Archive of ‘Kibbe’s Metamorphosis’ category

An Alternative to “Trying On” an Image ID

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Most people try to figure out their Kibbe Image Identity in the dressing room. This seems logical–it is a style system, after all. But after studying Kibbe for several years now, I’ve come to the conclusion that this doesn’t really work.

This may seem disheartening, and somewhat frustrating. But I have come to believe that it really is an internal process. It is about coming to grips with your physical self. In other words, we come to this process basically knowing the answer, and we cycle through types as an attempt to deal with this, or we have a distorted view of ourselves to begin with and this process forces us to see ourselves as we actually are, perhaps for the first time.

For many, it’s probably a combination of both. When I first started looking at Kibbe, I looked at yin types, because I knew what my actual measurements were and every online calculator had given me the “hourglass” body type designation. Nevermind that the issues that “hourglass” dressing guides were supposed to correct weren’t things I’d personally ever dealt with. The measuring tape gave me this result, so I could never look at yang types.

On the other hand, I also knew that I wasn’t really a curvy person. I had to rid myself of the perception created by numbers and see myself how I actually was, which was someone who actually had a straighter shape, made straighter by torso elongation.

The other issue is, of course, the misperceptions surrounding what women in the Image IDs actually look like. For instance, many of the celebrities labeled as, say, TR on Pinterest are actually FN. For the longest time, I had lingering doubts about FG because many of the women in the FG Facebook group had a broad shoulder line, and I did not. But then David joined and told us that FG is unequivocally narrow, and began redirecting women to SN and SD and other IDs.

So why doesn’t putting together outfits work? Because whatever you put on, you look like the Image ID you are, not what you’re trying on. An SC silhouette isn’t going to look SC on an FN. It will just look like an FN in an outfit that doesn’t match her yin/yang balance. And then there are so many limiting and flat-out incorrect ideas about what a head-to-toe outfit for a certain Image ID is going to look like anyway.

Many of you may be feeling like you might as well just throw in the towel at this point, since if you can’t try on outfits and if most of the information out there is inaccurate, how can you ever figure out your yin/yang balance?

There are only two things you need: The Book and yourself. And maybe access to YouTube/Netflix/Turner Classic Movies/etc, as a bonus.

The excerpts on the internet don’t do Metamorphosis justice. A lot was cut out of the descriptions of the Image IDs when they were typed up and posted. David shows you the experience of having a certain yin/yang balance, and he tells you how to dress it, even before you get to the concrete recommendations, which are just a jumping off point and which can be hit or miss, since clothing construction has changed so much in the past 30 years. But if you read the book over and over, you start to get an intuitive sense of the Image IDs.

And then by looking at the classic celebrities, you start to get a feeling for what links these women all together, and which group of women you would fit into. Most likely, there is something you have had a sense about for most of your life. I latched onto Audrey Hepburn at a young age, for instance, because I related to her shape and to her mix of facial features. Marilyn and Liz resided on a distant planet. Audrey felt familiar. The clothes she wore were clothes that I could wear, since they didn’t require a bust or a voluptuous shape.

I literally keep The Book on my nightstand, and refer to it all the time. Reading the book and absorbing it, and exploring the pantheon of stars mentioned, will do more to reveal your Image ID to you than trying out every piece of clothing at H&M. You may get a sense for what works and what doesn’t, but it won’t show you who you are. Only by really going inward and being honest to yourself about your experience of your physicality will you figure out your Image ID.

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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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David Kibbe: There Is Only One

One of the things I have on my to-do list is to go through my old blog posts and rewrite the ones that I feel misrepresent David Kibbe’s ideas. Unfortunately, this will not solve the real problem, which is the plethora of misinformation out there that led me to said incorrect ideas in the first place. While Pinterest especially is full of it, one of the major culprits are the stylists who have taken David Kibbe’s work and now make their living typing people themselves. There are people who renamed his types and use his quiz and sometimes even have added some “types” they view as “lacking” in the original; there are people who have excerpts of his book on their professional analyst website with no credit; and there are even “schools” in some countries that offer courses in how to become a Kibbe analyst.

