Game of Thrones!
I'm a huge fan of the George R.R. Martin book series and I can't stay away from the TV show either.
So, Emilia Clarke. You've been wondering too, right?
I love Daenerys. But that white-blonde Targaryen hair is so not her. Her coloring's not delicate like that. It makes her seem ghostly.
So probably no Light Spring or Light Summer here.
The natural brown's so much better, isn't it? Just look at this. So real. So beautiful.
The black blazer isn't quite the thing, though. Much darker than she is. Ixnay on any palette that contains black. (That's all three Winters, Dark Autumn and Bright Spring.)
Just to belabor the point: NOT a Winter.
My very first thought about her was Soft Summer. My first thought is often wrong, but in this case I think it may have been correct.
These Summery colors are not at all bad, but don't they need to be just a little deeper and warmer? Emilia's skin is a tad richer than these hues.
This is fantastic. Is that one of Soft Summer's teals? It looks like it could be.
True and beautiful. These look like Soft Summer colors to me.
Soft Summers, what do you think? Is Daenerys Targaryen one of you?
Try figuring out your own true colors at home.
Happy Thanksgiving, beautiful women!
It's a stressful time for many of us. I hope you can make time to reward yourself a bit with some goodies from the Truth is Beauty store.
From Wednesday, Nov. 21st through the following Monday, everything on the site will be 30% off.
That's 30% off of all Shopping Guides, Fragrance Guides, What Not To Wear Guides, Swimwear Guides, seasonal color palettes, seasonal makeup lists, and home draping cards. And, of course, 30% off the perennially popular Style Identity Calculator!
Use the discount code TURKEYJOY !
Additionally, virtual analyses booked between now and next Monday will be $229, not $279.
Note: Due to the anticipated high order volume, please allow up to 2 days for any non-downloadable documents to appear in your inbox. I'll try to be faster than that, though. :-)
Stripes can be Natural. They're especially likely to be Natural if they are irregular, or various in size, or if they read as relaxed, not aggressive.
Vertical stripes, which elongate the vertical line, are usually better than horizontal stripes (which are good for Gamines.)
Checks and plaids can be Natural if they read as something you would find on a fleece -- they should look farmer-ish, not preppy. (Preppy plaids are Classic.)
Large, stylized, somewhat abstract nature motifs read as Natural, as long as they're not aggressive-looking (which would add Dramatic) or neatly repeating (which would add Classic).
Nature prints that are more photorealistic read as Gamine or Ingenue. (The youthful essences get more literal images.) Nature prints that feature flowers will automatically bring in Romantic (if they're larger and stylized) or Ingenue (if they're smaller and more realistic.)
Paisleys are often Natural, because they're stylized nature motifs that read as a little "tribal" (which is a word I don't love; what's a better word?)
A paisley that's very tiny or very detailed is less likely to read as Natural.
Prints with abstract geometrics that seem to be randomly distributed and are largeish in size can be Natural. Go for blunt-edged geometrics; sharp-edged geomtrics will read as Dramatic (if they're large) or Gamine (if they're small.)
Prints you find in textiles of indigenous peoples are often Natural. Again, the print is more likely to read as Natural if it's large and not incredibly detailed. A Natural print will not fee aggressive or high-energy.
A print or pattern, by itself, adds a lot of detail to a look. And Natural style calls for a very low level of detail. So if you're a pure Natural and you're going for a print, keep your silhouette and garments extra simple, and your other details very, very plain.
Women who are pure Natural and Natural blends, what prints and patterns have you found work for you?
If you're not sure of your style type, try the Style Identity Calculator or consider a Virtual Analysis.
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.
Every product on the True Winter makeup list has been swatched to match a color-accurate True Winter palette book.
If you're a True Winter, these are your best makeup colors. They look natural and healthy on your skin.
These colors are very vivid and very cold (bluish). Even the yellows are as cold as yellow can be -- you can't detect a bit of orange.
On the makeup list, which has over 400 precisely matched products, you tend to see the same color names appear over and over. That happens on every list, because each color season represents a very specific section of color space.
Here are the most frequently-occurring color words on the True Winter makeup list:
Last week I said I love Dark Autumn because it's so complex. This week I find myself thinking that I love True Winter because it's so focused! (I guess I love all 12 palettes. :-) )
Above, compare True Winter, which is in the center, to True Summer on the left. They're both cool-toned, but see how important grey is for True Summer, while black is True Winter's biggest makeup neutral. Red is also very important for True Winter, but only shows up for True Summers as shades of berry.
Also, compare True Winter to Dark Winter, on the right. Notice how Dark Winter stays intense, but brings in warmth with colors like brown, chocolate, moss, coral, and cinnamon.
On True Winter skin, this makeup doesn't look shocking or extreme; it looks natural and healthy. Looking at these faces, you'd never guess how saturated and cold the makeup appears on a piece of white paper.
If you're not sure of your color season, consider trying the home draping cards.
Where I live, the trees are still an Autumny orange and red, but the nights are cold, and it's dark more of the day than not. It's the perfect time of year to talk about Dark Autumn, one of my favorite seasons.
Dark Autumn is Autumn verging on winter. Still Autumn, but darker and colder.
Dark Autumn colors are mostly warm and rich, because it's an Autumn season. But they have a bit of added coolness, and they're also very dark. In fact, these colors are dark first and foremost; their warmth is a secondary quality. (Hence the name: Dark Autumn, sometimes known as Deep Autumn)
(The light colors you see in Dark Autumn's palette actually make sense as darks as well: they're deepened versions of what would be a tinted white in another palette. Dark Autumn gets a white too; it's an ivory, though, not a pure white.)
When you're a Dark Autumn, your makeup colors all come right from your color palette.
For years now, I've been keeping a list of makeup products that are precisely matched to the Dark Autumn color palette. If you want to spare yourself the trouble of rubbing makeup on white paper and comparing it to the Dark Autumn palette, my list is a good investment. It has hundreds of products on it.
Because this palette (like all seasonal palettes) occupies a very precise section of color space, we see the same color words appear over and over on the makeup list.
Here's the Dark Autumn makeup word cloud, which shows the most common color words. The size of the word indicates how often it appears on the list.
