Style Types: The ETHEREAL
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.
And so ends my series on the seven basic style identities. Most people aren't a pure type, but rather a blend of two or three. If you know what looks good on you but don't know how that translates into a style identity, try the Style Identity Calculator!
Originally published July 2015
7/2/2015 03:15:35 am
Thank you for this post!!!
7/2/2015 08:49:01 am
Great post. This totally makes sense.
7/2/2015 09:05:28 am
Fascinating post. I'm curious why Najarra Townsend is seen in your post as a pure ethereal. I consider my face a blend of dramatic and ethereal and I look a lot like her. There is something about her face that says "danger" but it's not nearly as in your face as the vibe that you get from the picture of Jamie Lee Curtis.
7/2/2015 09:14:47 am
Hi Rachel--a question for you as one Ethereal/Natural to another. In PSC I lead with Natural 30% to Angelic 25%. I was delighted that you picked an Ethereal/Natural style type out of the Indiana Jones clothing, as I also did!!! However, I have two ideas that diverge only slightly for your recs, and I wonder if it's the subtle differences of an individual. You mention your being "rough hewn" plus ethereal. Some (not all) of your Ethereal/Natural pins on Pinterest feel just a little too "rough hewn" for me. I'm wondering if it has to do with how much Natural vs. Ethereal, and also if, in my case, it has to do with my having Romantic at only 5% behind Ethereal. It's not enough to put my completely at home in a three-way style I.D. But there is nothing "rough hewn" about me. I seem to do Romantic touches, but nothing that looks the least flouncy or perky--must have that Ethereal drip. Also, I really love that you are a Soft Autumn--would love to be that. But I turned out to be in one system a Soft Summer Light and look best in Soft Summer medium tones away from the face. So do you think coloring is a modifying influence?
7/2/2015 10:27:57 am
What a great article, thank you!
7/3/2015 09:03:14 am
The other day I remembered something that I thought you might find a bit interesting. When we were learning about web design in college, one of my teachers once advised us to use rectangles with slightly rounded corners as buttons, instead of rectangles with angular corners. He explained us that our brains are trained to subcounsciously percieve sharp angular shapes as more dangerous, because they remind us of objects that can cause us pain if we are not careful around them. For instance, if you accidentaly hit yourself against the corner of a table, it's usally more painful if that corner is angular instead of rounded.
7/3/2015 01:04:42 pm
Yes, this is absolutely part of it! Points are aggressive, and the types that can wear pointy edges come across as more aggressive (though cheekily so, in the case of Gamines.) It's why so many villains in film are Dramatic blends.
7/7/2015 04:32:28 am
Amazing article, Rachel. Thanks for sharing!
7/10/2015 07:54:56 am
Great info. You say it's the end of the series, but there was no text about classic or romatnic type. At least I can't find them.
7/12/2015 05:27:20 pm
Hi Agnes. Look under 'Categories' on the right side of the blog, just under Rachel's picture. You'll find them there. :)
7/12/2015 06:48:32 am
Well, this is me. I'm thrilled. I'm too tall to be a Gamine, too flat to be a Classic, and not angular/sharp enough to be a Dramatic, but I recognized that vibe of nonsexual femininity as soon as you described it. (I do have Yang hips, though, lowish and narrower than my shoulders.) The "weird/elderly" description works, too. :) I guess there's a reason I've refused to throw out all my Renn Faire garb... Thanks for the clarification!
7/13/2015 03:21:53 am
What are the differences between Ethereal and Kibbe's Soft Dramatic? Doesn't SD have softly rounded edges, too?
7/20/2015 04:28:14 am
The main difference is the overall impression of sexiness and power. Soft Dramatics radiate both. Ethereals' vibe is rather chaste, and they don't project power in the normal sense. SD would correspond to Dramatic Romantic.
9/7/2016 09:38:07 am
"Ethereals differ mainly in that their best fabrics are light as air and their best colors are extremely gentle" - but what if you're a Dark Autumn Ethereal (blend)...? ;) Or any other season that needs strong colours...
