Kibbe Essence Self-Assessment

50s/60s celebrities

One of the things that really trips people up when they’re trying to figure out their Kibbe is the idea of essence. Essence is not personality. It is something outside yourself–it is what you project. Kibbe’s idea of creating a total look that harmonizes with your essence comes from old Hollywood, where a complete image was manufactured for a star. You can have an Image Identity that may not match up perfectly with your likes and dislikes. That is why Kibbe has a “fantasy” quiz in the book, so you can determine if there is a mismatch between your type and your inner desires. You still, however, have to figure out a way to express your inner desires through your Kibbe type, not by just going with what appeals to you.

But how do you figure out your essence? Jane Rekas has a McJimsey/Northrup essence quiz, but some of those questions were difficult for me to answer, or I felt like I didn’t fit. Also, it won’t give you the difference between, say, a Soft Gamine essence and a Flamboyant Gamine essence.

I think there are two questions that you can ask yourself to help shed light on your essence.

1. Which actresses/celebrities have you now, or in the past, felt a kinship to, or just liked a lot?
I think this is where Mad Men‘s “Jackie or Marilyn?” question comes into play. I have noticed, for instance, that it is women with a Romantic essence who get really into Marilyn Monroe. I like some of her movies, but for me, she is no different from any other star. Audrey Hepburn, on the other hands, was the one I was obsessed with as a teenager. Think back to whose poster was on your wall and whose movies you watched over and over again. Chances are it was someone who had something you connected with, someone who had a similar essence to your own.

The other female celebrity who really captivated me was Edie Sedgwick. How I ever mistook myself for a Soft Natural, I’ll never know.

2. Which actresses/celebrities have people compared you to?
I have been told by friends that they were watching a movie and felt like they were watching me on screen twice: Breathless (Jean Seberg) and Drive (Carey Mulligan). The only other celebrity I’ve ever been compared to is Juliette Lewis. I’m not sure if she is FG, but she seems to dress like one. I think that the answer to this question can reveal what other people see in you, and what vibe you give off. In other words, your essence.

You can also ask yourself how people usually describe you, but I think this may end up getting confused with personality. The danger with both of the questions above, of course, is that you could have always been hiding your light under a bushel and afraid to see yourself, say, as an outwardly sexy Romantic. One of the things that makes Kibbe a genius is his ability to see through people to get to this essence. When you look at the book, all of the women are dressed in the same blah 80s conservative workwear, and he somehow saw past it and saw who really was C and could wear it and put the rest in entirely different clothes.

Anyway, does this work for you? Or do you come up with something totally different than your essence? I know that these questions were helpful for me, but they may not work for everyone, for various reasons. I intended for this post to sort of help nudge people along on their journey to figuring out their essence.

18 Comments on Kibbe Essence Self-Assessment

  1. Shawna
    August 25, 2015 at 1:45 am

    Such quizzes always fascinate me and then leave me more confused. I have taken this one you linked and a similar Kibbe quiz on the seasonal colour/yuku forum. On Jane’s quiz I come out just barely mostly natural with hits of gamine, classic and romantic. The only thing dramatic about me is my height at 5’9″. In the other quiz I come out mostly classic. What feels right to me after extensively studying this online is soft natural. It describes me best and those are the clothes I am drawn to and feel best in. I look terrible in bold makeup and jewelry, bold patterns and strong geometric shapes. I am really uncomfortable in structured things. It’s mainly my height and sloping shoulders that don’t fit the natural category. Celebrity face and body I most resemble is Terri Garr.
    tl/dr sorry

    • Sarah
      April 26, 2022 at 2:27 pm

      Shawna, I’m reading this seven years after you wrote it but have just found this now. We’re the same. I’m also 5’9″ but nothing SD looks good on me. It overwhelms me in fact, and long to the floor garments drown me. I do however look excellent in classic lines and garments. I’ve been compared to Emma Watson a LOT when I was at a lighter weight. I was also told my face is very classic. There’s a lot of gatekeeping in online communities and the plight of the taller figures is often shot down. I personally believe that your height shouldn’t confine you to three silhouettes, but that’s a volatile hot take. I hope you ended up going for what you like the most and what you found flatters you. I will be doing the same.

