Here are hairstyle ideas for the two-identity blends.
For each blend, the suggestions are jumping-off points. Use them as inspirations.
If you're a blend of three identities, try combining suggestions from the different two-ID blends that apply to you. For example, if you're a Romantic-Ethereal-Natural, take a look at suggestions for Romantic Ethereal, Romantic Natural, and Ethereal Natural.
Don't know your style identity? Try the Style Identity Calculator!
Romantic Ethereal: Aphrodite
Soft & flowing.
Fullness and height at the crown.
Long, luscious and full.
Low side pull-backs.
Touchable curls or waves.
Soft, sexy updos with lots of free curls.
Ethereal Dramatic: The Sorceress
Flowing but controlled.
Dramatic in length.
Low, sleek side pull-backs.
Striking winged effects.
Long blunt cuts.
Frozen waves or cascades.
Severe or sleek updos with side parts.
Ethereal Natural: The Earth Goddess.
Flowing & free.
Low, wispy ponytails.
Low side pull-backs.
Tousled or braided updos.
Loose, floaty braids.
Hair that's more narrow than full.
Diaphanous & tousled.
Long, cascading layers.
Ethereal Classic: The Delicate Sophisticate
Flowing but controlled.
Braided or "period" updos.
Low, neat side pull-backs.
A narrow hair silhouette.
Neat, elegant braids.
Neat bobs with some float or wisp.
Ethereal Gamine: The Sprite.
Spunky, diaphanous, floaty, boyish, tousled.
Short and wispy.
Cute or witty "period" looks.
Playful, unexpected braids.
Ethereal Ingenue: The Fairy.
Longer hair. Narrow, not wide.
High or low side pull-backs.
Long, wispy, low pigtails or pigtail braids.
Medium-length, gently cascading, sweet.
Innocent "period" looks, such as crown braids.
Center parts with curls or waves.
Mystical floral accessories.
Romantic Dramatic: The Femme Fatale
Dramatic in length or shape.
Touchable, but sleek and intense.
Sleek, oversized updos with rounded shapes.
Exaggerated height at the crown.
Sexy and striking.
Full, sculpted waves or curls.
Full, wavy blunt cuts.
Dramatic Natural: The Amazon Queen
Shaggy, extreme, intense.
Big and wild.
Key ideas: Dramatic Classic: The Art Critic
Avant-garde, but neat.
Face-framing and striking.
Dramatic, stiff updos.
Sculptural bobs and blunt cuts.
Every hair in place.
Dramatic Gamine: The Punk Rocker
Short and striking.
Spunky high ponytails.
Dramatic Ingenue: The Childlike Czarina
Simple, sculptural curls.
Modest and controlled, but striking.
Sleek or striking low pigtails.
Simple, sharp bobs.
Sleek center or side parts.
Sleek, high side pull-backs.
Striking floral accessories.
Romantic Natural: The Babe Next Door.
Medium to long, but with face-framing layers.
Waves or soft curls.
Asymmetry. Side parts.
Messy crown bumps.
Touchable, uncontained, uncomplicated, free & easy, tousled and full.
Sexy low ponytails with loose curls.
Romantic Classic: The Sexy Sophisticate.
Sexy but restrained.
Sideswept, curly updos.
Height at the crown.
Full but neat.
Soft, touchable bobs with curls or waves.
Romantic Gamine: The Firecracker.
Short but touchable.
Playful height at the crown.
Face-framing, with some tousle.
Sexy and spunky.
Full curls, waves, or playful ringlets.
Romantic Ingenue: The Demure Seductress.
Sweet, touchable, face-framing, styled, medium-long.
Center parts with full, sexy curls or waves.
Side parts with simpler, neater curls.
Soft, sexy bangs.
Gentle, high side pull-backs.
Sexy pigtails (high or low) or pigtail braids.
Larger feminine accessories, perhaps with sparkle.
Natural Classic: The Prep.
Simple, neat, medium-length, relaxed, face-framing.
Pulled back simply but not severely, perhaps with a little tousle.
Simple, loose updos.
Simple ponytails, low or straight back.
Simple, low-maintenance bobs with movement.
Natural Gamine: The Tomboy
Boyish and spunky.
Shorter, messy ponies or pigtails.
Short and tousled.
Natural Ingenue: The Outdoorsy Sweetheart
Relaxed, unstructured bangs.
Messy low pigtails; loose pigtail braids.
Simple ponytails with neat curls.
Casual high side pull-backs.
Center parts; tousled or mussed.
Layers of sweet curls.
Simple floral accessories, or simple ribbons.
Classic Gamine: The Prep Schooler.
Boyish, but neatly styled.
Simple, neat updos with bangs.
Neat, elegant pixies.
Face-framing, with just a bit of tousle.
Classic Ingenue: Nancy Drew.
Simple, neat bangs.
Precise center parts.
Precise, high side pull-backs.
