June 2015 archive

Dark Autumn Blonde, Part Five: Dealing with Naysayers

One thing I try never to do is question someone else’s season or type designation unless it appears that something is really off, or they think they’re testing a certain type but it’s really another. Almost everyone in our little style and color community abides by this rule. This journey is a personal one, and even if people are in the wrong type or season, they usually discover it on their own eventually, and the information they get by discovering this themselves is usually very valuable.

But there is a certain clique that seems hell bent on questioning everyone’s seasonal designations and telling other people how wrong they are. Even if someone has been draped and has been living in a season successfully and happily, still they will consistently bring up their own point of view on someone’s season, a point of view they arrived at solely from snapshots and from arbitrary rules from a non-Sci\ART system. The trained analyst in another system was totally wrong, and the only true way is their own.

I had an experience with this over the weekend, and it really stuck in my craw. I dared to post a quick, taken-during-a-thunderstorm-on-my-iPhone snapshot of me in this lipstick for comparison purposes. On me, this lipstick does not look like a “warm, rusty brown” at all. It turns into a medium-deep red with some rose tones to it. It is my favorite red. Actual reds look clownish on me. Another person had posted a picture of themselves in this same lipstick, and on them it looked straight-up dark brown, so I just thought it was interesting that the same lipstick could look so different on different people.

But since the other person was a member of this clique, it brought out of the woodwork what can only be described as trolls. And all of these trolls felt the need to tell me that, although I was not seeking feedback on my season, that the fact that I turn dark lipsticks with brown in them less brown and lighter that I must be a summer.

I am sure that any actual summer who is reading this clicked on the link above and imagined themselves wearing that lipstick and shuddered.

Anyway, what we struck me is the sheer rudeness of it all. It takes a lot of nerve and a lot of, well, jerkiness to think that you can definitively contradict a stranger’s seasonal designation from a hastily snapped iPhone shot in poor lighting, and that arbitrary rules like “Dark Autumn lipsticks should be applied with at least three passes of the bullet” are real things that should apply to everyone in a season.

I understand that in systems in which Dark Autumn=dark person, I wouldn’t be a DA. I am a Dark Autumn in the way I understand the season, which is that the colors and makeup just seem to work for me and work better than all the other seasons I’ve tried. And it’s faintly ridiculous to tell someone who can wear a dark lipstick like Emotional and not look like they just walked out of a Hot Topic that they must be a summer because this dark lipstick looks too LIGHT on them. Yes, that’s just what I need, lighter makeup so it can look chalky or clownish on me.

Anyway, I fully believe that this journey is a deeply personal one, and that’s why this is the one behavior I can’t tolerate. Even though I understand that the leaps these people were making were not only in a different system, but illogical, it still planted that little seed of doubt in my mind. And that’s just annoying.

So yeah, this is one of those behaviors that will cause me to ban someone from a group or get into fights in the comments or ban someone from commenting on this blog. Unless someone asks for help, let them get there on their own.

Workbook Preview

I thought I’d share a little more about the format of the workbook, which I currently have available for pre-order and hope to have out by the end of the summer/early fall. Remember that if you order the workbook by August 1st, you’ll get a free trial of The Subscription Service, so if you have been curious about that, it’s a good opportunity to test it out and get a useful tool in addition to that.

What makes the workbook different from other similar publications? It is specifically designed for people who already know their type and season and have an idea of what works for them, but need to take the next step in putting together a truly cohesive and original personal style.

The workbook will explain and have exercises for many different aspects of creating a personal style, including:

  • combining type and season
  • self-expression
  • wardrobe planning
  • dressing for various occasions
  • capsule wardrobes and essential pieces
  • accessorizing

    Another important element of the workbook is that purchase of the workbook includes membership in a group only for people who have purchased either the workbook or one of my services. Obviously, I’ll be in the group all the time, answering questions anyone might have. And you’ll also be able to share your process with and get feedback from other people who are doing the same thing.

    If you follow me on Facebook, you may have already seen this, but here’s a partial screenshot of one of my examples for an exercise.


