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Sarah Jessica Parker Oscar de la Renta at The Met Ball

Sarah Jessica Parker Oscar de la Renta at The Met Ball

Sarah Jessica Parker wowed everyone at the 2014 Met Ball in her Elaborate Classic evening gown designed by Oscar de la Renta.

The Elaborate Classic Focal Point of the true hip was strongly emphasized by the peplum of the black satin bodice. The contrast of the black peplum against the white of the skirt accentuated the Focal Point even more. The skirt blossomed out into its fullness at the waist which is a little too high on the body for Sarah’s Style Archetype, putting at risk the hip emphasis; but the smooth lines of the peplum helped to carry the emphasis down the body.

The entire ensemble was made of heavy satin; ensuring the Fabric Harmony that is essential for Sarah while the weight of the fabric complimented her Silhouette. The narrow or alpha straps at the shoulders reiterated the alpha or fitted lines of the bodice. Oscar de la Renta’s wonderful design included a differentiation at the back of the ensemble that is completely appropriate for the Ornamental Artistic Type in the Style of Elaborate Classic.

Ornament gives the Elaborate Classic a chance to exercise originality and imagination. Sarah added a brilliant series of three rhinestone flowers to her glove and then finished with a flower bracelet worn over the glove well up the forearm. Very effective!

The white flowers in her hair added exciting, fresh glamour. Since the Ornament of the body needs to be more dominant than the Ornament of the head, in this case, a small necklace would have been more becoming than the small earrings.

Overall, the entire ensemble was incredible!

The Plum Earth, Sophia Loren

The Plum Earth, Sophia Loren

The Iconic Sophia Loren

Sophia Loren has been mesmerizing the world since she began making films, and one important way that she has done this is through the use of Colour. Colours have three qualities, the undertone, the clarity and the intensity.
While Colours can be grouped into families based on those three things, humans are not so simple. Each human can wear many Colours that work pretty well, but only seven that are truly wonderful. The wonderful Colours are the ones that make the person glow with beauty, vitality and humanity. In this memorable photo, Sophia Loren has chosen a Colour that enhances her skin, expresses her personality and magnifies her already astonishing beauty.

The Burgundy Earth

The Colour Sophia is wearing is Burgundy, an Earth Colour. This is one of Sophia’s Element Colours, meaning that it fits her Colour Profile of cool, muted and intense. People with Colouring that fits them into the Earth Element generally wear cool, muted, intense Colours. Since Sophia’s Artistic Type is the Architectural, her Colours are influenced to be clearer than Earth Colours generally are. Hence, the burgundy that Sophia is wearing is a clearer version of burgundy than someone else would need. This adds focus to her outfit, expressing the extra linearity of the Architectural Type. Burgundy is also an effective Colour for Sophia because Earth Element Colourings look best in low Contrast ensembles. One reason burgundy looks so good against her Colouring is that it creates very little Contrast with her natural skin tone and hair Colour. Her natural skin tone and hair Colour are super-enhanced. The white of the stole is rendered insignificant by the rich, earthy lushness of this beautiful burgundy. It is a beautiful projection of Sophia Loren’s magnetism.

The True Classic, Grace Kelly

The True Classic, Grace Kelly

The Iconic Grace Kelly

Grace Kelly’s Personal Style was so well defined that she has come to embody the True Classic Style. How did she do it? What did she do?

The Four Principles of Dress

Besides Focal Point, there are three principles of dress: in the category of Line, it is the proportions of the Silhouette; in the category of Fabric, it is the use of Fabrics that harmonize; in the category of Ornament, it is the use of rhythm, or matching. The True Classic is unique in being subject to all three Principles.

Using these three Principles, the True Classic must accomplish intensity, an unstudied look, clean lines and reinforcement such as folds or layers. Since the True Classic is actually a balancing of all the other 12 Styles, the middle road or moderation becomes the key to accomplishing the True Classic Style.
Accomplishing so much is actually a difficult feat. Grace Kelly lived up to her name, achieving her Style with quite amazing grace.

1. Focal Point

As a True Classic, Grace Kelly was remarkably consistent in emphasizing the Focal Point of the true waist in her ensembles.

2. Line

The Silhouette for the True Classic never deviates from the human form, an approach that would be boring for every other Style. The True Classic Style generates excitement in a way that is not possible for other Styles, because every seam, every stitch even, in the construction of the garment is visible in the wearing of the garment. For this reason, moderation is essential.

3. Fabric

Fabrics are also moderate. That is to say, Fabrics have sheen but not shine; light texture but not heavy. Print is possible is it is not too busy or too emphatic; moderate softness works well, as does moderate firmness. Fabrics are medium to slightly heavy in weight. A balanced weave is essential.

4. Ornament

Ornament must be rhythmical for the True Classic. Generally a necklace is better for Grace than earrings, due to her Artistic Type rather than her Style. Wearing a striking earring without a necklace is a very bold and usually bad statement for a Composite Artistic Type. In addition, the pendant earring also breaks from the rhythm demanded by her Style, since it matches nothing.