Neat-as-a-pin pigtails (low or medium-height).
Longer simple, sweet bobs.
Modest, simple updos and buns.
Elegant, modest floral accessories.
Gamine Ingenue: The Girlish Mod.
Short, sweet, tousled.
Playful, short pigtails -- low or high.
High side pull-backs, perhaps with barrettes.
Cute floral accessories
This post first appeared in January of 2016.
First published May 2016.
Elements of the Ethereal style identity haven't been clearly and fully articulated before.
Here, I'll identify several of them, and -- more importantly -- explain the logic behind them.
My hope is that you’ll be able to extrapolate from this this logic to predict other Ethereal elements .
Braid detail is, of course, also Ethereal then. This includes braided metal in jewelry.
Spaced beads -- like those you see on a rosary -- are Ethereal, again because of the S curves created.
A reader in a previous post asked about handkerchief hemlines. They are Ethereal (when they are gradual, not excited) because of the diagonal lines.
Diagonal lines, as long as they're not sharp or geometric appearing, are Ethereal.
This is because, as lines, they're elongated, but they're also in motion, and movement is Ethereal.
(Diagonality suggests movement; the diagonality is a way of a line traveling from one point to another.)
Handkerchief hems are also Ethereal because they flutter, and fluttery movement is Ethereal in part because it suggests birds and flight.
For that same reason, flutter sleeves are Ethereal, winged shapes are Ethereal, feathers are Ethereal, and birds and winged motifs in prints are Ethereal -- as long as they're abstracted or stylized, not realistic. If they're realistic, they can be Ethereal plus a more literal style ID, such as Gamine, Ingenue or Classic.
Shimmer, shine and sparkle are Ethereal, in part because light itself is Ethereal, and in part because a shiny or sparkly finish reads as feminine.
Abstract prints and motifs that suggest the heavens or the cosmos, or that you'd describe as celestial, are Ethereal. Prints that suggest the sea are also Ethereal. (Think of the sea and the heavens as other worlds, and this will make sense.)
If the prints are realistic, they're Ethereal plus another, more literal style ID, such as Gamine.
Godet skirts are Ethereal because they create sinuous lines and because they evoke mermaids, which are Ethereal. For the same reason, flares are Ethereal. (If they're flared jeans, that's Ethereal Natural.)
Speaking of which, waterfall effects, cascading effects and tiers are Ethereal, partly because they create the impression of gently diagonal downward movement, and partly because they evoke waterfalls, which we associate with infinity, beauty, and the ephemeral and intangible.
Art Nouveau designs, if rather abstract, are often Ethereal, because they consist of narrow, elongated lines, they're very detailed, and the edges are generally rounded.
(I know David Kibbe assigns Art Nouveau jewelry to Soft Natural.
But realize that Kibbe groups all feminine identities -- Romantic, Ethereal, and Ingenue -- into one descriptor: Soft.
As a result, his recs for Soft types are sometimes more accurately assigned to Ethereal types and Ingenue types.
For example, Art Nouveau jewelry is really better for Ethereal Natural than it is for Romantic Natural. Romantic Natural needs more sexiness in her accessories; Art Nouveau design is generally rather chaste.)
This isn't an exhaustive list of Ethereal elements, but I hope it helps you think more clearly about the Ethereal style identity.
If you think you might be Ethereal, please check out my tools for identifying your own style identity!
And if you know you're Ethereal, please check out my Visual Style Guides and What Not To Wear guides.
If you've been thinking about trying the Style ID Calculator, but you've felt unsure whether to go for it, now is the time.
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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.
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Well, almost the same. The percentage for the identities was different, but the identities where the same...
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If you're as nerdy as I am and you'd to read one customer describe, in detail, her work validating the Style ID Calculator as an instrument, click here.
Romantic is the style type that's most flattered by traditionally "sexy" clothes and details, such as cleavage emphasis, skirt slits, cinched waists, red lips, et cetera.
On a woman without a lot of Romantic, these elements will read as awkward or unharmonious, not sexy.
But many of us want to appear "sexy" at some point.
How does a woman who's strongly Natural -- a woman like me, whose beauty has a rough-hewn, masculine quality -- create a sexy impression?
Not like a Romantic would, with pouty lips, smoky eyes, an abundance of jewelry, and butt & bust emphasis. Those tend to make us Natural women look mannish.
Instead, Naturals do sexy with bare arms and legs, mussy hair, very open necklines, little makeup, tank tops, oversized sweaters, and cowboy hats.
You might be thinking, "Those are elements Naturals always look great in."
If a Natural simply turns up the intensity on an already Natural element, it tends to look sexy.
Go with even barer arms and legs. Make that hair even more messy. Go with an even bigger sweater, perhaps falling off one shoulder.
