The Looks Men Love: The Romantic Look

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Over a year ago, I started writing about a book called The Looks Men Love by Vincent Roppatte. Introducing a new (to my readers) style system is a fair amount of work, and I haven’t had time to come back to it until now. I suggest you read my prior two posts on the subject and come back to this post: about the book and how to use it.

Now that you’re familiar with the book, let’s talk about the first type in the book, Romantic. I’ve created a Pinterest board, and I’ll link the relevant sections.

Physical Profile

The Romantic is usually not angular or bony (although there are exceptions). It is more common for them to be Rubenesque, with a full bust and curvy hips. Being slightly overweight and having cleavage will help you achieve the Romantic Look. They can be any age, height, or coloring. Their voices are low and musical.

Essence

They love romance. They’re dreamers. They believe in fairy tales. They love the romance of a doomed love affair. They have an old-fashioned aura. They are softly feminine, even if they are successful businesswomen. They’re suggestive, aloof, and men leap to open doors for them. They have a lightness in how they move and dress. They are ethereal, and are perhaps a writer, photographer, artist, or dancer. They usually have a pet because they are connected to nature. Never buy a Romantic stock for Valentine’s Day.

Celebrities

Romantic Celebrities on Pinterest

  • Faye Dunaway
  • Princess Diana
  • Candice Bergen
  • Princess Caroline of Monaco
  • Meryl Streep
  • Morgan Fairchild
  • Cristina Ferrare
  • Catherine Deneuve
  • Mary Ann Mobley

Color

Romantic Colors on Pinterest

Your right colors will convey a sense of Old World, mystery, airiness, and softness. The wrong colors are down-to-earth, ultrasexy, or cute.

Yes

  • lilac
  • red
  • seashell coral
  • plummy mauve
  • amethyst lavender
  • apricot/tea-rose peach
  • cream
  • beige
  • eggshell
  • old rose
  • ecru
  • kid-glove gray
  • gentle plaids or polka dots
  • a tiny or softly flowered print

No

  • dark eggplant purple
  • brown
  • deep yellow
  • green
  • stripes

Your lingerie should be rose, pink, cream, etc.–never black. Your colors, in general, should be creamy and nostalgic.

Fabrics

Romantic Fabrics on Pinterest

The keyword here is liquid. Romantic is always fluid and in movement.

Yes

  • chiffon
  • swirls of etched lace
  • voile
  • gauze
  • the softest wool
  • velvet
  • organdy
  • peau de soie
  • draped Grecian jersey folds
  • crepe de chine
  • moiré
  • cashmere
  • wrinkly cottons and linens

No

  • animal skins
  • suede/ultrasuede
  • fur
  • leather
  • artificial fabrics
  • polyester

Style

Romantic Style on Pinterest

Historical inspiration includes 1920s flappers (soft felt cloches, frail chiffon dresses, pastels, calf-skimming hems), Victorian dresses, empire and medieval looks (folds of silk fabric coming down from the bustline). Watch Chariots of Fire and read Brideshead Revisited. Romantic can be frilly, ruffly, and fussy, or it can be straight and gently sleek as long as the fabric moves. Necklines can be high and prim or low and rounded. When they shop, they love antique stores and vintage clothing boutiques.

Styles include:

  • wraparound capes with fur hoods for the young Romantic
  • vests that emphasize the waist, paired with a flounced skirt
  • oversized velvet vests
  • strapless tops
  • slip dresses
  • poufy organdy dresses
  • a languid, bias-cut silk jersey suit
  • a soft wool scarf over a tweedy sweater
  • boots that lace
  • soft suede boots (no chunky heels)
  • Laura Ashley prints, with either high or low necklines
  • jackets with peplums

Separates are OK. Slacks should have tiny tucks at the waistband. Otherwise, you’d wear full, gathered skirts that skim the calf. Wool or jacquard knickers are also an option. You can top these items with a puffy lacy or ruffled blouse in a transparent organdy.

In General

More is more on a Romantic. Romantic here does not mean form-fitting clothes. It means shrouding yourself in mystery. You’re a floating figure from a dream. You are never stark or cute.

The Romantic at Work

Romantic Work Wear on Pinterest

The Romantic look can absolutely be adapted to a business setting. Roppatte gives two examples of successful Romantic businesswomen: Mary Cunningham and Sherry Lansing. Romantics don’t have to deny their true natures or be bound by a big-business mentality. He says that the Romantic’s work clothing should have a sense of the woman’s body, but not a road map (yikes). Some ideas include:

  • an ivory blouse with voile puffed sleeves and black wool skirt
  • a dove gray, frog-fastened double-breasted jacket over a gently flared skirt, all in wool crepe
  • a crepe de chine dress that buttons up to the neck
  • a velvet Dr. Zhivago jacket over a paisley wool skirt
  • a silk sweater with an antique lace collar under a lightweight wool cardigan blazer
  • a calf-length skirt and a tailored blouse worn with lace-up boots

Yes to: charming tunics, braid-trimmed wrap dresses, silken shirtdresses.
No to: flounces, décolleté, floor-length skirts, bare midriffs and shoulders, see-through blouses, tulip-scalloped hems.

Accessories

Romantic Accessories on Pinterest

Romantics love accessories!