    The workbook, for me, is really what Style Syntax is all about. You have the syntax already with your type and season; this workbook will help you develop the style part. And in addition, you’ll have created a practical guide for yourself that you can use when clothes shopping or when putting together an outfit.

    So anyway, I hope this post has helped you to understand what the workbook will contain. Also, don’t forget that a pre-order from now until August 1st will include a free month of The Subscription Service–if you order by July 7th, you’ll get it in July, and later than that you will get it in August.

  • Why I’m NOT a “Curvy FG”

    70th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals

    Sometimes I consider deleting old blog posts that no longer represent how I see Kibbe’s system. I try and go through my posts every few months and add notes to posts that I feel represent an idea that I’ve “archived,” so to speak, and that no longer factor into how I see Kibbe’s system. But I keep on seeing these posts referenced in other places regardless, and I feel like I’m confusing people, despite my clear note explaining that I no longer agree with what I wrote.

    One of the major ideas that falls into this category are the ideas of a “curvy FG” and “g-leaning” and “f/n-leaning” FGs. Seeing these terms now make me twitch. I’ve come to realize that I am not a curvy FG. I am simply an FG.

    Part of this confusion is, of course, due to the idea that Kibbe has gotten rid of the middle types. Gamines and Flamboyant Gamines have different body shapes. Gamines are narrow and straight in addition to being angular, sharp, etc. and Flamboyant Gamines are broadly angular. “Broad” is the key word here, because it’s the major idea that gets lost.

    The broadness is what makes the Flamboyant Gamine recommendations possible. If you want to hang a boxy top off your shoulders, you need broad shoulders to do it. All of the things that define Flamboyant Gamine as a separate type require a more significant bone structure than G has to pull them off.

    So I’m not a “curvy FG” at all. I’m a regular old FG, no special changes necessary. I’m fleshier, because I’m a little overweight, not because I’m “curvy.” “Broadly angular” is how I would define the overall theme of my body shape. I have broad shoulders and wide, flat hips with angles in between. The Flamboyant Gamine recommendations as written respect this.

    The issue arose when Gamines who are a little more yang were folded into FG. This does both groups a disservice. Suddenly the overall picture of the FG body shape gets a lot more narrow. Those of us who have the bone structure as described in the book somehow become the outliers.

    I don’t think that FGs should be split into “N-leaning” (broader) and “G-leaning” (narrower, aka Gs). This is just a workaround for a supposed change that actually over-complicates Kibbe’s system. When I say “I’m an FG,” it should be understood that my wardrobe is built around the Flamboyant Gamine recommendations. Yes, Kibbe says you should also read the chapters for Dramatic and Gamine, and that Gamine is more important for the overall picture. At thinner weights, I think FGs can pull some things from Gamine. When I was very thin, I even sometimes dipped into SG (although of course at that time I had no idea SG existed). If you are broad enough to carry off FG, you are not going to need Gamine to make FG work for you; it may just be a possibility to expand your wardrobe possibilities, and one you may not always have at all times in your life.

    Where I would use “leaning” is for Gamines themselves. I do see that there is variation in facial features that shows that the balance between yin and yang is not 50/50. But these Gamines should still base their wardrobes on the Gamine lines. Where they can pull from FG or SG is in things like pattern, jewelry, and even, in a way, “essence.” A Gamine that leans yang can easily pull off the mod and punk looks often associated with FG. And a yin-leaning Gamine might have even more of the “sweetness” and ingenue qualities ascribed to, sometimes mistakenly, to SG. Think Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby.


    Unlike FG’s ability to steal from Gamine, this is something I don’t think would change over the course of your lifetime with weight gain and body changes. In my observations, it is mainly derived from facial features.

    So, in closing, I’d like to retract the entire idea of “curvy FG” and the idea of there being two kinds of FGs. When I say “Flamboyant Gamine,” I am referring to the Flamboyant Gamine described in the book, one that is not mixed up with Gamine. I consider myself to fit in this group with no exceptions needed. If Flamboyant Gamine had been presented this way to me to begin with, I would not have wasted months in Soft Gamine and Soft Natural because I felt I wasn’t skinny and lanky enough for FG. In the end, isn’t simplicity and clarity in a system like this what we need?

