Virgina Postrel has asked on her blog What’s Glamorous and I thought I’d take a shot at it.
The first thing I think of when I try to define the term glamorous is photography. Specifically glamour photography. It is a specific style of photography that intends to make the subject beautiful and larger than life. Much better than they are in real life. It also has a dose of movie lighting.
I also associate metallic gold and silvers and jewels with glamour. Shine is a big part of glamour. Even glamourous make up for women is more shiny. Eye shadow is made to sparkle. Eyes are expected to sparkle as well.
Colors other than the metallic are muted. The burgundy red of the red carpet. The black and white of a tuxedo.
Glamour is the desire for the ideal.
Glamour is clean. There isn’t dirt in glamour. Glamour is urban. Rich upper class urban. Special occasion urban.
Glamour is sedated. It is in control of itself. It knows it looks good but doesn’t lord it over. I think of the movie starlet standing patiently on a red carpet so her picture can be taken, when she’d rather be inside.
When does it fail?
When you mix ideals with the wrong thing. Like there is never dressed down glamour. Nicole Kidman may be the ideal, but she isn’t glamorous in jeans and a t-shirt. She’s still hot and beautiful, but not glamorous.
Sometimes in glamour photography the model just isn’t pretty enough for the picture to actually be glamorous.
This is kind of just off the top of my head and free form, but hopefully it conveys what I think of as glamorous.