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.
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.
Your promo code is JUNECALC.
It's good for a week; it expires June 16th.
What do people say after using the Style ID Calculator?
Wow! That was incredibly helpful. I have been struggling with finding the right shapes and styles to wear. I was quite surprised to get Ethereal Natural - but it fits, perfectly! Thank you for creating and sharing this wonderful tool.
And Lilac says:
Your style calculator is no less than genius!!! And I am not easily impressed. I was kind of skeptical about it. I'm often told that I look like a completely different person, when I change my hair. So I tried the test with 3 different hairstyles. I had to choose completely different boards each time. So there I thought - I've confused the system.
Imagine my surprise, when I got the same results each and every time! 😮
Well, almost the same. The percentage for the identities was different, but the identities where the same...
It really works 😁
Thank you SO MUCH. You are incredible 💖
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 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 initially searched for 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 Identity 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 Identity Analysis is to empower women in their own authentic beauty.
Yet talking about Romantic women's appearance is difficult for me because, traditionally, 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, may be tired of being valued for their feminine beauty.
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, and large foreheads.
Think about what happens to the female body at puberty. Push those changes to the extremes, and you're picturing a Romantic's best look. Romantics are flattered by clothes that create the impression of an extreme hourglass figure. They benefit from cinched waists, hip emphasis, cleavage emphasis, and butt emphasis.
Let's put aside that this may be the embodiment of the hetero male fantasy. What's important is that it's the Romantic woman's particular form of beauty. For that reason, and no other, we celebrate it.
Dark hair tends to read 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. 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.
Feminine beauty is defined by the curving line. Perhaps because a curved line is more visually complicated than a straight line, Ethereals and Romantics look great surrounded by a lot of detail. (While Naturals and Dramatics are unattractive in highly detailed contexts.) A Romantic looks gorgeous in ruffles, gathers, ruching, elaborate hair, and ornate jewelry.
Red roses symbolize romance and sexuality, and a Romantic woman's beauty is like a red rose: beautiful, delicate, detailed, and composed 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 instead choose shapeless, roomy clothes, you risk looking dumpy and unprepared. (Though a Natural could pull this off.)
When you honor your Romantic beauty by choosing feminine, figure-hugging clothes, it reads as dignified and self-aware.
But you can also perfect your Romantic beauty with an over-the-top use of jewelry or profuse detail near your face. This is a great choice for Romantic women who don't want to wear figure-hugging clothes.
The more jewelry you put on a Romantic, the better she looks. The rest of us start to look silly or mannish very quickly.
If you know what looks good on you, but you don't know your style identity, try the Style Identity Calculator.
A version of this post was published in May of 2015.
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.
Dramatic is a style type I am always delighted to encounter in a virtual analysis.
Women with a lot of Dramatic tend to have strong jaws, strong brows, strong cheekbones, intense, narrow eyes, and an overall powerful energy.
These women can pull off avant-garde clothes that most of us can't; in fact, they require extreme minimalism, sharp corners, and straight lines in their ensembles in order to appear as the gorgeous women they are. Clothes that are unstructured, very detailed, or noticeably feminine tend to exaggerate the masculine aspects of Dramatic features in an unlovely way.
To wrap my head around style types, I find it helpful to use visual thesauri and word association tools.
"Striking" is already a word I use when I think about Dramatic types, but "spectacular' is new. I love "spectacular" for Dramatics in its literal sense -- having the quality of a spectacle. Dramatic clothes beg to be looked at. (What's ironic is that when a Dramatic wears them, we're more likely to notice her and not her face, because her face is exactly as spectacular as the clothes are.)
"Large" and "big" are definitely important for Dramatics. In a Dramatic look, everything gets turned up to 11.
Dramatic clothes are thrilling on the runway or on the hanger. And, of course, they are merely correct on a Dramatic woman. (This is an interesting corollary to Classic clothes, which can be boring on a hanger but sensational on a Classic woman. There's a version of this for every style type: On a Natural, sloppy clothes aren't sloppy; on a Gamine, weird clothes aren't weird; etc.)
"Striking" leads us to "strike," which is fitting, because Dramatic energy feels like it's hitting you. Dramatics and Ethereals can be easily confused, because they both have sculpted, unusual-looking features, but one way to distinguish them is that Dramatic energy "strikes" you with its forward-moving, aggressive energy, whereas Ethereal energy feels like it's floating away.
Here are some more fun words associated with "dramatic":
Of course, there are many associated with the theater; Dramatic clothes, by themselves, are performances. I like here also "decisive" (nothing about Dramatics is wishy-washy!) and "sharp."