None of these people, of course, can replicate Kibbe’s work. Whenever someone tells me, in a Facebook comment or in the comments to this blog, that they are a “verified TR” (or whatever) and I know they haven’t gone to NYC to see David, I can say that it means absolutely nothing to me in terms of their yin/yang balance and their Kibbe Image ID. Someone who has gone through a long period of self-exploration and who has done their best to understand their yin/yang balance on their own has a far better chance of getting it “right” (i.e., the same thing Kibbe would give you) than one of these analysts, in my observation. I give the latter a 1-in-10 chance of getting it right, only you’ve paid money for the privilege.

Why do they get it so wrong? There are two major factors.

The first is a fundamental misunderstanding of yin/yang balance as Kibbe describes it and how to apply it. They don’t understand the Image IDs themselves, and they don’t understand what yin and yang actually look like in a person in Kibbe’s Metamorphosis framework.

The two most common mistakes, in both celebrities and real-life clients:

a) Someone yang is put in Romantic or Theatrical Romantic.

Someone who is 5’9″ with a cute/pretty face and curves is given Romantic. Someone with wide shoulders, a “dangerous” face, and muscles/taut flesh and who is maybe even 5’6″+ in height is given Theatrical Romantic. Clients and celebrities given TR/an equivalent in other systems have been FN, SN, SD, and FG in Kibbe. Romantics have been FN and SD. The result is that the overall perception of both of these types among the internet community is far more yang than they actually are.

b) Someone youthful and/or funky is given one of the Gamines despite having larger bone structure.

Romantics put into Soft Gamine; FNs/SNs put into Flamboyant Gamine. Since SG is described as wider than TR in the book, and FG is given “broadly angular,” it is understandable how these mistakes are made, but the latest word from David is that a larger bone structure that needs to be accommodated in clothes automatically rules out a gamine type. This also causes a lot of confusion–for a long time, I thought my shoulders were too narrow for FG, but now my sense is that if I did have shoulders as broad as some of the other people who identify as FG, I actually wouldn’t fit into gamine clothes.

Again, your chance of this analyst getting your Image ID correct, if what you’re seeking is your Kibbe Image ID but you can’t afford to see him in NYC, is the same as if you pulled one out of a hat, and maybe not even that good, considering the misconceptions.

The other major factor is a misapplication of the Image Identity itself. An Image ID is not a style. The style comes from you. It’s framework that you use you create a style; it is your guide. It is not a box. So often in the FG group we have women come in who say something like, “I think I’m FG, but I’m a 55 y/o professional with kids in college. How can I dress like Twiggy or a punk?” The perception of FG, to use it as an example, is that it is limited to these specific style inspirations. FG can be sophisticated, glamorous, professional, elegant… It can be whatever you need it to be. I wrote this post over two years ago, and while I’m not sure if I still stand behind all of it, the part about Audrey Hepburn’s and Grace Kelly’s versions of “classic” style still rings true to me. You can express anything you want within your Image ID.

Now, if you like someone’s work, that’s your prerogative if you want to spend your money and get analyzed by them and receive whatever services they offer. But if your goal is to get some kind of confirmation of your Kibbe Image ID, getting “typed” by someone who is using his work (or, as they do in many cases, claims to have “improved” upon his work, “filled in the gaps,” “modernized it,” etc.) will actually do the opposite of what you seek, and will set you back in your Kibbe journey of self-discovery and self-love. Just reading the text in the book accompanying the reveals and the chapter on resistance will do more to lead you to your Image ID than paying someone else several hundred dollars to give you an answer that is, in all likelihood, incorrect if what you really want to know is what David Kibbe would say.

Fantastical Beauty Animal Familiar: Cat

I know it’s been a long time since my last blog post. I was in the middle of a major move, and my mind was occupied with other things. But now I’m all settled in, and I hope to return to blogging regularly, as well as going through my archived posts and reworking some things so that there isn’t any misinformation about Kibbe’s system or anything else.

Today I’d like to talk about something I commissioned a couple of weeks ago: The Cat Animal Familiar in Fantastical Beauty. If you’re new to this system, I’d suggest going to Kati’s site and signing up for her mailing list so that you can receive the PDF that lays out the different elements of her system. In Fantastical Beauty, your Animal Familiar is the element that covers the particulars of your lines and facial features. It doesn’t have anything to do with vibe or personality.

