McJimsey’s Ingenue

Now, Ingenue kind of has a bad rap. Kibbe says that no adult woman should dress like that, and thus did not include it in his system at all. McJimsey calls it “naive, unsophisticated, artless, and even childlike.” Ouch! But we are going to go over her definition of the Ingenue anyway. The Ingenue is the polar opposite of the Dramatic. An Ingenue is dainty, young, delicate in build and coloring, below average in height, and more charmingly pretty than sophisticated. Someone who is average in height can have Ingenue qualities if they are slender with delicate coloring. A pink-and-white coloring with natural blonde or light brown hair can lend an Ingenue quality to a person. Ingenues will be cheapened by artifical hair coloring and their charm will be spoiled. An Ingenue has a small, upturned nose, round cheeks, a rosebud mouth, and a gently rounded figure. Short feathered curls with a tiny bow or a ribbon or a short curly ponytail with a ribbon around it will increase her yin quality. An Ingenue should not try to copy the Romantic’s sophistication, but instead be content with her own ingenuous and natural charm. If the Gamine has a sturdy “little boy” look, an Ingenue has a dainty “little girl” look. Her steps are light and dainty. Her posture reflects her mood, whether her head is lowered when she is relaxed and/or shy, or if she may she is dancing on tiptoe and sparkling with laughter. Since the Ingenue is so youthful, it is rare to find a perfect Ingenue over the age of 16. But having blonde hair, fair skin, and delicate features, coupled with small size, will give off an Ingenue impression long after youth has passed. If you have a small, round face and big eyes, you can put some yin, Ingenue details in your outfit. As an Ingenue ages, she can add more Romantic and Classic styles, and change her hairstyle and mannerisms to more sophisticated ones. If you have a yin face but are not as small in size, you can add softness and curved necklines, but your details will not be as dainty.

McJimsey’s Ingenues are Helen Hayes, Shirley Jones, Hayley Mills, Tricia Nixon, and Debbie Reynolds.


(Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

The Ingenue must always select clothes that reflect her youth and daintiness. She should follow the rococo line from her hair and facial features, and while she can wear frilly dresses, she can also wear simpler clothes with delicate details in feminine fabrics. Due to her small stature, she should keep the details small and keep the effect simple, without omitting dainty details. It may seem too coy and naive and not fashion-forward enough for even the college girl. Subtle touches of Ingenue, such as dainty cotton blouses or eyelet summer dresses, may be used. Fashions specifically mentioned include:

  • Bouffant skirts
  • Empire or princess silhouettes (empire makes legs look longer)
  • Rows of ruffles or tucks
  • Capelets and boleros
  • Peplums
  • emphasis at the yoke, frequently with trim
  • fullness from gathers, rather than darts, especially at the yoke, sleeve, and waist
  • curving necklines
  • suits can be worn, but they need to have soft lines and be of fabrics that are not too severe

    The Ingenue does not have to overdo the curves, since fabrics such as organdy, taffeta, batiste, voile, or soft, lightweight woolens and cashmeres sustain the yin. Colors for the Ingenue should be dainty pastels or sparkling tints in blues, pinks, orchids, peach, mint green, and aqua, used with white accents in accessories. Navy and cocoa brown are good Ingenue neutrals, as are pearl gray and creamy beige. Light grayed hues are good for suits. Accessories should be dainty and not too extreme in style, and they include shoes with medium or low curved heels, cut-out slippers, and dainty bows and straps in kid leathers (beige for street, dyed-to-match for formal wear); gathered pouch or small clutch bags; and dainty pearl, rhinestone, and ceramic jewelry. Hats can have ribbons or flowers, and perhaps a small veil.


    (Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
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