What I love about Dark Autumn is its contradictions. Somehow, it seems more complicated than other neutral (not purely warm or cool) seasons. How do you put together pink, rose, and violet with brown, red, and chocolate? Dark Autumn, that's how. I love seeing gold, cherry, and plum right next to each other. Or amber, ink, and fig. So unexpected, yet Dark Autumn makes it work.
Last week, I did the True Autumn makeup word cloud, and I did Dark Winter a while back. Here is True Autumn on the left, Dark Autumn in the middle, and Dark Winter in the right. (I actually redid the Dark Winter word cloud in font that's consistent with my more recent clouds.)
I find it really interesting how Dark Autumn represents a middle place between a season that's very rich and warm, and a season that's coolish and very dark. Autumn foliage plus jewel tones!
I had fun making this graphic showing how Dark Autumn color words combine important words from both True Autumn and Dark Winter.
Isn't that fun to look at?
This season makes more sense when you see it on a human being. These Dark Autumns beautifully combine warmth and coolness. You see greys, blacks, navies, and purples with oranges, browns, olives, and rusts.
You who are Dark Autumns, do you enjoy the contradictions of your palette? Or do you even experience your palette that way? Maybe this is your normal! :-)
This was one of the few makeup word clouds that came out more or less exactly as I would have predicted. Maybe that's because the True Autumn palette is such an intuitive palette; it's very easy to explain. I mean, it's right there in the name.
True Autumn's colors are somewhat saturated, a bit on the darker side, and very, very warm.
If you're a True Autumn, your best colors are also somewhat saturated, a bit on the darker side, and very, very warm. Your least flattering colors are probably very cool and very light -- True Summer and Light Summer are probably really bad for you. You avoid white, pale blue, and light pink for your face.
Here's the word cloud showing which color words appear the most often on a list of over 400 cosmetics matched to the True Autumn palette:
Brown, bronze, gold, copper, spice. No surprises here, right? I think this is what we all picture when we picture True Autumn.
Except maybe that "fuchsia" floating over on the left. True Autumn does have a pinky red that edges into "hot pink" territory. But you know this fuchsia is "spiced fuchsia" or "golden fuchsia" or some other version that warms and deepens the color enough to make it True Autumn.
Isn't it funny how so many of the food names -- which you find in lots of cosmetics -- are warming foods? Coffee, tea, paprika, ginger...?
Last week, after remarking on pink's importance for Soft Autumn, I predicted we'd see much less of it, and in fact pink's role in True Autumn makeup is small. By moving from Soft Autumn to True Autumn, our palette becomes both darker and warmer. Add enough warmth to pink, and you can't really call it pink anymore -- you have peach or coral instead. In True Autumn makeup, the role played by pink -- mainly lipstick and blush -- is often played instead by earthy reds and oranges.
Here are pics of beautiful True Autumn makeup. (Minus, of course, some obligatory black liner and mascara; when will Hollywood make-up artists give this up? Years from now, we'll look back at pictures from this era and see a sea of faces with tiny black eyes. True Autumns are better in brown liner and mascara.)
Based on sales of my makeup lists, I believe True Autumn is actually the rarest season. Are you a True Autumn?
- - - -
I want to take a moment to talk about something unrelated to True Autumn makeup, but absolutely related to empowering women: life coaching. In particular, a life coach named Alexandra Gould.
I want to brag on her for no other reason than that she is a rock to me, and I would love for every woman to have her in their life as well.
Alexandra is, hands-down, the most positive and inspiring person I know. She is wise, practical, results-oriented, and endlessly patient. If you feel stuck, Alexandra can help you get unstuck.
She's on Instagram and Facebook -- check her out! :-)
Today, I'm happy to continue my series on makeup list word clouds by writing about my own season, Soft Autumn.
Like Soft Summer, which I wrote about last week, Soft Autumn is a very muted, faded palette. While Soft Summer is faded and cool-toned, meaning the colors lean bluish, Soft Autumn is faded and warm-toned, meaning the colors lean orangeish.
Neither its softness nor its warmth is necessarily obvious when you look at the palette without any other context. Here are Soft Autumn color cards: you might not describe these, taken by themselves as particularly warm or soft.
It's only when you compare Soft Autumn to very saturated, very cool season, such as True Winter, that the warmth and softness of the Soft Autumn colors become apparent.
Above, you see True Winter color cards. Wow! See how much more vivid they are, and how much colder?
It's particularly easy to see the hue difference when you look at True Winter's reds and pinks, which are violet- and purple-tinged. Soft Autumn's reds and pinks are warm and dusty.
Color is context. On a Soft Autumn, these very muted colors look plenty vivid. If Soft Autumn colors look faded on you, you're not a Soft Autumn.
All of the makeup products on the Soft Autumn makeup list have been matched to SCi/Art - accurate color books.
What are the color words that appear the most often in these product names? Let's find out.
If you've read my posts from the last few weeks, you may remember that pink and rose (which just means pink) are important for the light, cool Summer seasons, and that this makes sense because pure pink is, by definition, a light, cool color. (Pure pink is a light red that leans toward purple.)
So you may be surprised to see it feature so prominently among Soft Autumn's makeup color words, given that Soft Autumn is a warm season.
The fact that it's here, though, reflects that Soft Autumn, unlike its neighbor True Autumn, is not purely warm; it's just warmish. In the same way that Soft Summer's color words include a few that suggest warmth (such as moss), you'll see that some of Soft Autumn's color words suggest coolness. Mauve is up there, as is berry and raspberry.
Above, you see Soft Autumn's makeup word cloud on the left and Soft Summer's on the right. Weirdly similar, right? Pink, rose, and brown are important for both of these gentle, neutral-leaning seasons. (Do keep in mind that Soft Autumn pinks are mostly brown-pinks and peachy pinks -- light reds with only a hint of coolness. )
When colors are this faded, it can be hard to distinguish them with nomenclature, and that's part of why so many women with muted coloring can't decide between these two seasons.
You have to dig deeper into the words to see the hue (warmth-coolness) differences: Soft Autumn has no "blue," the coolest color; no "mint" or "aqua"; no "gray," "stone," or "slate." And Soft Summer lacks "fig," "ginger," "brick," "chili," and "paprika."