Here are some additional adjectives I commonly use for Dramatic looks:
You might be a Dramatic blend with a gentle, peaceful nature. Rest assured that your sharp, intense, attention-getting clothes will look at home on you, and you'll stand out less than if you wear the clothes that are all wrong for you.
The lines on the right are much more extreme than the traditionally feminine lines on the left, but in which picture does model Hailey Baldwin look most like herself? For me, it's the one on the right. I'm not thinking about that edgy red top; I'm just looking at her face. :-) Whereas on the left, I keep getting distracted by that ostrich trim and those hair. She doesn't have enough Ethereal to look normal in those delicate feathers, and her beauty is not feminine enough to be really flattered by those waves. She has a lot of Dramatic, and looks her best in strong, straight lines and little detail.
(I've said before, but should probably mention again, that masculine beauty and feminine beauty are both wonderful, and it's no slight to a woman to notice that her beauty is masculine rather than feminine. Most supermodels have strongly masculine beauty.)
Not sure of your style type? Try the Style Identity Calculator, or consider investing in a Virtual Analysis.
The vast, vast majority of style advice is about your body. Have you noticed this?
How to make your bust look bigger if you're flat-chested, or smaller if you're busty. How to make your tush look rounder or how to disguise a really big tush. How to make your legs look longer if they're short, or shorter if they're long. Et cetera.
I have a tiny bust and narrow hips. And fashion gurus have been telling me all my life that this makes me a "rectangle, " and that I should dress in a way that makes me appear to have a narrow waist and a full bust. For example, I'm supposed to wear padded bikini tops with ruffles. This site tells me I need "Dresses that add definition to your bottom and necklines that add meat to the upper body. " This site says "always add belts to your tops and dresses. " This site says "You need to create the illusion of a waist."
When you stop and think about it, you realize that style advice like this is based on two assumptions:
1. Other people are mainly looking at your body, not your face.
2. Every woman looks most beautiful when her body appears as a perfectly proportioned hourglass.
Neither of these things is true.
Number 1 is obviously false. You'd be hard-pressed to correctly identify anyone but your closest family members if you could only see them from the neck down. By contrast, you'll recognize a face you haven't seen in 20 years, even if it's been changed by age. Our brains are wired to notice and remember faces. When we look at other people, that's mainly what we're looking at.
Number 2 is also demonstrably false. Some women with ample curves look most lovely when their curves are exaggerated, and some full-figured women look most lovely when their curves are downplayed. Some women with flat busts and hips look best in clothes that emphasize the flatness, and some look their best in clothes that create a suggestion of curves.
A curvy woman who's more lovely in clothes that de-emphasize her curves: Jamie Lee Curtis:
A less-curvy woman who looks her best when her curves are played down, not emphasized: Emma Watson.
A curvy woman who looks much better when her curves are emphasized than when her curves are obscured: Christina Hendricks.
A woman with a straight silhouette who looks lovelier when the illusion of curves is created: Olivia Wilde.
In each of these cases, "body type" has nothing to do with what clothes are flattering. There are women of every body type who look fantastic with a cinched waist and a sweetheart neckline. There are women of every body type who look amazing in rectangular or squarish silhouettes with no waist or bust emphasis.
What's the controlling factor, then? The face.
Jamie Lee Curtis has a primarily Dramatic face that's flattered by long, straight lines and minimalism.
Emma Watson has a primarily Gamine face that's flattered by shorter straight lines and small shapes.
Christina Hendricks and Olivia Wilde both have faces with a lot of Romantic, so they both look great in clothes that create the impression of a sexy, womanly figure. (I suspect Wilde has Dramatic and
perhaps Classic as well.)
As an Ethereal Natural, neither of my dominant identities is flattered by a sexy, full bustline or a cinched waist. What's the point of me appearing to have an hourglass figure if that figure clashes with my face, which is what people are actually looking at?
I look my best in a sort of abstract, feminine minimalism that feels casual. My bust is unemphasized and my waist is uncinched, and it looks great.
"Body type" advice is bogus.
Despite what you've been led to believe, we are all focusing on your face, not your body.
To achieve visual harmony, dress for your face.
Not sure of your style type? Try the Style Identity Calculator, or invest in a virtual analysis.
I spend a LOT of time looking at outfits and answering the question, "What style types are represented here?"
For the last few years, the answer that comes up the most often is "Gamine."
Gamine style elements are having a moment in fashion.
Everywhere I look, I see cropped pants, skinny pants, cropped tops, cropped sleeves, higher waistlines, shorts, mini dresses, stripes, boyish hats, contrast collars and cuffs, pattern mixing, color blocking, and ankle boots. SO. MANY. ANKLE. BOOTS.
