Which System Is Right for You?

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Not only are systems based on different criteria, but they also provide you with different things. Sometimes, people take issue with systems because they are looking for something a particular system doesn’t provide.

I’m only going to be talking about the Big Three here: Kibbe, Dressing Your Truth, and Zyla. There are other systems out there, but these are the ones I focus on in this blog. (I am also interested in Fantastical Beauty, but it’s newer and I’m not quite sure how it fits.)

So I’m going to go over what I see these systems providing their users/clients/customers, and the pros and cons. These are based on my own experiences and observations, having been an active participant in online communities focusing on these groups and knowing people who have received services from all three providers.

1. David Kibbe’s Metamorphosis

If you read the book, David talks about creating the “total look,” i.e., the image that a studio would come up with for a star, back in the day (which is why contemporary celebrities aren’t that great for inspiration in this system–they don’t really do this in the same way anymore):

Legions of artists were employed to create the special and specific image of the star that would identify each star to the public…By viewing an image that was based one each star’s special and unique essence, the audience was able to easily identify and understand the star in a complete and unconscious way…This is as important for you as it is for any Hollywood movie star! A large part of your success in life…is predicated on how effectively you are able to communicate your unique identity to others…Discovering your Image Identity is the first step, for it allows to utilize everything you are–both physically and innately–so that you can integrate your essential uniqueness into your own total look.

David Kibbe, Metamorphosis, pp. 6-7

So as you can see, his intentions are very high concept. It is not simply, “look a little better and have an easier time getting dressed.” It is meant to enable you to become the star of the motion picture that is Your Life. If you see something on the internet along the lines of, “Capsule Summer Wardrobe for the Soft Dramatic Body Type!,” this person has missed the point completely. I am pretty sure David Kibbe is allergic to capsule wardrobes. You need to have separate, fabulous outfits for all of your fabulous occasions. It is not “How to Dress for Your Body.” I think this misconception exists because the parts of the book that made it online were sections like the quiz and the recommendations that are in the book. The more theoretical side of David’s work did not make it.

David’s work is meant to bring your life to a higher level by enabling you to move through the world as a STAR. He is not thinking about how you can look a little more pulled together when you’re making your Target run (although you can be, as a result of following his work). He is thinking about your receiving an award on stage, in recognition of your fabulousness. If you’re not looking for anything except maybe which skirt shape is most flattering on you, it’s probably not the system for you.

It is perhaps the most intensive in terms of “workload.” You not only have to break through seeing yourself for who you are, but but you basically have to relearn how to think about clothing. Especially with the changes in fashion in recent decades, it is a very different way to approach dressing. I have seen absolutely amazing results from friends who have stuck with it, though, even without going to see him in person.

Cost: Going to see him in NYC is very expensive. David, however, is an active participant in Facebook groups and has come up with a series of exercises to help you land on your Image ID, and he will give advice to people as well–all for free.

It’s the system for you if: You’ve ever watched an old movie on TCM and wanted Edith Head to design you an outfit for each scene of your life.

2. David Zyla

David Zyla is fairly similar. He gives you your unique version of an Archetype, and your unique color palette. Both Davids come from working with actors, so to me, the idea of what your starring role would be figures prominently in both.

Zyla gives much more concrete advice. (It is not that Kibbe doesn’t; but it’s more like an idea with limitless possibilities, whereas the advice Zyla gives is very specific.) Your colors are going to exact matches when you buy items with them out in the wild and his recommendations are very specific. He has additional services, such as an extended color palette and the Ultimate Styling Session, where he sketches outfits for you based on a specific need or event (some people do this with him multiple times). He will go shopping with you and consult with you on interior decoration, and more.

There are some people who go and work with Zyla many, many times. Some people can only ever afford the initial consultation. I know people who love what they got and I know people who don’t. The biggest problem I see is that he gets so specific that people aren’t sure what to do when they see something they like, but it isn’t something that they have gotten a definite “yes” or “no” from Zyla about. Some people seem to love what they have for quite some time, and then feel the need to go outside of it.

If you want very clear recommendations and a tight color palette, I think Zyla would be a great stylist to go to. It seems to be the most difficult to DIY to me, even with a book. It is just so much about his vision for you.

Cost: The initial consult is under a thousand, and the subsequent services vary. He travels, both in the U.S. and in Europe. He has a book (still in print, so much cheaper than Kibbe’s!), and while the book has a DIY process and I have seen people get close, it can’t give you the custom look seeing him in person does.