(Without having made it yet, I predict that the True Autumn word cloud will have a lot less pink than Soft Autumn. True Autumn is just too warm, and perhaps too dark as well.)
Soft Autumn is the lightest Autumn palette. Let's look at it next to Light Spring, which is another palette that's light and warm. Light Spring is both lighter and more vivid than Soft Autumn -- popsicle colors versus desert colors -- but many women get stuck between these two seasons.
Here's Soft Autumn's makeup on the left, and Light Spring's on the right. You can see that Light Spring's makeup is more pure and clear because of the relative prominence of words like "coral," "peach," and "guava." You have more basic color words too, such as "purple" and "orange."
Wait -- let's get back to brown, though! Because brown is obviously the most important word in Soft Autumn makeup.
Do you remember Christine Scaman's article, "Three Great Colors on the 12 Seasons"? She didn't assign every season a neutral as one of its best colors, but she identified brown as a top color for Soft Autumns. No coincidence there.
If you look at the smaller words in the Soft Autumn word cloud -- the words that occur less frequently on the makeup list -- you'll see other versions of brown: chocolate, sand, taupe, tea, coffee, caramel, mocha, fudge. Brown is exciting on Soft Autumns.
Here are some gorgeous Soft Autumns in gorgeous Soft Autumn makeup. The makeup doesn't look washed-out, right? It just looks balanced. That's what happens when you put Soft Autumn makeup on Soft Autumn skin.
If you're not sure of your season, but you recognize your best makeup in the Soft Autumn word cloud, you may be a Soft Autumn. (In-person color draping is the best option for determining your season accurately, but if that's not practical, consider home draping cards. )
If you've been following my blog recently, you know I'm trying to complete my series on color words in the 12 makeup palettes.
Last week, I wrote about True Summer's makeup, which is somewhat light, a bit faded, and very, very cool-toned.
This week, I'm writing about True Summer's neighbor, Soft Summer.
As we move from True Summer to Soft Summer, our colors become
- a bit more dark,
- even more faded,
- and a bit warmer.
Soft Summer's colors are still light, cool, and soft relative to the other seasons, because Soft Summer is Summer first and foremost.
Soft Summer and Light Summer, its near-neighbor on the other side of True Summer, have in common that neither palette, unlike True Summer, is completely cool; Light Summer adds a bit of Spring's clear warmth to its palette, and Soft Summer adds a bit of Autumn's toasty warmth.
The Soft Summer makeup list currently has about 650 products on it, every one of which has been matched to original the Sci/Art Soft Summer palette.
(You'll find many versions of the Soft Summer palette online, but only those that derive from Sci/Art palettes are truly accurate.)
Here are the color words that appear most frequently on the Soft Summer makeup list.
I'm not surprised to see pink appear so often: pink is light, cool red, and as such it is a defining color of all three light, cool seasons. And rose is just a synonym for pink.
But notice the supplemental colors: brown, plum, mauve. The importance of these colors to a Soft Summer's makeup reflects this woman's need for slightly deeper and warmer colors on her face.
If you look at the less-frequently-appearing color names, you'll see some that hint at Soft Summer's move toward Autumn richness: bronze, moss, spice.
Compare the warm colors in Soft Summer's makeup to the warm colors in Light Summer's makeup. Both Summer subtypes have a touch of warmth, but Soft Summer's hint of warmth is deep and rich, while Light Summer's warmth is light and bright: peach, floral, and flamingo.
Soft Summer on the left, Light Summer on the right.
It's also interesting to compare Soft Summer to its lighter, cooler neighbor, True Summer. Blue, the coldest hue, is more important for True Summer. Brown, which is warm, is much more important for Soft Summer.
Soft Summer on the left, True Summer on the right.
Soft Summer women can have any hair color, any eye color, and any apparent skin tone, but they are united by the fact that their best colors are mostly (but not completely) cool, a bit (but not a lot) on the light side, and very, very faded. These are cool pastels that are smudgy and smoky.
Check out Soft Summers Leona Lewis, Carmen Electra, Emma Roberts, and Emilia Clarke looking like the most beautiful versions of themselves. No masks here.
If this makeup is your makeup, you may be a Soft Summer. You might consider trying the Soft Summer makeup list; compared to expensive in-person color draping, the list is a steal at $15. It could confirm your season.
You might also consider home draping cards; they are Sci/Art color-accurate, and at $24 or $48, much more affordable than in-person draping (which costs hundreds.)
The True Summer (a.k.a. Cool Summer) makeup list has almost 800 products on it that have been precisely matched to original Sci/Art True Summer colors.
(For those of you just joining us, if you're a True Summer, the colors in your True Summer palette are your most beautiful makeup colors.)
In terms of hue, value, and chroma, True Summer's colors, and therefore its makeup products, are
- very cool (appearing blue-toned)
- somewhat more light than dark
- somewhat faded
When you look at a list of makeup products that all match a very defined palette, you start to see certain color words over and over again. Let's look at the list of ~800 products that match the True Summer palette, and see which color words appear the most often.
Pink, blue, and grey. That pretty much sums up True Summer, actually.
Here's True Summer's makeup word cloud next to Light Summer's makeup word cloud, which I talked about last week:
Pink is super-important for True Summer, as it is for Light Summer. But as we move from Light Summer into True Summer, the colors become both cooler and darker. The increase in coolness explains why blue and grey suddenly become much more important, while brown almost disappears; the increase in darkness explains why plum is now making a huge showing.
While we're on the subject of darker colors, you may be wondering why "black" appears in any True Summer makeup names, since True Summer technically does not contain black in its palette. (And True Summers are overwhelmed by black.) In the True Summer makeup list, you see "black" appear as a modifier indicating a darker shade: for example, Estee Lauder's Black Plum eyeliner, or CoverGirl's Black Sapphire mascara. True Summer neutrals don't go as dark as pure black, but True Summer does have some deep blues, purples, charcoals and purple-browns. (By contrast, there's no Light Summer makeup color that could be described as "black" anything.)
Here are True Summers Ashley Green and Georgina Chapman in makeup that's great for their season.
If you're a confirmed or suspected True Summer, do you recognize your best makeup in these color names? Share in the comments!