10/17/2016 10:54:55 am
My guess (as I'm still figuring this all out myself) is that you would go with the lighter/gentler colors of your pallette and the lightness of fabric will help a great deal. I think a Dark Autumn could lend itself well to Ethereal as its colors would still be considered toned down or muted. Probably each Ethereal should stick within their own natural levels of depth/contrast to make sure their clothes have the same barely there vibe as they do. I'm some form of spring, and the brightness and need for color throws me a little with what's required for Ethereals, but I'm looking to the commonalities - lighter and translucent, as I know I cannot do muted and misty. I think I'm starting to make it work. Probably also taking a cue from your secondary (or tertiary) type can help A LOT with colors.
7/21/2015 02:10:23 am
Rachel, great explanation. With this, I had to bring ethereal back into the picture. You said you are a belnd of ethereal and natural. Can you envision an ethereal/natural/classic blend? I imagine this person would be shorter than an ethereal or etheral/natural blend person.
8/26/2015 02:04:26 pm
It's interesting that you say ethereals appear chaste and do not give off the sexy vibes, but I think Lisa Bonet defies this description and a lot of men have commented on her sexiness.
8/31/2015 05:40:04 am
Lisa Bonet has some Romantic vibes to me too (big "sleepy" eyes, full lips, etc.) But I also don't think that all or even most men are into stereotypically sexy women. My husband tends to like Classic or Ingenue celebs, I have a friend who dates brunette Gamine women almost exclusively, another friend who loves tall women... everyone has a different 'type'.
9/11/2016 02:47:22 pm
I realize that I am late to jump in here, but I have to say that I really never felt I fit into any of the various types/systems until reading about the ethereal type. (I'm tall, medium build, pear-shaped, oblong face shape, extremely fair coloring with wavy, strawberry blonde hair and naturally somewhat introverted) Being that I am tall, I assumed I was dramatic but those styles repelled me, so I was just shoehorning myself into a classic/natural style and always felt very restricted and inhibited. Since trying to move more toward an ethereal style of dress, I feel more like myself and more confident. It is a challenge, however, to find casual ethereal clothing.
10/31/2016 07:29:11 pm
So far, two people have typed me as ethereal/classic, which came as a surprise to me, because when I think of ethereal I think of those willowy, beautiful model types, and I'm short. Perhaps that is partially due to me being biased, though, because I have always been very insecure about my height. Other people do not notice my small stature as much, though, because build wise I am not delicate. I think I have a gamine body, though, short and flat lines. My mother was a dramatic classic, and every woman on my dad's side has been a gamine facially/romantic body. I believe that on me, facially speaking, his genes softened her dramatic and became an ethereal. The only trait I got from my mother are her prominent, high cheekbones, although on her they are sharper. I have very wide set, straight, relatively small eyes (which I also used to be insecure about), high, unarched, straight eyebrows, and a narrowing face, which I believe may be why people seem to type me as an E. The only ingenue feature I have is my mouth, which is very small and bow shaped.
11/29/2016 08:12:02 pm
I have been trying to type my friend and I am almost certain that she has some Ethereal to her. The only tripper is that she's short (although she has long limbs in proportion to her body). Her face doesn't seem very elongated like Carolyn Bessette's or any of the other examples you posted, it's more of a small oval, but the "gently sculpted" description seems to suit her. I think that wide set eyes (like Uma Thurman's) and soft features are E traits since they give you a slightly otherworldly look. I've also noticed that Ethereal-Ingenues and Ethereal-Gamines have a porcelain doll like vibe to them (Lily Cole especially). Something about the delicacy of both the Youthful types and E combined seem to give off that aesthetic.
1/24/2017 09:56:27 pm
I was wondering what the name of the person in the romantic ethereal category's description is, the dark haired one.
10/13/2020 02:06:10 am
Hi there! I realize that this is, oh, three years later, but if you were still wondering, I’m pretty sure that you are referring to Kat Dennings. :)
10/17/2017 08:08:48 pm
I was pretty sure I was soft natural, but maybe I have some ethereal in me...One time I went to my house very late in the night and scared my mother (she thought I was a ghost, specifically the girl from "The Ring" hahaha) anyway I have no "subdued" colours(I'm dark winter) but I'm pale...