  • Belts: a ribbon belt with tendrils flowing down the skirt, a delicate chain belt worn on the hips, a girdle of faux jewels, a braided cord belt. Buckles should be of silver filigree or fine-spun gold. Wide sashes are the quintessential Romantic belt.
  • Shoes: High, strappy heels. If you go lower, the heel should still be slender, and never clunky and/or squat. For flats, supple leather for day and velvet or silk for night. Grosgain bows and silver buckles are a nice addition to flats. For the evening, look for beading or appliqué. No white shoes unless it’s the middle of summer and you’re wearing a white dress, and never wear dark stockings with white shoes. Hose should be white or very pale. A sheer, very white stocking can be chic with black patent shoes any time of year. Shoes should be understated: ankle straps and delicate little sandals, not four-inch heels and clunky wedges.
  • Earrings: very important for Romantics. Wear earrings on the diagonal–this will add definition to your cheekbones. If your face is round or square, avoid horizontal lines. Find earrings that are longer than they are wide. A dropped pear-shaped stone on a flowing chain is ideal. Rectangle shapes can be worn down (presumably vertically?). If you have a small face and short hair, wear tiny button earrings, not something clunky and overpowering. If you have a triangle or heart-shaped face, wear earrings narrower on the top than the bottom, like a triangle, teardrop, pear, etc. Wider earrings, like a big square with a stone in the center or a fan-shaped earring (worn on the diagonal), look good on long faces, who should avoid drop earrings.
  • Other jewelry: a black velvet ribbon choker with an antique pin in the center; layers of pearls (try wearing them so they flow down your back in a low-cut dress); cameos; old-fashioned necklaces like carnelian, jade, and old-style-set rubies (?). Fake gems in opulent settings. Secure your scarf with an antique brooch. Wear dainty chains on your neck and wrists.
  • Scarves: great on Romantics, especially cashmere or silk. Big paisley scarves can be worn in place of a coat in early spring and fall.
  • Hats: big picture or garden hats with ribbon or felt; small cap hats with netting or flocked veiling and a huge cabbage rose–veiling is very Romantics; berets; straw boaters with a flat crown and a grosgrain-ribbon band. Feathers in hats were made for you.
  • Bags: clutches of appliquéd velvet, silk, or satin for evening; lightweight shoulder bags for day. No chain-mesh bags.
  • Hair accessories: tortoiseshell or gold combs and barrettes, or a silk flower.
  • Underwear: lace-trimmed satin or silk chemises, camisoles, petticoats, pettipants–all lacy, but make sure there are no lines under your clothes.
  • Gloves: Short or elbow-length, black or white, perhaps with pearl button at the wrist and maybe in lace or crocheted cotton.

Stray Thoughts

  • Tousled and scattered is very Romantic.
  • Teenagers are rarely Romantic. Romantics are like fine wine and need time.
  • Another option is well-fitting clothing cut on the bias and clothing that drapes, without necessarily being out of lightweight material.

Makeup

Romantic Makeup on Pinterest

  • Eyes: Lashes are important! The thicker and more luxurious, the better. Eyeshadow should be soft and subtle. If your eyes are dark, go for taupes and roses; blondes with light eyes should look for plums, violets, and gray. Smudge pencil liner.
  • Mouth: Should not be prominent. Wear sheer, light rose, peach, or raspberry. Avoid heavy gloss, lipliner, or frost.
  • Foundation: Go a drop lighter than your perfect match. Apply with a damp sponge over moisturizer. Add a base with a pearly shimmer for evening.
  • Blush: add rosy-pink blush to the cheeks, forehead, and chin.

Softness is key. At night, you can add some gold highlighter on the high points of your face and your collarbone and shoulders.

Final Thoughts

Think pink, misty, and mystery.

My Take

The description of this type makes me think of the looks on the show Designing Women to some degree, especially the early years, or Molly Ringwald, as the young version of this style.

I would be interested to see a modern spin on it, and if you feel like this type is something you relate to.

Next up: The Cool Sophisticate

Source

Roppatte, Vincent. The Looks Men Love. St. Martin’s Press, 1985.

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5 Comments on The Looks Men Love: The Romantic Look

  1. Elizabeth Stewart
    July 3, 2020 at 4:45 am

    This is exactly my style! I actually own and wear some vintage Victorian and Edwardian skirts and blouses, and have always loved the nostalgic, gentle but womanly styles of those eras. Possible modern versions might be Helena Bonham Carter (especially in her role as Kate Croy in the movie “The Wings of the Dove”), and some of the clothes she favours in her off-screen life; maybe Stevie Nix? She wears a lot of black but very softly, with plenty of chiffon and draping, and her face and hair look the part. There are two areas where I differ from Roppatte’s recommendations; I usually wear maxi skirts, never wear trousers, and match my foundation to my skintone, which is already extremely light. Otherwise, I think he must have been peeking into my wardrobe when he wrote this description!

    Reply
    • stylesyntax
      July 3, 2020 at 3:22 pm

      Maxi skirts definitely fit in the aesthetic! I think he was just clarifying how you’d wear slacks and still fit the aesthetic. I’m glad it resonated with you! That was a major part of why I wanted to share this information, even though the book is very outdated in its attitudes. I think the types in the book are unique and will speak to people who maybe haven’t found their perfect match in another system yet.

      Reply
      • Elizabeth Stewart
        July 3, 2020 at 4:21 pm

        I’ve also seen Florence Welch wearing very Romantic styles – she wears real vintage items, in a soft and dreamy aesthetic that I love. Sometimes she varies the look, but she is often photographed looking like a bona fide Pre-Raphaelite muse. She is a good modern example of this look, I think.

        Reply
  2. Rachel
    July 13, 2020 at 12:56 pm

    I have TLML, and I think that I’m Romantic: deep down I have such a secret love for soft, dreamy looks! Even though the styles are outdated, I do appreciate that this Romantic is a more ethereal and antique vibe overall, I tend to resonate more with that.

    Reply
    • stylesyntax
      July 15, 2020 at 1:32 pm

      Yes, it’s a very different spin on what it means to be Romantic.

      Reply

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