If you're a Gamine blend, this is great! You have a lot of options in the stores right now.
Classic and Ingenue blends can benefit too. Classics might find tailored Gamine pieces in more neutral (conservative) hues, and Ingenues won't have to hunt for shorter pant legs and sleeves.
It's Ethereals, Dramatics, and Naturals -- the style types defined by elongation -- who will find the fewest options among today's Gamine-influenced clothes.
Now, Naturals never struggle too much -- one can find loose, unstructured clothing almost anywhere these days, and it's been that way for about 40 years. But Ethereal and Dramatic looks are not easy to find in stores right now.
As an Ethereal Natural, I do most of my clothes shopping online. (Have you tried ThredUp? I've used them twice now, and I really like the results. Future blog post.) I also find awesome pieces in thrift stores.
Because of how we've been socialized, we all feel an urge to wear what's being promoted in stores and fashion magazines. But if you don't have Gamine features, Gamine clothes will not fully bring out your beauty.
Knowing your style type makes it easier to resist falling for fashion fads. If you're not sure of your type, try the Style ID Calculator, or consider a virtual analysis from me. :-)
With her permission, I'm sharing Danielle M.'s engrossing story: her personal style journey, and her experience with the Style Identity Calculator. Her story will be especially interesting to those of you with a Style ID Calculator result of more than three essences. I love her idea of "self-storytelling."
Growing up, I struggled a lot with confidence when it came to my clothes (though, I acknowledge that this is not an uncommon backstory). I just couldn't figure out why every outfit I tried on seemed to highlight what I believed were my worst flaws. As a young adult, I resigned myself to a life of never finding a way to dress myself that would allow me to express my most genuine self. My wardrobe evolved into a hodgepodge of fast fashion consisting of whatever the "influencers" were telling us to wear. Most frustratingly, on the rare occasion that I did feel wonderful in my clothes, I couldn't articulate why.
Last May, I stumbled upon Kibbe's system, and for the first time in ages I felt a flicker of hope that I could develop a personal style that would feel true to me. I'm a very intentional person in most areas of my life, and I liked the idea of Kibbe's strict rules for different body types. Kibbe's system would've been fine for me, if I fit neatly -- or even messily! -- into one of his categories. But by the billionth exasperated sigh over being utterly unable to decide between classed as a Theatrical Romantic, a Soft Classic, a Soft Gamine, or a Soft Dramatic by my own eyes and by those of some very, very patient friends and family, I accepted that I do not fit into Kibbe's system.
I purchased your *brilliant* Style ID Calculator with near certainty that it would return an even blend of Ingenue and Ethereal, convinced that because Kibbe dropped those two essences from his system, I just had to be a mix of both of them. Imagine my astonishment when upon arriving at the end of the 63rd board, I saw this: 30% GAMINE, 30% CLASSIC, 30% ROMANTIC. The first time I used the Style ID Calculator, I used a full body image from a few years ago when I was at a different weight. The second time, I used a full body photo of myself taken that very morning. The result: 10% DRAMATIC, 25% GAMINE, 25% CLASSIC, 25% ROMANTIC -- basically the same blend with a smidge of drama. Third time, I decided to actually follow your excellent instructions and use my face only. :) Result: 30% DRAMATIC, 30% CLASSIC, 30% GAMINE. From these results, it became crystal clear to me why I could've taken the Kibbe quiz again and again forever and never would've received an accurate result because he doesn't allow for a situation where someone is primarily a 50/50 fusion of a masculine/feminine "blend" (classic) ~AND~ a masculine/feminine "combination of opposites" (gamine) -- which consistently forms the basis of my particular makeup. Also, the results from your Style ID Calculator perfectly illuminate the reason why I bounced around four out of the five main Kibbe categories and why none of the guidelines for any of them would've supplied complete instructions for me. Thanks to your system, I'm finally deciphering my personal style's enigmatic code.
I've already experimented with different looks, and I've learned that outfits work best for me if I actually attempt to incorporate all four essences. I went back to see how I answered the Romantic-Classic-Gamine and the Dramatic-Classic-Gamine boards on each of my three Style ID Calculator trials, and I was surprised that it was a "3" in all cases for both boards. However, I do notice that something feels super-slightly off unless all four essences are represented in my look. I hypothesize that this is due to the fact that I seem to be comprised of all four in relatively high and equal amounts.
So, I've purchased both the Romantic-Classic-Gamine and the Dramatic-Classic-Gamine Shopping Guides and will probably end up purchasing absolutely everything in your store related to these two blends, haha!