    Dark Autumn Blonde, Part Four: DIYing a Zyla Palette

    My views on color analysis have changed drastically over the past few months. I used to believe strongly that Sci\ART and Sci\ART-based systems were the absolute Truth when it comes to color analysis. Stuff based on energy or body colors, or even the 16-season system, rang false to me. I believed that the absolute best results possible could only be found in the accomplished hands of a trained Sci\ART analyst. I believed that anyone who did not go this route was doing themselves a disservice, that they would never unlock their true beauty.

    But after spending a lot of time in the online color and style community, I’ve learned that Sci\ART is just one way of looking at it. Some people don’t like the look that the Sci\ART result gives. Some strongly prefer their Zyla or Beauty Valued or 16-color result, and their Sci\ART palette sits and gathers dust. Some get a draping result they don’t like or don’t agree with, and spend hundreds more dollars getting redraped or getting custom palettes in other systems.

    As someone who hasn’t been draped, I’ve come to a place where I feel like getting draped isn’t something I need. I was reading a blog post by Light Marigold Spring today. This blogger has been draped in Sci\ART/12 Blueprints twice, has a Beauty Valued fan, had a Zyla consult, and has some other fans. Anyway, she made the point that it comes down to personal preference, and in the end, you just choose which approach and which result you like best. No one way of looking at coloring is more right than the other. No system is “more correct” than all the others.

    My approach to my own colors has been haphazard at best, and would probably make a professional color analyst shudder. I’ve simply deduced, from trial and error, that some colors are really, really bad for me. Too light and bright I turn red. White makes me puffy and gives me a fuzzy beard. I need some darkness. These factors have led me to Dark Autumn.

    Would I be draped Dark Autumn? Maybe, maybe not. But the very worst thing that happens to my skin in Dark Autumn is that the line between my chin and my neck fades a little, and if that’s the worst thing that happens to you in a season, you’re not doing too badly. I can look at my fan and pick out my body colors. It connects with me energetically–maybe Dressing Your Truth is on to something with colors and energy, rather than draping. I love the colors and feel like myself in them.

    Another advantage to using a palette like this is that the colors all work together. So I can create a wardrobe where everything matches, and I don’t have to think about it. That was what kept me in black for the past ten years or so: I found color selection intimidating. Now I just look for the slightly burnt, rich, and slightly warm colors of Dark Autumn, and everything looks good together.

    In the interest of minimalism, I got to thinking about capsule wardrobes and color. Zyla is a system where you get a series of colors to use in certain ways in order to achieve different aesthetic goals. I decided to take my Dark Autumn palette and use it to create a Zyla palette. As I mentioned, my body colors are found on the Dark Autumn palette, so pulling the correct colors was pretty easy. Of course, Zyla could potentially give me something totally different if I ever do see him. But I think this is a pretty good approximation. (I didn’t do metals or pastels because I don’t know how to choose them, and I feel like pastels are something I wouldn’t be able to use much anyway.)


    The colors are not true to fan, obviously, but here is the list of what I used from the Classic True Colour International fan:
    Essence: 1.1 FN
    Romantic: 6.2 A
    Dramatic: 4.9 A
    Energy: 3.8 A
    Tranquil: 2.5 A
    1st Base: 5.10 FN
    2nd Base: 3.5 FN
    3rd Base: 2.3 A

    Some of these colors, like my Energy color, are ones that I know are special on me. My Romantic is a great lipstick/blush color on me. I love the 2nd Base. And I managed to get these colors by following Zyla’s instructions, no cheating to get my favorites on there. (Although I think in my Dramatic “extension” I’ll give myself one of the purples!)

    To me, my Dark Autumn palette is simply a way to make my life easier. I’m not seeking my absolute true beauty. Simply put, they seem to work and I like them, and that’s good enough for me.

