Glamour originally was a term applied to a magical-occult spell that was cast on somebody to make them see something the spell-caster wished them to see, when in fact it was not what it seemed to be. In the late 19th century terminology, a non-magical item used to help create a more attractive appearance gradually became known as ‘a glamour’. Today, glamour is the impression of attraction or fascination that a particularly luxurious or elegant appearance creates, an impression which is better than the reality. Typically, a person, event, location, technology, or product such as a piece of clothing can be glamorous or add glamour.
Virginia Postrel says that for glamour to be successful nearly always requires sprezzatura – an appearance of effortlessness, and to appear distant – transcending the everyday, to be slightly mysterious and somewhat idealised, but not to the extent it is no longer possible to identify with the person.Glamorous things are neither opaque, hiding all, nor transparent showing everything, but translucent, favourably showing things.
The early Hollywood star system in particular specialised in Hollywood glamour where they systematically glamorised their actors and actresses.
Glamour can be confused with a style, which is adherence to a particular school of fashion, or intrinsic beauty; whereas glamour can be external and deliberate
Late in the 19th century the common meaning shifted to being applied to ordinary objects and jewellery without connotations of supernatural, merely upon the effect that it has on appearance. This is a sense used in this article and to some extent is the way that it was used by the early Hollywood system.
In modern usage glamour is often confused with style or beauty; but they may be considered to be distinct, although glamour may give the appearance of beauty or present as a personal style.