Resistance: The Key to Unlocking Your Image ID?

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Every once in a while, I’ll get a comment on this blog from someone who is borderline irate because, for instance, at 5’10”, they are too tall for Theatrical Romantic. They will insist that these are the clothes that look best on them, and David Kibbe is wrong when he says that someone who is 5’5″ has too much yang for Theatrical Romantic.

A lot of this stems from fundamental misunderstandings of how the system itself works, of course, but another part of it lies in resistance to your Image ID. There is an entire chapter on this topic in Metamorphosis, and part of it has been transcribed here. (Missing are the parts relevant to gamines, unfortunately!) I believe that rather than the “Kibbe Quiz,” this chapter may be the best place to start if you are trying to find your Image ID.

The reason for this is that, barring body image issues that lead us to see ourselves not as we actually are, we know what we look like and what we are. We know what issues we have dealt with our entire lives in terms of self-image. I’ve always known that I wasn’t a curvy girl, that I was on the shorter side, that my facial features were unusual. The idea that I even considered Theatrical Romantic based on a self-assessment is thus patently ridiculous. The only thing that fit is being short. Likewise, I am generally a narrow person and there are no real wider parts on my body, so I shouldn’t have spent so long thinking that I may be a Soft Natural instead of a Flamboyant Gamine because I simply don’t have the bone structure to support the clothes.

Sometimes, this process isn’t pleasant. It can be very hard to hear that you are “too” something or “not enough” of something else. It brings up these exact feelings of inadequacy that are created by feeling like you are “too” something or “not enough” of something else. This is why we often see women who see themselves are more yin than they are or vice versa–as David says in the chapter, the grass is always greener. Never mind that the person who would be your opposite in terms of yin/yang balance is looking at you and feeling just as envious–these feelings are something we all go through.

The right Image ID will shift your thinking. You will recognize that everything you thought of as your faults are actually your strengths, and what makes you a unique beauty. You will look at the celebrities in the book and recognize yourself in them, and feel proud to have entered such a pantheon of beautiful women. Your type should never make you feel inadequate. You shouldn’t watch a movie with one of the celebrities and feel like you would need to change something about yourself. You should feel buoyed by the fact that there is a woman like you on screen, one who dealt with all of the same insecurities as you and turned them into her strengths.

So if you are confused about where you would fit, think about what you are insecure about. Turn them into “I love statements” (i.e..–“I hate my broad shoulders”>”I love my broad shoulders that provide a beautiful frame for clothes”) and see where that leads you.

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33 Comments on Resistance: The Key to Unlocking Your Image ID?

  1. Elizabeth
    October 25, 2017 at 4:52 pm

    Sometimes though things don’t seem to line up. I certainly have a more Yang body with very yin breasts- Soft Dramatic. Nope. My hips are far too Yang. Dramatic? Nope- my facial features are all too Yin and dainty. I’ve been told Flamboyant Natural, but everything is too floaty and again, small mouth, round eyes, rounded nose tip- all E on the quiz. There is now Julia Roberts to my smile. So many of us just give up. Or pay people in other systems… and are still dissatisfied! I’ve been told I have GAMINE features. I’m 5′ 8″

    Reply
    • stylesyntax
      October 25, 2017 at 4:57 pm

      Your problem is that you’re breaking up yourself into parts. You need to look at the whole. Don’t think, “This is E, this is A…” You will only confuse yourself.

      Shirley MacLaine is an FN with the kind of facial features you describe. Again, it’s the whole picture.

      Reply
      • Elizabeth
        October 25, 2017 at 5:23 pm

        Yes, and I think that’s why I’ve been told that.

        And maybe I just don’t like Flamboyant Natural.

        :-)

        But it isn’t because I’m resistant to my long legs, ect. I just get lost in the clothes. I’m usually more afraid of showing off my curves, because I’m afraid that people with think I’m a bimbo!

        Reply
        • stylesyntax
          October 25, 2017 at 5:26 pm

          I would explore these issues without thinking about a “type” and it will come together. It is definitely thinking in a compartmentalized way that will prevent you from seeing yourself as you are. (But it sounds like the Gamines are the ones you can definitely cross off, LOL.)

          Reply
    • Nouveau
      October 27, 2017 at 4:57 am

      Elizabeth, could you be the type of Soft Dramatic that Marlene Dietrich was?

      Reply
      • Elizabeth
        October 28, 2017 at 2:57 pm

        The problem with Soft Dramatic is that there is very little danger in my face. I mean, I think I can give a pretty good evil eye, but on the whole I have a friendly, but not broad face. Flamboyant Natural or Soft Natural are probably the best fits. I think I’m just somewhere nearer the middle.