Below, see Sheryl Crow, Jennifer Aniston, Sandra Oh, and Elisabeth Shue. These are strongly Natural women who look sexier and more confident when they don't try so hard. In looks with bust emphasis, jewels, shiny finishes, careful curls, and lots of makeup, they appear awkward.
If you're a strongly Natural woman, one of your gifts is the ability to look your best with almost no effort. (Typically, the more effort you put in, the less good you look!)
This is why Natural beauty is often described as "confident"; the viewer assumes you must have a lot of courage to present yourself so casually.
When you know your Style Identity, you save time and money because you only buy the clothes that are right for you, and you don't spend unnecessary time agonizing about whether something looks good on you. You also feel more confident, because you leave the house knowing you look your best.
This is beauty for women who want beauty to be quick and easy. :-)
There are seven core style essences, and most people are a blend of two or three of them. For example, I'm an Ethereal Natural, and my sister is a Romantic-Dramatic-Classic.
Figuring out your Style ID can be a little tricky. The Style Identity Calculator has helped many women, but there is an an element of art to identifying beauty, and that art eludes some of us.
Also, it can be hard to see ourselves objectively! (Pictures help a lot with this -- I always use pictures instead of a mirror when I'm judging myself in a particular outfit.)
Fortunately, you can often close in on, or rule out, a few essences without too much difficulty, and this can bring you closer to your Style ID.
Having at least a rough idea of your Style ID can significantly increase your confidence, because even if you haven't IDed yourself with 100% accuracy, once you've ruled out the essences that are no good, you know you still look a lot more authentic than you used to.
Here are some tips for ruling out certain essences, or narrowing your Style ID down a bit.
1. Positioning yourself on the masculine-feminine spectrum can help rule out or zero in on certain essences.
If you could pass as a boy in the right clothes, you might have a lot of Gamine.
If you could do drag convincingly, like Glenn Close or Julie Andrews, you might have a lot of Natural or Dramatic.
If you could never do either in a million years, you have probably don't have much of those three essences, and that leave Romantic, Ingenue, Ethereal, and Classic.
2. How childlike or mature do you look? Have you always look older than your age, or younger than your age?
If your overall look is rather childlike, and if you're often mistaken for much younger than you are, or called "cute" or "adorable," that can signal that you have a lot of Gamine or Ingenue, the two youthful essences.
If, even as a child, you looked like a little adult, that can signal that you have a lot of Dramatic or Ethereal. (Or, occasionally, a lot of Natural. )
3. If your face is impossible to caricature, that's a hint that you have a lot of Classic.
Caricature relies on the existence of a feature that sticks out and can therefore be exaggerated. If you're a Classic, no one feature sticks out. In your less confident moments, you may have called yourself plain or boring -- but you're not. You require a very, very simple fashion context in order for the beauty of your perfect average-ness to be revealed.
You can't easily caricature a perfectly average face. A caricature should look a little grotesque or bizarre, but that just can't be done with a strongly Classic woman such as Zhang Ziyi. There's nothing to exaggerate.
4. What hairstyles can you never pull off?
If you can't do shaggy or tousled hair, you can probably rule out Natural -- both male and female Naturals look awesome in shaggy layers.
If you can't do big, luscious curls, you can probably rule out Romantic. An extravagant circle is the defining shape of Romantic, and Romantics look great with these circles near their face. (Ingenues get smaller, neater circles, so if curly hair of any kind is really bad on you, you can probably rule out both Romantic and Ingenue.)
If you can't do super-long hair, you may be able to rule out Ethereal, Natural, and Dramatic. All three of these essences are defined in part by elongated lines, so people high in one or more of these three essences are usually flattered by long hair.
If you can't do super-short hair, you can probably rule out Gamine and Dramatic. Gamines, our boyish beauties, are easily identified by how good they look in very short cuts. Dramatics, in addition to being flattered by long and narrow hair, are also flattered by hair that's completely off the face -- whether it's extremely short or slicked back.
As a woman with a lot of Dramatic, Kim Kardashian can pull off both long, straight hair and slicked-back hair.
The Style Identity Calculator, as I mentioned above, has helped a lot of women, and it's pretty affordable. For best results, use it with the input of a brutally honest friend or relative, and use pics or yourself, not a mirror. (A still, frozen image is much easier to analyze.)
If you're absolutely lost, consider investing in a virtual style analysis.
Are any of these tips helpful to you? Please share in the comments!
This post first appeared in July of 2018.
A reader asks, "There are a lot of nuances between Soft Summer and True Summer. How do you know that Kristen Stewart is Soft Summer and Emily Blunt is a True Summer?"
This is a really good question.
I often find Summer celebs difficult to narrow down into subseasons - perhaps because the differences in the muted colors of Summer are harder to discern on a computer screen than the differences in the vivid colors of Spring or Winter.
But after a lot of thought, I eventually came to the conclusion that Kristen's a Soft Summer and Emily's a True Summer.
