Zyla, Again

I’ve realized that back when I was trying to incorporate a Zyla archetype into my style, I was going about it all wrong. The thing is about Zyla is that he gives people style recommendations that are unique to them. I know people who received as recommendations things that are listed as “Avoids” in the book’s description of their archetype. It’s easy to see why trying to cobble something together out of various writeups of Zyla visits may not work, even if you got the archetype itself right. It just may not be how Zyla’s unique vision for you would be.

I have become more interested in seeing Zyla lately, though. I’ve never had a professional analysis, and I really like how he comes up with a special palette of colors for you that have certain purposes. Other colors may look good, but these colors have special effects. I’m curious to see whether the way I see myself is the way a professional sees me, and whether I’ve been “off” in any way, especially concerning colors. Style-wise, though, in particular, any sort of analysis about who I am and what suits me would be tested against my own conclusions and instincts.

After going back and reviewing the archetypes, it seems that the ones I have triedGamine Autumn and Mellow Autumn–are the ones that seem to be the most likely. Yes, I have dismissed these types before–but I was working with other peoples’ recommendations, not my own. It can be hard to tell what is important when considering your Zyla archetype. Some say color, some say personality/vibe, some say lines… It seems to depend on the person.

Regardless, I’ve come to realize that trying to DIY something as personal as Zyla doesn’t work–“personal” in the sense that it is his vision for you. So while I’ve been having fun thinking about Zyla again, I’m not going to start trying to incorporate touches of a Zyla archetype into my style. This fall and winter are going to be all about working with Woodland Puck and Flamboyant Gamine. But next year will be a year of transition for me, so I think getting input from Zyla for this new phase of my life will be invaluable.

Workbook(s) Update: Fall 2016

I haven’t mentioned what I’ve been up to with the workbook for a while. I believe I’ve mentioned that I’m working on a workbook that deals with the Three Levels of Dress, but I took the summer off from projects related to this site.

Since I wrote the original workbook, my approach to my own style has been tweaked some, so of course I’d like the workbook to actually reflect what I’ve been practicing in my daily life as well. I’ve also learned a lot, mostly from David Kibbe’s direct participation in our Facebook color and style community, so I’d like to also include the new things I’ve learned that are relevant to the lessons already in the workbook. My plan is to spend the next two weeks editing and have the latest edition of the workbook to tbe ready by the beginning of October. If you’re in the Facebook group for the workbook, I’ll have a download link there, and if you’ve purchased a workbook but aren’t in the group, just let me know that you want one in the comments or via email (hello@stylesyntax.com), and I will send you it when it’s done.

Then there is the Three Levels of Dress workbook. This workbook will go even deeper into wardrobe planning with the goal of an expression, cohesive personal style, and being prepared for what you need to dress for in your life. I hope to spend October finishing it, and then have it ready for purchase in November. Once it’s for sale, I will also offer the two workbooks in a discounted bundle, but the exercises in the original workbook will absolutely be considered a prerequisite for the ones included in this one.

Lastly, on another housekeeping note–when I was offering services last year, sometimes communication would fall off, or someone had ordered the Subscription Service and couldn’t think of what they wanted to ask me for, etc. I would like people to whom these situations apply to please email me so we can work something out, whether it’s a partial refund or a Skype consultation or whatever else you think would be helpful for you. Thanks!

Dark Autumn Blonde: Favorite Everyday Lipsticks for Pale DAs

This post uses affiliate links.

Out of everything, being able to wear lipstick is the most important thing I’ve gained from color analysis. As a pale blonde, magazine article after magazine article pointed me towards light, clear colors. I would buy a lipstick, wear it once, and be greeted with comments like, “Oh, you’re wearing LIPSTICK.” The only lipsticks I can recall wearing with any regularity are Belle de Jour by NARS (picked up because Catherine Deneuve in that movie was my high school makeup inspiration) and Julianne’s Nude by L’oreal. On me, both of these take MLBB to WBWL–Why Bother Wearing Lipstick.

So when I realized that Dark Autumn was the season that suited me best, I finally had some direction in front of lipstick displays in stores. I first started with recommendations from Cate Linden’s post on the subject, but after over a year of living in DA, I have my own set of favorites.