    The Workbook

    As I’ve said on my Services page, I’m currently working on a workbook. This is a workbook aimed at people who already know their Kibbe type and season, or whatever system of combination of systems they want to use. The goal of the workbook is to help people take what they know about what works for them, and translate it into a personal style that works with their real life.

    To me, this is the most important and most challenging part of any style system. Figuring out your type or getting typed by someone else is really only the first step. The real work begins when it’s time to take all these recommendations and you have to figure out how to put them together in a way that still expresses your individuality and personal taste. Kibbe briefly details how he’d help Shirley MacLaine do this, but this key section of the book is woefully short in comparison to how difficult and important this work is.

    With the workbook, I hope to fill this gap. It’s the same kind of work I do in The Complete Closet, but the DIY version. It takes you through creating an entire picture composed of a synthesis between your lines and your colors, figuring out what you actually need to wear on a regular basis and how to come up with outfits for different occasions, through putting a wardrobe together that expresses who you are.

    The price of the workbook also includes membership in a private Facebook group for people who either bought the workbook or have signed up for one of the services. (The group will open when the workbook is released.) You’ll be able to work through the workbook with others who are also doing it, and I’ll be there to answer questions and dispense advice.

    The Style Syntax Customization Workbook is now available for pre-order for $10. Until August 1st, anyone who signs up for either of the services will also receive the workbook for free when it is released. If you purchase the workbook before August 1st and later purchase one of the services, the price of the workbook will be refunded.

    Dark Autumn Blonde, Part Three

    Yesterday I received the first edition of Grace Morton’s The Arts of Costume and Personal Appearance in the mail. The second edition from 1955 is available online, complete and completely free thanks to Cornell University. The one I have is slightly different; for instance, in the clothing personality chapter, Morton uses “masculine” and “feminine,” and the revised, posthumous 1955 edition uses “yin” and “yang.” Regardless of which edition you read, it’s a book filled with dense information about everything we care about: style, line, movement, color… It’s definitely a book I recommend either downloading from the Cornell site or picking up cheaply on Amazon. A lot of it is antiquated, such as the section on how your personal appearance should make you “marriageable,” and the fact that there is no information on coloring for women of color. The information it does have, however, is incredibly helpful, and echoes of her work can be found in everyone who came after her.

    (This book also solidified my view that McJimsey is the one who came up with the “types” as such. There are a few more books from this era I want to obtain, but so far, I haven’t really found anything that predates her that uses Dramatic, Classic, Romantic, etc.)

    A lot of the masculine/feminine (yin/yang) stuff basically repeats what we already know from Northrup. I haven’t had a chance to read the whole thing, since, as I said above, the material in this book is pretty dense, but from what I have read, what has interested me the most is the information about color. She groups people by hair color, and then hair color subgroups.

    Obviously what interested me most is the section that applies to me, the blondes. She says that the best colors for blondes are blue-greens and violets, of both the red-violet and blue-violet variety. I find this true, for the most part–these are easy colors for me to wear, the ones I can steal from most palettes.

    But I also found some kind of recognition for the thing that confuses me the most about my coloring:


    This is the first thing I’ve found that says that some blondes do better in medium-to-dark value colors. Conventional wisdom gives blondes light pink lipsticks and puts them in light blue dresses. Getting the Light Spring palette was life-changing moment for me; the sheer terribleness of the colors on me turned everything I had always been told about color in relation to myself on its head. I’d never seen myself look so red and unhealthy. It took me a long time to figure out what was missing. It turned out to be darkness.

    Darkness, for me, is magical. Even colors on the Dark Autumn palette that fall on the brighter side of things are hard for me to wear. I love Dark Autumn yellow, but if I wear it by itself, I lose some jawline definition. When I put on a lipstick described as “warm, rusty brown,” it loses all brown and looks like a nice, rosy pinkish-red. I used to gravitate toward spring colors in makeup. Now I understand why I’d look at myself in the mirror and wipe off my lipstick before I left the house. I didn’t even wear lipstick on a regular basis before this year because I had no idea what colors worked for me.