1/7/2018 06:40:07 pm
Do you think liv Tyler, Ann coulter is ethereal/angelic?
1/13/2018 03:22:18 pm
Oh, I have another one,.shelley Duvall? Or Benedict cumberbatch and Donald Sutherland?
5/13/2018 07:58:30 pm
Wow, this site is so informative I'm actually pretty sure about my syle ID and seasonal color, and I've got to say it's a relief to finally have these figured out.
6/26/2018 03:28:41 am
"not erotically appealing. It's passionless...some straight men find weird-looking. "Is she supposed to be pretty?" you were probably looking at an Ethereal."
7/29/2019 03:58:03 am
Totally agree. Parts of this article are interesting. Other parts are just outright shaming. After the put downs I just read, I won't be revisiting this site. They just reinforce that if you aren't type a) b) or c) then you aren't desirable etc. What a horrible message.
5/1/2020 10:42:59 pm
I actually found this pretty validating and eye opening? Other girls growing up appreciated my “exotic/striking/like an old painting” beauty, boys not so much. It also explains why Romantic or Classic looks never seemed quite right on me even though I’m undeniably feminine.
12/22/2020 03:46:27 pm
Our value is not determined by the number of men who desire to sleep with us. As a strongly Ethereal woman I'm not at all offended by this article, I also found it validating. We are not overt, we are not Playboy bunnies, and I'm honestly very happy with that. That doesn't mean we are unattractive. The author of this article is a Natural-Ethereal, so she clearly meant no shaming or disrespect.
11/11/2021 09:16:26 pm
I also don't agree with her. There is a reason the angelic essence is described as the most "yin". The romantic essence best embodies the sexual component of feminine energy, but there is a lot more to femininity than just sex appeal. There is also the mysterious energy associated with women. I believe that is what the ethereal energy embodies. The feminine mystique. A beauty that is untouched by the troubles of the world. The angelic essence is the embodiment of purity. It is not overtly sexual, because that is not the ethereal appeal. Rather, the ethereal is an energy that begs to be touched with the magnetic pull of softness and light...yet it is unreachable in it's spiritual beauty. It's like trying to hold light itself. Ethereal allure is mesmerizing and mysterious. It holds interest and gravity. It isn't fleeting or contrived. It's a timeless beauty. I also feel it invokes a desire to protect in men. It isn't sexual like a romantic, and it isn't helpless like an ingenue. It's pure like an angel, something uncorrupted by the decay of earth. It is peaceful and welcoming. I don't understand the negative view that this article gave on it. It's quite a shame really.
Gitte Van de Velde
3/24/2019 12:43:41 pm
Again, I really think I have a ton of Ethereal in me. Particularly on my face, but in my body, too. I just haven't seen it like that yet as clothes with ethereal elements that are appropiate for a high school student aren't really a thing. I cut my hair short, a big mistake, but before (when it was between shoulder and chin length) my hair weirdly enough already looked the ebst at the end of the day. In the mornign I'd do a side braid, which ends in a knot, or two french braids tightly back. At the end of the day the side braid would have loosened up in be a beautyful, cascading braid with a full wave at the front, framing my face. Or some locks at the front would have loosened up with the french double braids, forming subtle, airy curls framing my face. Very beautiful, and it's feminine while not 'girly'. It kind of chic and fantasy-like because of the airyness caused by the hair being loose - the braided updo of a greek goddess. While not wild and unconstructed, it's still properly braided and ending in a knot, so not too natural and wild. Loose, but not wild. These kidn of hairstyles always looked amazing on me, but are unfortunately difficult to fake. To look the best, it has the be genuine 'end of the day' hair.
4/22/2019 03:03:07 pm
Ethereal beauty is so lovely.
4/24/2019 05:50:19 pm
W., I have a similar experience. People often tell me I have an otherworldly quality. Ethereal lines and s-curves are exceptionally flattering on me. But I don't tend to go for gauzy fabrics or shimmer. I'm not sure if they'd be bad on me or not - I've never really tried them - but I prefer comfortable, easy, practical fabrics.