I know that at the end of the day, it is easy for many of us to dismiss personal style as a trivial matter. Indeed, I have done so myself in the past, mostly out of feigned-apathetic declarations that sartorial concerns were just not "for me". But over the course of my journey with body typing and color analysis (...whole other tome...), I've come to view this as a process of self-storytelling, through which a more honest version of self-love blooms. This is no small thing. Instead of feeling like I have to obscure any of my features that I bemoaned when I was younger, I've come to understand how I can celebrate the delightfully paradoxical characteristics that make me... me. Cheesy as all this sounds, I've fallen a little more in love with myself throughout this adventure, and I truly cannot thank you enough for providing a language through which I can tell my tale without speaking a word. Those I cross paths with will now know upon first glance that I'm a "Cheeky Duchess" who moonlights as a "Spunky Art Critic"! :)
Eternally grateful to you for helping me to express my truth and my beauty.
If you're into perfume, chances are you have checked out my fragrance guides. Each guide describes the best fragrances for your style type.
You may have wondered, though, whether you should be even more selective about your fragrance, coordinating it not just with your style type but with your color season.
Now, I do believe the interaction between color season and style ID is somewhat variable: for example, an Ethereal Gamine who is a Bright Winter might choose to manifest more Gamine (vivid primaries!) in her palette, while an Ethereal Gamine who is a Soft Summer might reflect more Ethereal (sunrise and sunset hues!) in her palette.
But I believe that, in general, your perfume profile is more useful if you keep it consistent with your style type, not your color season. My reasoning for this is as follows: your seasonal palette is already being strongly communicated to the eye of the viewer; color's the first thing we notice, right? So I feel an appropriate role for your fragrance is to reinforce the secondary message of the style type that's being communicated through your lines.
Having said that... If you own your style type's fragrance guide, and you really want to bring your color season into your fragrances, I'll list some specific fragrance notes you may consider looking for. Perhaps start with a fragrance family recommended for your style type, and search within that family for fragrances containing these notes.
To bring Bright Spring into a fragrance, try adding:
To bring True/Warm Spring into a fragrance, try adding:
To bring Light Spring into a fragrance, try adding:
To bring Light Summer into a fragrance, try adding:
To bring True/Cool Summer into a fragrance, try adding:
To bring Soft Summer into a fragrance, try adding:
To bring Soft Autumn into a fragrance, try adding:
To bring True/Warm Autumn into a fragrance, try adding:
To bring Dark Autumn into a fragrance, try adding:
To bring Dark Winter into a fragrance, try adding:
To bring True Winter into a fragrance, try adding:
To bring Bright Winter into a fragrance, try adding:
For the essential fragrance notes and fragrance families recommended for your style type, check out your Fragrance Guide.
To search for fragrances by specific notes, try these sites:
The Perfumed Court
If you're not sure of your style type, try the Style ID Calculator, or consider a virtual style analysis. If you're not sure of your color season, try At-Home Draping Cards.
One of the variables that differ from style type to style type is the amount of detail that is most flattering to that type.
Some of us look beautiful with a ton of detail; some of us look beautiful in a minimalist context; and some of us can pull off both high-detail and low-detail looks.
But what does "amount of detail" actually mean?
The best way I have come up to explain "amount of detail" is this: Imagine that your image in the mirror is a pencil sketch. "Amount of detail" is the number of pencil strokes you'd need in order to accurately render that sketch.
A shift dress can be rendered with relatively few lines, while a dress with a sweetheart neckline, a pleated skirt, pleated sleeves, and sequins would require literally hundreds of pencil strokes.
A flat piece of fabric is extremely low-detail. As soon as you gather that fabric into pleats or drapes or ruching, the image becomes much more detailed. Not coincidentally, pleats, draping, and ruching read as feminine.
Detail always reads as feminine. I have a couple of theories about why this might be. One idea is that we view detail as feminine because detail holds the eye, and throughout history we have seen women, not men, as the sex that exists to be looked at. Another idea is that we associate detail with femaleness because a curving line is "busier" (more detailed) than a straight line, and the lines of female bodies, on average, curve more than the lines of male bodies. A third idea is that we associated a highly detailed ensemble with femininity because creating a highly detailed ensemble takes time and effort, and women, not men, are traditionally expected to put time and effort into their appearance.
Regardless of why it's so, a high level of detail adds femininity, and minimalism adds masculinity. Women whose style types are mostly androgynous/masculine will usually find that too much detail makes them look mannish. Women whose style types are mostly feminine will usually find they are less pretty in minimalist looks.
