Who Should Do Your Style Analysis?

Lately, there has been a real uptick in color analysts also performing style/image analysis. I’m not talking about something like Caygill, where the style advice is built into the system. (By the way, if you haven’t seen it yet, Cornell has made Caygill’s book available for free!) I’m talking about people who were trained in systems that just look at one thing–your coloring–and now also offer some kind of style or image analysis.

Now, I can understand why a color analyst would want to offer such a service and expand their business. But just because they can doesn’t mean they should, for two major reasons.

The first is that the barrier for entry for becoming a color analyst seems to be whether someone can pay the money. Someone who is a color analyst isn’t necessarily an artist with a great eye and a great sense of style that they come by naturally. The quality of analysts, from what I’ve seen, varies widely, even with the same methodology and training. You can teach people to look for certain things, but an eye can’t be taught. The analyst, who in all likelihood is no style maven themselves, because how many of us really are, simply can’t see beyond what is in front of them, so they give you something close to what you already do, maybe just tweaking the lines a little.

Both Zyla and Kibbe have this ability to see beyond. They can look at someone and see their style potential. That is why they are geniuses. Now, you may think, “Well, [random analyst] probably isn’t a style genius like Kibbe or Zyla, but they were trained in a system to look for certain characteristics and apply this framework.” This is the second reason. Most seem to be working with some permutation of a system based off of Kibbe’s work. The fact is, there isn’t a system that is based on his work that doesn’t do the exact opposite of what Kibbe aims for with his. They put you in a box with a style stereotype, and chances are good that it’s the wrong box anyway. They don’t teach you how to apply the principles of yin/yang and express any style you want. So they are analyzing you to the best of their ability, but they are working from something that is based on an incorrect understanding of David Kibbe’s work (and there are numerous people now who profess to “teach” Kibbe; they’re all over the world, and they’re all wrong).

Now, again, I’m not talking about Caygill analysts here, or other systems where color and style are inextricably linked. I don’t know enough about these systems to criticize them, really. I am talking about color analysts who also offer some kind of “image analysis” service as something separate.

So when you see that the color analyst you’re planning to go see for a draping also offers some kind of styling or style analysis service, I would pause before adding it to your appointment. If you’ve been exploring these style systems, are you really going to get any clarity from this person, or will it just set you back more and confuse you? My money is on the latter. My suggestion would be to save up for either Kibbe or Zyla, artists who can give you their vision for your style. Being able to look at a client and see their potential is not something you can learn in a course. That’s not how you end up with this moment:

In fact, you are better off exploring on your own, learning how to apply Kibbe or Zyla’s work to yourself if you are unable to see them. At least then, you don’t have the voice of an “authority” in the back of your head and you’re not out $200 or $300.

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2 Comments on Who Should Do Your Style Analysis?

  1. E
    July 20, 2018 at 6:25 pm

    So interesting to hear you say that Kibbe’s system enables you to apply your yin/yang balance to “any” style. I would love you to say more about this! (For instance, how Dramatic Classic might do “edgy,” or boho… I suspect I am DC.)

    I am coming to your site from other “permutations” of Kibbe’s system, as you say, that have been making me feel awful about my appearance as of late – mostly because I always seem to come out with some kind of combination of extreme masculinity and femininity that just makes me hate my masculine features more than I already did. I am a very young person relative to the typical consumer of this information, and my work is related to the fashion industry (plus I had a parent in the industry, so I’ve grown up around the fashion world), so I’m confident in my taste – just not in my own perception of my yin/yang balance and how I might come to terms with certain features I’ve always hated.

    Despite my “resistance” to my masculine features, I feel I have pretty accurately determined my yin/yang balance to be somewhere in DC territory. I am 5 foot 8, very thin but soft – I am not muscular or sinewy, even when I am in good shape. I have an extremely small waist, with hips and shoulders that look wider in comparison but are probably pretty average. My ankles, wrists, hands and feet are all long/narrow/very fine-boned. I technically wear a large cup size because my rib cage is so small, but again, my bust is probably pretty average in comparison. My face is much more masculine than my body. I have a fairly strong jaw, high but somewhat flat cheekbones that are getting more prominent with age (and not really any flashiness in the cheek area), a “Roman” nose that some people think is a great feature but that I have loathed, narrow eyes, and quite full lips that are probably my most feminine facial feature. Overall I would describe my face as oval, but with angularity at the cheeks and jaw.

    Does this sound like DC? I am tripped up by the idea that DC cannot have an hourglass figure, which may be something I read online instead of something from Kibbe himself. I also don’t know if I see myself as a “Jackie O.”

    Other systems have tripped me by insisting I need to wear certain hairstyles/very specific shoe details or hemlines that just do not work for me. The idea of determining my yin/yang balance and going from there – without necessarily needing a certain type of shoe or eliminating certain fabrics that I like – seems to make intuitive sense to me. Is there more to Kibbe than that?

    Reply
    • stylesyntax
      October 7, 2018 at 12:10 pm

      Kibbe is very intuitive. You start by shedding misconceptions and seeing your yin/yang balance simply as it is. I think we know what we are. We live our entire lives in our physical selves. It has nothing to do with specifics, but instead a whole outfit that suits your yin/yang balance.

      Reply

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