However, the pendant earring reinforces the vertical emphasis of this evening gown. This repetition of Line is also rhythm. This elevates but also reiterates the intensity of the dramatic statement of this gown for a True Classic, and in this way achieves a different kind of rhythm. Even though it might appear that Grace is deviating from the necessity for rhythm, she is not. She is creating a kind of rhythm in Line. She is actually enhancing the drama of the Line of this dress by using Ornament in a way that accentuates that drama. Amazing!

Finally, the pendant earrings are accomplishing one more thing. As a person with Sky Blue Water Colouring, Grace Kelly needs lightness in her clothing. Her neutral is Soft White, and her Colours are generally light, cool and clear. Such a dark dress would be completely overpowering to her without the lightness provided by the rhinestone earrings.

Elizabeth Taylor, The Architectural Makeup

Elizabeth Taylor, The Architectural Makeup

The Iconic Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor was a legendary beauty, whose star power burned brightly over the course of a long and accomplished career as a film actor.

In a world with many beautiful women, why did Elizabeth Taylor stand out? Why did her Makeup, Hair and Styling work so well for her?

As an Architectural Type, Elizabeth had three things to work with to display her beauty: her makeup, hair and styling.

The Architectural Makeup

In her makeup, she needed to focus her attention on the lip. The lip is the most powerful element in her face. Because one of her Colours is ruby, this is a very effective Colour for her lips. Of course, the face must be balanced in some way. In the case of the Architectural Makeup, an eye that is shadowed rather than outlined accomplishes this. Medium to medium-dark shadow is used on the lid, an even darker shadow is used in the crease, and a medium shadow is used on the orbital bone. A lighter shadow is used under the brow. The eye Makeup is actually better without liner. The Architectural Makeup, with a heavily shadowed eye balancing a strong lip, is the first tool Elizabeth Taylor used to display her astonishing beauty.

The Architectural Hair Style

There are several things that are important in selecting a hairstyle: the volume of hair; the length of hair; the use of bangs or not; and the way the hair is styled. An Architectural Type with hair of this length needs low to medium volume. For the times, this Hairstyle was very moderate in volume. A side-bang or simply parted hair is the most becoming for the Architectural Type. The Styling of the hair is very important. While some volume is good, the hair must retain the look of having strands. An overly smooth or coiffed look seems hard or harsh for the Architectural. A hairstyle that keeps a medium volume as well as lets the strands of hair show is the second thing that enhances Elizabeth Taylor’s beauty.

Styling the Clothing for the Architectural

Styling emphasizes the head rather than the body. This means that earrings or a hat, for example, will be effective. If a necklace is used, it will have to be less important than the head Ornament. The earrings that Elizabeth Taylor has chosen are effective for many reasons. The first reason is the one just noted, that the head is her primary place for using Ornament, and therefore a significant earring works really well. Secondly, the earrings are weighted towards the bottom. This means that the large part of the earring is towards the bottom rather than at the ear lobe. This weight towards the bottom reiterates the focus of her Style, the True Dramatic, which also has a low Focal Point.
A third reason that these earrings work very well is that they are shiny and light in Colour. Her Style emphasizes the use of shine and her Colouring, Sky Blue Water, emphasizes the use of light Colours. Another reason that these earrings are really good for Elizabeth Taylor is that her Artistic Type, the Architectural, emphasizes the use of flat open shapes rather than spheres like pearls. The horizontal and vertical Lines that are visible in the earrings reinforce the Architectural nature of her Artistic Type.

Elizabeth Taylor was born with beauty, but she enhanced that beauty in a truly outstanding way, by adhering to her own Architectural Artistic Type!

Alexa Chung, Stunning in The Sculptural Hairstyle, Spanish Vogue

Alexa Chung, Stunning in The Sculptural Hairstyle, Spanish Vogue

Alexa Chung is widely acclaimed for her personal Style, and rightly so. Many people think that having great Style is simply a gift, that you’re either born with it or not, but here at The Art of Dress we know that Style can be learned. Everyone has the ability to have impeccable personal Style, it’s just that some people have better, more naturally attuned instincts. Alexa Chung happens to be one of those rare people. We are in the unique position to explain exactly why Alexa stands out from the rest of the crowd.

There are three components to Personal Style: first, your Style Archetype, second, your Colour Element and third, your Artistic Type. One aspect of Alexa’s Artistic Type is her Hairstyle. Alexa was made famous in part due to her chin-length bob hairstyle, which was incredible on her. When someone is dressing according to The Art of Dress, when her beauty is displayed in such a magnetic and charismatic way, then the impact of one’s personal Style really does have transformative power. Alexa Chung is an example of a person who sometimes achieves this.