(If you don't know your color season, consider trying the at-home draping cards.)
Many of you will be very happy to see me continue my series of posts about the word clouds I've made from products in the seasonal makeup lists. :-) I apologize for the delay!
To orient those just joining us, there are 12 color seasons, each with its own palette of colors that exist at precise points on each of these three spectra:
light ............................... dark
Light Summer is a color season. Its colors are mostly cool-toned, a bit faded, and very light.
The Light Summer seasonal makeup list has hundreds of products that have been precisely matched to the Light Summer color palette. (Because a Light Summer's perfect makeup is makeup that matches those colors.)
Since the products on the list all occupy a small, defined area in color space, one tends to see the same color names over and over.
Here's what happens when I feed all of the color names from the Light Summer makeup list into a word cloud generator. The size of the word represents how freqently the word appears in the list.
Pink! Wow. Pink is important for Light Summer.
That makes sense if you think about it; pink is technically just light, cool red, and Light Summer is a light, cool palette. Light Summer's "oranges" are peachy pinks, and Light Summer's "reds" are deep pinks.
"Rose" is basically a synonym for pink, so it makes sense to see it feature so prominently in Light Summer's makeup word cloud.
The importance of "brown" in Light Summer makeup reflects the fact that, for deep neutrals (like we typically use in eyeshadow and eyeliner), Light Summer will never get black or charcoal. It's just too light a season. Brown and grey are the neutrals that lighter seasons rely on in makeup.
Light Summer's browns will always be cool browns: pinkish browns or purplish browns or greyish browns or silvery browns. You'll see words like "cocoa," "mink," "taupe," and "stone" use to describe these cool browns.
In the background of the word cloud, we have many more forms of pink: fuchsia, watermelon, cherry, berry, and raspberry. We also see coral, which is a peachy pink; Light Summer borders light and warm Light Spring, and has a hint of warmth. (Light Summers, but not True Summers, look gorgeous in a buttery yellow.)
If you have cool undertones, and you see the makeup that flatters you reflected in this word cloud, you may be a Light Summer.
If you're not sure which of the 12 color seasons is your perfect fit, consider trying the home draping cards. They're precisely matched to original Sci/Art colors, the gold standard of seasonal color palettes.
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.
I'm a little sad that's summer is ending (at least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere). In the summer, I work a little less, and I spend a lot of time with my precious kids.
I did get the opportunity, finally, to convert most of my seasonal makeup lists to downloadable documents. And I want to celebrate that by offering you a discount, for the next 48 hours, on those makeup lists.
Scroll to the end of the post for the promo code!
I want to take this opportunity to review important information about seasonal palettes and makeup lists.
Why Wear Makeup that's Matched to Your Seasonal Palette?
In addition to simplifying your clothes shopping and increasing your confidence, your seasonal palette makes it much easier for you to shop for makeup.
The range of colors in your seasonal palette is the entire extent of makeup colors that can look good on your face. There aren't colors outside of that range that will flatter your skin. You don't need to go outside of your palette to find lipstick, blush, eye shadow, eyeliner, bronzer, or mascara.
That really narrows things down!
When I was a teenager, I might have found this picture delightful. Now it just stresses me out.
I work way too much, and I have two kids. No way do I have the time to figure out which of these lip colors will make me look more beautiful.
Fortunately, since I discovered my color season a decade ago, I haven't had to spend that time.
I sincerely can't recall the last time I spent an hour in a department store or a drugstore, trying on color after color. It's been ages.
In fact, I've had the same daily lippie for years now. I order it in bulk from eBay. It's Cover Girl Wine to Five, if you're interested. It is, of course, a perfect match for one of my deeper pinks in my Soft Autumn palette.
In this picture of the Soft Autumn seasonal color cards, you can see the spectrum of my Soft Autumn reds and pinks. If a red or a pink doesn't fall in that range, it's not a lippie for me. Easy peasy.
Now, when I see a display of lippies in a store, I can walk right by it, or stop and peruse -- but only if I feel like it. It's fun, not a chore. And I can zoom in immediately on the color that will work for me.
See this display? Even without swatching, I can rule out eight of these 12 colors immediately. They're clearly not in the Soft Autumn palette, and as a result they'll never, ever look right on my face.
Your seasonal palette contains the rainbow of colors that best flatter your skin. Match your makeup to these colors, and your makeup will flatter your skin. Bing-bang-boom.
Here's the eyelid crease contour that I've been using for years. I also order it in bulk. It matches a brown in my Soft Autumn palette.
Here's the pencil I use for eyebrow filler. Again, I order it in bulk. Again, it's a match to my Soft Autumn palette.
n.b.: Your individual perfect colors are most likely an even smaller range within your seasonal palette. The factors that determine your particular subset of colors are
1. your individual skin tone
2. your Style Identity
With regard to how your individual skin tone affects your perfect subset of colors within your seasonal palette, see this blog post.
With regard to how your Style Identity affects your use of makeup, all I can say is, hold tight! I am still working on those 63 makeup guides, and I have been making a lot of progress. You are all so patient, and I appreciate it.
(While you wait, aim for the basic principle of using the same adjectives for your face that you use for your style type. So, for example, as an Ethereal Natural, my best use of makeup is relaxed and delicate.)
Returning for a moment to the twelve lippies I showed above: of those twelve, these four colors might work.
They're the only colors I'll swatch. The rest of the colors are clearly not in the Soft Autumn palette.
What does swatching entail? Basically, it means smearing the product on a piece of white paper, and comparing that smear to your color palette.
Swatching on your own skin is not accurate!
Please don't rely on skin swatching as a method for matching a color to your palette.
I explained in another post why this method is unreliable; I'll quote myself here:
- - - -
When you apply a red or pink to your skin, the result that the viewer sees is a color that combines that red or pink with your skin color.
That's the effect you're going for.
The effect is a less saturated version of the pure swatch red or pink because it's blended with your skin color, and it looks perfect on your skin.
If you "swatch" makeup on your skin, you're not learning what color it really is; you're learning what color it looks like mixed with your skin color.
That's not the information you need in order to know whether a pink or red matches your actual palette colors. You need to match those reds and pinks.
- - - - -
I hope this makes sense.
