Recently, at Wayan on the Lower East Side, I ran into Brian Grazer (producer of A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, 8 Mile, Splash). I recognized him because of his hair. I mean who wouldn’t?
I’ve written before about the importance of having an iconic visual identity. Grazer exemplifies how to do it. He also credits his distinctive look for giving him an edge early in his career because it got him noticed at a time when he needed to stand out from the pack.
In a recent LA Mag article, he told the story of how he developed his iconic visual identity after one of his early mentors told him he needed a “handle” to become memorable to the movers and shakers of Hollywood. She (the mentor) was thinking a nickname but he really wanted a beard which was popular among his peers at the time, e.g., George Lucas. But he couldn’t grow one so he did the next best thing. He concocted a wildly outrageous spiky hairdo that not only got him noticed (not always positively) but became his calling card. And from that moment on, he became a recognized entity wherever he went. Including by me – and I rarely recognize anyone!
Key to creating an iconic/memorable look
From my experience, signature style always revolves around one or more of the following:
- Hair, i.e., color, cut, specific styles, facial hair, NO hair
- Makeup, especially bold lipstick and eyeliner, e.g., AOC
- Eyewear, e.g., Anna Wintour, Casey Neistat, Iris Apfel
- Specific items of clothing, accessories or footwear that become your “uniform”
Scroll down for examples including my pet peeve with celebs who look alike.
Celebs who need to develop a signature look
Have you noticed how many young stars look identical to each other? For example, Katy Perry and Zooey Deschanel, Natalie Portman and Keira Knightley, Leelee Sobieski and Jennifer Lawrence. They must all go to the same plastic surgeon, hairdresser and stylist. I can never tell them apart. Guys fall into this trap also, e.g., Elijah Wood and Daniel Radcliffe.
Give me Billie Eilish or Jared Leto any day.
But kudos to my network for teaching me so much about what it means to have signature style!
Amanda and Meagan from Spark Pretty (colorful vintage) and Todd from Flavor Paper (beard and hats!)
Paige and Michelle – always a lot of layering and boho chic
Sheri (red hair, fab glasses), Rodrigo (beard), Elliott (shaved head)
Kathleen and Ianthe – fabulous hair and sunglasses
loved our waitress in Twin Falls, Idaho – had to ask her all about her hair!
Nick Belperio rocks an amazing beard these days – Brian Grazer would be pea green with envy!
Martha Cooper, at 77, still documenting the street art scene, still rocking the same hairstyle – plus, she did gray before it was trendy!
Tracy Luckow – known for her giant glasses and red lipstick!
And finally, Brad’s signature look just gets cooler by the year
A signature look works like a charm because not only does it make you recognizable, it makes you intriguing and memorable. Everybody will want to know who you are and they’re much more likely to remember your name!
That kind of recognition makes it easier to be outgoing. It dials up your confidence – especially when you’re mingling with large groups of people.
If you’ve developed an iconic identity, people will make it their business to find out who you are. You won’t have to work quite as hard – people will gravitate to you.
The game changer for me was the switch from contacts to big nerdy glasses. Adding the red lipstick kicked it up a notch and became the icing on the cake of my “signature look.”
To this day, I’m thrilled (and shocked) when people not only recognize me but remember my name plus where we’ve met previously. It’s made me realize – and appreciate – how much an iconic look has contributed to my social life.
Key to remember for my female readers: A signature look beats looking “pretty” every day of the week.