        Reply
        • stylesyntax
          October 28, 2017 at 8:19 pm

          “Danger” isn’t something to look for–it comes from other stylists, not David. If you see more similarity with FN celebs, that’s one thing, but “looking dangerous” isn’t actually a determining factor.

          Reply
  2. Elizabeth
    October 25, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    *afraid people WILL think I’m a bimbo.

    (But I’m guessing that they are more likely to think that because I can’t type words properly!)

    Reply
  3. Doctor T
    October 25, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    I found your blog earlier this summer when I happened to hear about Kibbe on a random YouTube video. I took the Kibbe quiz and came up very much SC, and my first thought was, “Wow, I’m so boring!” After a while, though, I sort of started to appreciate the soft details applied to classic styles. I never really started “living” SC though, because I’ve been losing quite a bit of weight the past few months, and I sort of want to settle both in my weight and on a style type and season before I buy a lot of new things.

    Anyway, I’ve been very interested in learning more, and have been reading through much of your blog, as well as a lot of the other sites you have recommended here. I really liked your process of settling on a Kibbe and Sci/Art season, then modifying it with recommendations from other systems. After several months of processing information (i’ll spare the long winding details) I’m sort of in a weird place with both my DIY Kibbe and Season. After spending more time studying the freely available writings of Kibbe, I’m realizing that I really don’t fit many of his SC physical descriptions at all, and that I’m almost a dead on descriptive match for DC instead. I’m sort of waffling, though, because I still look at components of my body as being very rounded, but I’m also wondering if that is because of my past weight gain patterns? So I’m sort of trying to puzzle it all out. I don’t think I’m really opposed to being DC or SC at this point; I think I’m more confused because I feel like there are certain aspects of each that *could* work for me. This is especially true because I retook the Kibbe quiz after a recent weight loss, and my answers come back almost evenly split between yin, yang, and classic answers, with slight majority in classic. Right now I’m leaning towards DC, but I’ve spent the past few months thinking about SC, so it’s a bit of a mental shift. I haven’t really “lived” any of the Kibbe styles, though, so I don’t really have the personal experience to rule anything out completely.

    Tangentially, I’m having a hard time deciding between TW and BW on the color front. BW seems to be the season I’m leaning towards – the colors look good when I wear them, and I can handle a lot of contrast. My only downfall is the makeup. I don’t think the bright colors look bad on my face, but I’m finding it difficult to create an “everyday” look that works for me. I can definitely pull off glamorous full-face makeup looks; in photos where I am wearing crazy combos of bright teal eyeliner and hot pink lipstick or lots of sparkle with a cateye and bright red lip I almost look more normal than when I try to do subtle neutrals and a pale lip, which just make me look tired and sad. But I still struggle with finding an “everyday” sort of routine. The TW colors feel almost dirty compared to the BW colors in clothes, but in makeup they feel more toned-down and wearable. I definitely have a very cool-toned skin, which makes me think I could be TW, but I also think I can wear the brightness of BW. So again, I’m leaning BW but I’m not positive because I’m afraid of gravitating towards my favorite colors and ignoring something that might look better.

    Anyway, this was a sort of long ramble to say, yes, I totally had that initial resistance to Kibbe Type, but now I’m not even sure it is my Kibbe Type! I think your idea of using insecurities to pin down a type could be really helpful in selecting between my narrowed down choices of SC and DC, and it’s something I think I should consider as I move forward with this style typing journey.

    Reply
    • stylesyntax
      October 25, 2017 at 8:03 pm

      Going by resistance–are you afraid of looking too masculine and went to SC because of that? Or have you worried that you won’t be taken seriously because you’re feminine? I wouldn’t worry that much about the physical description in the book–it’s just a general idea. If you are really seeing angles and sharpness in you that need to be addressed in your clothes, though, then I would consider DC. Look at the original SC and DC celebrities. You could also be someone who doesn’t have that much extra influence and you could have been Classic back in the day, so you may have to look extra hard to find that little bit of yin or yang. How does adding little yang touches and little yin touches to outfits that are basically moderate and symmetrical feel?

