20 Shades Of Beauty is a personal imagemaking system that integrates one’s authentic traits (coloring, geometry and mannerism) in 20 distinct style identities. It can also be used for branding. I developed this structure in order to consolidate 2 classic exemplary personal analysis theories (Caygill and Kibbe) into one, for easy use and understanding and as an initial step of personal analysis.
20 ESSENTIAL GROUPS
Firstly, we have 4 Dominant Color Identities: Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn.
Then we have 5 Dominant Style Identities: Dramatic, Natural, Classic, Romantic and Gamine. These are the dominant traits that have to be defined for each woman. I decided that neither Ethereal/Angelic nor Ingenue will pass into the basic traits, because the system is for adult women, and not for angels or children.
There can be only one Dominant Trait, however most women usually have traits that support and ornate the dominant ID, serving for it to best come alive in a person. It is only by taking those supporting essences into account can we create a fully unique style for a woman which will bring back her most charming, authentic, “beautiful rare bird” self, no matter her age, race, or size.
So secondly, within each of twenty groups, we have a vast amount of possible sub-types. Most supporting essences repeated the main essences, plus we have two more: Ethereal and Ingenue, which are necessary for women that additionally posses either very magical or very girlish innocent qualities. So in total we have 7 possible sub-types that can support the Dominant ID: D (Dramatic), N (Natural), C (Classic), R (Romantic), G (Gamine), E (Ethereal), I (Ingenue).
These sub-types, curiously, make women in each group very and very diverse. This does not mean that 20 Shades are not functional. They definitely are, as they are essential. However, for a truly unique look each woman has been assigned by Mother Nature, we need to dig deeper into her color and style essence.
THE IMPROVED STYLE FORMULA
How many sub-types do we have then, for style? Some stylists prefer to use the system David Kibbe developed, with 13 types, some pure, some nuanced. Other stylists, like Rachel from Truth-Is-Beauty blog, prefers to work with what she calls Blends: either 1, 2 or a mix of 3 identities in one person. Her system has made it possible to make personal analysis much more nuanced than Kibbe, although let’s not forget that David Kibbe is a pioneer, and many similar styling systems basically originated from his simple but powerful idea of a woman’s geometry influence on style.
So combinatorically speaking, if we have 7 main ID’s, plus all doubles and triples, we will arrive at a total of 63 ID’s, and that’s what Rachel’s system is about. She even made Pinterest boards for each of these 63 Style ID’s and gave them all catchy names that additionally help to describe an archetype. “Kibbe plus Jung” kind of approach is definitely extremely popular among modern stylists, although some go way too far into various archetypes, which is more fun for art-direction of a photoshoot than useful for a human client. Beautiful names like Amethyst Sunset Warrior are awesome, but let’s be realistic: a woman just wants to know what to shop for. Colors and styles. That’s all. Nobody in a shop will be able to help about any warriors or nymphs ))
So, 63 style ID’s. Wonderful. However, after I started practicing 20 Shades approach, I noticed that I can’t arrive at a good formula if I don’t define a Dominant Trait first. As I said above, there can be only ONE dominant style essence for a person. Rachel’s blends that sounds like Dramatic-Classic-Romantic do not take that fact into account, and so there is no way to know which trait in this formula is actually dominant.
Therefore, in 20 Shades, we will place the Dominant ID as the LAST letter of style. You can imagine, for example, that D-R (Theatrical Romantic in Kibbe, a delicate charmer Rihanna or Joan Collins) is someone VERY different from an R-D (Soft Dramatic in Kibbe, a monumental Diva, Jessica Rabbit or Barbra Streisand).
If we have not 2, but 3 ID’s, the order will continue having a range in mind. For example, Classic-Romantic-Gamine will have more importantly Romantic expression than Classic expression.
So this way, the number of all possible style formulas is becoming much more than 63! Which is nothing to be afraid of. There are 7 or 8 billion unique people on Earth, and it’s not scary, that’s the best thing. Of course, I can’t make hundreds of brochures for each formula, but little by little I’ll be adding celebrities to my Pinterest, so that I’ll be able to refer each client to her closest Style Twin )) I still have not found mine! I come closest to Emma Watson, but alas, she is Autumn and I am Winter.
There is no need to add more ID’s into a personal style formula. It rarely happens anyway, and only with the 2 non-standard ID’s (Ethereal and Ingenue). It will all become too cluttered and unusable. Besides, some ID’s can be read differently. For example, an “E” in style can mean a lot of things: fairy, queen, princess, angel, alien, witch etc. Ethereal sometimes can even substitute Natural. An “I” (Ingenue), similarly can mean pixie, princess, doll, baby etc. A Princess kind of archetype would be exactly a composition of E-I-C, where C is main quality (Classic, polished, blue blood), Ingenue means young girl, and Ethereal means longs airy dresses and overall fairytale feel. When A Princess becomes a Queen, we can substitute I for a D.
I’d like to add that singular, pure dominant traits are quite rare. As an example, Grace Jones is pure D (Dramatic) in Cool Winter (Yangest Yang), and Amanda Seyfried is on the opposite side as pure R (Romantic) in Light Spring (Yin Yin). Both these women is stunning and unforgettable, but in very different ways. This is what I love about great styling: it makes you beautiful no matter whatever you were born with.
The higher the number of identities that you’ve been assigned, the more eclectic, unexpected and extraordinary style you have. On one hand, it will be harder to pull off, but on the other hand, it will give you more space to play. As an example, Nicole Richie is a dominant Gamine (notice how she loves wearing both trim and oversize items), supported by her distinct sharp structure as Dramatic, with underlying Natural essence which (shall we say, allows, not dictates) allows her to create her unique exotic style that could be described as “striking detailed boho”.
12 COLOR GROUPS
When talking to a client, I prefer to use terms from so called directional color analysis: dark, muted, soft, cool, etc. However, to bring easier structure to my moodboards and examples, I like to use the 12-tone (also called Sci/ART) color system, that divides each main season into 3 sub-seasons with names like Light/Tinted, Dark/Deep/Shaded (basically the same, only Shaded often refers to more dark-grayish, like Soft Winter has less color than normal Dark Winter), True/Pure/Clear (same), or Soft. I use words Light, Dark, True and Soft, just so you know. For example, Soft Autumn will be neutral to warm, muted (not bright), and medium in shade (not too light, not too dark).
Unlike style ID’s, color ID’s do not mix. The only peculiar thing some stylists do is using terms like “late May” or even “shy June” (hey that sounds Chinese!), to describe how someone is for example Light Spring but really could be using some influence from Light Summer. It can be fun to call it so, however all clients need is an exact description, in normal plain words, about the qualities of colors, patterns and contrast, that’s all. Lots of words and maybe even more importantly, lots and lots of pictures!
HOW I ANALYZE
Simple: the goal is to make a woman look like only she can look. When I study styles of celebrities, I don’t merely search for what looks good or bad on them. I try to see what style ONLY SHE could possibly pull off this way. What look makes her truly unique. A rare bird of paradise. Exciting and unforgettable. Not just merely when everything matches. As an example, the unforgettable Ellie Saab gown Halle Berry wore to her Oscar winnning ceremony… Dark Autumn, Romantic-Gamine, she wore those deep serious muted colors combined with the playfullness and the sexiness like no other. It was an unbelievable job from her stylist.
Where coloring, geometry and mannerism (Soul) all shine together, that is YOUR UNIQUE AND BEST STYLE.
I think I’ll stop for now, and will go deeper into specific examples of what it is all about, in my other blog posts ))
Photo by Ryan Loughlin @UNSPLASH