      • stylesyntax
        April 26, 2022 at 3:58 pm

        It’s not “gatekeeping”–it’s simply how the system functions. At 5’9″, your clothes will have to be long enough, basically, to accommodate your height–hence vertical. You can’t ignore the literal length inherent to your height after a certain point, which means you will be able to eliminate all potential IDs except for ones with a dominant Vertical. You can dress in whatever style you want, but in terms of how your line will translate into silhouette, only FN, SD, and D would be able to accommodate the line of someone 5’9″. Don’t think of it as something that limits you. We are all limited to the one ID that works for our line. You just happened to have the benefit of knowing for sure that Vertical is a part of your line and that you can eliminate all but three for yourself. You can express any style personality you’d like. If you feel like classic (small “c”) looks favor you, by all means, you can do this within an SD/FN/D Image ID. To plug my own work, this is why I created Personality Squared: to help people get in touch with what resonates with them on the inside, and to not let themselves get caught up in what works for their various types (or what is stereotyped to work for them), causing them to lose sight of what they love. 🙂 Part of the problem, I think, is the limited way in which people view the IDs, based on things like YouTube video and Pinterest posts.

  2. MKsojourn
    October 19, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    The idea that the connections we have with celebrities may reveal something about our Kibbe types is interesting. Throughout my life, I’ve gotten told by one person that I reminded them of Vivien Leigh (TR), and by three people that I reminded them of Jennifer Aniston (I think most people consider her a SN). I do feel that “connection” with both, but more so with Jennifer Aniston. Another actress I “connect” with is Liv Tyler, who is also considered to be a Natural. Again, my Kibbe SN is being confirmed by the articles on this blog. Thank you, stylesyntax!

  3. Cari
    May 5, 2016 at 2:35 am

    I hear you on the color frustration! I strongly suspect I’m a SN (quiz had me as TR but honestly I don’t think all that fuss and frill suits me), based on celebrity face and body collages, and also strongly suspect I am a True/Warm Spring. Yeah well, SN clothes are usually muted and more earthy, either some version of Summer or Autumn, both of which make me look anywhere from blah to hungover. SUPER ANNOYING!! I’m all in favor of campaigning! They need to make every style in at least one color from each spring, at least the parent seasons.

    • stylesyntax
      May 6, 2016 at 1:23 am

      From what I’ve seen of how Kibbe styles SNs, he doesn’t give them boho at all and uses a lot of bright colors.

  4. Cari
    May 5, 2016 at 2:37 am

    Each season* I meany to say. See I’m all spring ‘centric now 😛

  5. K
    May 11, 2016 at 10:47 am

    Hi, and apologies before I begin as I’m about to have a bit of a rant! I frequently see celebrities typed on Pinterest (not by Kibbe himself) who are clearly in the wrong category. Both body shape and essence / vibe are important and go hand-in-hand.

    Ok, so the first celebrity IS one typed by Kibbe, but I believe there’s been a typo / someone misheard what he said: Halle Berry – clearly SD not SG. Her body is nothing like the other SGs. Long, narrow limbs and big curves, both her body and face fit perfectly with the SD ladies.

