February 2015 archive

Flamboyant Gamine “Curves”

This is basically more or less on the same subject as my last post, but I thought it was important to give it a separate post because of my other posts on the subject.

To recap, before, I thought that, if you were curvy, the difference between Flamboyant Gamine and Soft Gamine was in the face. I think you’ll still see a difference in the face, but there’s a difference in the body, too.

The SGs and the FGs have a much more similar shape than we usually think of them as having. The main difference seems to be that FG will have angles and an SG will have a curve.

Let’s look at Brigitte Bardot (SG) and Audrey Hepburn (FG). Brigitte’s measurements at one point in her career, according to this website, were 36-20-35. Audrey’s were 34-20-34. So relatively similar–Audrey is technically an hourglass, and Brigitte was a slightly top-heavy hourglass and just a little bit curvier by the numbers.
Brigitte-Bardot-
(Source)

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Their shapes are incredibly similar… yet it’s clearly evident that the extra Romantic in SG has given a little bit of a curvy shape, and the extra Dramatic in FG has resulted in a shape composed entirely of angles.

SG’s curve is not as dramatically curved as a Romantic’s, such as Elizabeth Taylor (36-21-36, so not too far off from our G women above). But you can still see the curve vs. angularity in FG.
annex_-_taylor_elizabeth_18
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So what makes a “curvy” FG instead of a Soft Gamine? Angles instead of curves. I think you’d still be able to tell from the face, but it may be easier to see in body shape.

Why I’m Not a Soft Natural

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I don’t like body-type recommendations very much. I much prefer Kibbe’s emphasis on creating harmony within yourself, and not trying to conform to classical rules of beauty and symmetry. That being said, there is obviously a body-type component to Kibbe. You wouldn’t have an apple-shaped Theatrical Romantic, for instance. But recommendations for my type (hourglass–my shoulders and hips are even, and I have a small waist) conflict with FG, and FG works, so that was enough for me to dismiss body-type recommendations as nonsense meant to achieve something that isn’t possible.

While I’m still not their biggest fan, I am now realizing that there is a way they could work for me. Yesterday, one of the members of our Facebook style community began a project mapping Kibbe Image Identities to Imogen Lamport’s body types. Now, of course I went in with my usual suspicion of body-type dressing, especially since I know that my body doesn’t fit the Flamboyant Gamine recommendations very well. I consider myself to have X with a secondary H. The more weight I gain, the squarer my shape gets, my hips especially. This person sees X-H as a Soft Natural shape. I do, too. I see similar shapes to my own when I see Soft Naturals, and I’ve never understood why Soft Natural is just so awful on me. If you read the description of a Soft Natural body, it sounds like me, weight gain patterns and all.

But I think there are words in Kibbe that are loaded. These words are loaded because he seems to use them in a different way than people who aren’t Kibbe. One of these is “curvy.” I think that in Kibbe, “curvy” means a curved line, not just 36-24-36. He describes Soft Naturals as, “slightly curvy, tends to an hourglass shape, but not extremely so.” We tend to think of how curvy someone is in measurements. But I think Kibbe is talking about the line we see. An SN can be mathematically curvier than a TR, especially when you consider that Naturals are often curvier from the side than the front. But the TR will have a curvier line to their bust, waists, and hips.

And this is exactly why Soft Natural doesn’t work for me. I don’t have a slight curve. I have what I described in this post: a very tapered ribcage on top of squarish hips the same width as my shoulders. My torso shape is composed entirely of angles and straight lines, no curve in sight.

Who else had this non-curvy hourglass body shape?

alittleblackdress3
(Source)

Audrey. Hepburn.

This shows that even a wasp waist is possible in FG, provided that everything is composed out of angles and straight lines, no curves. While an I or a plain V might be more common in FG, I think that if you combine I or H with V, you get the FG version of “curves.” We can only highlight our waists in something that follows our shape exactly, whether it’s from structure or bodycon. We cannot softly emphasize, the way SNs do. A softly flowing curve makes no sense over dramatic angles. I also don’t like to cinch, but your mileage may vary. So this is why both Soft Natural and recommendations for X shapes did absolutely nothing for me. I am an inverted triangle and a rectangle masquerading as an hourglass.