Basically, on your skin, your reds and pinks should not match your color swatches. Honestly, if they do, that might be a problem; it means the product is sitting on top of your skin instead of blending with it.
Look at this example, from LollyJane, of the same lip color applied to nine different sets of lips.
If these nine women were trying to determine whether LipSense's Bella matched their seasonal palette, how could they possibly determine that by swatching it on their own skin? See how different it looks on each of them!
The color on your face is the product color PLUS your skin color.
That's not what you want to match.
Match the color swatch!
Why Buy the Makeup List?
So, yes, buy your seasonal color palette, and swatch makeup (on white paper!) by comparing it to that palette.
But if you don't want to spend the time doing that yourself, just buy my list!
Each list contains over 400 products -- some as many as 800 -- that have already been swatched to that season's palette. So you don't have to do it.
I have been keeping these lists for years. It started just as a hobby, because I am a data nut. Eventually, I realized that people might want to pay for someone else to do this work, and voila! the makeup lists were born.
Quick answers to F.A.Q.S:
- All products on the lists are matched to Sci/Art - accurate swatchbooks. That includes both original Sci/Art swatchbooks, and those swatchbooks from companies who adopted original Sci/Art palettes in their own swatchbooks. Other swatchbooks aren't color-accurate, and I don't use them to match cosmetics.
- The lists include both drugstore brands and high-end brands.
- The lists are generally updated twice a year.
- The lists include discontinued products that are still available online.
The discount code is BEAUTIFUL. It's good for 20% off all 12 seasonal makeup lists, and it will work until Wednesday, August 29th.
Enjoy, my friends!
Each of the 12 seasonal color palettes, taken as a whole, is unique.
But if you compare color-by-color, some individual colors in neighbor palettes can look so similar to each other as to be almost indistinguishable.
Light Spring and Light Summer, for example, have several pinks, yellows, blues and purples that look an awful lot alike.
Light Summer and Light Spring palettes. Yikes! Which is which?
If you have narrowed yourself down to these two seasons, knowing a few colors that are inarguably unique to each palette can help you make a final decision.
Here are 6 colors, 3 from each season, that don't resemble anything in the sister season's palette.
1. Light Summer has a greyed wine neutral that looks something like this:
Nothing in Light Spring even remotely resembles this. If you're flattered by this color, rule out Light Spring.
2. Light Summer also has blueish greys, such as this one:
On a Light Summer, this color may harmonize with subtle tones in the eyes or hair. On a Light Spring, this color may create an unhealthy pallor in the face or emphasize undereye circles.
Light Spring's greys are more yellowed. (For a quick side-by-side comparison of warm and cool greys, check out this great Wikipedia image.)
3. Many of Light Summer and Light Spring's pinks and reds may seem to overlap. So we look at the extremes. Light Summer's raspberries get this blued:
Light Spring won't go that cool.
4. If we go to the extreme of warmth within Light Spring's pinks and peaches, we'll find light oranges:
A color like this may pick up delicate tones in a Light Spring's cheeks, but seem to turn a Light Summer's skin uniformly orangey or muddy.
5. Light Spring has a cheerful greenish gold that's not the least bit Summery. It looks like this:
This is a color many Light Springs have in their hair or eyes. There's nothing close to it in the Light Summer palette.
6. Light Summer's greens are neutral to blue-green. Some Light Summer blue-greens can be hard to tell apart from Light Spring aquas. But only Light Spring green goes the other temperature direction, into yellow-green:
Clear yellow-green is an especially fussy color. Not many people are fantastic in it. If you are, and you know you're Light Something, now you know you're Light Spring.
I hope comparing these six colors helps you Lights find yourselves. Let me know how it works. :-)
If you're having trouble diagnosing yourself, consider investing in color cards to drape yourself at home.
Originally published February 2013.
If you're like me, you're not satisfied to simply know what's true; you want to understand why it's true.
So maybe you've heard it before: it's the effect of color on your skin that ultimately matters. Your eyes and hair are along for the ride.
Colors that seem to "go with" your hair aren't doing you any good if that hair is framing dirty-looking or shadowed skin. Colors that seem to make your eyes pop aren't helping if those eyes are popping out of a washed-out face.
But why is skin appearance the most important?
Because when we look at other people, we use skin appearance - not hair or eye appearance - as our primary way of evaluating health.
And health = beauty.
The human animal seeks to maintain life and avoid death. To the human animal, health reads as beautiful because health is life.
When you look at other people, you instantly and unconsciously evaluate their health, and you do it in large part using the appearance of their skin. If the skin looks right, the rest seems right too.
Healthy looking skin = life = beauty.
Baby skin is the ideal of skin beauty because babies are new life.
And when we judge the health of another's skin, the most salient feature to that judgment is its color.
Think about all the ways we use the language of color to describe the appearance of ill health in the skin.
We speak of
the yellow of jaundiced skin;
the green of nauseated skin;
the blue of frozen or oxygen-deprived skin;
the purple of bruised skin;
the red of burned or abraded skin;
the white of bloodless skin;
the grey of dead skin.
The fact that there are so many ways that skin can look wrongly colored shows that skin color is crucial to our estimations of others' health -- and, therefore, of their beauty.
But color is not objective.
Color is context.
For example, is "salmon" pink or orange?
Here, I'd call it pink.
Here, it looks closer to orange.
The color of your skin is subjective too.
Depending on what colors you place next to your own face, you can easily make the natural healthy color of your skin look too cool, too warm, too dark, too light, or too vivid - or disappear altogether.
This looks unlovely because it looks unhealthy.
When you know your the natural palette of your body, and put the colors of that palette next to your skin, your skin 's healthy color emerges. You look beautiful because you look healthy.
First published February 2013.
I realized a couple of years ago that I had arrived at the point in life one's life when one starts buying stuff a year in advance.
It was January, and I was in a drugstore buying wrapping paper because it was, like, 70% off. It just made sense! I knew I'd be using it again in no time.
I'm over 40 now, and I suppose this is about the age when a person starts to feel like 12 months pass "in no time."
I feel the same way now about bathing suits. Buying one at the end of summer just makes sense to me now, because I'll be wearing it again before I know it, and the prices are amazing.