It’s the system for you if: you want a vision of yourself from an Emmy-winning stylist, and could potentially pay for several sessions to really develop your style with him.

Dressing Your Truth

Dressing Your Truth is the one I would recommend most to people who just want to look more pulled together, and can’t either dedicate a ton of time or drop a large sum of cash at once. If you want to introduce your friends and family to something, this would be it. Carol’s system is definitely meant for busy people with practical needs. You can send someone the new Beginner’s Guide and they would be well on their way.

Dressing Your Truth also has a ton of content to help you in their Lifestyle program. They release new content pieces almost every weekday, and I find them fun to watch. If you want to put together a capsule wardrobe with items you can mix and match, this is definitely the system I would choose. It is easily the most accessible of the three. Once you’re a Lifestyle member, there are a ton of informative content pieces on helping you develop your style, and there are two shopping guides posted per type per week in their StyleInspire feature.

In addition, the style work is just part of it, and there is a lot of personal development content that is also valuable, in my opinion.

Cost: The Beginner’s Course is free, Lifestyle is $12.95/month or $7.95 if you pay a whole year, and the style kit is $99 when it’s not sale, but it frequently is.

It’s the system for you if: You want to look better and more pulled together and have a capsule wardrobe, clear guidelines, accessible information, etc. You are interested in personal development systems like MBTI or Enneagram.

What I Use

I don’t use Zyla, because I haven’t seen him. I use a combination of Kibbe and DYT. Flamboyant Gamine always figures prominently in my mind, because it just is what I am. I don’t use a list of recommendations (he doesn’t anymore either!), but I have a general idea of how to work with my yin/yang balance, both how Kibbe means it and how Carol means it (they both use this terminology, but in different ways). I use my DYT T4 color palette exclusively now, but otherwise I find that they can inform one another and my outfits are all both FG and 4/3.

Which system(s) do you use? Do you find that what I have written above to be true, in your experience?

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28 Comments on Which System Is Right for You?

  1. Bla31ze
    July 16, 2019 at 12:31 am

    Hello! 🙂
    Thinking about the goal of each system has helped me a lot to choose what to do when the suggestions of each one seemed to go in opposite directions.
    At the moment I am mainly trying to learn about Kibbe. I think the freedom of expression that it gives you is invaluable. However, the time issue is real. Even a basic understanding requires a lot of study and dedication and in this phase of my life that is difficult for me.
    I also try to keep in mind a sort of an Autumn palette when it comes to colors, but I am not using a specific system at the moment.

    • stylesyntax
      July 16, 2019 at 2:42 am

      I think part of the problem too is that people try to understand not only themselves, but where other people would fall too, and really you don’t need to do that. It won’t help your relationship to understand how your partner should dress. It’s not like DYT and Energy Profiling, where learning how to assess others is something they encourage you to do and where it has an application outside of your personal style.

  2. Anat
    July 16, 2019 at 2:27 am

    Thanks for the post and comparison – I am personally only comfortable with Kibbe’s system, but I feel like I am still getting to know the “essence” of his system. On what groups is David active? It sounds very interesting!
    DYT really doesn’t vibe with me, it’s both too simplistic and too high concept for me – same with Zyla, though reading about his system did help me open up to playing with color theory.
    I love Fantastical Beauty – which is very high concept in its own way but also very accessible and DIY-able. I’d recommend it to people who look for a more intuitive and flexible approach to fashion, as it’s very easy to play with the system.

    • stylesyntax
      July 16, 2019 at 2:39 am

      It’s Strictly Kibbe on Facebook. 🙂

      I think I would probably put Fantastical Beauty in between DYT and Zyla, in that it is relatively easy to type yourself and she has a fair amount of materials available, but she really customizes a lot for each client. But it was hard for me to say who exactly it suits beyond just if you like the idea of what she does. I think when the system has been around longer, I will have a clearer idea of who would benefit the most from what Kati provides. Also this has inspired to go back and watch some of the YouTube videos she did!

  3. Elizabeth Stewart
    July 16, 2019 at 4:39 am

    Thank you for this excellent post. I am definitely a Kibbe fan, and love his system. Am so happy to be part of the Strictly Kibbe group, and am working my way through the exercises, which are very helpful. I could never really pinpoint my Zyla archetype. DYT seems excellent, but needs a lot more study than I have time for right now. They are all in the US, and visiting them personally is not possible for me, but the Kibbe group is great and I’m so glad it exists! So far I feel sure I am a Romantic, and to me this does seem to correlate with DYT Type 2, but I may well be mistaken.