My preferred texture for lipstick is cream–opaque but not matte, a little shiny but not glossy. I find this to be a compromise between DA’s matte recommendation and FG’s glossy recommendation. Also, these lipsticks tend to be the most moisturizing and comfortable, without being sticky like gloss. But during the day, I’ll also wear a lot of sheer/balm formulas, and most of the lipsticks in this post fall into this category.

Sometimes, it can seem like DA lipsticks are all a variation on reddish brown. While that’s definitely something you should have in your rotation, DAs can also wear coral or red violet or our version of pink. Here are the lipsticks I personally usually have on my person and reach for on a regular basis:


-Albeit Violette. Lately I’ve been into exploring the possibilities of violet for Dark Autumn lipsticks. This is a nice sheer version for testing the look out. Very comfortable and pretty. (September 6th, 2016: I’m wearing it today and I have no idea why I thought it was sheer! It’s definitely opaque.)

-MAC Brick O La. It may seem shocking for someone who has the amount of makeup that I do, but this is the first MAC lipstick I’ve ever owned, and I just picked it up last week. I had a very goopy MAC lip gloss once, and the sugar-cookie scent/taste was overwhelming to the point that I didn’t want to bother. Luckily, the scent isn’t as strong with the lipsticks. Anyway, the idea of owning this particular lipstick won me over. It’s DA’s pinky nude.

-Lipstick Queen Saint Rust. I’ve blogged about this before, but this is a great brownish-red in a sheer formula. The color also comes in a matte, opaque formula, called Sinner, but unfortunately I find that formula drying and horrible. You can see how much I’ve carried this one around with me–the tube is pretty banged up.

-Clinique Mega Melon. A nice pinky coral option. This is one I’ll wear a lot when the weather gets warmer.

So these are my favorite lipsticks for day. Do you change up your lipstick from day to night? What are your favorites?

Fantastical Beauty: Woodland Puck

Last week, I wrote about how I probably need to add a Valkyrie lean to my Nymph/Puck mix. I was very fortunate today, because someone else commissioned a guide for Nymph Pucks. I purchased it, and I was happy to see that Puck fits perfectly and I don’t need a lean at all.

Characteristics of Woodland Puck, the Nymph-based Puck, include:

-a more boyish Nymph
-heavy use of black in color scheme
-punk rock vibes
-associations of: half-tamed, mischievous, bon vivant, odd knits, sheers, floral crowns, edgy, mixed media.

When you request a guide, if you’re not sure quite what subtype you need, you can tell Kati the things that are missing for you from the base and she can tell you where you’d fall, or whether that is possible with that base type at all. Boyish, black/dark color scheme, and punk rock vibes are exactly what I would have told her that I needed out of a Nymph subtype. (And what is spooky is that years ago, one of my style friends told me I was a “defiant woodland sprite”!)

So I’m very glad to see that there is such a perfect place for me in this system. If you can’t afford a full analysis, and there is a type that you think would work for you with some caveats, I would definitely suggest discussing what you need from a subtype with Kati and commissioning a guide. With a subtype you can go from this in the base type…


…to this in a subtype:


Have you ordered a subtype guide? What are you considering?

Fantastical Beauty: What I’ve Learned, Part 2

Today I found myself downtown with some time to kill, so I popped into Zara to see if I could find some hot-weather clothes. One thing I’ve noticed is that if my current style typing (Zyla, etc.) isn’t working for me, I find myself succumbing to shopping paralysis, and just nothing in the store feels right. After declaring myself Nymph and Puck in Fantastical Beauty, I found that I didn’t even know what to look for. I tried to make a secret pinboard for Nymph-Puck-Gamine Linear, but I just pinned a bunch of stuff from Kati’s pinboards for these types, and I wasn’t sure if the things I found on my own were “correct.”

After this experience at Zara, once I got to a computer, I took a look at the guides I had. I then looked at my personal style pinboard, and started adding and subtracting things. I thought about what the images meant together as a whole. I think they represent “me” and my aesthetic really well, and it reminded me of my personal style statement/archetypr, which I developed while creating my workbook.

My style statement is “Grown-up Punk,” which means that I retain both sophistication and edge at the same time, with a little bit of boyishness/youthfulness thrown in. One thing I noticed is that I have a lot of Alexander McQueen on the board.