I'll describe my thought process:
To my eye, both look obviously coolish, but not particularly saturated. Cool and muted is Summer.
But my first impression might be wrong. To determine season, we can't rely on what a person looks like; we have to examine how a person looks in certain colors. So I'll check the other seasons.
Could either woman be a Winter?
Well, both are clearly overwhelmed by black. That rules out all three Winters.
I do make note of the fact that Emily is less overwhelmed by black than Kristen. So I think perhaps Emily has a higher natural saturation.
How about Autumn?
Hmm. I think both are meh in Autumn colors.
Notice, though, that Kristen is almost pulling off Autumn color, while Emily isn't at all. So I'm thinking Kristen has more Autumn-like warmth than Emily.
Spring: Testing Spring will be tough, because it's very difficult to find either woman in sure-fire Spring colors like peach, lime, or sunny yellow. So I need to test Spring for them in another way.
I've already seen that both women are overwhelmed by black, so Bright Spring's unlikely for either one. (Black alone is not a great look for Bright Spring, but it's not so much overwhelming as it is boring.)
How can I test Light Spring and True Spring? Hmm... Well, neither woman is a convincing blonde, to my eye. Most "blonde" True and Light Spring celebs are actually brunettes, but they do typically make convincing blondes. Yellow is Spring's soul color, so it makes sense that yellow hair would work on Springs.
Yellow hair is clearly not right for these two women, though.
So I think my initial idea was correct: both women are Summers.
But what kind of Summer - Light, Soft, or True?
I'm thinking Light Summer is unlikely for Emily, for the same reason I think Spring is unlikely: I don't find her a convincing blonde. Light Summers can often pull off blonde pretty well. Their palette contains many lovely light yellows, so this makes sense.
You can tell from their roots that these Light Summers are brunettes, but blonde looks appropriate on them.
Again, Emily Blunt with blonde hair: not her best.
On Light Summers, yellow hair can emphasize the delicacy of their coloring; Emily's skin seems to be calling for more depth.
So, Soft or True for Emily perhaps?
In weighing these two seasons, I think about how Emily often wears super-bright colors that look a little but not a lot overwhelming. Here she is in some high-sat choices:
I notice that she can tolerate some brightness of color. In these two pics, she's certainly farther away than the color - but not miles farther away.
So, of Soft and True Summer, I think True Summer - the more saturated of the two seasons - is right for Emily Blunt.
Yes. I like her in these purely cool, somewhat muted colors. They certainly don't look muted next to Emily Blunt - they're exactly the right saturation for her.
With Kristen Stewart, one of the things I notice is that neutral-warm colors aren't awful on her.
On the left, the eyeshadow is warmish, and in this pic it's not glaringly disharmonious. (The skin might appear more even with a cooler shade, but as-is, it's not so bad.) On the right, I could almost believe her as an Autumn.
So I suspect True Summer, which is purely cool, is unlikely for her.
I already decided that a big block of yellow next to Kristen's face was not her best, so that makes Light Summer seem unlikely as well.
That leaves Soft Summer.
Does Soft Summer make sense for her?
Well, Soft Summer's TMIT is softness or mutedness of color. Is Kristen awesome in very muted tones?
Yes, I think. The more subtly colored her makeup and clothes are, the better she looks. She seems so natural in very, very soft shades.
Is she overwhelmed by very saturated colors?
So, I say Soft Summer for Kristen Stewart.
Let's see her against a Soft Summer palette.
Oh, yes. I love this.
This post originally appeared in January of 2014.
A version of this post was published in September 2012.
I have an adorable memory of watching a video of Adele performing "Rolling in the Deep" seated next to my then-three-year-old son. He listened very carefully. When it was done, he turned to me and said, quite solemn, "Mommy, that lady has a fire in her heart."
A reader, C.T., asked me what season I believe Adele is. She pointed out that Adele's often in black but it's clearly not her best color. I have to agree.
Certainly this look is not right for her. The woman is invisible; we only see the too-bright color.
Yet she often gets her makeup right, don't you find? With the exception of the too-black eyeliner and mascara that are sadly de rigeur in show business, her lip and cheek are often natural and not overdone.
Those lip and cheek colors lean warm, to my eye, and are definitely subtle and blended rather than bright or contrasting. Her coloring is so very delicate. The black of the dress and the eye does not belong.
Here, again, eye and top are darker than she is, but not as painfully so. The rest is lovely. I see Autumn - don't you? Warm, blended, rich.
Could she be a True Autunm? Hmm. These very warm colors look, to me, a tad stronger than she is.
I find this warm, deep green, which could be True or Dark Autumn's green, just a tad too much for her.
She really is very neutral. The pink in those lips is actually pink, not salmon.
I think Soft Autumn. Here she is in more SA colors and I think they balance her wonderfully. Gentle, soft, blended, not overdone. We really see her.