      As far as season goes–I’ve actually transitioned over lately to using a four-season approach, myself. Kibbe uses the old Color Me Beautiful palettes, pretty much. I’ve been using my Dressing Your Truth Type Three as my standard for colors–is it “dirty”? I think it’s perfectly fine to wear BW clothing with TW makeup if that is what looks best on you. Just call yourself a Winter and let it go :)

      Reply
      • Doctor T
        October 26, 2017 at 7:02 pm

        I think I’m sort of resistant to going too much in either direction, honestly. With more masculine pieces (like a leather jacket) I typically wear it in a traditionally feminine color or I pair with softer pieces, like a draped top. Conversely, anything overly soft or ruffly feels ridiculous and overdone, like I’ve been stuffed in a cupcake, though I do like the yin idea of incorporating softer details and sparkle into a look. I intuitively seek balance, I think, so I guess I like to pull details from both sides of the aisle. The problem I have is finding that balance; it’s a tricky line between being overwhelmingly blah and needing to tone things down. And the Kibbe recommendations in the 3 C’s can range from being nearly identical to total opposites, which is sort of a lot of advice to sift through.

        When I look at the original SC/DC/C celebrities, I honestly don’t look too out of place with any of them. I think when I was heavier, I would have fit best with the SC crowd, but I now have very little roundness to my cheeks, and very flat cheekbones. Interestingly, in terms of facial structure, I probably fit in best with the straight C’s, which is something I never really would have checked since that is now considered a “dead” category. I would say DC wins *slightly* over SC in the face category, but in terms of the rest of my body structure I’d rank it SC, C, DC.

        As for the colors – thanks! Interesting that you’ve switched color systems and gone over to Dressing Your Truth. I’ve looked at that system, but it never really resonated with me. I think I don’t have a good understanding of it; people who’ve found it successful for them really seem to love it, but in my (very rudimentary) diggings I seem to fall into Type 2, which just feels so blah to me. Looking at the colors it’s fairly easy to see how they’d fall into the four seasons, but I get the impression that personality has a lot to do with that system? Again, this stems mostly from ignorance rather than any judgement on the system.

        As for colors feeling “dirty” I meant in relation to my own skin and coloring, not in and of themselves. I actually really love looking at all of the color palettes – everything coordinates so beautifully. I certainly have a sense that I “belong” in the winters, but I really love looking at Pinterest/Polyvore/etc. where people have made visual representations of the various seasons and color combinations.

        Anyway, thanks for your reply! It certainly helps me feel that I don’t need to endlessly search for the one true perfect shade of BW lipstick or completely overhaul my closet to have the clothes and makeup coordinate perfectly (overhauling it to have clothes that fit me now is another matter). It also gives me lots of food for thought regarding the Kibbe classifications. Perhaps I really would have been in the forsaken Classic category, and should start there when looking at my wardrobe overhaul, borrowing elements from both SC and DC as suit my needs. It would certainly allow me to create a more unique style for myself.

        Reply
        • stylesyntax
          October 26, 2017 at 9:21 pm

          “Dirty” is actually the word Carol uses to describe T3 colors :)

          Just keep playing with subtle yin and yang touches and you’ll figure out what side of the scale you land on.

          Reply
        • Shawna
          November 1, 2017 at 4:16 am

          In my journey I first typed myself as a soft classic and then hit denial. There were several reasons, one being that I worried classic was boring, I feared I wasn’t a perfect looking beauty so how could I possibly be classic, and I worried that my above average height would influence my category and I’d have to be one of the dramatics. Eventually I decided I must be some sort of natural and clung to that for awhile but it didn’t really work. When I accepted that I really am a classic I kind of came at it backwards. I’ve dressed as a classic most of my life, though certainly made some errors such as wearing opaque black tights and black shoes, which as Kibbe points out really does make me look frumpy. Like you, I think I seem to be closer to what would have been the original classic but experimenting has told me I can dabble in Soft Classic. In making SC my own I keep it minimal. I have found it’s important to really pay attention to what Kibbe says about it and not get led astray by the interpretations found on Pinterest which have varying degrees of accuracy. I think many people interpret Soft Classic as something closer to romantic or soft gamine.

          Reply
          • stylesyntax
            November 3, 2017 at 9:24 pm

            Kibbe says that SCs are actually the easiest to shop for, I think–they can wear a lot more than people think.

  4. Ethereal Dramatic
    October 25, 2017 at 9:27 pm

    This is really interesting. Right now I’m going back and forth between FG and DC. I know I have some resistance to appearing too masculine and am clinging to any possibility of being a Soft type, but I think deep down I know I’m too Yang in body for them. I love retro 50s silhouettes – not working out so well on this straight body type.

    I’m also resisting FG because it reminds me of how I dressed a few years ago and I’m scared of looking tough/harsh all of a sudden, which is a weird new thing I wasn’t self-conscious of in the past.

    FG just seems so loud and bright. I’m a plain dresser so I think I’m doing some wishful thinking with DC too since it’s in my comfort zone. (All black!)