I'm an Ethereal Natural with tiny smidges of a few other essences. My feminine-masculine balance is about 60-40 in favor of feminine elements. If my fabrics are rough and my colors are restrained, I can handle quite a bit of detail, but if my fabrics and colors are already very feminine, I can easily get overwhelmed with detail, and end up looking mannish. My curly hair by itself adds a ton of detail (imagine making a pencil sketch of it!), so if I'm wearing my hair down I don't have a lot of room to add more detail. Most of my garment choices are pretty simple.
This sharply tailored suit could be drawn with very few pencil strokes. It's low-detail.
Alison Williams is stunning in it because her striking, masculine beauty calls for a very low amount of detail. (I think Williams is highly Dramatic.)
Jennifer Aniston is another celebrity who looks her best in very low-detail looks. She has a ton of Natural (which, along with Dramatic, is a masculine style type that asks for very little detail.)
See how much better Aniston is in the low-detail dress on the right than she is in the high-detail dress on the left. For a strongly Natural woman (like Aniston and myself), a low-detail context, which is masculine, actually makes her look more feminine.
Most off-the-rack fast fashion is low in detail. If you're a predominantly feminine style blend, shop for items with more detail built in, like pleats, complicated lapels, visible stitching, and a sheeny finish (which adds visual detail as a result of the play of reflected light.) If your clothes are simple and you need to add detail, the easiest way to go is to add highly detailed accessories: for example, profusely detailed earrings, necklace, and scarf.
A few years ago, I had an idea to create a tool that would generate verbal descriptions of outfits for each of the style types.
Last April, I returned to that idea. I'm ready now to roll out the Infinite Outfit Generator for each of the 63 style types!
This is a great tool for you if you're a "word person" and you'd benefit from a written description of your best clothes.
Every time you refresh the page, you'll get new ideas for tops, bottoms, and dresses.
Here's a video of me using the Infinite Outfit Generator for Romantic-Dramatic-Gamine.
In the video, I use an on-screen keyboard to show the keyboard shortcut for repeatedly refreshing the page. But you'll just use your regular keyboard. :-)
You'll need a desktop or laptop computer and internet access to use this tool. Your purchase gives you access to the generator as a view-only document. You'll receive a link by email.
Take screenshots of your favorite outfit descriptions! There are hundreds of thousands of possible separates ideas, and (for most types) over a million distinct dress descriptions.
I'm offering each Infinite Outfit Generator for 11.99, but you can have it for 20% off if you buy it this week! Use coupon code INFINITE20OFF .
Click here to buy your Infinite Outfit Generator.
- - - -
Are you, or is someone you know, an app developer? I'd love to make the Infinite Outfit Generator into an app! Please contact me at email@example.com! I'd really like to give this business to a reader. :-)
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.
For a woman who's color-confused, a $25 or $50 gift card will buy her the Six Season or 12 Season Home Draping Card Set so she can drape herself.
For a woman who already knows her color season, a $40 gift card gifts her with her very own season in 40 jumbo-sized sheets.
For a woman who struggles to know her own style, the $15 gift card will let her buy the the perennially popular Style Identity Calculator.
The woman who already knows her own style will enjoy the $20 or $30 gift card, which will give her access to documents for her style type.
To really treat someone you care about, try the $100 gift card, which buys the Style Identity Calculator and the full suite of documents for one's style type.
Or the $110 gift card, which covers home draping cards, a seasonal color palette, and a seasonal makeup list.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Yet we live in an era of casual fashion. What used to be called "sportswear" is the expected everyday clothing for most of us.
Dramatic asks for stiffness and tailoring, but most of what's available in department stores is unconstructed and soft, and the stiff, tailored pieces are expensive!
Dramatic asks for avant-garde pieces, but some women who are Dramatic blends aren't comfortable with those looks, or don't have access to those items.
Dramatic asks for an aggressive energy, but some Dramatic types don't feel comfortable channeling aggression.
So if you are a Dramatic blend Dramatic, what are your easy options for creating a Dramatic impression?
You can buy pieces as a set... or you can create a visually unbroken line by simply matching your bottoms to your top. If the color is continuous, people will perceive the line as being elongated. The monochromatic look is also visually intense, which reads as Dramatic.
I can't say enough about this beautiful handmade jewelry. I'm writing about it because I had the opportunity this summer to see it in person.
I had no idea what went into making jewelry by hand. It's frankly awe-inspiring to hold one of these in your hand and think about the fact that the person sitting across from you made it. The silversmith who makes this jewelry, Linda Groom, is so talented. This is the kind of jewelry you own forever; it's flawlessly crafted, it's heavy -- it's real, you know?
