As I’ve described in the introduction post, the essence system is about finding and amplifying your own unique beauty.
What is essence, exactly?
Essence is a holistic concept, it’s the total impression of you. It’s the combination of:
(1) your physical features (your body shape, colors, facial features)
(2) your expression (voice, way of speaking, mannerisms, body language)
(3) your spirit (the general feeling of you).
Because essence is such a holistic concept, it’s hard to break it down, to explain exactly what factor makes some have “right” or “left” essence.
All style systems involve some “objective” measures (Are your limbs long? Is your hair dark? Are your shoulders broad?) and some “subjective” measures (Do you appear athletic? Are your facial features lush? Do you suit floral patterns?).
The Four Essence system is far on the “subjective” end of the scale. The intuitive nature of the system is its strength, but it can also be a point of frustration. This post gives you a short and sweet overview of the essence concepts.
Don’t stress if you don’t get it right away. Use the explanations of the four essences, the keywords, the archetypes, and the celebrity examples as a point of contemplation. Give yourself some time to connect with this knowledge and don’t pressure yourself: for most people it tends to just *click*.
The Four Quadrants
In this system, there are 4 essences. We divide people into “left” and “right” essence and also into “up” and “down” essence. You are a combination of left/right and up/down, meaning you can have “left + up” essence or “right + down” essence.
The system is not meant to be rigid. Some people may identify strongly with their “up”-ness or their “left”-ness, rather than with their “left+up”-ness. Some people may change in their essence over their life – you may change your clothes over time as you discover your authentic self, or maybe your entire core way of being genuinely changes as you live your life.
The system is not that fluid nor open, though. People have a quadrant which is their “home” quadrant. We all have a range in what we can wear, but in my interactions with hundreds of clients, I find that most people comfortably belong to one essence quadrant. Changing your essence is not the same thing as changing your aesthetic, it’s something much deeper and slower.
Pick the one essence quadrant that feels most like you and start there.
Left and Right
This is the energetic “feeling” of a person.
Left refers to someone who has a sensual, intriguing, enveloping energy. You naturally draw people into your energetic field; you have a magnetism that can be subtle or powerful. Your energy is elemental, like pure nature in its flow and strength. Your energy is often sensual, there is a strong sensory connection with the body. Your styling choices are guided by physical sensations and experiences. I use the idea of “Gaia” for Left energy – abundant, free, she who holds it all. I also use the “Lost Girl” as a shadow for Left energy – ungrounded, confused, chaotic. Left styling can be edgy, moody, tough, rebellious, unexpected, provocative. It can be innovative and futuristic, unconventional.
Right refers to someone who has a radiant, refined, dreamy energy. You naturally give your energy to your environment; you are inspiring in a way that can be subtle or powerful. Your energy is polished: you’ve taken the raw elements, combined them, smoothed them and refined them. Your energy is often dreamy, there’s a strong connection to imagination and concepts. Your styling choices are guided by visions and ideas. I use the idea of “The Sun” for Right Energy – radiating light and warmth, lit up from within, sparkling. I also use the “Ice Queen” as a shadow for Right energy – cold, harsh, withdrawn. Right styling can be elegant, neat, sparkling, sweet, gentle, conventional. It can be creative and bold, powerful.
Both Left and Right women can be sexy, fun, creative, smart, generous, deep, complex, sophisticated. Left and Right can both be feminine or androgynous, they can be “good” and “bad”.
I invite you to understand the overall picture of the Left and the Right, and to see which group of concepts and images you feel more aligned with. All humans will relate to both left and right concepts, the question is which concepts you have a naturally stronger relation to.
Up and Down
This is the way that you best express your essence through style.
If you have up essence, your clothes and style can define you, and the way you look in clothes matters most. You tend to put in a lot of effort to curating and creating your looks. The effort and complexity in your style helps people make sense of you, it’s like a lens that helps people properly focus and *see* you. Style also helps you make sense of you: when you wear clothes that are too relaxed or understated, you lose connection with your sense of self. You tend to have a naturally higher energetic boundary. You don’t like to feel too accessible. “Up” styling helps you with that: you create outfits that are dramatic, extravagant, glamorous, mysterious, intimidating. You’re comfortable making a strong impression with your clothes. It’s helpful for you to consider the way others perceive and react to your style. It’s not helpful to try and create an approachable appearance, or to tell yourself that only your opinion matters.
If you have down essence, the way you feel about your clothes is what matters most. Your beauty is delicate and you can feel easily overwhelmed or lost in extravagant styles. It can be fun, but it also makes you feel like you’re wearing a costume. Your priority in dressing is to stay connected with the feeling of you, that personability is your superpower and you’re lost without it. You prefer styling that has a sense of ease, flow, flexibility. Maybe you consider yourself to be approachable. People definitely perceive a lower energetic barrier to you: they can often feel or act like they know you or are closer with you than they actually are. Your styling process is very intuitive. You struggle to plan outfits in advance – you never really know exactly how you’ll feel at that time. When you get dressed you want to focus on you and your own process. Thinking about others’ opinions tends to trip you up rather than help you.
“Up” essence doesn’t mean that you always need to be wearing couture heels or a gown – few people have lives that call for that. It’s about finding your way of creating drama, extravagance or mystery. “Down” essence doesn’t mean that you should wear simple and generic clothing – few people truly feel their best in nondescript items. It’s about finding a style that feels intuitive and easy to you, that respects your delicate beauty.
We all have some “up” and “down” elements to our style… but I invite you to understand the overall picture of the Up and Down, to see which one resonates with you.
Putting them together
In the next post in this series, I will give an overview of each quadrant, their essence and their styling approach. Here I will sketch a quick picture:
Left + Down: Your clothes help you connect to your body and to express yourself into the world. You have a very intriguing and sensual essence and are also very delicate or approachable in your beauty. This combination often feels very vulnerable and exposed. You tend to draw people in quite strongly, and a little bit goes a long way in terms of styling. Your style explorations are a dance between the sensation of vulnerability and a sense of protection, of showing and hiding.
Right + Down: Your clothes help you feel supported in your daily life and to feel good about yourself. You have a radiant and refined essence and an intuitive, personable approach to your beauty. You may struggle with feeling too approachable, not feeling edgy enough – or with the weight of expectations, thinking you need to impress people. At its best, style for you is about play. Your style explorations are about allowing yourself to try new things without too much pressure, and focusing on your own approval.
Right + Up: Your clothes support your mission in this world, they help you take space and to be heard and seen. You have an inspiring and refined essence and prefer a style that is high on effort, glamour, and drama. You may believe that you need to “tone it down”, but your style is best when you just let yourself go for it. Your style energy is focused on finding pieces and creating cohesive looks – you want the process of actually getting dressed to be simple. Your style explorations are about being bold and finding styles that help you bring your message into the world.
Left + Up: Your style is an artistic process of self-expression and it’s important for you to create a reaction and response to your artistic creations. You have an intriguing and sensual essence and prefer a style that is high on effort, glamour, and drama. You may feel that you need to wear “normal clothes” for fear of alienating people – but when you express yourself, it helps people to understand you and connect with you. Your style explorations are about creating complete looks that are expressive and impactful.
That's a short introduction to the system! More written information is coming soon. If you'd like to watch the video introducing the system you can find it here.
Also note that we have a system for Men's essence, but it uses slightly different keywords and concepts. You are free to use whichever system you want, but note that they are not the same.