The best way to figure out your AF, in my opinion, is simply to go through the list and rule out the ones that could not possibly apply to you. Unlike in, say, Kibbe, there’s no wiggle room for things like height. “Looking tall” doesn’t matter; only people who are literally tall will end up in a Tall Animal Familiar. So, for instance, in my process, I knew I wasn’t going to be “Tall” at 5’4″, so I eliminated Hawk, Snake, Panther, Wolf, and Lion immediately. Looking at what was left, it was pretty easy to come up with Cat: medium-short, medium-small, full and sharp mix of features. A collage with the Cat celebrities seemed to prove me right:

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Unlike the Fantastical Beauty 9 types, however, since AF is really the literal lines and shapes that suit you, I couldn’t do much with this information. There wasn’t even a Pinterest board. So I decided to commission a guide, along with two other women who split the cost with me. What I wanted to see was how well I fit into the type, and whether it would deviate or replicate the line information I had from Flamboyant Gamine.

You can see the Pinboard that accompanied the guide here, but basically Cat is very similar to Flamboyant Gamine, but the physical description resonates with me more. In the back of my mind, while I couldn’t really see any other Image ID actually working, I had been questioning Flamboyant Gamine, because I have small hands and feet and my length is in my torso, not my legs, my shoulders are tapered, etc. My body lines are too yang for SG, and so is my face, but I wasn’t sure if I was quite yang enough for FG. And SN was always on my mind, since the text of the book description seemed to fit.

I’ve had some realizations in the past few weeks, though. Being inspired to try a more Gamine style has really altered my whole image, and I realized that a lot in the Gamine description fit. I felt secure that wherever I ended up exactly, the Gamine group contained the only Image ID themes that would work for me. This was only compounded by a comment David Kibbe made when I posted a picture of my haircut in the FG group on Facebook, wherein he mentioned Mia Farrow to me:

Mia Farrow
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Mia is a Kibbe Gamine in the book, and she’s one of the ones he hasn’t yet moved to either SG or FG. I think I could see an argument either way, but looking at a bunch of pictures of her, I think I’d go FG. Anyway, I don’t think he would have brought her up to me if the Gamines weren’t the right Image Identity family for me, so I’m really focusing on making sure that I don’t go too yang, as I am wont to do, as my friend’s very astute husband pointed out, and respecting my own place on the yin/yang scale, where my juxtaposed yin and yang are almost equal, with yang coming out on top just slightly, and being able to pull from a wide spectrum of Gamine ideas. The Cat physical description seems to hit right at that spot, too, so it’s good “custom” guide for me.

Have you checked out Animal Familiars? Have you found a perfect spot for yourself?

Kibbe Soft Dramatic Essence Guide

After something like a year and a half of having it sit unfinished in my drafts folder, I finally finished the guide to the Soft Dramatic Image Identity. I think it took me so long because while of course I know all about these stars, I actually hadn’t seen many of their movies.

But I did it, and I hope to complete one of these a week, going in the order of the book. So the next guide will be to Romantics.

Enjoy!

P.S.: I also finally got an Instagram, so you can follow me there in addition to Facebook.

Breakout Roles: Alexis Bledel

Previously: Natalie Portman

This is occasional series I’ve started where I give my best guess on a celebrity’s Kibbe Image Identity–I look at their roles and image, versus an analysis of their physical features and body type. Last time, I decided that Natalie Portman is SG. This time, I’m going to reach a similar conclusion about an actress who is rather similar to her, with a similar debate about her type.

I’ve never seen Gilmore Girls until recently, when I decided to start binge watching it while laid up in bed with a upper respiratory tract infection. So far, I’m up to season four, and for me, the clues about Alexis’s type come less from what kind of character Rory Gilmore is and more about what other people on the show say about her.

One of the ways David Kibbe characterized gamines in general in our FG Facebook group is that “you can’t be sure if she is a waif under the bridge… Or a princess in waiting!” I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a modern example of an actress that fits this characterization better than Alexis.

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It is, in fact, easy to put Alexis into Audrey’s roles. The princess out for a day of fun in Roman Holiday, the bookstore intellectual-turned-model in Funny Face… She’d be perfect. She has similar qualities of vulnerability, charm, and intelligence that make her appealing.

After thinking about it, it’s hard for me to understand why her Flamboyant Gamine Image ID isn’t more obvious to people, and I have no idea why she is put into Dramatic Classic and Soft Classic on Pinterest. She is a deer, which huge eyes and a surprisingly long body for her face (5’7″). I could easily seen her as a 1960s teen sensation like Twiggy.