I recently bought three new swimsuits. Three! They were 60% off at the department store in my area, so I didn't feel so guilty buying more than one. And another thing about being my age is the idea of owning more than one bathing suit starts to feel practical instead of extravagant. (I think? Maybe I'm totally alone in that. Let me know in the comments.)
It's funny; style principles that are perfectly logical to me in the abstract still surprise and delight me when I see them applied to myself. I know, logically, that low, gently rounded necklines and asymmetrical necklines are good for my style type, Ethereal Natural, but it still felt delightful to see how lovely those necklines are on me.
Same for delicate straps, tie accents, crisscross details, hipster bottoms, solid-color suits, and a shimmery finish: I would recommend all of that to a real-life Ethereal Natural, but there's still a sense of wonder in the realization, , after trying on 12 suits, that those are the features of my best suits. :-)))
Like most of you, I find it very difficult to be objective about myself! (I am so grateful for my brutally honest sister, who sees what I often can't see.)
I want to emphasize that these features of my most flattering suits derive completely from my Style ID, which in turn derives almost completely from my face. My body shape has nothing to do with it.
For example, I have a teeny bust (like, pre-adolescent teeny), yet ruffles on my bustline are awful for me, and many tops that flatten my bust are actually amazing for me.
Swimsuit recommendations that tell flat-chested women like me to put ruffles on their bustline are proceeding on the assumption that every woman looks better when she appears to have a fuller bust. But that's just not true.
When you think about it, you might come to the conclusion, as I have, that such recommendations only make sense if we reduce women to what's below the neck. But in fact, all of us -- including men! -- are mostly looking at women's faces, not at their bodies.
A woman's humanity is expressed in her face. The idea that a woman's beauty comes primarily from somewhere other than her face is a false idea that we mostly accept, I believe, because of sexism. Patriarchy encourages us women to obsess about everything below the neck, and, until we become conscious, we unfortunately just go along with that idea.
Anyway, getting back to my original point: it's a good time of year to buy a swimsuit or three for next year, because prices are crazy low right now. :-)))
If you're not convinced that your best suit matches your face, not your body, I encourage you to simply test the idea. Swimwear Guides are 12.99. That's about three Starbucks coffees, right? Spend the money, just as an experiment. Try digitally superimposing your face on the pictures of suits that you find in the guide. I think you'll be amazed by how right those suits are for you. Then go pick out some suits to try on, based on the guide's recommendations.
(And if you don't yet know your Style ID, of course try the Style Identity Calculator.)
* * * * * * * * * *
An interesting P.S.: I'm actually finding that using a Swimwear Guide is a useful way to determine someone's Style ID quickly. Maybe it's because swimwear is basically a condensed or distilled manifestation of style elements? When I'm doing a virtual analysis and I get stuck, trying out different swimsuits often gets me unstuck.
Do you struggle to find a suit that works? Have you tried the Swimwear Guide for your type? Were there any surprises? Please share in the comments.
The short answer is yes.
The more complicated answer is that not every single color in your palette will look good in every application.
For example, my Soft Autumn tan isn't great on me as a shirt, because that's the same color as my skin and it makes me look naked. (Generally, wearing tops or bottoms in the same color as your skin tone is a non-starter for daytime, because of the "nude" effect. Go a few shades lighter or darker.)
But my SA tan is great for me in makeup, and as an accent color.
My lightest pink isn't my best lippie, because it's lighter than my lips, but it's pretty as lingerie.
Consider, also, your style identity: certain hues make certain impressions, and you 'll want to make an impression that's consistent with your personal style.
For example, because I'm an Ethereal Natural, the majority of my wardrobe consists of Soft Autumn browns, blues, greens, gentle metallics, and dawn/dusk hues. I rarely wear my Soft Autumn pinks in large blocks because the impression they create is more girly than I am. (Though I love my pinks as lipsticks and blushes.) I almost never wear a large block of my Soft Autumn red, because the impression it makes is more aggressive than I am. (Though, again, I would wear it in makeup.)
A Soft Autumn with a lot of Ingenue would want to focus on those pinks. And a Soft Autumn with a lot of Dramatic would look great in big blocks of Soft Autumn red.
Check out your style type's Shopping Guide for more information about which colors from your seasonal palette to focus on.
And if you're not sure about your seasonal palette, consider trying the Home Draping Cards; a lot of women have found them helpful.
If you know your season, are there particular colors that you've found you can only wear in certain applications?
Or if you know your style type, are there particular colors that you've found best fit with your overall vibe?
Please share in the comments!
Originally published July 2017.
(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!
[Happy July 4th holiday, American readers! I'm re-running one of my most popular posts from several years ago. I welcome your opinions and insights in the comments section!]
This Indian model and actress is both incredibly beautiful and (to me) incredibly difficult to type. There's no agreement on the 'net, that's for sure. But after much study, I think I've figured it out. Here, I'll walk you through the process I used and share my conclusion.
Aishwarya is Indian. If I believed that non-White women are always Autumns and Winters, I'd have it narrowed down to six seasons based on that alone. If I was a particularly rigid thinker, I might have already decided Deep Autumn or Deep Winter.
But ethnicity doesn't determine season; it's based on how the skin reacts to color. So I'll keep the Autumns and Winters in mind, but not limit myself to them.
Let's look more closely at her.
Aishwarya is probably most famous for her beautiful and unusual eyes. If you believe that eyes determine season - or at least point to it - you're probably thinking Summer. You might even have narrowed it down to Soft Summer based only on these amazing eyes.
I'm going to make a mental note that the eyes suggest Summer, but I know that any season can have any eye color. So I'm moving on to the next step: finding well-lit pics of Aishwarya in a variety of colors, and noticing what the colors that look most - and least - harmonious on her have in common.
I find it easiest to start with makeup. When does Aishwarya's face look natural and balanced, and when does it seem that color is just sitting on her face?
This face looks pretty natural. In the eye shadow, blush, and lip, I see warmth, and I see mutedness - as opposed to clarity.
Most seasons have warmth or softness or both in them. But I’m tentatively ruling out Bright Winter. Very tentatively ruling out Cool (True) Winter and Bright Spring.
And maybe penciling a star next to the Autumns (soft & warm) and Soft Summer (soft with a smidge of warmth).