Alexa Chung represents The Sculptural Artistic Type, and therefore one manifestation of The Sculptural Hairstyle.
The Sculptural Hair reinforces the strong emphasis on the eye by using bangs. Front bangs are better than side bangs, in most cases. With only a few exceptions, the Sculptural person is enhanced by dark hair rather than fair. Alexa Chung’s dark hair and fringe are stunning on her.

Alexa’s Colour Element, The Burgundy Earth, as well as her Style Archetype, The Elaborate Gamine, both affect her Sculptural Hairstyle. It is because of Alexa’s Colouring that she is most enhanced by chin length hair. This mid-length bob is her most effective hairstyle. As an Elaborate Gamine, she needs a style that looks very relaxed, even wind blown or tousled. This hairstyle is brilliantly effective because in length, Colour, cut, and styling, it suits Alexa’s Style, Colouring and Artistic Type.

Karlie Kloss, The Architectural Hairstyle at Cannes 2013

Karlie Kloss, The Architectural Hairstyle at Cannes 2013

About The Architectural Hairstyle

The Architectural Hair features a side bang and a side part. The hair flips up at one side rather than curving under. Architectural Hair is best when the strands of hair are visible, rather than a blown out or coiffed look. Typically people of the Architectural Artistic Type look better in dark hair rather than light. For Karlie Kloss’ very light skin tone, this hair is quite dark and is very becoming.

Your Style & Colour Element Also Affect Your Hair

The Colouring and the Style also have an impact on the hairstyle. Although most people of light Colouring look best with longer hair, the Sky Blue Water is even better with shorter hair. This short bob is her most effective hairstyle. Her features are shown to advantage, enhancing her beauty.

Cate Blanchett, The Elaborate Romantic in Armani at The Oscars 2014

Cate Blanchett, The Elaborate Romantic in Armani at The Oscars 2014

Cate Blanchett is wearing her hair in a beautiful way for the Oscar’s ceremony. The hair falls to her most becoming length, just below the shoulder. The side part is also appropriate for Cate’s Artistic Type. The soft curls add intensity, detail and glamour, important for Cate’s Style.

Her dress is also a resounding success. The ivory Colour is stunning against her skin. The rhinestones begin at her Focal Point, the throat, and add sparkle that continues throughout the gown. Her earrings match the sparkle of the Fabric, providing Ornamental rhythm. The only discord is caused by the over-large size of some of the spangles. Overall, though, the intensity of delicate detail provided by the exquisite lightweight Ornamented Fabric is critical to Cate’s high glamour expression. This is a beautiful realization of Style by Cate Blanchett!

Amy Adams, Giambattista Valli at The Met Ball

Amy Adams, Giambattista Valli at The Met Ball

The wide ivory band of Amy Adam’s evening gown is the most important element of the dress. It is a good choice for Amy for several reasons.

The Colour of the band, ivory, is an exceptionally good Colour for Amy, so her skin shows to advantage.

The width of the band also makes the ivory a more important part of the dress, minimizing the black, which is not an effective Colour for Amy.

This gown is effective for Amy Adams, primarily because of the ivory Colour .

Lupita Nyong’o’s Oscar Gown as Imagined by The Art of Dress

Lupita Nyong’o’s Oscar Gown as Imagined by The Art of Dress

The Art Of Dress has designed an Oscar gown for Lupita Nyong’o, to present our view of how she could express her full beauty at the Awards Ceremony. It is our goal to understand Personal Style and to offer the tools that will make it possible for each individual to realize their own artistic potential.

A carefully defined Alpha or fitted Line is the key to Lupita’s Nyong’o’s artistry. Sparkly diamond-shaped appliques divide the bodice in two, and the beading that runs throughout the dress also shines. The narrow stripes run in many different directions, adding interest, and the empire waistline defines the Focal Point. The train unfolds crisply, joining the narrow skirt in semi-circles.

Fabrics are medium weight, shiny, smooth, of balanced weave, firm and the print is small in scale. This kind of Fabric has the ability to express Lupita’s intense, charming, high fashion, dynamic Style.

Lupita Nyong’o, J. Mendel, Vogue Magazine

Lupita Nyong’o, J. Mendel, Vogue Magazine

This photograph of Lupita Nyong’o is likely to become iconic, perhaps because this dress is such an extremely good expression of Lupita’s Personal Style.

First, the Focal Point of the empire waist is achieved where the folds of the dress come together in a twist at the bodice. The Line of the dress is clean, very interesting and also very intense. The energy of the dress clearly moves in to the center of the body, making this a great statement of an Alpha Line even though some of the elements of the dress are Omega or open.

The Ornament of the ensemble is not only achieved with the rhythmical matching of the earrings to the dress, but also through the variety of stripes coming together to form opposition of pattern. Although some of the stripes widen out, the Focal Point of the bodice is formed of primarily small stripes, which helps to keep the dress Alpha or narrow in its message.

The Fabric used is medium in weight, smooth-finished without texture, of a balanced weave, and firm rather than soft. Because of its inherent qualities, the Fabric holds the clean Line that is the primary principle behind the Personal Style of Lupita Nyong’o.