By Cynthia Sliwa
“What shape face do I have?” I hear this question all the time. Indeed, face shape is often the starting point for a determination of what jewelry and accessories will work best on an individual.
If you’ve ever tried to figure out your own face shape, you won’t be surprised to hear that for most people, there isn’t an easy answer. There are several reasons for this.
First, the names assigned to face shapes (with the possible exception of “oval” and “heart-shaped”) don’t sound very attractive and so many people want to resist being assigned a designation! But having a “round” face doesn’t mean you look like Charlie Brown. Having a “square” face doesn’t mean you look like a version of SpongeBob SquarePants. These descriptions are not literal, and there are no precise measurements that have been developed to determine when a face is “narrow” or “round” rather than “oval,” for example.
Generally, “oval” is considered the “ideal” face shape, but personally, I think that’s a bunch of hooey. Faces of all shapes are attractive. Subjectivity necessarily enters into the face shape determination. Let’s not get hung up on labels.
Second, many of us choose hairstyles that cover some portion of our faces. This might be accomplished with bangs or with a bob hairstyle. Editor-in-chief Anna Wintour of Vogue magazine wears both. Her actual face shape? Your guess is as good as mine.
Third, many individuals have faces, the hairlines, sides and jaws of which have their own idiosyncrasies – dips, indentations, elongations, curves – all deviations from straightforward categorizations of face shapes.
Does this mean that the face shape determination is pointless? Not at all!
The assessment is valuable in determining whether someone’s face is primarily angular or has softer curves. This is true of both men and women, by the way. Leonardo diCaprio has a rounded face; so does Anthony Hopkins. Demi Moore and Jennifer Aniston have angular faces. These determinations, taken together with an assessment of the shape of the individual’s facial features, help establish whether straight line designs or curved designs relate best to the individual’s physical features.
The jawline being the most visible part of the face for most individuals, that is the portion of the face that will be most helpful in assessing which styles work best. But remember that this is only a small part of the style equation.
The easiest way to determine a face shape is to take a photograph of the individual’s face from the front and have a large-size print of the photograph made. Then take tracing paper and pencil and draw the outline of the face. Voila – an objective depiction of the actual face shape, with all its eccentricities that cause it to deviate from the face shape categories we use for reference.
Doing tracings of face shapes from photographs and images in magazines will train you to see face shapes accurately. Use information about face shape as only the first step in helping your customers determine what jewelry will best flatter them. Take this exercise farther and trace from each photograph the outlines of the person’s features, to capture the shapes of the eyes, nose, mouth, ears and neck. This is all a study of the artwork that is the human face. Training your eye to see the design elements in each face will make you a more effective retailer.