    Reply
    • stylesyntax
      October 26, 2017 at 12:05 am

      FG isn’t what it looks like on Pinterest. That’s just teenage punk style, haha. Going a little wild suits FG, of course, but Audrey was iconic and wore a ton of black.

      Reply
  5. Needle-wielder
    October 25, 2017 at 10:06 pm

    You’re suggesting an interesting approach. Images that we feel resitance to might tell a few things, regardless of whether they come from our own heads or from, say, our parents constantly telling us as children that we should be more of this and less of that.

    Though after thinking very hard for a few minutes about what part of me I’m insecure about I had to give up because it’s not telling me anything related to Kibbe. I guess I kind of don’t like my jawline which looks stronger than the rest of the face and a bit out of balance with other features, but that’s about it. I can name a few things that I like way easier.

    As for being “to much” or “not enough” of something, I feel that people always view me as kinda childish. Like, women obviously not much older than me look down on me and try to act and talk patronising and just don’t see me as an adult, even though while I’m young I’m still way out of my teen years. I feel that someone of the same age but a more strict appearance would not receive such a reaction as often.

    Reply
    • stylesyntax
      October 26, 2017 at 12:03 am

      That is often seen in gamines, although I have also seen SNs, Rs, etc. who look very young.

      Starting with what you love is what Kibbe suggest :)

      Reply
      • Needle-wielder
        October 28, 2017 at 10:26 pm

        FG and SN were my very first thoughts, but I’ve eliminated all Ns eventually because, as you’ve said it somewhere, naturals need room in clothing to accommodate their bone structure… and I have it the other way round. Many things look too loose on me, like there is too much fabric, even though the size is right. I’ve always felt kind of smallish compared to other people. But what is still confusing me is that I obviously do have elongation because people always think I’m taller than I actually am, and long vertical line of clothing looks ok – but so does a broken silhouette. Being 5’5 tall also doesn’t help lol.

        Reply
        • stylesyntax
          October 30, 2017 at 12:50 am

          I would maybe look at D, DC as well…

          Reply
        • stylesyntax
          November 3, 2017 at 9:35 pm

          FGs have some elongation, so maybe that’s where you’d fall…

          Reply
  6. Shawna
    October 26, 2017 at 6:39 pm

    That’s a very interesting point and quite useful. The point you made about being one of the categories that was dropped is interesting too because it will happen. I think that for people who really are one of the outliers it can be more difficult to self-type because in addition to the other obstacles there will then be the confusion or doubt that comes in because of not being typical. I recently had someone just point blank tell me what I am ( not a person I paid to do it ) and the penny really dropped. I had been trying very hard not to be that.

    Reply
    • stylesyntax
      October 26, 2017 at 9:23 pm

      Opinions are just that—opinions. If it resonates with you, consider it, but otherwise no one can tell you what you are in Kibbe except Kibbe.

      Reply
      • Shawna
        October 27, 2017 at 4:19 am

        I think you missed my point. You write about ways people can try to figure out their own Kibbe type. I meant only to point out that I have experienced what happens when denial or a resistance to certain aspects of a type or of one’s own body complicate the process of seeing clearly. I was trying to point out that some comments from someone else allowed me to see my own blind spots and denial. I wonder if you thought I meant that I accepted some unqualified non-Kibbe person’s assessment. While that is not at all what I was describing, perhaps I was not clear enough.

        Although I do think that people who are not Kibbe can look at someone and see what their Kibbe category is because if only Kibbe could apply his categories to people it would not actually be a valid system. It would not hold up. It would not have consistent and useful application because it would be arbitrary and subjective.

        The information is out there and people are using it. If someone wants to let someone else tell them their type, that’s their choice. Certainly my preference would be to decide for myself but observations made by others can turn out to be useful.

        Reply
        • stylesyntax
          October 27, 2017 at 5:02 am

          No, I meant that other people’s opinions are only helpful if it resonates and leads you to increased self-awareness. So you can consider it, but always know that it can be ignored as well.

          As far as whether it can be 100% replicated… it’s like saying Zyla is only valid if someone can replicate it. It’s really a way of learning how to see. I know numerous people who have found their Kibbe Image ID on their own and he has a way of helping you through the DIY process beyond the book—but it’s not at all the way most people think it is.