This makes sense, because it’s a label with sophisticated designs, with motifs like skulls and moto added to give it some edge. For me, the “punk” part is easy. It is adding the “grown up,” the sophistication, that is hard.

Taken as a whole, my board to me means Puck Nymph Leaning Valkyrie. Maybe I can also pull from Nyx and Raven Rider at times, but this what feels essential. Nymph covers the “grown up,” Valkyrie the “edge,” and Puck partially the “edge” and wholly the “boyishness/youthfulness.” In addition, the Valkyrie color scheme of dark neutrals with “wildflower” pops of color works better for me than Nymph’s variations on browns and greens or what Puck’s color scheme seems to be, which is dark gray with pastel pink. But Nymph feels like the base to me and not Valkyrie, because the sophistication is what needs to remain front and center in my mind. The “punk” can always be added with accessories, but the main shape always has to remain firmly in Gamine Linear Nymph territory.

Fantastical Beauty: What I’ve Learned

Fantastical Beauty is a relatively new system that I’ve been exploring as a way to bring an expression of my inner self into my Kibbe type. I’ve written about it here before, and in my latest update, I was settled in a type called Fae and waiting for more information on the darker Nixie subtype. At first, I felt like Fae was really helping me, and leading me toward better choices in things like jewelry. But then I realized that the things I thought Fae was adding to my style were things that were already in Flamboyant Gamine and I just hadn’t been honoring.


So I went back to the drawing board and made some collages and morphs using Snapchat (a very fun way to waste time, by the way). Many suggested Valkyrie for me, so I got the guide, and there a few things from Valkyrie I like, overall, it didn’t feel right. Fae is whimsical, Valkyrie is powerful, and neither of these attributes feel like my defining characteristic.

One of the things I realized I was doing was that I was looking for the type most compatible with Flamboyant Gamine, rather than me. I already have a set of FG recs that work; I don’t need another style type that just repeats them. It needs to add something different that will help me express myself within the framework of the FG recommendations.

Nymph is the type I didn’t want to be when I first found out about the system. It seemed kind of dull and stuffy for whatever reason.


But in Kati’s blog post on bathing suits, the Nymph suit is the only one I would even consider. So a seed was planted in my head.

After thinking about the little personality description and scenarios in the guides I have, I couldn’t see myself as anything of the “characters” Kati describes. Whatever worked stylistically, the imagery that the styles are meant to evoke didn’t fit me at all. I thought about how I would describe myself above all and what drives me in life. I think the first thing people that know me would describe me as is “smart,” and what I am driven to do is collect and disseminate knowledge. This is something the Flamboyant Gamine doesn’t exactly express, and I saw that this is what Nymph could add to my self-expression.

I finally bought the guide, and here I could see myself in the personality and characters she describes. There are also moments where she describes what works for Nymphs where I got the sneaking suspicion she had sneaked into my closet at night and spied on what I owned.

Kati also has a subtype called Puck that can be found in Nymph, which is more boyish and has funkier makeup. It adds a little edge that Nymph lacks, and I feel that together with FG, I can create something that expresses all the facets myself that I want to express.


So if you are going backwards from other systems when trying to find your Fantastical Beauty type, I would recommend trying a different approach. Yes, you should understand your s-curve and facial features, but I think you also should have a look at what you actually want to express with your style.

Breakout Roles: Natalie Portman

Going off Kibbe’s statement that breakout roles are a good way to see what Image Identity a certain star is, I thought that it would be an interesting to experiment to take actresses whose Kibbe Image Identities are the subject of some controversy and try to decide where they fit based not on their physical features, but how they are cast and what roles made them stars.

The first star I thought of was Natalie Portman. Natalie is someone I’ve seen listed either as Soft Gamine or Soft Classic, and I can see the case for both. She looks great in short hair, and people will sometimes try to make a physical comparison between her and Audrey Hepburn.



Classic comes in simply because she is just very pretty, and I could see casting her in a movie where she plays, say, a princess. (But of course, Audrey’s breakout role was Roman Holiday, so who says that the princess is always a classic Grace Kelly type?)

Like Mila Kunis, Natalie’s breakout role came very early in her life. She played Mathilde in Léon: The Professional at the age of 12. The Wikipedia article for the film describes her as “a twelve-year-old girl who is smoking a cigarette and sporting a black eye. Mathilda lives with her dysfunctional family in an apartment down the hall. Her abusive father and self-absorbed stepmother have not noticed that Mathilda stopped attending class at her school for troubled girls.”

