Thursday, 20 October 2016

I'm No Tilda Swinton, But...

Wandering the web reading about style types and archetypes I have also come across one called Ethereal or Angelic* which intrigues me, and I wonder, how much of this do I have in me? Some style specialists say we have all types in us and it's a matter of percentages.  Essentially we look for the overall impression a person gives, using face, body and in some cases personality.  I don't think Kibbe accounts for personality and that is a bit of a stumbling block for me and his style references are both dated and geared towards career dressing or glamour dressing.  Others, like Dressing Your Truth, seem to think that you are what you look like, although they would claim that no they are showing you how to look like what you are, I am not convinced and to me some of the people they make over just don't look right.  


Of course I don't find it easy to know what I look like and I suspect I do not see myself as others do.  There is also a matter of just how much of us is public persona and private?  For me there can be big distinctions, which I think is not so unusual for an introvert.  It's definitely true of an INFJ, who tends to behave like an extrovert in public because it's more socially acceptable and because INFJs truly do love connecting with people.  It's still an act in a sense, though it's a well meant one.

I know that as a child I was the type often described as an old soul.  I have always been the person friends come to for advice not fun.  Or in some cases just a good listener.  I know that in high school I was perceived by many as aloof.  And I know that men tend to like me more readily than women do.  Actually men are rarely indifferent about me and either really like me or find me threatening.

Many people also find me very warm and friendly because if I am not staring off into space, pondering things -which is often, I generally am warm and friendly.  I go out of my way to talk to everyone who serves me or assists me on a daily basis.

A long time ago, a couple of years after high school I found myself on a Greyhound bus travelling the few hours from university to my home town and someone I'd known only slightly in high school was also on that bus.  We sat together, though I do not recall which of us initiated that.  If I am intimidated I am shy and if I sense another person is intimidated or shy then I will go out of my way to be friendly.  Cheryl sat beside me and we chatted amiably.  About half an hour into the trip she said, loudly and in a surprised tone, "Oh My God!  You are really nice!"  It was news to me that anyone had thought I wasn't.


I can look quite natural and friendly. ( This is literally a makeup free and freshly scrubbed face.)  Especially if I am making eye contact with people or am aware someone is looking at me.  If I am not lost in my own world I will definitely smile.  I look a bit more approachable in this warm lighting too.



 Do I appear spiritual, friendly and kind?  Such is the way an Ethereal will apparently appear.





 The style gurus who mention ethereal types, and usually it is a combination type, ethereal and something else since a fully ethereal person is rather rare, tend to present pictures of celebrities who fit this type and I see some features I may have in common.

Strangely, they are often tall.  While the angelic types tend to be fair, light coloured and literally look as though they should always be dressed in white gossamer and sparkling shoes, there is a slightly darker and more brooding look to the ethereals as well.  Other features which I may be seeing in myself are serious, soulful looking eyes, a straight mouth, a longish nose and oval face.  There is something straight and strong about them and yet also delicate and curved.  Examples cited are Darryl Hannah, Tilda Swinton, Cate Blanchet, Rooney Mara, Carolyn Besette, Vanessa Redgrave and Canada's pride, Margaret Atwood.  Liv Tyler also looks wonderful as an ethereal, as evidenced by her role in Lord of the Rings.


Other features mentioned are blended or soft colouring, high cheekbones, deep set and hooded eyes, high foreheads and a translucence to the skin. 

I doubt I have all of these features but I do have some, and clothing lines recommended for Ethereals is also draped, body skimming and soft, which I know suits me, and I have already referred to it for Kibbe Soft Dramatic and Dressing Your Truth type 2.  What makes ethereal more appealing to me is that there is less bombshell about it.

Could I convincingly play an elf in Lord of the Rings, given some misty lighting and the right wig?

Or does this image help to explain why I could potentially be an Ethereal type who suits a pixie cut?

                                                                   Source



Rachel Arnt- Schemmel at Truth is Beauty, suggests that ethereals are not all that attractive to men but they are to women.  Men are more likely to call them weird looking.

I am not familiar with how people would describe me.  My mother is firmly in the camp that believes you don't tell your daughter she is pretty.  I was always told I had a pleasant face.  My partner thinks I am the most beautiful woman in the universe which is very nice but not helpful here.  I would certainly go as far as to suggest that I am not conventionally pretty.  People usually say, "you have kind eyes".

Rachel also says that "Ethereal beauty is often confused with Dramatic beauty, because it's unusual looking and rare, and because both tend to have long faces and frames."

Another of Rachel's beliefs is that it's your face that matters and not so much your body.  Yes, you tweak things to suit the lines of your body, but your face is what people are looking at and which gives the impression of you.  I admit this appeals to me because it doesn't automatically shunt me into one of the Dramatics.

Do I think I am unusual and rare looking?  That has never occurred to me.  I don't think so, in a stand out sort of way but I do relate to the look of the faces of many of the women identified as Ethereals.  The example women tend to be thin but we are talking about celebrities.  It's generally their job to be thin.  Might they look more like me if they gained 30 pounds?

Ethereals are more likely to be introverts.  They have a calm and gentle look naturally.

In all I've read it's not yet quite clear to me how an Ethereal dresses on a daily basis.  Most Ethereals have some sort of secondary quality that should guide this.

Ethereal hair would be a little more soft and fluffy, floaty as opposed to smooth and wavy like a glamorous Soft Dramatic.

Makeup would be lighter in colours and perhaps with a touch of frost or sparkle to it, which we all know I am frightened of, but I am slowly coming around to small touches of iridescence and can see how judicious use of highlight might flatter my face.