Nothing’s certain yet; let’s keep looking:
A well-lit pic, though not a flattering one: this lip and cheek look a little too bright and too pink to me. The color seems to be sitting on her face in a way that it doesn’t in the previous pics.
(And those silvery, icy jewels seem to have nothing in common with her.)
The most obvious thing I'm noticing at this point is that coolness and Aishwarya don’t mix. So, again, several seasons could be indicated, but I’m leaning farther away from the Winters, and starting to lean away from the Summers as well. Despite those eyes.
Ouch. That lip is too, too purple. Further confirms my growing sense that coolness is not for Aishwarya.
I'm feeling pretty sure she's a warm season. So the scientist in me says I must try to prove the null hypothesis:
Can I find her in makeup that looks both cool and natural?
Here, I’ve certainly found coolness – at least around the eye - but it looks all wrong: too sparkly, too blue. The lip and cheek here aren’t bad. But they’re more warm than cool. This isn’t disproving my theory; it’s confirming it.
Let's try more pics.
My first thought: nice, natural face, and a pinkish lip. OK, maybe we're on to something.
I'm looking closer at the makeup. The eyes look quite harmonious to me, and, well, I see warmth in the colors there. I see warmth in that nice, natural cheek too.
I start to notice that something's bugging me about that lip. I ask my gut: what’s wrong? My gut tells me: warm it up and darken it a smidge.
Yeah - I step back and look at the whole face again, and that lip is just too light and too pink for the rest of the face.
(Warm it, darken it… could Aishwarya be an Autumn? Hmm... maybe. Maybe. Nothing's impossible, despite the eyes.)
Let’s look at some more pics.
Here's the pic from the top of the post.
Apart from the requisite but totally silly super-black liner, this face looks natural as well.
And again, I see warmth in every part of the makeup.
At this point I think I’m prepared to commit myself to the idea that Aishwarya is a season known for warmth: Autumn or Spring.
Because I’ve also been noticing softness, I’m going farther now, and asking: do I see Autumn warmth specifically?
Are the flattering makeup colors that I’ve seen so far Autumn’s, and not Spring’s? That is, are they relatively muted and deep, rather than bright and light?
I think so.
Now I’m looking back at every picture I’ve seen so far, and asking this question: does anything in any pic rule out Autumn? Have I seen her looking natural in a super-cool, super-light or super-bright color that no Autumn could possibly wear?
Well, I’m going to proceed with a tentative theory that she’s an Autumn, while staying open to evidence that might suggest any other season.
So here's another picture with natural-looking makeup.
Are these colors consistent with Autumn? Yes - they're warm, soft, and deeper rather than lighter.
Are they completely inconsistent with another season?
Hard to say… I can imagine a Soft Summer or a Deep Winter possibly photographing this way, if the light was right.
I think I've exhausted the usefulness of makeup analysis. I have some ideas. Now I'm moving on to clothing colors, and noticing what doesn't look right.
Oh, certainly not.
My brain tells me she looks pale and harsh. My gut doesn’t tell me anything – it just cringes. Beautiful Aishwarya, where are you?
So this is a deep, cool color, and it’s not doing her any favors. Duly noted. Moving on…
Hmm… This just seems so, well, weird. As in strange, foreign. Unconnected to her.
I see Aishwarya. And I see the light, cool colors. But I don’t see anything joining them together.
Still thinking Autumn is likely. More colors:
My gut has a mixed reaction to this very un-Autumny pink. Something’s working, something’s not.
I pick apart my reaction:
If yes, I can probably rule out Soft Autumn.
But Deep Autumn and Warm (True) Autumn are still in the running. Their colors are muted in the context of the full 12-season spectrum, but considered in themselves, they can read as rather bright.
Now that I think I'm closing in on an answer, I'm ready to look at this problem from another angle:
What are Aishwarya's best colors?
What pics show her in glorious, fantastically harmonious colors?
And, oh my gosh, yes, this one, absolutely. I can’t stop staring. Incredible. Glorious golden goddess.
So... whose colors are these?
Warm (True) Autumn’s.
But she has those Summery eyes…
Yeah, I know.
But she’s Indian…
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.
Here's a narrative from a recent client that I analyzed as an Ethereal-Natural Gamine (one of my favorite types!) Also, I answer a question from a reader about whether Ethereal Naturals get to wear pants.
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First there was David Kibbe. His style system opened up a new world for me and my sister. Before him there had only been four or five archetypes. Kibbe introduced different style blends and we were fascinated. We tried to figure out our own style-IDs according to his style system, but we didn't succed. That doesn't surprise me because this was all new to us. But more importantly, his system was incomplete. We discovered that later.
Then there was Rachel. Another world opened up for us. Rachel's system was complete. There were even blends of three essences and blends of four essences. There was also two new essences: the Ingenue and the Ethereal. After reading the pages of Truth is Beauty I was pretty sure that I had Natural and Gamine. My sister was convinced I had Romantic, but I wasn't sure. I read Rachel's pages so many times I became quite an expert on typing celebrities and others. But I felt that I couldn't be fully objective about myself. That's why I sent Rachel some photos of myself and asked her about her first impressions. I didn't think she would respond, but she did. She believed I was a Romantic-Natural-Gamine.
I had to believe the expert, right? Well,I tried the RNG style-ID for quite some time, but somehow it didn't really feel right for me. I couldn't put my finger on what felt wrong, but something was not right and I believed it was the Romanic element. Wearing romantic clothes made me feel uncomfortable. I knew I must have a feminine essence apart from Natural and Gamine, but I was not convinced Romantic was the one. So I compared my photos to the style boards again and then something happened. Suddenly I discovered how good the Ethereal lines looked on me. I read some more about the Ethereal style type and I compared myself to Ethereal celebrities. And then everything fell into place. I had found the missing piece! I realized that the Ethereal element had been a part of me all the time, I just hadn't noticed it before. Or at least I thought so. But I didn't really trust my own instinct so I contacted Rachel again for a style analysis. I didn't want to guess anymore. I wanted to know! And I was still confused about the Romantic element. Should I include that or not?