Her next major role was as Queen Amidala in the Star Wars franchise. I think that outside of Star Wars fans, this isn’t really a signature role for her, but I think it presents an argument for Kibbe’s Gamine dichotomy: you aren’t sure whether they’re a waif under the bridge (her role in Léon) or a princess… In this case, a queen.

The role I think of when I think of Natalie Portman is Sam in Garden State, which is now a movie people make fun of (and she is kind of embarrassed by), but she basically plays the ultimate Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

I would say that this combination of roles early on in her career–the waif/princess dichotomy, the MPDG–puts her solidly as a Gamine base over a Classic one. And looking at her height and appearance, I’m going to go with the yin side of things.

Final Verdict: Soft Gamine

If there is another star you’d like me to look at, let me know!

The Importance of Casting in Kibbe: Breakout Roles

One of the most important things I’ve learned from David Kibbe is that when trying to apply his system, people often miss the forest for the trees. They focus on an analysis of body parts, rather than trying to understand how a person can present themselves to the world most effectively. David’s work is heavily influenced by the idea of the MGM “star factory,” which, if you’re interested, you can learn about from listening to the MGM episodes of You Must Remember This, for a start. David even namedrops Louis B. Mayer in Metamorphosis. The sum total of the features is not as important as whether the type that seems to make sense on paper will actually unleash your own special, unique star qualities.

Unfortunately, it seems like many who have not had the privilege of learning from David directly are still stuck in this old, analytical way of thinking. Recently, in a Kibbe group, I saw January Jones declared as a Natural. When questioned, the person who put her in that category said that her roles have given the false impression that she is Classic, and that there is a lot of Natural in her bone structure.

If a person’s career is made by a certain role, and this role is one that the person will have to overcome, typecasting-wise, for the rest of their career, unless they have one that is even more major and iconic, I don’t think we can say that she was miscast.


Her role in Mad Men was to appear to be the ideal of the 1950s housewife, and later the late-60s Republican Political Wife. She is referred to as a “Grace Kelly type” by others in the show. (Kelly, by the way, also had clearly yang features, like her wide jaw.) She is never mentioned in the same sentence as Ingrid Bergman.


Besides the fact that anyone who has seen January’s offscreen fashion choices can attest to the fact that uncontrolled styles do not highlight her beauty as much as controlled ones do, the fact that she was so successful as Betty Draper, to the point that “Betty Draper” has become a shorthand for a certain kind of woman, disproves the fact that it is only casting that has given us a Classic impression of January Jones. Now, David hasn’t confirmed her as far as I know, but both Jon Hamm and John Slattery are confirmed Classics, and I would be extremely surprised if January Jones were anything else. If she actually were a Natural, her Betty Draper styling would look a little odd and constricting. She simply wouldn’t have been cast in that role.

A Kibbe verification that threw people for a loop is Mila Kunis, who is a Theatrical Romantic. True, she doesn’t have the “wasp waist” associated with TRs.


One piece of advice David gave when discussing Mila is to look at their breakout role–which applies to January obviously!–and for Mila, that was Jackie in That 70s Show, whom he called “the epitome of teenage TR.”

While this applies to what David refers to the “parlor game” of guessing celebrity types, I think we can apply it to ourselves as well. What would be your breakout role? What would cause your star power to be unleashed?

Capsules vs. Head to Toe

I think a lot of people come to these style systems in part because it simplifies your life. You can get rid of everything that doesn’t work, and have a carefully curated wardrobe that only has things you actually wear. Many want to create wardrobe capsules for their Kibbe type and season.

But there’s a problem with capsules, one I never really recognized until I started learning things from David Kibbe. In order to get a capsule wardrobe to all work together, it ends up being, well, boring. I got an email a few days ago from Net-a-Porter with a link to This page. All of the clothes in set are very well designed and expensive, but they’re all boring. This is what most capsule wardrobes on Pinterest look like. When you’re choosing items to match with a maximum amount of other items, it reasons to follow that nothing you choose can be all that interesting.