I think that if you are searching for your Kibbe type, read what Kibbe says about bodies very carefully, since he often means something a little bit different than other people. If you have no curvy lines, you can’t be a curvy Kibbe type. You want to match what you’ve got. So even if you have something that may seem to kick you out of a type, like a wasp waist for FG, really look at what is creating these particular details. You may end up with something totally different from the obvious answer.

Looking at Autumn Again and Adjusting Makeup

Sometimes determining your colors can feel like going around in circles. I’m really no closer to figuring out my colors than I was when I started this blog. After playing some more with the fan, I think Bright Spring results in some graying. Bright lipsticks jump off my lips like translucent candy in photographs. I think that I need some clarity and brightness, but not as much as a Bright Spring, at least.

For fun, I took the Truth Is Beauty Seasonal Analysis Quiz today, and my results were surprising. Using the knowledge I’ve gained over the past couples of weeks, I end up with three possible results, depending on the things I’m not sure of:

1. If I consider black to be overwhelming (I think sometimes it overwhelms me in photographs because the white balance gets thrown off on my phone camera, but in real life I think it’s not the worst, but it makes my eyes gray): True Autumn.
2. If I think black is good, and that pumpkin is also a good color on me (I have just never tried this color): Dark Autumn.
3. If I do not think pumpkin is good, but black is: Dark Winter.

I actually wrote about looking Spring but potentially being Autumn, True Autumn in particular, way back in July. While I feel I’m in the same spot now (see what I mean about circling?), I do think I have some more knowledge at my disposal. I know some important things about myself. These things include being high contrast as far as natural blondes go and looking awesome in bronzer. Christine Scaman talks a lot about how key bronzing is to the autumn face in this blog post. I know for a fact that my most important step, even more so than foundation (okay, well, covering undereye circles too, but that’s part of my highlighting routine anyway) is highlighting and contouring/bronzing. It really defies all logic. I have the kind of skin that’s so pale I can’t even buy foundation at MAC. You know, the kind of person for whom beauty experts say bronzer will look just look like dirt on their skin. But me? Nope, I wear bronzer, and not even the peachy kind, and all I hear is how nice and healthy and glowing my skin looks.

One of the things that has turned me away from Autumns in the past is the brownish lipstick and blush looking like dirt on me. But a couple of months ago, Cate Linden, herself a very pale Dark Autumn, posted about her own DA makeup struggles. It has made me realize that makeup recommendations are definitely not one size fits all. As a non-typical DA (pink overtones, very pale skin), she has had some trouble figuring out the makeup angle. While we would have separate issues–I would say my overtone isn’t particularly pink, but it is very porcelain and clear as hers is–it seems that whatever season I do end up in, unless it’s one where I would basically fit the stereotype, which would be Light Summer, I am going to most likely have to deviate from the standard makeup to fit my own extreme coloring.

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Source

While we most often associate Dark Autumn with dark makeup looks with very dark, reddish-brown lip colors, there are other colors on the palette that seem like they would work as lipsticks that are not as dark, and clearer and not as brown. On a Dark Autumn who is as dark as the stereotype, these colors might be too light to work as lip colors. On someone whose starting point is much lighter, however, it may create the right contrast level with the rest of the face.

I am not saying I am Dark Autumn, of course. This is just how I would approach makeup if I did turn out to be one. (Look at how gorgeous the DA colors are! I would LOVE to be one.) Just like you address contrast level in your Kibbe according to your season (e.g., an SSu FG doing high contrast in the context of the low-contrast SSu palette), perhaps we also have to expect makeup to look normal on our face according to the coloring we have on our face already, while staying in harmony with our season’s palette overall.

Belle Northrup, “Art and Fashion in Clothing Selection”: Part Three

This post concludes my series on Belle Northrup’s article. The other two posts can be found here. One thing I would like to mention is that I have included all of the information and examples in Northrup’s article in these posts. There are no examples left out.

This post will deal with what is probably most interesting to all of you: yin and yang in women. Before we begin, however, I need to make an important point. For some reason, there is the misconception in the color and style community that Belle Northrup created the types that we are familiar with (Classic, Natural, Gamine, etc.) and McJimsey simply wrote them down. The only reference I have found for Northrup and something vaguely resembling these types is found here–see “Athletic Girl in Subdued Colors.”

