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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.

November 23, 1995|KATHRYN BOLD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

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."

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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."

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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."

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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."

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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."

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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."

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

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