One of the things I really respect about Linda's jewelry is that she has a consistent aesthetic you can feel across all of her pieces. Blunt edges, earthy materials, organic shapes, and hammered finishes embody the Natural style type. If you're a Natural blend, there's a piece in Linda's collection that will resonate with you.
I love this bracelet for a Natural with Ethereal and Classic elements, a "Preppy Bohemian." The glow of the silver, the slender, gently curving lines, and the overall color scheme add Ethereal; the regularity and balance make it fitting for a Classic as well.
This gorgeous bracelet is good for a Natural with a strong Romantic influence -- a "Babe Next Door." Romantic comes in through the rounder shapes and the deep purple color.
I love this bracelet. It's abstract, but dainty and playful too. It's great for a Natural with Ethereal and either Gamine or Ingenue essences.
These are gorgeous earrings for a Natural with some Ethereal and Ingenue influences -- a"Flower Child."
This is a beautiful bracelet for a Natural with Romantic and Classic -- "Today's Southern Belle." The cuff's overall symmetry adds the Classic element.
These earrings would be lovely for a Natural Gamine with some additional feminine influence (Romantic, Ethereal, or Ingenue).
I love these for a Natural with Romantic and Ethereal -- a "Glamorous Gypsy." Romantics are great with big, round shapes; the cutout here adds a mystical quality.
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!
I recently decided to try to answer this question.
My interest in the question was sparked when I noticed that some men who appear to have a lot of Romantic or Ethereal -- which are feminine essences -- -- are more attractive with full beards than they are clean-shaven.
This was initially a puzzle to me, because beards, I was thinking, are iconically masculine, and these men are otherwise flattered by feminine details such as soft fabrics and draping. (Kit Harington is gorgeous in a draped scarf.)
But a couple of possible explanations have occurred to me.
Romantic and Ethereal essences require soft edges and a lack of structure. Hair is inherently soft-edged and unstructured, right? A person has to go to a lot of effort to make hair look stiff or sharp.
So perhaps a full beard on a very Romantic man (a man with sexy, voluptuous features) or a very Ethereal man (a man with angelic, otherworldly features) is flattering because the beard adds soft edges and a lack of structure to the face.
I think Benedict Cumberbatch has a lot of Ethereal, and I love him with facial hair.
(Though the right is too scraggly! It's tough to find a pic of him with a full but neat beard.)
Same with Keanu Reeves and Tyson Beckford.
In all of these men, I think the beard, in addition to adding softness, brings out the "wise" quality Ethereals have.
(Keanu has some Dramatic too, I think. More on those guys below.)
But how do we explain men with a lot of Ingenue (a youthful, pretty, girlish beauty) who are flattered by beards? Because that's totally a thing.
Ingenue is a feminine essence, but unlike Romantic and Ethereal it calls for clean edges and a bit of stiffness. So you wouldn't necessarily think a beard would flatter an Ingenue man's face.
Yet I notice a lot of men who seem to be quite Ingenue are improved by beards.
Rainn Wilson (Dwight from from The Office) has a high forehead, a tiny nose, a small mouth, and a tiny chin -- all features that read as girlish. I'm guessing he has a lot of Ingenue. And he's much improved by a beard.
I suspect Eddie Redmayne has a lot of Ingenue as well. (He's so pretty, and see how well he passes for a girl.) And again, look how much better he is with a beard.
Jeffrey Wright is another actor I'd call "pretty" without a beard, and who looks much more handsome bearded:
I think beards do flatter Ingenue men. The question "why?" is one I'm still mulling over.
To my eye, beards on these men bring out quite a bit of manliness that wasn't previously there. They seem to bring these men into balance as men. Without the beards, these men are too Ingenue, IMO.
Is it the case that a beard, despite being iconically masculine, is actually feminizing in its visual effect? ... because it's soft and round-edged? And that adding the feminine element to an Ingenue man emphasizes his masculine qualities by contrast? -- just as adding the masculine elements to Dramatic, Natural, and Gamine women actually make them appear more feminine? (Great example: short hair s. long hair on Winona Ryder.)
I think I'm on to something here.
* * *
Who else is flattered by a beard? Well, our craggy, rough-hewn, approachable Naturals, of course. That shouldn't surprise anyone. They're like the poster guys for beards.
See Jeff Bridges, The Rock, and Will Ferrell, three guys I think have a lot of Natural:
(Though the Rock has perhaps Classic and Dramatic too?)