But this is the way most of us have been taught to shop. We are supposed to ask ourselves how many other things we can pair a potential new purchase with. David Kibbe, on the other hand, has an entirely different philosophy. He told us that we are supposed to shop in terms of “head to toe,” that we should buy an entire outfit at once. At first glance, this seems wasteful. But the more I thought about it, the more sense it made. I often wear the same outfit over and over again. I don’t need everything to play well together. Perhaps instead of buying pieces, we would better served by buying things that create one special outfit. With a small wardrobe, you won’t necessarily get less wear out of a pair of pants that only works with a specific top if this is an outfit that you love and you’ll wear frequently.

I decided a while ago that I would write a sequel to the workbook focusing on the Three Levels of Dress. The reason why I have been a little quieter here lately is partially because I’ve been working on this new workbook. But it will also be a Head-to-Toe workbook that will take the wardrobe rebuilding idea from the original and expand it to something that will allow you to truly express yourself and your style.

Have you ever tried to create a capsule wardrobe? Have you tried head-to-toe dressing?

What I Use and Why

From time to time, I get comments asking my thoughts on a system that I don’t discuss on this blog. The reason why I don’t talk about all the systems out there is because I’m most interested in discussing and understanding the systems that I like. If a system doesn’t make sense for me or seem like it would add value to my style life, I simply don’t use it.

Now, I think style systems are a highly personal thing. What works for you depends on how your brain works. Some people just can never wrap their head around, say, Kibbe, and it becomes a point of difficulty for them, instead of something that helps them. So what works for me may not be what works for you, and vice versa. This is not intended as an indictment or an endorsement.

So here are my lists:


1. Kibbe’s Metamorphosis
Hands down, my absolute favorite system. To me, it’s the most complete, and the one that, believe it or not, is easiest to DIY. It is a tool for self-acceptance as well as a style system. I do think it helps me, though, that there is a type that is so perfectly in line with my own tastes and personality. I don’t need to think about how to express my inner self through the limitations of my outer self, since Flamboyant Gamine expresses both with no modifications.

2. Sci\ART
Despite my recent posts, which are really more about how the system is currently practiced by second- and third-generation practitioners, rather than the system itself, I still think Sci\ART is the best option among the premade palettes. Each palette can express a wide range of styles and moods, and I do find that when you hit upon the right season, it works. I know that I can take out my Dark Autumn palette, and none of the colors that harmonize with it will do something really weird to my appearance.

3. Fantastical Beauty
I’ve found this system helpful for filling in a few gaps that the Flamboyant Gamine doesn’t cover in enough detail for me, like jewelry. And I can’t wait for the Nixie guide to come out. I think a lot of people also find this freeing because it’s highly flexible and personalizable, and focuses much less than on your outer appearance and shape than other systems.


1. David Zyla
Zyla’s system is basically impossible to DIY. Even though he has a book where he tries to explain how to do it, it’s really about his singular vision. I found Zyla around the same time that I found Kibbe, and I’ve seen myself in archetypes in every season except Summer. I’m actually considering going to see him when it’s convenient and when I can afford it, mainly because I love his eye for color and I find the tight, specialized approach to color to be something that is highly appealing to me. I love the idea of having certain colors that support you for particular needs in your life.

2. Suzanne Caygill
Again, a Caygill palette and typing is something that has to be done in person. And her book is just too expensive to purchase.

3. Beauty Valued
I love Kathy’s work, and a Beauty Valued palette is right up there with Zyla in “services I would pay for.” (The magical powers of your Zyla colors are what pushes Zyla to the top of my wishlist.)


1. John Kitchener
I find the approach of splitting people up into parts to run counter to the goal of a cohesive style. What are you supposed to do with, say, 5% Natural, and how would that blend with the rest of you? Also the color palettes he gives are so extensive. Kitchener’s approach just gives you too much, in my opinion. Some people like having absolutely all the things they could ever do laid out for them, but I like having a general framework in my head and then running with it.

2. Dressing Your Truth
I really don’t see myself fully in any of the 4 Types. I used to think 3, but now I think it’d be too heavy. I think it’s a good system for women who are style lost and finding their way, and sometimes you do see really huge improvements, but overall, none of the types really connect with me, and I can’t imagine wearing any of them, at least not how they’re presented in their online store.

Which systems do you absolutely love, and which ones leave you cold?

1 2 3 14