With that out of the way, let’s move on to what Northrup did talk about. Northrup’s reason for talking about yin and yang in nature, architecture, art, and music is “to set up a clear and meaningful personality scale so that we may learn more easily to appraise ourselves and others.” We are to set up a personality scale with yin gentleness at one end, and yang strength on the other.

The women she uses for her examples of yin are Janet Gaynor, Joan Bennett, Lillian Gish, Mary Pickford, Helen Chandler, and Anne Morrow Lindbergh.


(Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

The women she uses for her examples of yang are Greta Garbo, Alla Nazimova, Katharine Cornell, Helen Wills Moody, Kay Francis, and Jane Addams.


(Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

From the theater, we have the characters of Electra, Cleopatra, and Lady Macbeth (no mention of whether they are yin or yang; I am going to guess that Electra is yin and Cleopatra and Lady Macbeth are yang, but I welcome other ideas in the comments); yin Mignon and Mimi; and Yang Aida and Brunhilde.

Northrup says we can also associate yin and yang women with flowers, trees, or buildings. Some yin women are birch trees, trim and delicate. Some yin children are gentle and flowerlike, and thus reminiscent of sweet peas or Queen Anne’s lace. In contrast, there are yang girls and women who remind us of the pine and the oak, and calla lilies rather than lily of the valley. They are the march and not the minuet; they are the cathedral and not the cottage.

Janet Gaynor and Greta Garbo are the two Northrup uses to epitomize the opposition of extreme yin and extreme yang. Some individuals on the list earlier may be less yin or yang, but extremes nonetheless. She says that this suggests that we can use this scale as a gauge, from Gaynor to Garbo.

Yin qualities are gentleness, delicacy, demureness, lightness, grace, piquancy, naiveté, and youth. Yang qualities are strength, force, dignity, power, serenity, vigor, sophistication, and maturity.

YIN
Physique: short, slight, graceful
Coloring: fair, light hair
Head: delicately poised
Features: small, rounded
Facial Expression: gentle, winsome
Voice: soft, light, mild
Walk: tripping, easy

YANG
Physique: tall, strong, erect
Coloring: dark hair, eyes
Head: well set on steady shoulders
Facial Expression: direct, forceful
Voice: deep, clear
Walk: strong, firm

Northrup adds that both yin and yang traits will always be seen as positives for these purposes. Yin is not weakness, frailty, and subjection, but instead gentleness, mildness, and delicacy. Yang is not aggressiveness, crudeness, or overbearing mannishness, but instead strength, poise, and dignity.

Extremely yang people are tall, dark, and strongly built. Their voices are deep, their features are forceful and well molded but not small, and their eyes are direct. Extremely yin people are short, light, and fair, with small features and soft voices. There is an ease and a lightness in their body movements.


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By establishing these opposites of what Northrup calls “personality-expression,” we can set up a scale to be used to interpret and understand not only extremes like Garbo and Gaynor, but the larger majority of people who fall somewhere along this scale.

Like in art and music, each woman has an intermingling of yin and yang. The subtlety of this intermingling makes each woman a “fascinating, individual study.” Northrup does not want to make women into yin/yang “types,” but “to see clearly their possibilities and limitations of personality-appearance with a view to dressing them accordingly.”

To understand the yin/yang balance of an individual, we should observe the person as a whole. We learn that ”

…each of her individual traits depends upon the others and forms the sum total of her personality. We will not then rate this person as a “type” because she has blonde hair or is tall and willowy–partial and inadequate judgements–but we will form a picture of her in her completeness. No one part will be overemphasized, and a fairer, broader basis for dress selection will be established.

Northrup says that during this process, you will often find hidden, attractive qualities in both personality and appearance in a person that you will want to emphasize. Using yin and yang, we can get an insight into someone’s “essential and interesting” personality. Once we have learned to appraise and “see” an individual or ourselves, the answers to problems of dress become clear.

Once you know what you are aiming for, what you want to express in a person’s appearance, selecting or designing clothes becomes even more interesting and significant.

That is how she ends the paper, and unfortunately, it seems to be where our access to her theory and methods ends as well. This paper was supposed to be a chapter of a longer book, which I assume would have gone into depth about both how to evaluate a person’s personality-appearance, and how to design for it. From what I can find, this book never materialized. This article has Northrup telling us what 1939 fashions would be suitable for yin and yang types.