I'm calling Adele a beautiful, soulful, Soft Autumn.
ere's hoping that one day she chooses to exchange the black eyeliner for, say, taupe or putty.
What color season do you see here?
One way to think about the seven style types is to think about the words we use to describe the type of attractiveness each identity embodies.
These are probably the women who hear "gorgeous" and "hot" the most often. When they look their best, their friends might call them "glamorous," "alluring," or "sexy."
Ethereal woman are often described by admirers as "unusual-looking." Other adjectives they might hear are "otherworldly," "exotic," "fascinating," or "magical."
These are women who hear things like, "You have a really strong look," or "only you could pull that off." Dramatic women get called "majestic," "stunning," and "magnificent." Like Ethereals, Dramatics also often hear "exotic" and "unusual-looking."
Classic women might hear "lovely," "elegant," and "attractive" a lot. They'll receive a lot of positive but restrained comments like, "You have a timeless look" or "You always look classy." "Graceful" is another word Classics may have heard. This is a beauty that doesn't stand out at all, but is undeniable once it's examined.
Many Ingenue women received compliments on their appearance throughout their childhoods, and they will have heard "pretty," "precious," "darling," "cute," and "adorable" a lot, even as adults.
Gamine women, like Ingenue women, will have heard "cute" and "adorable" in adulthood. They'll also get adjectives like "feisty," "spunky," or "sassy," and "loveable" seems to pop up a lot.
I'd love to hear in the comments what your style type is, if you know it, and which compliments you've received in your life.
I'd also love to learn which compliments you've rarely or never received! I'm an Ethereal Natural, and I've rarely, if ever, been described as "classy," "adorable," "feisty," "darling," "majestic," or "glamorous."
Not sure of your style type? Try the Style ID Calculator!
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.
When you read about personal color analysis, you'll often come across the term dominant trait.
We know - hopefully we know! - that color has three dimensions, and any given color can be described as being high or low in each of the three dimensions. So a color can be
- warm or cool in hue
- light or dark in value
- high or low in chroma (bright or soft)
The palettes of each of the 12 seasons are harmonious within themselves. Any given palette can be said to show a dominant trait in its colors.
The Dark Winter and Dark Autumn palettes, for example, are predominantly dark, or low in value. The Bright Spring and Bright Winter palettes are predominantly bright, or high in chroma.
Now, some writers will suggest that you can identify a person's season by identifying the dominant (and secondary) traits of that person's coloring. You see this a lot online. I call it the "dominant trait" method of color analysis.
The thinking goes like this: you can look at a person's skin, hair and eyes, and judge whether her personal coloring is mainly dark, light, soft, bright, cool or warm. Once you figure this out, you immediately have her narrowed down to two seasons.
Unfortunately, personal color analysis doesn't work this way. If only it did!
Departure from this idea is part of what separates the followers of Kathryn Kalisz's teachings from other thinkers in the world of color analysis.
Season can't reliably be determined by identifying the "dominant trait" in someone's appearance. It can only be determined by identifying the traits that characterize the best colors for that person.
A Bright is not always obviously bright in personal coloring. A Dark is not always obviously dark. A Soft is not always obviously Soft. And so on.
A great example: Lupita Nyong'o.
If you're using the "dominant trait" method to determine Ms. Nyong'o's season, you will likely think something like this:
"Her skin tone is quite dark. Her eyes are very dark. Her hair is very dark. 'Dark' must be her dominant trait; she must be a Dark Autumn or Dark Winter."
But that's not right!
Her best colors are not dark and rich. Instead, she's most fantastic in super-bright hues.
The dominant trait of Ms. Nyong'o's best colors is brightness.
Would you have looked at her face, hair, and eyes and called "brightness" the dominant trait of her personal coloring? Probably not easily.
(This is one big problem with the "dominant trait" method of determining season: it often results in women of color getting automatically, inaccurately slotted into Dark Autumn and Dark Winter.)
Avoid the "dominant trait" method of determining your own season. It may well lead you astray. Instead, focus on figuring out your best colors. You can do it. :-)
First published in March 2014.
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.
Your palette seems inherently gentle and graceful. Yet your Dramatic or Gamine Style Identity calls for a bold use of color. Can you do that?
Sure you can!
Definitely wear your Light Spring colors.
But wear them in solid blocks, rather than in watercolor or ombre effects.
This would not be so good for a Dramatic or Gamine:
This use of Light Spring blue is excellent for an Ethereal blend, but not so fitting for a style type with a more aggressive energy.
A use of Light Spring color more like this , below, would be more appropriate for a Dramatic or Gamine:
The color is in solid blocks, not gently blended. It's still the Light Spring palette, but on a person with Light Spring skin, the effect will be bold.
Even better, consider doing head-to-toe charcoal, vanilla, or raspberry (Light Spring's versions of black, white, and red) to create a Dramatic effect. Or try unusual combinations of your palette's "primaries" and "secondaries": ocean blue with popsicle orange, butter yellow with grape purple, and so on.