In the case of Naturals, I think the explanation is obvious: Naturals are good with shagginess. Beards have a shaggy quality. Easy peasy.
(This is analogous to Natural being the only masculine essence that is flattered by round edges instead of sharp corners, and by flow instead of structure.)
So, who isn't great with a full beard?
Well, Gamines, for one -- men whose handsomeness is boyish.
Leonardo DiCaprio has a ton of Gamine (which is why he can wear bow ties even though he's over six feet), and he is definitely more handsome without a beard.
This makes sense -- Gamines need straight lines and sharp corners.
The only facial hair I've seen look appropriate on Gamine-influenced men is controlled and mischievous-looking:
But for a very Gamine man, even a groomed, devilish goatee is too much:
Meh. Baby-faced Leo is just better clean-shaven.
Classics, too, are not at their best with beards. I suspect Jon Hamm has Classic with some Dramatic, and I don't think a beard is an improvement on him.
(He may have some Natural too, but not enough to pull off that beard.)
It makes sense that men with a lot of Classic wouldn't be flattered by beards; Classic beauty derives almost totally from regular, symmetrical features, and a beard would just obscure those perfect features.
Is George Clooney better with a beard? I don't think so, and I suspect the explanation lies in how much Classic he has.
(He has a little Natural, but, again, not enough to work that beard, IMO. And he also has some Gamine, which is contraindicating the beard as well.)
Michael C. Hall is also too regular-featured for facial hair:
Last but not least, let's look at highly Dramatic men -- men with masculine features that are sharp, narrow, and intimidating.
I don't love them with full, uncontrolled beards, but they can be flattered by very controlled and/or imposing facial hair. A beard that's groomed to be very full only around the mouth (like a very full Van Dyke beard) is good for Dramatics. And I keep coming back to highly Dramatic men as the only men who seem able to pull off a full (not thin or fine) solo mustache -- especially when it's turned down at the corners.
What do you notice about the men in your life?
And how do we explain beards for Ingenue men?
Let me know what you think.
A reader recently asked me this question. It's a fun question for me, data nerd that I am. :-)
To answer it, I took a quick look at my last 26 virtual style analyses. I counted the number of occurrences of each of the seven individual essences.
A couple of clients have come out as pure types -- for example, I have had a pure Natural and a pure Dramatic -- but most women turn out to be a blend of two or three essences.
It turns out that all seven main essences were more or less equally represented in my last 26 style analyses.
At the high and low ends, I had seven appearances of Ethereal and ten appearances of Gamine.
Each of the other five basic essences -- Natural, Dramatic, Classic, Romantic, and Ingenue -- appeared eight or nine times.
So perhaps Gamine is slightly more common, and Ethereal is slightly less common?
Or the difference could just be due to chance -- though I didn't test it, I doubt these differences are statistically significant.
And there's also the possibility that women who contact me are not a representative sample of all of the types.
Which style combination types are the most common? I tried to answer this by looking at which of my personal style products are ordered the most frequently.
The style types most frequently requested are:
Natural-Classic-Gamine - The Posh Tomboy
Natural-Classic-Ingenue - The Polished Farmgirl
Romantic Natural - The Babe Next Door
Romantic-Natural-Classic - The Sexy Prep
As for the question which combinations are the rarest, there are a couple of combinations that stand out as being very underrepresented in products ordered from my store. They are:
Dramatic-Gamine-Ingenue - The Childlike Czarina Dramatic-Natural-Gamine - The Casual Punk
Ethereal-Classic-Gamine - The Polished Sprite
Ethereal-Gamine-Ingenue - The Spunky Fairy
Dramatic-Natural-Ingenue - The Dark Mori Girl
Dramatic-Gamine-Ingenue, the Childlike Czarina, is far and away the least ordered type. So perhaps it's the rarest type?
Or it could be that DGI woman are less likely to type themselves as such, or to visit my site, or to order from my site. Hard to know. :-)
The trend I notice above is that each apparently uncommon type combines a supernatural-ish essence (Dramatic or Ethereal) with a childlike essence (Gamine or Ingenue.) I do think it's rare to see people with those combinations.
We women are frequently told that, once we are past a certain age, there are childlike things (like miniskirts and polka dots and bows) that we just can't pull off anymore.
But the truth is, some of us could never pull off these items. And some of us continue to look fabulous in them well into old age.
That's because childlike elements suit women with a lot of Gamine essence (youthful, masculine beauty) or a lot of Ingenue essence (youthful, feminine beauty). And there are plenty of older women who are strongly Ingenue, or Gamine, or both.