4/25/2019 05:09:29 am
Maybe you're an Ethereal Natural Gamine. I think Kari Byron from Mythbusters is an ENG and she looks great in practical clothes but has a more ethereal hairstyle.
5/1/2019 02:21:46 pm
Thank you both for your thoughts. It's fun to see people working through their style journey in the comments. :)
4/22/2019 05:00:40 pm
Hi, my name Lily! I’ve kind of been lurking around this blog but I guess this Ethereal post is as good as any to jump in! I’ve determined that I am an EDI, but I’ve been having a really hard time grasping the concept of this type (and my appearance) honestly. I have a LOT of Ingenue then DE, and it took me a really long time to figure out my ID. Additionally, I am mixed african American and its been surprisingly hard to find others with similar ID. At the moment, I think Jasmine Sanders? Otherwise, I feel a bit stuck. I’m open to hearing any other tips or information from y’all as well :)
I think Jennifer Connelly has a touch or more of ethereal but not like Tilda Swinton, Cate Blanchette or Rooney Mara . I it explains why some roles are ideal for the ethereal essence while some would look to “real” for lack of a better word.
4/22/2019 08:33:44 pm
If one were to lean more into Ethereal qualities, what would be some ways to dress Ethereal, but casually? I think that I am primarily Ethereal/Ingenue and as I get older I want to lean more into Ethereal looks, but it's so hard to find clothes in that style id at all, never mind work clothes or something casual to lounge around the house in!
8/15/2020 05:36:45 pm
This is absolutely my struggle too! I have a dramatic body type, but heavy ethereal influence and a good amount of ingenue influence too. I often get that “fairy” vibe comment from people. (I have golden blonde hair and very fair skin). Casual, everyday clothes tend to look gross on me! I can’t wear a tshirt and shorts so finding something that doesn’t look like I’m super made up all of the time is difficult. Curious how other people with heavy ethereal and/or ingenue influence dress for day-to-day style too!
4/26/2019 09:57:14 am
Hmm, interesting - now that I re-read this and the post on D below, I realize I have at least as much Dramatic as Ethereal (strong cheekbones, somewhat strong jaw), in addition to my R and I (the two I'm very sure about, and before I was very sure about E too)... I don't think I look at all dangerous though ;) Although come to think of it, I've been told people don't often find me very approachable...
4/26/2019 07:28:55 pm
Still getting the hang of this system.... what kind of Ethereal is Dianna Agron? I think I see Ingenue and maybe even some classic, but she very well may be Gamine instead
4/27/2019 04:04:09 pm
Oh yeah! I can see ethereal classic the “delicate sophisticate” working well for her. At best, I only like dashes of youth for her here and there. Thanks Kellie!
No problem. I am still struggle to figure out essences with different people but I see Dianna and Grace Kelly comes to mind but with the ethereal too. It can be frustrating but fun.
4/27/2019 01:47:35 pm
Calling all HELP! I believed I’ve narrowed down my ID to Ethereal Gamine, but I think there’s a third essence that I can’t figure out. There’s clearly a pattern to these styles but I can’t put my finger on it!
4/27/2019 01:50:36 pm
Forgot to mention- it’s in order from favorite to least favorite!
4/28/2019 09:08:55 am
I'm no expert but...in your pics I actually see mostly natural pieces (natural fibres, loose fit, practical clothing) with ingenue (the crochet details or whatever you call it), ethereal (shiny materials and maybe also the floatiness of some of the materials, it's hard to tell) and romantic (the swimsuit) details. I would try floating a picture of your face over the boards with a combination of those essences and see how you feel about them.
4/28/2019 10:22:45 am
Molly, I noticed the same thing as Ella as far as the outfits looking like they contained a lot of natural. I can see some ethereal influence with the flowiness and cuts of some of the tops, as well as ingenue with the colors and as Ella noted, the detailing on some of the tops. Just not much gamine...If you wanted to, you could post some pictures of yourself so we could see how you look in E/G. Up to you!