Your seasonal coloring does play a small role in your style identity -- people with highly contrasting coloring tend to make a more intense visual impression, and people with very low-contrast coloring tend to make a more gentle physical impression.
But your coloring isn't determinative of your Style ID. Light and Soft seasons are definitely represented among Dramatic and Gamine style types.
Hope this helps!
First published November 2017
It's the time of year when those of us in the Northern Hemisphere start thinking about buying swimsuits, so I want to give all of you a chance to pick up your style type's Swimwear Guide, if you don't have it yet. Scroll down for the promo code!
The Swimwear Guides expand on the information given for swimsuits in the Shopping Guide. They have sections for suit types, top types/necklines, bottom types/leg cuts, patterns, color schemes, and details.
My experience with swimsuits is some of the best evidence from my own life of the importance of knowing one's style type and dressing for one's face.
I talked about this not long ago. I have the flattest of flat busts, so supposedly I should wear ruffles or other details on my bust to make my top half look curvier. But that stuff is ridiculous on me. I'm an Ethereal Natural, and simple tops are so much better for me. In my best EN suit, I don't look busty, but I do look really good.
(Some of you out there with a ton of Ingenue will look amazing in the top on the left!)
If you spend a lot of time picking out a swimsuit, consider getting your type's Swimwear Guide. It will narrow your search and help you find your best suit more quickly.
And if you spend a lot of money on swimsuits, spend a little on a Swimwear Guide to save yourself money in the long run. These days, I wear a swimsuit until it gets holes in the tush! I don't need to keep trying new styles because I know what looks good on me.
Your promo code is 2019SWIM20. The promotion expires this Sunday. :-) Enjoy!
Not sure of your style type? Try the Style Identity Calculator.
...says reader D.C.
She seeks help determining her season, and also wonders whether she should make her hair darker or lighter.
When a woman tells me she hates her natural color, I immediately suspect she's a muted season - i.e., a Summer or an Autumn. Those are the seasons whose colors are in-between, hard to describe, often nameless. We think with language; I believe we dislike in-between colors in ourselves because we don't have the language to conceptualize them.
Here's the thing: If you think your hair is "blah," chances are the rest of your coloring is similarly subtle and blended. Putting Crayola-colored hair next to your blended skin will only make you disappear.
Keep your hair as muted as your skin, and surround the whole vision with similarly quiet colors, and watch everything suddenly come into focus.
Your natural hair color flatters you more than any other color can, and its subtle beauty is always revealed when it's placed in the context of your best colors.
Compare Lady Gaga in unnatural hair colors, on the left, to Lady Gaga in something more like her natural hair color on the right.
Which of these ^ women looks the most healthy? Which looks the most comfortable in her skin? Which looks the most confident? Which woman isn't afraid to be real with you?
Unnatural hair color is a look, for sure. It makes a statement. But it may not be the statement you want to make.
Natural hair color says, "See ME. This is who I am. I know myself and I like myself. I am not afraid and I don't want to hide from you."
That kind of power and presence isn't blah; it's beautiful.
Original version published September 2015.
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.
Last week I talked about the fact that, though all of your palette colors are gorgeous on you somewhere, they don't all look natural on your lips.
Now I want to describe a good way to figure out which of your palette colors are best on your lips.
In a nutshell, the colors that will look most natural on your lips are
- your MLBB,
- darker versions of your MLBB, and
- a handful of colors very close in hue and value to these
Your MLBB is your "my lip but better" lip color. You may already have a lippy in your stash that you know is your MLBB. If you don't, stand in front of a mirror with your palette and locate the peach, pink, red, or violet that is precisely as dark as your lip and the closest to it in warmth or coolness. (Your natural lip color will be less saturated than any of these palettte colors; you're basically finding the more saturated version of your natural lip.)
A lippy that's an MLBB will always look natural on you. Additionally, colors that are the same hue as your MLBB but darker will also look natural on you. Going very dark within your MLBB hue might be your evening lip, but it won't look unnatural.
In general, avoid opaque colors that are lighter than than your MLBB. This usually looks unnaatural.
The other colors that will look most natural on your lips will be the colors closest in hue to your MLBB, and as dark or darker. So if you're a Bright Spring whose MLBB is on your fuchsia strip, you may indeed be able to wear one of Bright Spring's violets as a lippy; the violets are close in hue to the fuchsias. You will find less luck with one of BSp's orange lippies, because orange is pretty far from fuchsia.
My MLBB is a neutral Soft Autumn pink that's medium-dark. I'll wear other pinks and reds that are very close to this color in hue, but I won't go all the way to a Soft Autumn brown -- even though those lippies exist.
Also, I'll go darker than my MLBB, but not lighter.
A lippie lighter in than your natural lip rarely looks natural.