Betty White and Jane Goodall are two examples I use a lot, but also see Audrey Hepburn in her old age, Whoopi Goldberg, Debbie Allen, and Roseanne Barr. Some people never stop looking adorable.
One of my favorite things is seeing older women killing it in Gamine and Ingenue styles. It comes across as incredibly confident because it's obvious that these women really see themselves. They look in the mirror and know what they look like, and embrace it by coordinating their style choices with their natural geometry.
Don't let the fashion industry tell you what to think on this issue. Be guided by what you actually look like.
If you're strongly Ethereal, Natural, Dramatic, Romantic, and/or Classic, you'll probably want to avoid traditionally childlike fashions -- even if you're still a teen. (I'm an Ethereal Natural, and even as a child I wasn't flattered by polka dots or bows or cutesy patterns.)
But if you're strongly Gamine, you can feel confident in booties, funky eyeglass frames, tights, miniskirts, bright colors, playful jewelry, and everything else whimsical and funky. And if you're strongly Ingenue, don't hesitate to sport ringlets, tiny floral prints, peplums, ruffles, Mary Janes, babydoll silhouettes, and everything else girlish and sweet.
Not sure what your Style ID is? Figure it out yourself with the Style Identity Calculator, or invest in a Virtual Analysis.
In my part of the world, pools open Memorial Day weekend. I hope that gives many of you enough time to take advantage of the Swimwear Guides I am so psyched to offer now.
I hope to revolutionize the way women think about swimwear.
If you're familiar with my blog and my style system, you know that I propose that women look best when their dress for their faces, not for their bodies. As far as I know, no one else has made this realization, and I think it's really important to spread the word about this.
As women wanting to look our best, we are encouraged to obsess about the tiny details of our bodies. Are my shoulders the same width as my hips, or slightly wider? Am I an apple or a pear? Are my fingers delicate or just bony?
A lot of us have spent dozens or even hundreds of hours asking ourselves these questions.
When it comes to swimwear, the pressure to scrutinize our bodies so minutely is particularly intense.
I want you to know and believe that it is all utter bull.
If you have a Dramatic face, you'll look your best in a Dramatic suit -- even if the style websites are telling you to disguise your flat bust with ruffles, or choose a suit with a skirt to hide your thighs.
If you have a Romantic face, you'll look your best in a Romantic suit -- even if the style websites are telling you to avoid string bikinis, high-cut swimsuits, and side ties.
Here, see two beautifully busty women, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Kim Kardashian. One strikes a dissonant chord in a bust-emphasizing bikini, because her face is too childlike and sweet.
The other is amazing in a similar top, because of the mature, sexy elements in her face.
Here, see two women in a simple maillot -- Selena Gomez and Jamie Lee Curtis.
Both women have curvy bodies.
But on one woman, the minimalism and geometry of the suit is incongruous with her sexy, impish face. On the other woman, the suit is great -- the clean, stark lines echo the clean stark lines of her face.
I have a ton of Natural in my face, and simple, sporty bikini tank tops are great for me -- even though conventional fashion wisdom tells me I am supposed to inflate my nonexistent bust with ruffles or embellishment.
There's no point in creating for myself the illusion of a sexy bust, when a sexy bust is at odds with my face!
We're taught to zoom in on our bodies and focus on every tiny little detail of them.
But when you zoom out, our bodies are not that different.
And that's how other people look at your body: zoomed out. When you're in a bathing suit, NO ONE is noticing whether your shoulders are square or tapered.
What they are looking at -- what they are zooming in on and examining minutely -- is your face. That's how all of us look at faces, because the human brain is wired to do that.
And if your suit coordinates with your face, that's all people will notice.
I know this is a difficult idea to take in.
When we feel unsafe, we default to what we've always done -- and, for many of us, appearing in a swimsuit feels incredibly vulnerable.
Let me just suggest this:
Try on a suit that I am recommending for you.
Take a pic of yourself in the dressing room, and share it with the friend you know will give you honest feedback. (That's not all of your friends, bless them. Be judicious here. You want real honesty.)
Or just keep it on your phone, and come back to a week later, when you have fresh eyes.
I believe you'll see yourself looking more flattered by a bathing suit that you have been in a long time. Or you'll have a moment in which you realize why you always loved that one particular suit, despite it supposedly being wrong for your "body type."
Here's the first page of the guide for Natural-Classic-Ingenue.
Each guide comes with the following:
The are $11.99.
Try your Swimwear Guide here. Be sure to indicate in a comment to your order which Style Identity you'd like me to send you.
(And if you're not sure of your Style Identity, consider trying the affordable Style Identity Calculator, or investing in a Virtual Analysis.)