Clothing lines would be similar to the Soft Dramatic, rendered in lighter colours and less attempt at bold flourishes which might be more suited to my Soft Autumn palette.  I also find myself preferring to wear those light colours.  While I cannot imagine dressing in gauzy, floaty, cream-coloured gowns on a daily basis I can imagine myself as a fantasy character who looks like a cross between an angel and a bohemian bride.  Despite my darker hair, I feel light coloured and I like wearing light colours.  This may bias my perception because I also like the look of myself in light colours better.  The darker they get the more pale I look and it starts to look hard and cold and a too dramatic or goth for the person I feel I am.

I recall Kibbe did say that a Soft Dramatic could dress in head to toe pastels but he was inclined to want to add some sparkle to that. I wonder if the subtle difference I am looking for is irridescence as opposed to sparkle.

Without much to guide me, I attempted to dress and make myself up assuming I am an Ethereal type, and I would also assume that if I am a combination Ethereal type it would be Ethereal Natural.    In my first attempt I chose a blouse with some subtle shape and embroidered detail in a colour that I know looks dramatic on me.  I added, though rather haphazardly, a lacy styled scarf and some appropriate earrings which don't really show in the photo.  My hair is off my face, which always feels good to me, and some of my natural wave is starting to show as my hair grows.  I don't know that this hair qualifies as Ethereal or Dramatic or Natural or anything but it's what I've got right now.  My makeup feels quite natural for me, as it's minimal and softly peachy.


There is something about this that doesn't feel right to me but I can't put my finger on it.  It's aside from the sloppy styling.  Is it the colours?    Is it because the camera seems to have darkened my hair?  Something looks hard and cold.  The photo below looks better.  Was it the contrasting colours then?  My scarf application is a hot mess, but the teal scarf with the teal blouse seems to work better for me. 


I admit I am intrigued by my body language in this photo.  I am aware that I tend to keep myself quite folded up.  This is the real me, as opposed to an pose attempts I might make for blog photos when trying to model clothing.  You can see why I make a terrible model. I keep myself quite folded up.  This seems like a great deal of stillness or at least very soft and gentle motion.  Although I look compact, as I am accustomed to seeing myself, I look slimmer and less boxy, there is an elongated effect I don't usually notice in myself and my hands and fingers look long too, just as my face and nose do.

After my attempts at Ethereal influenced dressing and makeup, taking several photos to get a few that were blog-worthy, I was quite exhausted and feeling feverish so it was time to return to bed.  The makeup is subtle enough and the jewelry all typical so I can leave that one without feeling strange but the blouse and scarf felt a bit formal to me.  I removed them and put on a cream coloured tee shirt and in that moment really truly felt like myself.  I felt everything relax.  I love the colour cream and may versions of off white.  I know it's not really a colour to many people but for me it little stirs my soul.

Out of curiosity I dragged my carcass back to the kitchen, where there are so many windows the light is brightest and I took another photo.  It's the one I used at the beginning of this post and like the one below where I am wearing a soft camel coloured sweater, it's one of my favourite selfies so I will inflict it on you again.  It all feels like me, like home, not fun or bold or dramatic but not frumpy and boring either.  Boring is of course quite a subjective concept and this may indeed look boring to some people.  I probably wouldn't dress this way if I wanted to project power, but I am rarely in a position where I feel a need to project power, and I am confident enough in myself not to care whether someone else sees me as powerful or not.




 In case you would like to know, this lipstick is a new discovery and a big favourite.  It's Revlon Super Lustrous in Pink Truffle which is a sheer so somewhat like a tinted lip balm.



My current profile picture looks like it fits with the celebrity Ethereals.  Could you picture me with cascading auburn waves and wings on my back?



                                                           Rooney Mara

                                               Vanessa Redgrave

                                                            Frances Conroy

Note:  Women of colour can be Ethereals too and there are some shown on Rachel's blog.  I chose these three for their lighter skin since I am trying to see if I resemble them.



I have yet to find any style guides as explicit as Kibbe, regarding what an Ethereal type should wear.  Kibbe's book has been around long enough that it's well known and quoted.  Other gurus on the internet want to sell their advice, which is fine, but that leaves me looking at polyvore and pinterest boards created by amateurs like myself.  I'm getting pretty good at looking at other people and knowing which archetype would fit them but it's always hardest to see yourself accurately and I am still relatively new at this.

* Credit apparently goes to John Kitchener for conceiving of the Angelic Archetype which he added to the much used types,

My research is not as thorough as it could be in that I gather ideas and lose track of their source.  Many style guru names are in my head; I could probably name them all but would have more difficulty recalling what system they developed, whom mentored whom and which system grew out of another.

Below are some Pinterest Boards created by Rachel Arnt-Schemmel

Ethereal  Natural is  a romantic boho style so it appeals to me.  Liking it is not the same as embodying it, of course.

Ethereal  Dramatic is likely to have an arty style.

Ethereals who are more gamine will do well with Goth, Fairy, Witchy or Forrest Elf styles, Goth and Witchy, especially if they have deep colouring and can wear black.

Ethereal Dramatic Natural ( yes a trio ) is rather appealing to me as it is sort of Arty and Boho

Ethereal Dramatic Classic has a simple elegance with arty touches.

Ethereal Dramatic Ingenue is youthful/ fairy child

This Pin Board by KH is Romantic Ethereal as per John Kitchener and is similar to Kibbe's Soft Dramatic

Pinterest Boards by Solania Rose are also interesting and I like how the images are inspirational more than career dressing, though perhaps not helpful if you are trying to figure out what to shop for or wear on a coffee date.

I like her Ethereal + Natural board


It seems to me that for a casual look the best idea is to figure out what style jeans suit you best, combine those with the type of blouse, sweater or tunic that is right for your body shape and essence, and then embellish with the accessories that suit and feel right for your lifestyle.  When it comes to the accessories, the hats, bags, shoes and jewelry, the mood of the outfit should be a reasonable guide.







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