4/29/2019 02:46:06 pm
Ella, thanks so much! I don’t think I could have differentiated between Gamine and Ingenue without your help. I am going to look further into this. Thanks again!
4/29/2019 02:50:28 pm
Thanks Janelle! You and Ella’s comments helped me realize that the color scheme and crochet details in my wardrobe align with Ingenue boards much better than Gamine. I’m going to take a look at I, N, R, and E combinations. Thank you!
4/30/2019 08:56:54 am
Two questions on ethereal expression:
5/1/2019 02:14:24 pm
"the look of things collected over time, like flea market style, where patina is celebrated"
5/11/2022 08:22:42 pm
I don't think circular frames work very well with Ethereal, that's probably more Romantic, Ingenue, or maybe Gamine (for the playful element). Ethereal usually needs more of a "wing" and a taper or teardrop shape. I wear soft cat eye glasses (I'm EC).
6/2/2019 06:33:32 pm
Re-reading this I think I've had an epiphany. I pretty much look like what you'd get if you put Jamie Lee Curtiss and Frances Conroy in a blender. But Ethereal Dramatic is a bit confusing as it's got opposing elements.
10/2/2019 01:08:43 am
I'm wondering if Iekeliene Stange would be considered a really light soft autumn? Hmm....
5/25/2020 06:30:52 pm
Does Riley Montana have Ingenue too?
5/25/2020 06:34:10 pm
6/29/2020 11:53:21 am
Jenelle, thank you.
6/29/2020 01:44:53 pm
6/30/2020 09:43:01 am
Janelle, thank you so much!
10/29/2020 04:28:35 pm
Something I wish there was more of (any of) whenever showing examples of ethereal clothing, is clothing a person could actually wear in everyday life. The examples are always either formal wear, costumes, or runway gowns. The most an average person will wear these looks is about .1% of their life. The other 99.9% of the time we need to go out in public not looking like we’re a renaissance festival enthusiast or a runaway bride. I hope this didn’t come across too aggressive, I really love this entire website and your Pinterest boards. I love looking at all the pretty gowns too, I just don’t really know how to translate them into a wearable wardrobe.
12/15/2020 05:04:13 pm
Yes, this represents the majority of Ethereal type's feelings. I guess I would say airy delicate lightweight fabrics, soft colors if your season allows, flow, drape, long lengths like maxi dresses or long skirts. Peasant tops and ethereal jewelry? Airy long cardigans, etc. But overall, I would love to see this too and there are few pictures that capture a wearable ethereal wardrobe, as well as a few other types with ethereal or ingenue.
4/20/2021 03:33:25 am
9/28/2021 11:40:31 pm
What would a good example for EDI (mostly E and I) be? My thought was Princess Zelda (primarily Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword, Hyrule Warriors (this one seems pretty evenly EDI), and Breath of the Wild versions).
10/18/2021 09:48:00 pm
Is it possible for someone with Ethereal to still kinda look youngish? I am 32 but I often get told that I look 24-25. I know I have a lot of Romantic influence in me and I'm wondering if that could be why? I've entertained the idea of possibly having ingenue and gamine, but incorporating any of those into my style either makes me look very try-hard or even matronly.
10/27/2021 04:10:26 pm
When you try to incorporate Ingenue or Gamine, how much are you trying to incorporate? Maybe it's a small amount that just needs a touch of influence in the outfit. Like a detail here or there or a small accessory?
12/23/2021 07:56:38 am
3/9/2022 03:15:56 am
I never would have thought that Cara Delevingne a ethereal Blend is. I'm wonder what the other Style IDs are? possibly some gamine?"
5/11/2022 08:29:06 pm
I'm most likely an Ethereal with Classic, and here is a board I made of more casual outfits (ignore the Romantic part, I need to change the name, and it's really Ethereal with touches of different essences): https://www.pinterest.com/sarahmariev/ethereal-romantic-casual/
7/16/2022 05:02:05 am
Is Cate Blanchett only Ethereal?
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