THAT CERTAIN SOMETHING : What is glamour? In part an innate quality, sense of style can also be cultivated. O.C. fashion insiders see signs of elegance.


Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich and Ava Gardner had it. Sharon Stone and Barbra Streisand have it. Madonna wants it.

It’s glamour, a quality that’s hard to define and even harder to possess, yet somehow we know it when we see it.

It’s allure, elegance and style.

Mention glamour, and people often recall the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s.

Back then, movie stars always looked gorgeous. They had perfect hair and makeup even at the grocery store. Women copied the polished look of Grace Kelly; they felt underdressed without gloves and hats.


Ordinary folks wore suits when traveling on airplanes. Sporting shorts or jeans to church was a sin.

Some thought glamour was gone for good in the tacky, polyester ‘70s and glitzed-out ‘80s. Yet glamour never disappeared entirely, and fashion experts say it’s enjoying a revival in the ‘90s.

Here’s how local style-watchers define glamour, and how to get it:

Myra Magis, fashion designer and owner of Myra Magis, atelier de couture, Fullerton:

“Glamour was in danger of extinction a number of years ago, but now it’s making a comeback. I see glamour in the return of high heels and hats, red lipstick, ‘40s-look, roller-set hairstyles and feminine fashions over shapeless, unisex clothing. There’s a new emphasis on the waist and legs that had been forgotten.

“I often create special-occasion clothing for customers, and I use sensuous fabrics such as silk and satin, cut on the bias, for a fluid look that drapes the body. Glamour doesn’t have to be all satin and lace. I prefer dressing up a tailored suit with just a touch of lace or satin.

“It’s that element of surprise, it’s feeling good about being feminine and sexy.”


Thomas Gaglio of Crew Salon in the Lab, Costa Mesa:

“Glamour is confidence and sincerity, a natural attitude, not contrived yet still trendy. Being feminine is very important, as is having your own sense of beauty. Glamour is natural, being an individual. It’s classic, romantic and sometimes avant-garde.”


Joe Gatto, general manager of the Center Club, Costa Mesa:

“I think it’s more of an ethereal thing. There’s the superficial package of how men and women dress and carry themselves, their good taste and nicely styled hair, but it’s also the personality that’s glamorous to me. It comes from the way they talk to people and react to people. Real glamour is the whole person. It’s so pleasant to see people like that.”



Marian Berzon, of Marian Berzon talent agency, Costa Mesa:

“Glamour is the picture that beauty projects when form, timing and confidence are in perfect balance. It’s the part of a woman’s sensuality that she lets you see.”


Jo Ellen Qualls, vice president of Tiffany & Co. at South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa:

“Glamour is quiet refinement. It’s a simplicity of line and elegant adornment. It’s total recognition of your own style, regardless of what fashion dictates. Proof that glamour has returned after a short detour has been seen at the Academy Awards show and at black-tie charity galas. You see sleek lines and a lack of feathers, sequins and ostentatious costumes.

“The absence of glitter on clothing has led to a resurgence of brooches, bangles and other large-scale jewelry to dress up simple evening gowns. The more subdued fashions allow for adornment. It’s hard to wear a diamond necklace when you’re covered with sequins. Clothes no longer compete with the jewelry.

“While the jewelry is glamorous, it’s not gaudy. Many people want jewelry with clean lines and a single stone, especially simple diamond stud earrings and solitaire pendants. Simplicity and timelessness are appealing to people. It’s very much the look of the ‘40s.

“Barbra Streisand is glamour personified, with her calm hairstyle and her clean style of dress. She’s elegant, understated, confident and aware.”


Georgia Kaleb, director of the Fifth Avenue Club, a personal shopping service at Saks Fifth Avenue in South Coast Plaza:

“Glamour is still around. There’s still drama. There are still occasions to dress up with a little bit of costuming. It’s not seen on a daily basis anymore, the way it was when women used to wear gloves, but we still want color in our lives.

“While an elegant wardrobe is important, clothing alone can’t make a person glamorous. It’s a sense of style. A glamorous person has a certain aura about herself. You want to follow the trends, but not to extremes.

“Developing a good rapport with a wardrobe consultant or salesperson at a favorite store can help cultivate a total look. You’re put together beautifully. You’re weekend-ready, social-ready and travel-ready.

“Accessories are often overlooked as elements of glamour. That important piece of jewelry, a hair ornament or a wonderful handbag makes the look complete.”


