You might wonder how to know if you have any ethereal essence.
My reading tells me that there are some key things to look for. In some ways it's just a sense you get when looking at someone, they look like an old soul, like they are from another time or place but they do not look threatening. This kind of thing can be difficult to see in yourself. You are used to what you look like. You know you are not an alien or an elf.
Some potential ethereal features: Essentially the more features you have the stronger this essence is in you.
soft, clear, slightly translucent or delicate skin (Hollywood stereotype of pale skin aka Caucasian bias but this is not valid)
faded looking colouring, muted, blended, low contrast
distinct eyes- possibly large, almond, hooded, heavy lids, soulful
long, thin nose
long neck and limbs
tall or appearance of length in body
seem benevolent but a bit aloof/noble/regal
look good, possibly best with no smile or only slight smile
look ageless but also old soul
wispy hair, waved or curling hair esp if curls are fluffy or cascade down in ringlets
As I ponder making conscious choices to add an ethereal aspect to my style, I am also pondering how much of it to add and what to do if it is in conflict with the other elements. An analysis by John Kitchener would tell me percentages (although for all I know he is pulling those percentages out of his hat and I can do that too) but I don't have that kind of information (unless I attempt to figure it out for myself)
When I did the photo-face test pure Ethereal looked good but pure Dramatic didn't. I have mostly ethereal, secondly classic and romantic as essences which need addressing. However, classic is also a bit more accessible than ethereal so that might have some impact in my choices.
How I Can Translate This Into my StyleSome Descriptive Words which I found on the Truth is Beauty blog help me clarify some thoughts...
Classic lines are symmetrical and restrained and that seem opposed to Ethereal lines which are curved, can be asymmetrical and ornamental. Perhaps the Classic restraint just limits the Ethereal aspect. The most significant thing about Ethereal lines, according to Truth is Beauty, is that they are delicate and elongated. Dramatic lines are sharp and majestic. There is no sharpness in me that I can see but elongated height and oval face can read as majestic.
One easy strategy is to add ethereal aspects in accessories, hair and makeup, which basically means soft, light, antique looking jewelry.
Minimal makeup in soft warm peachy colours, applied very lightly. Done
Soft, wavy hairstyle, side swept bangs or pinned up bangs. Done
One pair of earrings- small hoops but in a twisted/braided style Hmm...do I need to buy some jewelry?
Favourite colour palette: ivory/cream, gold/camel, coral/peach, soft warm greens, watery teal-blue seems reasonable for a magical fairy creature
I am no expert. I am a dabbler, a beginner and the Ethereal concept is relatively new to me. Considering that there are several possible style type blends that incorporate the Ethereal essence the desired effect for one person with some Ethereal in their appearance will be different from that of another and so will the proportion of Ethereal that is used.
I imagine it is rare to be purely ethereal or that anyone can function as purely ethereal in a typical middle class western culture. The elements of an ethereal essence have an other-worldly, magical sort of look and feel and some are not going to work for casual situations, cold weather, or many types of physical activity- essentially many of these ethereal elements are formal. On the other hand if one looks ethereal one just does, no matter the garments. Most people look a bit out of character in certain stereotypical looks but the frequency with which they have to wear those looks may vary. Naturals do very well in western culture, and so do Classics.
A Digression into Personal Memories
I think I mentioned my wedding dress in a previous post, specifically how I now realise that my wedding look was very ethereal which was a bit of an astonishing accomplishment in the eighties when everything was big, bold, and chunky.
My dress was not what I'd had in mind but once I'd tried it on it was obviously the best option and nothing else would do. It had chiffon fabric in the sleeves which were just above elbow length and very slightly puffed but surprisingly there was no height at the shoulders. The neckline was quite demurely boat neck and trimmed with tiny pearls. The bodice was covered in embroidery and pearls and the skirt was a chiffon overlay on a skirt that flowed loosely down from the bodice ending in a very short train. My veil was the circlet of flowers type and my hair was loose. My bouquet was created of cottage garden flowers from my mother's garden. Although I had not set out to deliberately create this look, It was all a bit fairy princess but the point is how much this really suited me. This is the direction I was steered in by others when all around me the norm was crinolines, stiff puffed sleeves and a more is more, bigger is better aesthetic. It must have looked right. Later, when I saw the nineties slip dress translated into Carolyn Besset's wedding gown I was enthralled with this level of simplicity and felt my own outfit had been over-done. Of course that's how a slip dress would make anything look. Looking back now I am glad I wore what I did. It wasn't based on trends but on what was right for me.
We Now Return to the Regularly Scheduled Programme
But getting back to what elements are purely ethereal...Usually it is associated with lightness in colour and weight, but it can be darker, earthier, evoke black magic or aliens if there is a lot of drama in your style as well.
Many of these are ideas I've found around the internet by searching, those in italics are my own ideas
S curves and downward flowing movement, draping, soft diagonal lines
long and flowing ruffles not stiff ones
floaty fabrics, light weight, sheer, sheer overlay, smoothness, softness, fur, feathers, some degree of soft leather and velvet could also be ethereal as in Lord of the Rings Elf
open weave-mesh, fine crochet, lace
delicate lacing on garments, hooks and eyes, small frog closures
shimmer that seems like it could come from nature-mother of pearl, pearl, crystals like dew drops, great used in eye shadow, iridescence, luminescence.
a feeling of old world-Baroque, Regency, Art Nouveau, Pre-Raphaelite, possibly La Belle Epoch/Edwardian, sometimes 20s-30s styles
light colours (although also darkness and blackness or jewel tones can work for a sorceress vibe) soft, light neutrals and pastels
bell sleeves, winged sleeves, flutter sleeves, large hoods and cowls
embroidery, beading, some use of sequins-decorative trim
scroll shapes esp in jewelry, beads with spacing between, art nouveau and probably celtic
long hair, curly hair and braids, soft wispy look, tendrils if hair in an updo
natural, soft hair colour
soft, natural, well blended makeup-peaches or pinks, hint of shimmer or dewiness, possibly no mascara or very light mascara
asymmetry and diagonal lines, handkerchief hems
wing shapes, bird and butterfly motifs.
well blended abstract prints esp. water colour effect
empire waists that aren't voluminous, wide band at waist possible
keep garments fitted over bust and waist but not structured
gauzy kimonos, scarves and shawls
long over long proportions despite what the fashion police say
vintage looking footwear ie granny boots, gladiator sandals, t-strap
delicate nature motifs can look ethereal-think fairies of the woodland or mermaids
Ideas for translating ethereal style into colder weather:
soft and light-weight knits, cardigans, tunic style sweaters
soft and draping scarves
fur lined boots
hooded coats esp large, loose hoods
Final Thoughts For Now....
Some of what I was doing when I played with lagenlooks and romantic boho was good for the ethereal esthetic. My main difficulty was that I didn't have garments in my best colours (once I found out what those were) and often I was cobbling together very cheaply made thrift shop garments and it tended to look shabby. Lagenlook isn't always ethereal but some of it can be, especially the lightweight fabrics with movement as opposed to the stiffer linen layers which lean Dramatic.
As I've stated more than once recently, I don't desire an extensive wardrobe, don't enjoy shopping, don't have access to much and am generally happy keeping things simple. Learning all of this isn't inconsistent with that, it allows me to make informed choices when I do buy something and to consider what aspects are important to me and worth including in my wardrobe choices as well as hair, makeup and accessories.