    Eva Mendes always shows up on SD boards and is often dressed SD on the red carpet – has no-one noticed just how much she resembles FN Cindy Crawford? Her body – bone structure – is straighter than the SDs and she has very flat facial planes. I managed to find some pictures of her in more FN style and thought she looked great. FN can be very glamorous, it’s not all hippy 70’s styling. Uma Thurman – again, usually typed SD, or sometimes D and again, I see FN. She just doesn’t have quite the right body or vibe for either D. Kim Kardashian is usually typed as a Romantic, and I almost agree, except I think she’s possibly TR, not R, just because her face seems less pure yin than the other R ladies, and I like her with a touch of sharp in her outfits. Adele – usually typed as R – she’s 5’9″. There are a few celebs portrayed as R and who certainly wear R style wiggle dresses well, whom I’m not convinced about. It’s often their height combined with the lack of the delicacy I see in true R. Christina Hendricks, although tall at 5’7″, does have R delicate bone structure and face. Others, no; I see big curves, but not the delicacy. I think if you are a curvy yin type with a fuller figure, a wiggle style dress will work, regardless of your type. Adele could be SD, but I think SN is more likely (not very scientific, but she reminds me so much of my sister, who is a tall SN), and SN is probably where some other taller typed-as-R-by-people-other-than-Kibbe celebrities belong. The real-life Rs I know tend to wear a more Helena Bonham-Carter look, with lots of antique, feminine detail, rather than bombshell sexy clothes. Keira Knightley and Kate Moss are both ‘possibly Dramatic’ according to Kibbe, and always portrayed as examples of Dramatic. I am not 100% sure about either of them, although both are D-influenced. Compared to the other D ladies, they seem more delicate somehow. Kibbe called D ‘bold yang’ and when looking at photos of people he’s typed as D, their bone structure seems a little stronger and their faces very strong, very bold. Faye Dunaway is a bit more delicate looking than most, but there are photos of her wearing huge D hats, which don’t overwhelm her face at all. Lana Turner, only 5’3″, was not overpowered by Dramatic styling and hats, either I try to imagine KM or KK in a truly Dramatic style hat and wonder if they would carry it off. Both are extremely thin, both have incredible bone structure, but that’s not enough to make someone pure D. The thinnest people I know are an FN and an FG. Someone commented on one Pin board (I can’t remember where, sorry!) that G, FG and DC often seemed sharper-looking to her than D, and I know what she meant – especially the gamines (the smaller, compact angles give a more delicate sharpness) – and FN can look very sharp, too (Freya Beha Ericson for example). Models Erin O’Connor and Stella Tennant are both clearly Dramatic (not typed by Kibbe), and along with the other D ladies, they just have this really strong look and vibe. I don’t get that from KM or KK; they’re sexier and more yin somehow. I don’t get ‘sexy’ from any of the Dramatics. I think I see DC for Keira and FG for Kate, but I really am not sure.

    Which brings me to Kate Middleton, who is usually typed DC or N although Kibbe says she’s SC. I agree with Kibbe. Pretty much straight Classic, only very slightly soft, but certainly not sharp in her bone structure – and yes, she’s muscular and has broad-ish shoulders, but her overall look is softer, not sharper, and most of the time she wears SC and it looks good. I imagine sharpening up the edges of her suits and dresses and my mind rebels.

    By-the-way, seems I’m a Dramatic. Took me forever and ever to see it. I have literally tried out every single Kibbe category and only tested out D because I had figured I needed some sharp yang but kept tripping up with the recs for D-influenced types. Long, long before I ever started trying to ‘dress for my shape’ some time in my late 20’s, my favourite clothes all fit the criteria for D. I’ve been told often that my face is so striking no-one notices what I wear – my face dominates my clothing. I’m 5’4″, which is partly why I didn’t think I could be D. I’d begun the process thinking I was some sort of N, and worked my way through every type, kept coming back to FG / DC, but something still wasn’t right. I took endless photos over the course of a year. Dramatic isn’t ‘better-than’. D is brilliant and perfect and it’s obvious in the photos of my try-ons. At the start of my self-analysis I had no idea how I really looked. I had never seen myself as long or angular even when I was very thin. I’d always felt I had a weird face and a stupid body that never looked right in any clothes. As far as essence / vibe goes, people find me intimidating, and see me as confident and in-charge and aloof. In fact, I’m very shy, quite private and not very confident at all. The personality description for the Dramatic essence is pretty spot-on.

    One thing I noticed is that for me, TR, DC, FG and G all look too small in the right size. R and SG were hilarious. FN and SD both look too big and SD draping looks dreadful. N and SN look sloppy and chunky and SC looks weird. However, my endless try-ons have given me quite a good understanding of the Kibbe categories (and I’ve spent far too much time studying pictures of people typed in each category!).