Tarte Quench Lip Rescue in Nude is an MLBB for me. It's easy to throw on when I want some moisture but I don't feel like bothering too much with makeup.
CoverGirl Outlast in Wine to Five is a slightly darker version of my MLBB. It's been my staple daytime lippy for about five years; I order it in bulk on eBay or Amazon.
My sexy lippy these days is Tarte Tarteist in Bling, which is a very deep version of my MLBB. It's a Soft Autumn red lip -- which means it's striking on me, and would be rather blah on most other seasons. :-)
Though they vary quite a bit in value, all three of these lippies are similar in hue.
If I feel like it, I''ll go somewhat warmer or somewhat cooler within my palette. But I won't stray super-far from this central MLBB hue, and I won't go lighter in value, unless it's a gloss.
And this is what I recommend you do as well:
Find the hue that looks most natural on your lips, and choose lippies that stay relatively close to that hue.
For example, if your MLBB is an orange, experiment with your reds -- but don't stray all the way to a violet, unless you want to make a statement. :-)
And if your MLBB is a violet, experiment with your reds and purples -- but don't stray all the way to orange.
When you know your MLBB, use your seasonal makeup list and a computer to find the lippies from the list that will look the most natural on your face.
(Computer images aren't completely color-accurate, but you don't need them to be if you have the seasonal makeup list; if it's on the list, it's a color from your season.)
Just check the computer image to make sure the hue and value of the lippy seem right for your lips. Then buy it!
This post was originally published in March of 2017.
In seasonal discussion groups, women spend a lot of time working out which palettte-matching lipsticks and glosses are their best colors.
Why should they have to spend time answering this question? Aren't all of the peaches, pinks, reds and violets in your palette automatically good lip colors for you?
Every color in your palette is a color that harmonizes with your natural coloring somehow.
But not every color will actually look good on your lips.
Your right colors look right because they look natural. So if you wear them in an unnatural way, they won't look right.
Consider my Soft Autumn palette:
All of these colors look amazing on me. But not every one of these colors would look natural on my lips.
Would I wear the greens or blues on my lips? No way. It would look completely unnatural. That goes without saying, right?
So far, these decisions seem self-evident. But let's move around the wheel into the range where we expect to find our lip colors: the purples, pinks, peaches and reds.
Here's me wearing one of my dark purple-browns as a lippie:
This color, though gorgeous on me as an evening gown, still isn't natural on my lips... despite the fact that I can find lippies in the drugstore that swatch this color. Now, if I want to make a statement with my lippy, this could be a good choice for me... but most of the time, I just want to look like the most beautiful verison of myself. And this lippy's not helping me do that.
Every peach, pink, red and purple in your palette looks natural on you somewhere.
But not every peach, pink, red and purple in your palette looks natural on your lips.
This is where many of us -- Winters and Bright Springs in particular -- can get lost.
For example, there are plenty of lipsticks that match Bright Spring's violets.
But a Bright Spring who expects a BSp violet lippy to look natural on her lips may be disappointed. (Soft Autumn's dark purple sure doesn't look natural on my lips!)
The peaches, pinks, reds and purples in your palette that will look natural on your mouth are a smaller subset of your total set of peaches, pinks, reds and purples.
It can be tough to know where the line is.
My unnatural-looking brownish- purple isn't really that far away from my natural-looking pink:
So you're probably wondering, "How can I know which of my peaches, pinks, reds and purples will actually look natural on my lips?"
It's not too difficult. This post is getting long, so I'll publish the second half, in which I describe how to find the best colors for your lips, next week. :-)
This post was originally published in February of 2017.
It somehow slipped my mind to offer a President's Day sale! So I bring you the Post-President' Day Sale. For the next 48 hours, take 20% off every order. Use discount code POSTPREZ20 at checkout.
This is a good time to pick up an item you don't absolutely need but you're curious about, such as the Swimsuit Guide or the Fragrance Guide.
Consider getting a Truth is Beauty gift card for a friend! Some women are reluctant to give the gift of color and style analysis to a loved one because they feel they're implying a judgment... like, "Your style sucks -- here, use this gift card to fix it."
But you can introduce a gift card like this: "I think this whole color and style analysis thing is interesting and a lot of fun, and I thought you might have fun with it too!"
Happy Belated President's Day, everyone! I hope your weekend was restful.
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.
Not all of the colors in your correct seasonal palette will be your absolute favorites.
Depending on your depth of coloring, your level of contrast, and the specific colors of your body, some will be more useful to you than others, and in different ways.
A dark-skinned Winter, for example, might use black as an accent, while a fair-skinned Winter might wear it in large blocks.
But no color in your palette will be awful on you. The colors in your palette are all harmonious with each other, and if it's your proper palette, they'll all be harmonious with you too.
So for those of you still searching for your season, I give you colors that are seasonal deal-breakers.
If the given color absolutely doesn't work for you, the deal's off. Move this season to the end of the list.