    I’m a blonde, but I happen to need darkness to come alive–which is something the color world has seemed to kind of forgotten since 1942. Certainly beauty magazines and makeup companies have. It’s always nice to get a little confirmation about what you see in the mirror and in yourself.

    Understanding the Dramatic Essence

    I’ve completed the first article in my Kibbe series: Dramatic Essence. For the essence portion of my series, I’m looking at the celebrities Kibbe gave for each type in the book, the roles they played, and/or their public image to come to an understanding of the variety found in each type, essence-wise, and the general underlying theme(s). I then supplement this with information supplied by readers in their answers to my Essence and Body Survey (I am still accepting surveys, even for Dramatic–if there’s something new, I can always edit my article).

    I know that one of the issues for many people is that they’re just not familiar with the celebrity examples. Not everyone is like me–I wrote my sixth-grade research report on “The Golden Age of Hollywood” and TCM is one of my favorite channels. I probably know more about stars of the past than stars of the present. Since image today is not quite as manufactured as it was when the Studio System was the law of the land. This “image creation” is the basis for the whole Kibbe system, and I find the old stars more useful than their modern equivalents, who most of the time dress in a way that is completely counter to how Kibbe or Zyla would style them. My hope is that these essence articles will help people who have no idea who these people are to understand what Kibbe is trying to communicate with his list of celebrity examples.

    Also, tomorrow is the last day to sign up for The Subscription Service for the month of June. If you sign up on Monday, your subscription will start in July. And, of course, like my Facebook page if you haven’t already (and you want to).

    More on The Subscription Service

    If you would like to start your subscription to The Subscription Service this month, you must sign up by June 7th. If you sign up after the 7th, your subscription will start in July. Also, if you sign up before August 1st, you will receive the workbook for free when it is released.

    I thought I’d explain each of the services I’m offering in a little more depth. This way, if you choose to sign up for either of them, you’ll understand exactly what you’re getting.

    Today I’m going to discuss The Subscription Service. As I said on the Services page, The Subscription Service includes three items a month picked out especially for you for six months. When you sign up, I have you fill out a service including questions on Kibbe type, season, lifestyle, budget, etc. Everything that I pick out will be things that you can realistically purchase at that moment.

    Every month on the 7th, I will send out an email to all subscribers asking what they want me to find for them. If you need a warm winter coat, I’ll find three options for you. If you need shoes to go with a certain dress, you can send me a picture of the dress and I’ll find the best options I can. If you want a dress, coat, and shoes, I’ll find one of each.

    Since I use Hue & Stripe for this service, I’m able to offer a lot more functionality than I would if I were sending these out by email or if I used Polyvore or Pinterest. Your closet is completely private, and you will be able to comment on the items to let me know what you like or don’t like. You can add photographs or links to items you already own or like to help me understand your personal style. And, of course, Hue & Stripe’s own system for searching for clothes makes it easier for me to find things that fit your budget, recommendations, and season.

    If you have any questions, you can comment or email me at hello@stylesyntax.com.

    Services Now Available

    I have finally officially launched my style consultation services. You can read all about them here. Currently, I’m offering two kinds of services: one is a subscription service, where I send three items a month to your Hue & Stripe closet, and the other is a full, one-on-one consultation where I find a lot of different clothing items and help you create a truly individual personal style using the information you already have, like type and season. Knowing what flatters you is just the beginning. The hard part is taking that and creating an image that is uniquely your own.

    In addition to these services, I’m currently writing a workbook that will help you to DIY this process. The workbook will also be sent to anyone who orders either of the services I mentioned above, and will include membership in a private Facebook group focusing on creating a personal style while using tools like Kibbe. (Anyone who purchases one of the services will also be invited to the group.)

    I’ve also rearranged the menu a bit. I’ve gotten rid of some menu items and added new ones, like “Start Here,” which contains what I consider to be my important posts. If the new way is more confusing, let me know.

    I’d also like to thank everyone who volunteered to be a beta tester and everyone who has answered my questions on Facebook about certain types and what they can wear. Also, if you’d like, you can like my page on Facebook, and I am still accepting Essence and Body Survey responses.