    • stylesyntax
      July 16, 2019 at 5:19 am

      DYT energy types and Kibbe Image IDs don’t correlate: http://stylesyntax.com/blog/2019/06/01/why-each-system-must-be-considered-in-isolation/ 🙂

      I’m actually not even sure why some bloggers make a connection between the two, because T2 is s-curves and elongation and Romantic is decidedly not elongated. A Romantic could certainly be a T2, as they could be any energy type, but I would definitely not see a one-to-one correlation there. 🙂

      • Elizabeth Stewart
        July 16, 2019 at 7:29 am

        As I say, I don’t really know the DYT system very well. I relate to the Kibbe description in his book, but I am learning all the time now so may well change. I am a short (5’4″) “rounded” shape, and the term “wide but delicate” really describes my bone structure. On a learning curve!

        • stylesyntax
          July 16, 2019 at 6:55 pm

          You could definitely still be a Romantic *and* a T2… There just isn’t some link between the two like some misinformed sites on the internet would have you believe. 😉 It sounds like you’re on the right track with Kibbe and I’m sure you’d see yourself correctly in DYT too, if you’re interested in it!

          • Elizabeth Stewart
            July 17, 2019 at 4:53 am

            Yes, DYT is on my list of things to look into when I have a good chunk of time. Meanwhile, Kibbe is fantastic and I’m learning so much.

  4. Daga
    July 17, 2019 at 1:57 pm

    Very interesting post. A guide to style guides! I’m using mostly DYT now. I’m pretty sure I’m 1/4 (4/1 is another option). At the beginning I also thought I was 3 – because the features description seemed to be… maybe not accurate, but at least of a regular person when other types seemed to be perfectly shaped faces etc. Seeing real-life examples of each type made me realize how flexible the descriptions actually are. The concept of color in DYT was the hardest to accept for me, at first glance it seemed to be a re-do of classic four seasons. When I looked into it more closely I noticed it doesn’t match four seasons and it’s more about maintaining some quality of color which makes it in sync with your type rather than maintaining a precise color palette in seasonal manner. I noticed this more on examples than in the guidelines – by looking at the range of colours the stylists (and especially Carol) actually wear (much wider than a typical autumn palette). For my personal use I mix BSp with more typical type 1 recommendations and I’m much happier than with just BSp. The addition of some more Light/True Spring colors DYT recommend for T1 didn’t throw my look of balance but completed it. I describe the colors in seasonal manner because this is close to me – but I mean T1 tints, colors with a bit of white and with warm and light quality. Thanks for re-discovering the system for me! Your posts made me more interested in DYT.

    I still value Kibbe. I just don’t find it as useful because transferring the concepts I’ve read about into real life takes a lot of effort from me – to be more in line with what David has in mind. So I don’t try so hard anymore, just go with my instinct – for example my current take on G is pretty busy. It draws from advice of breaking up the silhouette. I noticed that different color top and bottom works great, but adding another color of belt, shoes, even better! I get the most compliments when I think I overdid it this time.

    In Kibbe I always thought that I’m SG, but your descriptions of FG and your own body shape (very accurate for my bone structure as well) make me think I might be a FG… On the other hand I intuitively identify with SG examples like Betty White or Sally Field (now I think maybe it’s because many SG seem to be T1 as wel…) rather than with FG. But I don’t worry about it so much anymore. Maybe I’ll revisit the system in future and try to find more precise information on FB. For now the limited knowledge I have is enough for me. Although always nice to read some interesting post about the subject.

    • stylesyntax
      July 24, 2019 at 6:26 pm

      Re: Kibbe… I would always go with my intuition. Some of ways I described my body in the past were based on misconceptions, like looking at measurements rather than the actual shape. If you have always intuitively identified with SG celebrities, I would go with that rather than my own ramblings.

      David also has a website now where he explains some things: David Kibbe.

      As far as DYT goes, I would focus on your primary first, and not try to type primary and secondary at the same time. If you’re a type 1, concentrate on that energy and don’t worry about a secondary Four. Once you understand your style preferences better, the secondary becomes clear.

      • Daga
        September 16, 2019 at 12:18 am

        Thanks for the suggestions, intuition rarely fails me – don’t know why I’m so unwilling to listen 🙂

        I’ve checked out the page immediately!