          Reply
          • Shawna
            October 30, 2017 at 8:41 pm

            I interacted with him very briefly on his FB page and he seemed very gracious and encouraging people to figure it out on their own. Somewhere on the old Yuku thread, now called tapatalk, there is a post where someone explains her experience attending one of his groups sessions. Very interesting! I take your point about no system being completely replicable since there is art involved to some degree, though I perhaps mean ‘valid’ as in useful. Most people seem to find Zyla less useful than Kibbe because he is a little more vague and thus difficult to apply on your own. Kibbe has a system that someone could learn to see. I agree with you that how others are interpreting it may have varying degrees of accuracy, this is seen easily just on Pinterest. But I also think that people can learn to use Kibbe-type ideas in ways that work for them and question whether those ways are any less ‘right’ than what Kibbe would himself say. Enjoy your blog and all of the information and perspectives. Thanks for writing it.

          • stylesyntax
            November 3, 2017 at 9:34 pm

            It’s a hard question, because recently I’ve seen some people who were very, very happy with their self-determined Image ID, and then David told them to look elsewhere. I think the real question to ask ourselves is: are we actually honoring our appearance? Because these people did look great and had a pulled-together style, but their shape underneath was different than what the clothes made it seem.

  7. Autumn
    October 28, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    I really relate to this. I’m learning quickly so much of this is intuitive.

    I took a long look at SC faces after someone mentioned it, and it made me euphoric – these women SO gorgeous and I relate to their faces. I haven’t felt enough with an other ID (too plain, too undistinctive, not Yang enough; not soft enough, not something) but I realized that’s a Classic thing!

    If someone would have told me a year ago I would have been excited about SC I would have laughed in their face, but it helped realizing SC can be glamorous or even edgy tbh. But either way, it’s a gorgeous type.

    I don’t know if I’m a Soft Classic. I don’t know how SC my body is (I’m not curvy, I have that Yang square torso thing with all my weight gain) and I would love to be a DC but I think it’s worth exploring the Classics, because I finally felt I could fit there.

    Reply
    • stylesyntax
      October 28, 2017 at 8:18 pm

      Congratulations!

      Reply
  8. H
    October 31, 2017 at 11:44 am

    So I’ve stayed away from all things style-related for a while because I’ve been busy and also to think about why I care. I have a good idea of what clothes suit me but what I struggle with is accessories, glasses and bags in particular. I’m not sure what scale and shape will work best with that sort of thing so I think that’s why I’ve been trying to figure out where I fit in some of these systems.

    I have a straight body type, shoulders and hips wider than ribcage/waist but not by much so I give a narrow impression based on that but my bone structure is not actually narrow. If those wrist/height charts are anything to go by my bone structure is medium-large to large and without trying I have a solid underpinning of muscle that means I’d never be tiny, even if I weight a lot less than I do. Short side of average (5’4-5’5-ish), long torse and head, short legs. Short hair >>> long hair.

    And I look great in clothes that basically replicate that, straight, narrow fit, longish hemlines on tops (been experimenting with longer tees layered under sweaters, still with a longish hemline because cropped anything looks a bit silly, and it’s nice). Firm, narrow fits work best, flowy or oversized are not a good idea. I always thought I couldn’t wear longer coats but I tried one on earlier this year that was around knee-length, possibly even a bit longer, and it didn’t leave me looking weirdly proportioned or like I was eaten alive by it because the fit was narrow enough all the way down (I look absolutely ridiculous in trench-coats). I’m not sure I’d wear anything like that because it’s a bit unpractical for everyday wear unless you live in a colder climate than I do but it’s good to know that it’s possible, you know?

    So I’m fairly certain that means I’m some kind of yang or yang-leaning type but I still can’t translate it into a type. I know what shapes and proportions work but I’m less certain of scale and what it all means if you put it together.

    Where I went wrong wasn’t so much resistance as it was listening too much to what other people were saying and distrusting my own eyes and my own opinion on what works for me.

    It seems like the more likely types are along the lines of FG, DC, FN (maaaaaaybe SN) and possibly D but I’m not sure how to move forward from here. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • Shawna
      November 2, 2017 at 3:45 am

      Yup, I can totally relate to not enough trusting of self knowledge and too much listening to others or perhaps even trying to be like others. One thought-if you look ridiculous in trench coats maybe that helps rule out DC.

      Reply
      • stylesyntax
        November 3, 2017 at 9:23 pm

        There are no single clothing items that are a test on their own. Trench coats come in all kinds of sizes and shapes. I don’t think even a DC would look great in Peter Falk’s Columbo trench coat, for instance!

        Reply
    • stylesyntax
      November 3, 2017 at 9:31 pm

      I wouldn’t worry about a “type” and instead I would concentrate on what you’re discovering about yourself. The point isn’t the Image ID itself. From what you’ve said, I think D or DC sound the most plausible, but there are all kinds of variables.

      Reply

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