    Apologies again for my (VERY long) rant! XX

    • stylesyntax
      May 11, 2016 at 11:38 am

      Halle Berry is definitely not SD. SG was not a typo/misheard. Kibbe has seen our list of verified celebrities in our Facebook group, and he has not said that he was mistaken about Halle. Kate Moss is not FG; Keira is definitely not a C base. C is moderate.

      • Kba
        December 31, 2018 at 11:16 am

        Wonder if SG type can confuse people because it has such a range — from tiny, slender, delicate (Claudette Colbert), to fuller figured (Victoria Principal, Halle Berry).

        • stylesyntax
          February 3, 2019 at 8:52 pm

          All Kibbe Image IDs have a wide range! The confusion is that people interpret it as being “body types” rather than yin/yang balance.

    • O
      October 20, 2017 at 1:35 pm

      I completely agree with you about Halle Berry being SD. Although she is mentioned everywhere as SG. I have a similar body and face type (bone structure) so I thought a lot about her and compared. I looked for other examples of SG – she is so different. The clothes that are being suggested for SG also don’t suit her at all, in my opinion.

      • stylesyntax
        October 22, 2017 at 9:44 pm

        She is definitely, emphatically not SD—and David has been clear on her. If you’re not getting why he has placed a certain star in an Image ID, I recommend studying that example so you can get a better sense of it.

  6. C
    February 4, 2017 at 2:26 am

    The only problem with celebrity comparisons is that neither i, nor the circle i hang out with, care much about celebrities! So i have no clue to the answers to those questions. 😛 Also, Rekas’s quiz wasn’t about Kibbe, it was about McJimsey, so if course it wouldn’t help you with different sorts of Gamine, and is only of limited usefulness when it comes to Kibbe. Kibbe’s categories are different, at least on the yin side.

    • stylesyntax
      February 4, 2017 at 2:42 am

      This is a really old post, but Jane’s test is definitely of zero use for Kibbe and I do not recommend her site at all.

      I think Kibbe is really hard to understand if you don’t understand the movie star images. Even if you don’t care about celebrities, I recommend studying the ones listed in the book because they give you a picture of what the Image ID is like.

      • H
        February 4, 2017 at 4:15 pm

        This comment is possibly a bit out of place as it doesn’t related to the main article at all but I’m not sure where else to put it. Have you considered updating your resource page? Because you currently link to both Jane’s site and to another site that you have indicated you don’t agree with at all, which gives the impression that you do support or agree with them in some way.

        • stylesyntax
          February 4, 2017 at 4:31 pm

          Thanks for alerting me–things just get lost in the shuffle and I hadn’t look at that for nearly three years. I just ended up deleting the Resources page altogether because I link to relevant sites when I discuss them anyway, and there are very few secondary sources I recommend.

  7. Jaenice Palmer
    October 29, 2018 at 4:49 pm

    Late to the party here, but your remarks on celebrity comparisons prompted some thinking on my part. The comparisons I’ve had are all over the map–Audrey Hepburn, Leslie Caron, Shirley Temple (gah, the torture of my younger days!), Marlene Dietrich, Lauren Bacall, Katharine Hepburn, Myrna Loy. The most frequent nowadays: Katharine Hepburn and Lauren Bacall. I must confess, I’m pleased as punch with the comparison to Kate the Great–I’ve come to favor her strong yang lines over Audrey’s more pronounced yin. (Sorry, I calls it as I sees it!) My mother was the one who kept seeing the parallel with Marlene Dietrich, in part due to the lean sinuous lines and a similar penchant for dramatic androgyny (!!!). Re Myrna Loy: She shot to fame not as an ingenue or a gamine, but as someone who played a sophisticated, flamboyant role with lightness and a wink at the audience. She had a dancer’s body, exotic features, and an innate grace–Soft Dramatic perhaps? Who knows. I’m just glad I no get comparisons to Shirley Temple.


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