All or Nothing Style (and Beauty)
Happy day, reader dearest!
It’s an interesting question, and one that catches my clients off guard when I ask it. What do you think makes someone beautiful?
Please give that a moment’s thought before you continue reading…
For all the asking I’ve done, only one answer that had to do with looks! Everyone else spoke to kindness, confidence, being self-possessed, generosity, faith, a smile (Which is part of how you look, but not quite A look.). Everyone seems to agree that the inside is FAR more important than the outside when it comes to beauty. Which brings me to Audrey Hepburn…
The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a Woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she knows. Audrey Hepburn
What is Beautiful?
Beauty: a combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight
Further down: a combination of qualities that pleases the intellect or moral sense–Oxford Dictionaries
It makes sense that the physical definition comes first. It’s what we see first. We’ve all heard the expression: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Which is and isn’t all that true, biologically speaking. A fascinating dive into the biology of beauty can be found in Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty, by Nancy Etcoff. It’s incredibly researched (and footnoted) and an entertaining read! I highly recommend it. (The link is here for your convenience. I receive nothing in compensation. Hey, Amazon, that might be nice!)
Beauty and Image
As I work with clients and we get into what they think looks beautiful, I see two distinct camps, and the continuum that connects them. The Artifice/Effortless continuum plays out in makeup, hair, clothes and accessories. You can look at any item in your wardrobe and evaluate where on the continuum you feel it lies. The first camp sees Beauty as Artifice: sculpted, exaggerated features, Instagram face, pinup looks, retro style, un-natural colors, face and body shape alteration. (I don’t get too many of these clients! They’re drawn to a different image professional.) The second camp thinks Beauty should look Effortless: natural, realistic colors, organic shapes and textures, a more “natural beauty.”
Most of us (and our wardrobes) fall somewhere in between. When you embrace Artifice as your ideal of beauty, you fall short the minute you get out of bed! Artifice is fabulous and eye-catching and requires a daily commitment of time and energy (Not to mention $$$) to maintain. But at least you know the work involved! It doesn’t pretend to be easy. If Artifice is your ideal, everyday dressing can feel futile. It’s easy to fall into the I’m-not-going-anywhere-why-bother trap.
Embracing Effortless is trickier. (Unless you go all the way down the who-needs-hygiene? slope. If you have, you’re probably not reading a style blog!) I’ve heard Effortless described as: Making an effort but looking like you didn’t. AKA: Oh, I just rolled out of bed looking lovely… I just threw these on and look fabulous… (There’s a lot of just-ing.) The tricky part? It also requires effort! Just (LOL!) not the same drastic measures as Ms. Artifice. If Effortless is your ideal, it can be easy to define effortless as Why-bother-getting-dressed?
How About You?
Both ends can make a dresser miserable! Toward which end of the continuum are you drawn? Artifice or Effortless? Have you found a good place in the middle? What is beauty to you? How are you judging others? By the inside or the outside? How are you judging yourself? Are you giving yourself the credit you deserve? So often we assess others with a far more kind and gentle measure! Take a deep breath and close your eyes. Look at yourself with the eyes you use for others… Now what do you see? Do tell, I love to hear from you!