I hope that you have found these interesting and helpful. If you have any information or sources that I haven’t covered here, please let me know.

Bright Spring Blonde

I finally received my Bright Spring fan, and while I haven’t really been able to go out and do a thorough try-on session in Bright Spring colors, what I have done so far seems promising. A t-shirt here, a few lipsticks there. So far, it seems to work pretty well. I know I said in a previous post that I felt like I couldn’t relate to other Bright Springs, but what I have discovered since is that there tends to be a lot of variation among Brights. Brights are tricky. They seem to usually look like something else. Tina covers this well in her post. I think I could very well be the second type she describes:

2) Those who really wear the darker colors quite well and have to use the lightest and darkest colors in combination to get the contrast they need (especially common in dark haired/dark skinned or dark haired/light complexioned Bright Springs.) Neon and almost neon colors on them are beautiful. They cannot go too bright.

Of course, I am blonde, but whatever. This is what seems to work on me. It could be a line influence, since FG is so high contrast.

I am still open to any type except Light Spring, since I saw how terrible it is. Getting every fan makes no sense, so I won’t have a definite answer until I get draped. But for now, I am going to play around in the Bright Spring color space and see what happens.

Belle Northrup, “Art and Personality in Clothing Selection”: Part Two

Today, I will finally continue my series documenting the information in Belle Northrup’s 1936 article, “Art and Personality in Clothing Selection.”

Last post, I talked about how she saw yin and yang generally, and the examples she gave of yin and yang in nature. This time, I will share her examples of yin and yang in architecture, art, period dress, and music.

Pagodas, the “cusped arches of Moorish doorways,” the decorative walls and balustrades of the Alhambra, and the Taj Mahal’s marble carvings and delicate mosaics are all yin. So are “prim little green-shuttered cottages of New England.”


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

Early Doric temples, the “massive columns of the Great Hall at Karnak in Egypt,” the masonry arches of Romanesque or Norman buildings, and the “white-pillared Georgian mansions of the [US] South” are all yang. Grain elevators of the prairies and modern industrial buildings lacking ornamentation are also yang.


(Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

Gothic cathedrals combine both yin and yang. Their “towering structure and vaulted heights” represent their yang, and their “slender pinnacles and lacelike carving” are yin.

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In art, Botticelli’s fragile figures, da Vinci’s subtle and tender faces, and Marie Laurencin’s pale, child-like women are all yin. The use of color gives a general impression of gentleness and delicacy.


(Sources: 1, 2, 3)

Tintoretto, Rubens, Hals, and many modern artists use pigment in a very yang way.


(Sources: 1, 2, 3)

Painting in the Sung period blended yin with yang.

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In early Greek sculpture, we see them in contrast to one another. An Ancient Greek dancer in bas relief is yin. “Juno, Hera of Samoa” is yang. Stone as a medium is essentially yang.


(Sources: 1, 2)

Egyptian queens and medieval women wore yang costumes, regal and dignified. The portals of Chartres have carved kings and queens of Judah in austere yang forms. Smaller carvings, such as this 14th-century “Virgin,” show this dignified costume in a yin way. The statue of Nefertiti is dressed in a yang way.


(Sources: 1, 2, 3)

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Medieval women’s soft veils were yin in color texture, and so were Renaissance women’s hairstyles and the embroidered necklines of the late Renaissance. Yin began to predominate in the 19th century. Fichus, lace, ribbons, ruffled sleeves, bonnets, and “the short, full skirts of Marie Antoinette’s time gave to women more piquancy and delicacy than was possible in the days of Charlemagne.”


(Sources: 1, 2, 3)

Puritan dress was yang. Loyalists dressed in a yin way akin to the fashions in England and France.


(Sources: 1, 2)

In music, Debussy’s delicate strangeness is yin (listen) and the mighty sweep of a Beethoven movement is yang (listen). Chopin, Grieg, and MacDowell are yin, and Bach, Brahms, and Wagner are yang.

Graceful yachts are yin. Sturdy tugboats are yang. The Sheraton settee is yin, while the low-slung sofas of Northrup’s period are yang.


(Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4)

Next, I will cover yin and yang in women, featuring 1930s celebrity examples.