        As per DYT, you’re right, at the beginning it’s better to focus on one type to see how I fit there and really get to know the type.

  5. Shawna
    July 27, 2019 at 10:49 pm

    Great post! Like you I use what I have learned from Kibbe in combination with what I can get free from DYT. I. Can’t get on board with tapping but I like quite a bit of what Carol does.

  6. Silverroxen
    August 2, 2019 at 3:21 pm

    Kibbe’s is the only system that I’ve researched extensively. The description for Soft Gamine deeply resonated with me, inclusing your article “Ingenue vs. Soft Gamine”. Now as was mentioned in a comment on a previous article I’m getting beyond the recommendations and trying to dress according to my ying/yang balance as you suggested.

    As for Dressing Your Truth, I think I’m a Type 1. I’m babyfaced and usually described as cute or adorable. However, I don’t feel Type 1, so I’ve been watching the videos and reading the articles about personality. I tend to be veer toward seriousness and being sensitive. I remember being told when I was younger that I have my heads in the clouds. Now I need to lighten up because I take life too seriously. I just can’t win lol. I do love Ennegram and MBTI, so maybe I’ll look more into it.

    • stylesyntax
      August 5, 2019 at 4:43 pm

      I think it’s not unusual to lose that kind of quality over the course of your life, especially if you were shamed for it. DYT can help you move back into yourself and to harness these qualities in a positive way. 🙂

  7. Jessie
    August 10, 2019 at 10:27 am

    Thanks for this fantastic explanation. After cycling through many systems I have come to DYT for what i see as its simplicity and accessibility, as well as the personality insights. The color rules seem to prevent it from working for me. I have typed myself as a 4/2 but the type 4 colors are literally my worst. Believe me I have tried but looking back at photos of myself I look like a person who has no idea of how to dress when I wear Type 4 clothing – not just that they aren’t my best, but I look truly awful. Should I be looking at other type combos? Are there some people who don’t find a fit in DYT, in your opinion.? I would value your suggestions so much!

    • stylesyntax
      August 10, 2019 at 8:30 pm

      I wouldn’t look at type combos, but focus on your primary energy. The secondary reveals itself through clothing choices. Start with your face. Carol has new facial profiling videos on her YouTube channel. Also Lifestyle really helps.

      I would think of it more as preferring something else over not having a fit.

      • Jessie
        August 10, 2019 at 11:59 pm

        Thank you for your suggestions!

  8. Jordan
    September 26, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    Regarding bodies and not colors, Kibbe is the one I’m most comfortable with. I _do_ want to feel like the star of my own life–and flattering clothes will come right along with that. I think also that Kibbe is the most flexible and body-image positive. I think of clothes in terms of fabrics, prints, structure, etc so I like his approach best.

    I’m also much more comfortable with Kibbe than I was a few months ago, where I had settled on SN after getting Ds on the test and knowing intuitively that TR or any gamine was the farthest from anything that looks good on me (trust me, I’ve worn-and donated-them all). The test was my first exposure to anything Kibbe, and I don’t like it but everyone else uses it. It’s really unhelpful because it destroys the hollistic vibe that Kibbe is after. Reading and self-examination is the only way to really know.

    Well, I was stuck in another style rut and decided to revisit with a more open mind about what I look like, and not to be afraid and self-reject (cries in enneagram 4). I quickly realized I’m a SD and I feel complete now. I bought a voluptuous dress today that made me feel amazing, and I rediscovered my joy of taking care of myself.

    I tried out the videos for DYT this morning and I think I’m probably a 3 but I don’t really fit into any of them, and that’s okay. Where is the woman who is emotional, fiery, artistic, wtihdrawn, but not results-oriented and sporty? I can’t wrap my head around subtypes, but maybe some day. DZ is just weird and Fantastical Beauty sounds fun but limited. In the end, if being a SD makes me feel like my glam self, the others are kind of unnecessary. I joined the FB group at last and I am having fun.

    • stylesyntax
      September 29, 2019 at 9:01 pm

      I think DYT requires Lifestyle. It helps with the nuances.

