appealed to me, but I could not see whether I was coming forward (Dramatic) or receding (Ethereal). And those can’t be right because I am short. I needed help. Enter Rachel.
For me, Rachel’s style analysis, like all truths, has set me free. I am a Dramatic Ethereal Classic (50% Dramatic!). I felt drawn to this type, but had talked myself out of it! Again, I had failed to see that my whole was greater than the sum of my parts. This type makes sense of all of my conflicting signals. I am no longer afraid of my dark coloring: it fits. I am no longer trying to soften the things about my appearance others find intimidating: the Ethereal elements in my style can do that for me without being cutesy, overly casual, or overly ornate (all things I have tried). The Classic part gives proportion to my shortness.
On Rachel’s recommendation, I am trying hairstyles some of the online experts would disapprove of, like no bangs on my long face. I am trying styles that are supposed to be wrong for me, like boatnecks for my broad shoulders. AND THEY ARE WORKING. I have gotten compliments from random co-workers for each of these small experiments. The people who have seen Rachel’s recommendations for me have unanimously approved.
Here is the best part: I am not afraid of growing into this image. I can look back and see that these elements have always been part of me, and knowing that, the future looks so much brighter! Is Style Analysis worth it? With Rachel it is. Thank you, Rachel, for helping me find myself!
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This customer's words made me so happy. More than anything, I want to help women feel authentically beautiful. If you're interested in a virtual analysis for yourself, book it today! :-) And keep in mind that many women do find success using the very affordable Style Identity Calculator on their own. :-)
Last week, I explained that Romantic, Natural, Ingenue, and Gamine characteristics come from physical traits that actually distinguish women from men and adults from children.
I didn't address Ethereal and Dramatic, though. That's because those beauty archetypes don't arise wholly from what's true about actual human women and men.
I believe that the archetypes of Ethereal and Dramatic arise instead from our fantasies of supernatural or inhuman women and men.
More specifically, I propose the following:
Ethereal: The Feminized Supernatural
I believe our idea of the Ethereal quality derives from the feminine physical qualities that we project onto onto imaginary, superhuman beings we see as peaceful or helpful.
The most obvious example is our idea of an angel. But this archetype also shows up in saints, aliens, and deities; whether they're male or female, we tend to give them feminized physical traits.
Our fantasies of such creatures generally depict them physically as having narrow and smoothly ovoid faces; high foreheads; large, widely spaced, oval eyes; high, rounded eyebrows; long noses; unearthly but low-contrast coloring; narrow jaws; and small, tapering chins.
The overall physical impression of these beings is rather feminine, but some traits that characterize average human women, such as a relatively round face and relatively small nose, are missing.
These are feminine faces, but it's an imagined femininity, not a mortal, "estrogenized" femininity.
From this imagining, I believe, emerges the archetype of Ethereal beauty.
See the similarities between the faces above and the Ethereal faces below. Faces are elongated and oval-shaped, gently sculpted but without harsh angles. Eyes are penetrating, wise, and peaceful, more almond-shaped than round, and often heavy-lidded. Noses are long and narrow. Lips are a bit fleshy and feminine, but not voluptuous. Eyebrows are narrow, long, and gently arched. Foreheads are high. The hairline is rounded.
But which is it?
- The Ingenue visually signals youthfulness and innocence. She looks natural with a sincere, full smile. You might instinctively describe her as girlish and pretty.
- The Romantic visually signals confidence, maturity, and sensuality. Though she's no more or less sexual than any other human, her resting face tends to read as a "come-hither" expression. You wouldn't hesitate to apply the word "sexy" to her.
- The Ethereal visually signals wisdom and detachment from the physical world. She looks like herself when she's gazing at a far-off point or smiling knowingly. You might think of her as beautiful, or just unusual-looking; she doesn't read as youthful or overtly sexy.
If it has occurred to you that these three types of visual femininity sound an awful lot like the faces of the Threefold Goddess -- Maiden, Mother, and Crone -- then all I can say is, great minds think alike.
My next posts will be more detailed individual explorations of Romantics, Ingenues, and Ethereals, in that order.
I know many of you are like
A fun way to gauge your relative amounts of masculine beauty (Dramatic, Natural, and Gamine) and feminine beauty (Romantic, Ingenue, Ethereal) is to determine whether you'd be convincing in drag.
If you're a woman, could you pass as a man? If you're a man, could you pass as a woman?
Liev Schreiber, not so much. I'm thinking he's mostly Natural with some Classic and Gamine.
I've given copies of the tool to about a hundred people. I'm not giving away any more at this point; I need to take a day or two to read all of the excellent feedback I've received and use it to improve the tool.
I know a lot of people still want it! The good news is, I currently intend to offer it at a price point that most of you will find very reasonable.
Initially, I thought it would be impossible. But I'm actually finding it very doable.
For example, I'm thinking of Romantic-Ethereal-Classic as "Elegant Aphrodite."
Other examples of three-way combo archetypes in progress:
Romantic-Natural-Classic = "Alluring L.L. Bean."
Dramatic-Gamine-Ingenue = "Girlish Punk Rocker."
Classic-Gamine-Ingenue = "Darling Prep Schooler, a.k.a. Cher from 'Clueless.' "
My Pinterest boards for each three-way combo are still secret, but I aim to make them public soon. When I do, I'll add info about the trifold combos to this site.
In total, we'll have 63 style identity options:
7 pure essences + 21 doubles + 35 triples.
Do you have ideas about particular three-essence archetypes? Share them in the comments!
Edited to add:
I've made all of the above-mentioned Pinterest boards public. You can see them here:
It's also great for analyzing friends, family, and celebs.
To use it, you'll need internet access and a PC with Microsoft Excel.
The Style ID Calculator was fantastic! Turns out I'm a Natural-Ingénue-Classic. - R.G.
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