Tom Phillips, costume designer at La Habra Depot Theater and Newport Theatre Arts Center:

“There are some beautiful stage pieces that really show off fashion. Sometimes I get to design for a glamorous character. Reno Sweeney in ‘Anything Goes’ is a glamour doll. And all the Noel Coward pieces have glamour in it because of his writing and the time period where glamour was in--from the late ‘20s until the ‘50s. Even the ‘60s had its own glamorous appeal. Jackie [Kennedy Onassis] had it, although she wore simple frocks.

“Anything that is clean and sleek and shiny is glamorous to me. Nothing gaudy, but accessories, like shiny earrings. Black velvet is elegant. Black can always be glamorous. High heels are too, because you get that long-leg look.”


Richard Stevens, makeup artist and co-owner of Stevens & Cross Cosmetic Studio, Newport Beach:

“Makeup has the power to make people look glamorous. It’s a necessity if you want to dress up for a fancy gala. Many women already know this--they visit our makeup studio before a gala and ask for a professional make-over, just as movie and TV stars use makeup artists when heading to the Oscars or Emmys. If they’re going to a function, we make them look glamorous. There’s a certain pizazz to the makeup. If you have an Armani gown and your hair up, it won’t work without makeup.

“There’s a fine line between glamour and gaudy, and women sometimes cross it. One of the most common mistakes I see are overdone lips. They try to make the mouth bigger than it is. Too much blush and too much foundation are other problems.


Patricia Forester, owner Waterfront Homes, Newport Beach:

“Glamour is a personal physical statement of who you are that causes heads to turn and recognize that there is a special presence that’s above the crowd. We have a lot of these people in Orange County.”


Cynthia Graff, president of Lindora Medical Clinic, Costa Mesa:

“I think glamour is feeling especially attractive and expressing it in clothes that get you noticed. We work with [extremely] overweight people, and before they loose weight they don’t feel good about themselves and they want to be invisible, but when they lose weight, their self-confidence goes up and they wear clothes to get attention.

“It’s great to see how excited our patients are after they lose weight. They bring us pictures of themselves in evening clothes that they never were able to wear before, and they are thrilled. One client lost 430 pounds and went on the ‘Maury Povich Show’ wearing a gold gown. She was expressing something new within herself that had been liberated by her weight loss. She was glamorous.”


Lori Burrill, co-managing director of Opera Pacific:

“Glamour comes from within. It’s self-confidence, ease and a sense of grace.”


Gayle Anderson, chief of protocol for Orange County:

“I would define glamour as having a fascinating personal attraction and an appealing physical attractiveness. Two women I would associate with the term would be Sophia Loren and Jackie Kennedy. Both have a mysterious allure about them.”


Donna McCallum, regional director of the Orange County Fashion Group, which holds monthly meetings on fashion-related issues:

“To me, people who exude glamour are totally secure and at ease with themselves, and when this happens, they have an effervescence about them. They are people who have an individual style, who do not like to be dictated to by what’s in and what’s out. And I find that they are the people who go to the absolute extra mile in everything they do, from dressing to home furnishings, to their attitude, to how they deal with people. To me that’s what a glamorous person is. You can’t buy it; it doesn’t come in sequins.

“I had the opportunity to meet Marsha Hunt at our last fashion group gathering. She’s an actress from the ‘30s and ‘40s, the true era of glamour in the movies. She’s nearly 80 years old, and she’s the most glamorous person I have ever met. She didn’t come in dressed like Liz Taylor. She’s warm, effusive, very giving, and she displayed that attention to detail I was talking about. She noticed and commented on everything, and she wore the perfect shoes with a perfect dress.”


Barbara Schultz, manager of the Spa at South Coast Plaza:

“Glamour has to do with an entire look, which is clothing and looking put together, but true glamour comes from being healthy, fit, confident and leading a stress-free life. It’s composure so you feel glamorous and you radiate that.”


Priscilla Kidder of Priscilla of Boston and guest lecturer in June for the fashion lecture series, “Dressing the First Lady: Dialogue With the Designers,” at the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace in Yorba Linda:

“Glamour in the ‘50s was influenced by the return of our men from war. It was a period of beautiful fabrics. Hollywood was a great influence on fashion during this period. Models were very glamorous. There were many spectacular parties calling for romantic dresses and dancing to beautiful music.”


The Return of Style

Glamour has made a return to fashion, thanks to feminine styles replacing shapeless, unisex clothing and the return of super-sexy props:

* Sleek, body-hugging lines

* Sensuous fabrics

* High heels

* Simple brooches, bangles and other large-scale jewelry

* Graceful handbags

* Makeup that hides dark circles under the eyes and creates a stronger mouth

* Red lipstick

* Hats or a hair ornament

* ‘40s-style, roller-set hairstyles