      Yes, even David says don’t bother with the test anymore. 🙂

  9. Sarah
    November 18, 2019 at 12:38 am

    I’m a T4, & probably one of the Romantics b/c I am 5’1 & really curvy w/ soft flesh & full, youthful facial features. I’m debating going to see David b/c DYT principles are amazing, yet the elongated T4 lines & ‘stiffness’ (for lack of a better word) aren’t working well on my body. I don’t know if it’s b/c T4 colors are mainly made for long model bodies, but I feel like I’m bursting out of an androgynous prison, which looks more overweight than womanly. I’m concerned about spending a lot of money with Kibbe only to be told I need to wear things & change my hair to look opposite from T4. What would you suggest, & what is your experience in combining both programs? Any i sight will be helpful, thank you!

    • stylesyntax
      November 18, 2019 at 12:47 am

      This is actually the subject of my next blog post, so stay tuned! But Laurel in the T4 and R groups on Facebook, if you’re familiar, combines T4 and R beautifully.

      • Sarah
        November 22, 2019 at 2:40 am

        Wonderful, thank you! I’m looking forward to your post!

  10. Sarah
    November 18, 2019 at 12:57 am

    I forgot to mention another reason I’d like to see David. In the DYT community, I’ve been feeling like everyone within their type looks the same. I don’t want to look like every T4 or even like every T4/1, & I’m sure that with time & practice I can get out of that rut, but I wonder what seeing David could add for me, or if I can save money & figure it out on my own.

  11. Carissa
    November 23, 2019 at 7:31 pm

    I feel like I’ve gone pretty far down the rabbit hole. Most recently (and with the most effort) into DYT. The simplicity is so appealing. And it is very practical and cerebral! I mistyped myself first as a 1/2 (wanted flow but wouldn’t give up color). A year later, nope. I cannot be an extrovert, I must have reversed it – 2/1. 1 month ago – I am so not a subtle intovert, I can’t stand this anymore! And thus, confirmed by careful facial profiling from childhood and teen pics of me, I now know I am a 4. Happy to have COLOR back, and my skin is elated. But now I want to NAIL my look. While I was doing T2 I had also typed myself as a SN. But it started feeling very sloppy. So now I’m diving back into Kibbe in order to really perfect my T4 look. Although it’s a little scary, I think the test (now that I understand it correctly) is pointing me toward SD. I’m looking forward to studying it better. It’s a little tricky to conceptualize a practical SD look (although tbh I’d love to wear evening gowns on the daily). Your info is very helpful, thanks so much for your blog!

    • stylesyntax
      November 23, 2019 at 7:38 pm

      I wouldn’t use the test—David doesn’t really recommend it. And SN isn’t sloppy at all—the online stereotype isn’t at all how David styles SN. SN is hot!

  12. Carissa
    May 19, 2020 at 11:37 am

    Yes the test isn’t really helping me much. My bone structure is mostly A with some C and one B. Face is mostly C with some D. And flesh is mostly D with some C and one A/B. According to the quiz I’m a nothing. SN is certainly hot on people who are SN and I love the styles that work with it. Wearing the lines he suggests for SN on me make me feel sloppy, and to my own eyes I look very underwhelming. For example separates are supposed to be “exciting” on SN … on me they look mediocre and (imo) overly casual. I look best when my shoes match my stockings or my stockings match my skirt. Honestly even better if all 3 blend. I’ve got more vertical line needs than SN seems to call for. And yet I absolutely need my waist and hips accommodated or again, I look sloppy, underwhelming, and bulky – so FN recs do not work well at all. Not to mention chunky knits and texture beyond just very mild nubbling look very separate and heavy on me. FN accessory recommendations again look chunky and heavy ON ME. Like larger pieces of hammered metal or thicker heel width – beautiful interesting pieces. On an FN they look amazing and I’m in awe. Esthetically I love SN and FN. On me, it just feels not right. Honestly by my vibe I’m probably closest to SC, but I’m 5’7, and the accessory recommendations feel maybe a little *too* small scale. I keep landing on SD for lines, it seems to give me what I need. But I’m just a little more minimal than “typical” SD. Probably some type 4 influence going on. I prefer one statement in my accessories and then keeping the other accessories understated, just pulling everything together, otherwise I feel absolutely cluttered. If I’ve got a stronger pattern going on I pull back on accessories too. I feel like I’m really sensitive to balance. And that may not be a style ID thing, it might just be a me thing. I hope he publishes his new book soon.

    • stylesyntax
      May 20, 2020 at 10:26 pm

      SD isn’t really as OTT as most sources make it out to me. A lot of the SDs reveals I’ve seen have a monochromatic color scheme and not much jewelry.


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