You can't use this list to identify your single best season. But you can use it to rule seasons out.
If you can't rock hot pink, rule out Bright Spring.
Bright Spring has a handful of pinks in this general vicinity. You may not associate pink with Spring. But moving Spring reds toward Winter means making them both darker and brighter. Reds that are both deep and very bright are purple-reds. So in Bright Spring, we find hot pinks.
If you think you're a Spring but hot pink is no good for you, True Spring may be your home.
If you're not fabulous in lime green, rule out Bright Winter.
Taking True Winter's greens lighter and brighter, all the way into Bright Winter, moves them toward yellow. One of the results is a sort of fluorescent lime. On Bright Winters, this color is amazing. It contrasts beautifully with both very dark and very light skin.
If this color's not right for you, but you think you're a Winter, try Dark Winter next.
If you can't wear clear lemon yellow, rule out True Winter.
Be careful applying this one. I'm not talking about a golden yellow, or a pastel yellow, or a yellow-orange. True Winter's few yellows don't show a bit of brown or orange or grey. They're the pure, clear complements of TW's vivid sapphire blues.
If you need a more moderated yellow that's still vivid, try Dark Winter.
If you don't look great in mint green, rule out True Summer.
A handful of the seasons have some sort of mint. True Summer's is not a pure, saturated mint that's close to aqua. Instead it's a delicate and slightly hazy mint. It's lovely with a delicate fuchsia lip.
If this feels all wrong to you, perhaps vivid mint is beter? You might be a Winter.
If you wouldn't call your good yellow "goldenrod," rule out Dark Winter.
Dark Winter yellows are tricky. They're not clear and pure like True Winter's. They're not blindingly bright. They're just slightly warmed, a little rich - but not Autumn rich. Penelope Cruz is lovely here in what looks like one of Dark Winter's elusive yellows.
If you need your yellows purer, try one of the other Winters. And if you need a more delicate yellow, try one of the Summers.
If you can't wear this medium warmed violet, rule out Dark Autumn.
This Dark Autumn color always surprises me. Call it orchid or begonia perhaps. It's not a color I would label Dark Autumn if I saw it in a pile of a hundred other colors. Yet it's gorgeous with the intense dark olives and vivid teals of the season.
Dark Autumn Natalie Portman's been photographed in three or four dresses in something like this color. They're all great on her. If it's not great on you, perhaps try True Autumn or Bright Spring.
If a light olive-khaki is not a good neutral for you, rule out Light Spring.
Was it Christine Scaman who said Light Spring colors are popsicle colors? It's true. But every season has neutrals, of course. This unusual Light Spring color is like your usual khaki, but with a suggestion of green and gold. On a Light Spring, it may pick up tones in the eye or hair.
If this color's a no-go on you, perhaps look at Light Summer instead.
If you're not flattered by light pinky coral, rule out Light Summer.
Light Summer doesn't get very warm, but in the pinks it does go as far as a pinky coral. It's a bit pinker than what you see here, but still warmish. On a Light Summer it picks up healthy color in the face.
If you think you're a Summer but can't wear this light, delicate, warm tone, look at True Summer.
If you're not beautiful in bright blue, rule out True Spring.
True Spring's colors are Crayola colors. You can see them in this picture of Nicole Kidman: blue dress, yellow hair, red-orange lips. In these simple primaries, True Spring is gorgeous.
If you struggle to articulate the names of your best colors, they're not True Spring's. You might consider Summer or Autumn.
If rich burgundy isn't gorgeous on you, rule out True Autumn.
True Autumn has a few beautiful burgundies that go beautifully with the rich greens and oranges of the season. You can see all those colors here, in Noa Tishby's face.
Those burgundies make good lippies too.
If this burgundy overwhelms you, try something from Soft Autumn.
If you're not lovely in cocoa brown, rule out Soft Summer
This is not a warm golden brown or a milk chocolate brown. If you're a Summer, none of those browns will work for you. Browns are generally bad for Summers, as a rule. But if you're a Soft Summer, you will be lovely in cocoa brown. It's a brown that looks both slightly greyed and slightly purpled. It may pick up tones in your hair.
If this color just isn't right for you, try True Summer next.
If you can't do dusty medium blue, you're not a Soft Autumn.
This blue feels both rich and muted, and quite medium - neiher purpley nor greenish. I's similar to the color you get if you Google "French blue."
Though it's a subtle color, on Soft Autumn skin it's just as powerful as it needs to be. Notice how rich it looks on Natascha McElhone.
If you need a blue that's much richer than this, you might try a Winter or a Spring.
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For any of these seasons, Google the season's name in quotes to see images of the palette. Images that say "Sci/Art" are usually quite accurate. Or order sheets of color from all 12 seasons to try the seasons out in person.
As always, I hope this helps you find your correct season. :-)
This post first ran in April of 2013.
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!
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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. :-)
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