I couldn't wait for Rachel to give me the answer! And at last it came. I am an Ethereal-Natural-Gamine with a dash of Classic. I really like my new style-ID and this time it felt right from the beginning. Now dressing is easy and fun. I know what suits me and what doesn't.
I recommend women to have a style analysis. Even if you are an expert it is difficult to be objective about yourself. I recommend style analysis for those who don't have a clue about these things but I also recommend it for those who think they have figured it out on their own to get confirmation from Rachel. Style analysis will save you time and money.
To those women that don't want to have a style analysis I would like to say: You can do it on your own. I almost did. I also want to encourage women in general to trust their instincts. We are often instinctly drawn to the "right" things, like I was.
Finally, thank you so much Rachel, for your expertise! Thank you for helping women find their beauty. I've learned so much from you. You are a true source of inspiration. I love it that your pages are so informative and educational. That makes it easier for women to analyze themselves. And I really like your blog where women can ask each other for advice or share their opinions. To all of you that are participating by commenting: thank you! Your contributions are making this blog even better.
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A reader asks, "Can Ethereal Naturals wear pants?"
I'm an Ethereal Natural, actually, so this is a personal question for me.
Pants are awesome for any Natural-influenced type, and one of the reasons I love being EN. I'm all about pants.
Cargo pants, straight slacks, loose capris, and jeans are all great for Naturals.
To manifest Ethereal Natural, a woman can feel free to go fully Natural from the waist down, and then bring in Ethereal in accessories and shirts.
In other words, not every garment has to combine both essences; fully N garments + fully E garments will read as EN.
This reader mentioned Indiana Jones as a touchstone for her own style. Indiana Jones is actually a good starting point for an Ethereal Natural look.
Keep the basic concept, but perhaps make the colors more gentle and feminine. Consider adding Ethereal accessories like elongated earrings or a floaty scarf. Consider changing the fabric on the top to something more light and floaty. Insert some Ethereal details like bishop sleeves or sheeny metallic finishes, or change the pants to a narrow, flowy skirt.
To create an Ethereal-Natural-Gamine look, like Daniela's best look, tweak one of the looks above by adding Gamine elements such as a playful print, a short skirt, a short top, a short necklace, a silhouette with several horizontal lines, very narrow pants, pants rolled to the ankle, a short vest, or ankle boots.
If you've used the Style Identity Calculator, you may have seen that your percent totals don't necessarily sum to 100. Sometimes they sum to 90 or 95.
A reader wrote me about this recently. What's going on here? Where's that missing ten percent?
Well, you may have noticed that the essences for which you weren't given a value say "negligible" instead of "0."
I created the calculator like this because it's possible that you may have a teeny tiny amount of one or more of those negligible essences, but anything less than 10% really isn't worth bothering with; it has no discernible impact on your look. I din't want to provide that information, because I felt like it might inaccurately imply to women that the 10% is meaningful.
But maybe, like the reader who recently wrote me, you're curious about that missing 10%. I might be, if I were you! :-)
If you have a missing 10%, and you want to know what it is -- just for the sake of satisfying your curiosity -- here's what I recommend:
Use the key at the end of the calculator to list out the Style IDs of every board you gave yourself points for.
Manually count how many times each of the seven essences appears in the name of a board you chose.
Whichever essence appears the most frequently after the essences identified in your total is likely responsible for any missing 10%.
You can of course ignore it altogether, and perhaps you should.
But you can also use the missing essence as a "filler" to complete any small part of an ensemble that's missing.
For example, I have 10% Classic, and I almost always ignore it. But I can also use it to justify, for example, a little Classic pin, or a bit of Classic trim, if that element can't be avoided in an ensemble that otherwise works for me.
You can also use a missing 10% as an enhancer to one of your existing essences. So, for example, if you find out you have a teeny weeny smidge of Gamine, you can add Gamine's youthfulness to a 30% Ingenue to make it "extra childlike," or add Gamine's tailoring to a 40% Classic to make it "extra tailored."
Spend some time checking out books and websites on color analysis, and you'll see that most sources don't allow for the possibility that Black women can be Springs. Certainly not Light Springs.
Well, we who make the websites and books have learned most of what we know from white authors.
And those authors didn't show women of color in their Spring examples. They told us Spring skin is fair or peachy.
But why should that be so?
Think about it.
The Spring palettes contain medium and dark browns. Why can't one of those colors be the tone of the skin?
Interestingly, Black color analysts have offered examples of Black Spring women for decades.
Jean Patton's 1991 book, Color to Color, has examples of Black women in every palette. The Light Spring woman featured in the book (not the woman on the cover) is undeniably Light Spring. It's worth buying the book for her picture alone - to permanently rid yourself of the mistaken belief that women of color are never Light Springs.
(The seasonal palettes included in the book are of good color quality and are easily matched to the 12 season system, though they don't use the same names.)
In her 1999 book, "Women of Color", Darlene Mathis also has great, full-color examples of Black Spring women.
I believe Alicia Keys is an example of a Black woman who is a Light Spring.
I mean, look at her in this picture, above. To my eye, she looks so much like herself in these delicate and warm colors.
I could rule out almost half of the seasons (Bright Spring, Dark Autumn, and all three Winters) if I could determine that Keys can't wear black.
And, in fact, it really looks wrong for her. The only part of her face I see it connecting to is her eyeliner, and of course that doesn't count. In my opinion, she's unpleasantly pale here.
The lippie, though, is great. And notice it's very light, very pink, and warmish.
This Dark Winter - looking lip is all wrong. Too dark, too intense.
This could be an Autumn yellow-orange, above. It, and the brown-orange lippie, look dull, not vibrant.
In the picture above, I think her lip is too cool (pinkish) for her face, but I like the overall lightness for her.
This warm brown eye, above, is very, very wrong.
The makeup above is great for her, I think. And it's light and peachy. (Except for the black mascara - it's slightly disconcerting. But pretty much everyone wears black mascara, even when they should be wearing grey or brown instead...)
Below, I like her cheek and lip. I find the Autumn-y brownish-orange in the coat too much for her skin, though.
The picture above is not the most reliable, because it's an editorial photo, but gosh, doesn't that look Light Spring to you?
What do you think? Are there other pics of Keys that you think reflect her coloring more accurately? Do you think these photos show a season other than Light Spring?