As I prepare to begin my thorough exploration and explanation of Kibbe types, I’ve made a decision that deviates from the current common way of looking at the types. That decision is to include C, G, and N as separate types.
Apparently, Kibbe has told people who have gone to see him in the past couple of years that he no longer gives people these designations. He still tells some people to use the recommendations, but will give them a designation depending on how slightly more yin or yang they are. The typing services that used Kibbe as their starting point, Best Dressed and Guiding Lines, have followed suit, with Guiding Lines keeping Natural and Best Dressed splitting each base type into yin and yang variants.
For a long time, I felt that whatever Kibbe is currently doing is what we should follow. I never used the middle types when giving someone my opinion about their type. But more and more, I saw that doing so was doing people a disservice. Some truly suit the middle types better than going to either the yang or yin version of the base type.
What it does is split types that have a middle type down the middle. In the Facebook group for Flamboyant Gamines, this obvious. There is a distinct group who suit the Flamboyant Gamine recommendations the best, and there is a distinct group that does better with the regular Gamine recommendations. I wrote about this here. This can cause confusion. In fact, I think I would have gotten to Flamboyant Gamine much faster if Flamboyant Gamine didn’t always seem to be mixed with Gamine. I can’t wear Gamine clothes at all, although I could at lower weights. Many aspects of the Flamboyant Gamine recommendations are actually rarely reflected on Pinterest. Plunging necklines and chunky knits are rejected in favor of cute little mod dresses with cute little pointy collars.
It not only does people a disservice to tell them to go either more yin or more yang when they clearly suit the middle type best, it also does a disservice to people who are trying to understand Flamboyant Gamine or Soft Classic to mix them up with Gamine and Classic.
That is not to say that I don’t think people who are Gamine should shy away from certain aspects of the Flamboyant Gamine or Soft Gamine recommendations, and ignore the fact that their yin/yang balance might tip them a little one way or the other. Far from it. But I also think that it’s more useful to identify these types as separate types, since the basis for the recommendations is different and you can see the differences in body shape and facial features.
The way I see it, we can see the transition from the yin version to the yang version of a type as a continuum. The distinctions aren’t hard and fast; they flow into one another. And where you are on this continuum may change with body changes like weight gain, as I mentioned above, or pregnancy. Your type, however, will not fundamentally change. You should understand both your own type and the other type(s) that fall under the umbrella term (Romantic, Classic, etc.) and understand whether you can pull from them or not. But I think it’s better to understand the middle/base types as distinct types on their own, rather than lumping in with the very yang or very yin version.
I don’t know as much about the Classic/Gamine/Natural types on their own, which is another problem with getting rid of them altogether. My hope is that by including them in my Kibbe type study, I will increase both my own and others’ understanding of what makes these types distinct.
P.S.: I am still accepting Essence and Body Survey responses! Also, I have a new Facebook page where I will post both links to new articles and random style and color thoughts.
MollyMay 29, 2015 at 2:54 am
I’m glad you are doing this. I think I am one of those middle types and can’t quite find my place in the new 10 category systems. I was thinking that it was done to make the systems more symmetrical and simple, which has some advantages. But people are so complex.Reply
stylesyntaxMay 29, 2015 at 4:44 pm
I don’t think it makes it more symmetrical, actually. It is that way in Rachel’s system, but in Kibbe, I think it’s already symmetrical. The types that have bases that aren’t either pure yin or pure yang are the ones that have middle types.
MollyMay 29, 2015 at 5:27 pm
Of course I understand what you mean about Kibbe – but I still think that it doesn’t lay out all that neatly. Rachel has some nice, organized graphs and diagrams and it would be hard with 13 types. Thirteen is sort of an awkward number and anyone marketing a system has some motivation to make it clean. I actually have a big problem because I thought so much of Kibbe’s advice regarding N and C is so spot on (I don’t know much about G.) In the new system, for example, Grace Kelly is an SC. Had she followed SC advice I don’t think that she would be the icon she is today – SC clothing would have appeared fussy on her.
stylesyntaxMay 29, 2015 at 6:53 pm
I’ve only seen her graph for the quiz, where she has the numerical values. http://www.bestdressed.us/blog/2014/03/28/what-is-an-image-archetype And you can see two holes in it where C/G and N should be.
I agree about Grace Kelly. Kibbe was insistent to whomever he was talking that Grace Kelly should have always been an SC… but her jawline is so yang!
The part that does bother me about Kibbe’s system is that there’s no base that is Moderate Yin, like N is moderate yang. Is it Ingenue? Who knows.
CoryMay 29, 2015 at 6:47 am
It makes perfect sense to me that each type group would have its own spectrum, but then I don’t think I get why some types just have a yin and a yang version without a base type.
Would you say that in the Kibbe (or Kibbe-inspired) systems, there are general rules for the types, and more specific guidelines that are specific to the subtypes?Reply
stylesyntaxMay 29, 2015 at 4:43 pm
Romantic and Dramatic don’t have yin and yang subtypes because they are pure yin and pure yang. Natural is actually Dramatic’s yang softened and blunted by a bit of yin, and Gamine and Classic both have equal yin and yang. You can’t have a Soft Romantic because Romantic is already maximum yin.
I think the subtypes take the base to an extreme. They’re all equally specific; the middle type is just a middle ground.
ChiaraMay 29, 2015 at 10:32 am
I completely agree with keeping N, C and G. First, because they really work for some people the best, and second because they actually help you understand what it means to move in a more yin or more yang direction…once you understand that, as a continuum, I think you can see how you can move more yin or more yang within your own ‘style space’.Reply
stylesyntaxMay 29, 2015 at 5:06 pm
Yes, I think understanding the base type is key whether you can wear it or not.
nouveauMay 29, 2015 at 1:44 pm
I never discarded the N, C and G when Kibbe did. I’m Soft Natural – at the taller, leaner end of SN. It’s helpful for me to think of myself as being SN leaning toward N – and incorporating a couple of the N guidelines that fit me better than the corresponding SN guidelines do.
However, if I discount the existence of N, it’s not accurate or helpful to think of myself as SN leaning toward Flamboyant Natural. FN is too far from those N features that I borrow. So without N, SN becomes less of a good fit for me.
N is an important part of the Natural continuum. And for Natural to be a continuum, the middle N ground between FN and SN does exist – regardless of whether it’s been officially removed. LOL
I imagine the same is true for G in the Gamine continuum, and C in the Classic continuum.Reply
stylesyntaxMay 29, 2015 at 4:36 pm
Among FGs, it wasn’t that G had ceased to exist completely. It was more that people who would have been given the designation of Gamine were now put into SG or FG depending on whether they were more yin or more yang. Then the FGs were split into “G-leaning FG” and “FGs-with-N/N-leaning FG,” which I didn’t like because FGs can’t do Natural recommendations. We are the FGs as described in the book and shouldn’t need a qualifier 🙂 So if you base your clothing on the Natural recommendations and just add some SN touches, I would put you in N. Generally, what I see is that the actual clothing recommendations from SN or FG don’t work on Ns or Gs, but they can take small things like jewelry or pattern. It makes more sense for me to say “Yin-Leaning N” or “SN-leaning N” than the other way around if Natural is where you’re actually taking your clothing recommendations.
Of course, to some it’s important to use what they think Kibbe would give them. So I don’t expect that we’ll see 100% acceptance of returning the middle types, since Kibbe supposedly doesn’t do it anymore.