Classics, to me, have a more solid presence on screen. In fact, I think that if Rory Gilmore had been played by a Classic, it would have been too much. Of course the Grace Kelly facsimile got in Harvard, Princeton, and Yale; had every boy fall in love with her at first sight; and had mega-millionaire grandparents! But that little added Gamine charm helps to make her more appealing on screen (not that Classics don’t have enormous appeal, but at some point, there is just too much perfection).

Final Verdict: Flamboyant Gamine

Breakout Roles: Natalie Portman

Going off Kibbe’s statement that breakout roles are a good way to see what Image Identity a certain star is, I thought that it would be an interesting to experiment to take actresses whose Kibbe Image Identities are the subject of some controversy and try to decide where they fit based not on their physical features, but how they are cast and what roles made them stars.

The first star I thought of was Natalie Portman. Natalie is someone I’ve seen listed either as Soft Gamine or Soft Classic, and I can see the case for both. She looks great in short hair, and people will sometimes try to make a physical comparison between her and Audrey Hepburn.

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Classic comes in simply because she is just very pretty, and I could see casting her in a movie where she plays, say, a princess. (But of course, Audrey’s breakout role was Roman Holiday, so who says that the princess is always a classic Grace Kelly type?)

Like Mila Kunis, Natalie’s breakout role came very early in her life. She played Mathilde in Léon: The Professional at the age of 12. The Wikipedia article for the film describes her as “a twelve-year-old girl who is smoking a cigarette and sporting a black eye. Mathilda lives with her dysfunctional family in an apartment down the hall. Her abusive father and self-absorbed stepmother have not noticed that Mathilda stopped attending class at her school for troubled girls.”

Her next major role was as Queen Amidala in the Star Wars franchise. I think that outside of Star Wars fans, this isn’t really a signature role for her, but I think it presents an argument for Kibbe’s Gamine dichotomy: you aren’t sure whether they’re a waif under the bridge (her role in Léon) or a princess… In this case, a queen.

The role I think of when I think of Natalie Portman is Sam in Garden State, which is now a movie people make fun of (and she is kind of embarrassed by), but she basically plays the ultimate Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

I would say that this combination of roles early on in her career–the waif/princess dichotomy, the MPDG–puts her solidly as a Gamine base over a Classic one. And looking at her height and appearance, I’m going to go with the yin side of things.

Final Verdict: Soft Gamine

If there is another star you’d like me to look at, let me know!

The Importance of Casting in Kibbe: Breakout Roles

One of the most important things I’ve learned from David Kibbe is that when trying to apply his system, people often miss the forest for the trees. They focus on an analysis of body parts, rather than trying to understand how a person can present themselves to the world most effectively. David’s work is heavily influenced by the idea of the MGM “star factory,” which, if you’re interested, you can learn about from listening to the MGM episodes of You Must Remember This, for a start. David even namedrops Louis B. Mayer in Metamorphosis. The sum total of the features is not as important as whether the type that seems to make sense on paper will actually unleash your own special, unique star qualities.

Unfortunately, it seems like many who have not had the privilege of learning from David directly are still stuck in this old, analytical way of thinking. Recently, in a Kibbe group, I saw January Jones declared as a Natural. When questioned, the person who put her in that category said that her roles have given the false impression that she is Classic, and that there is a lot of Natural in her bone structure.

If a person’s career is made by a certain role, and this role is one that the person will have to overcome, typecasting-wise, for the rest of their career, unless they have one that is even more major and iconic, I don’t think we can say that she was miscast.

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Her role in Mad Men was to appear to be the ideal of the 1950s housewife, and later the late-60s Republican Political Wife. She is referred to as a “Grace Kelly type” by others in the show. (Kelly, by the way, also had clearly yang features, like her wide jaw.) She is never mentioned in the same sentence as Ingrid Bergman.

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Besides the fact that anyone who has seen January’s offscreen fashion choices can attest to the fact that uncontrolled styles do not highlight her beauty as much as controlled ones do, the fact that she was so successful as Betty Draper, to the point that “Betty Draper” has become a shorthand for a certain kind of woman, disproves the fact that it is only casting that has given us a Classic impression of January Jones. Now, David hasn’t confirmed her as far as I know, but both Jon Hamm and John Slattery are confirmed Classics, and I would be extremely surprised if January Jones were anything else. If she actually were a Natural, her Betty Draper styling would look a little odd and constricting. She simply wouldn’t have been cast in that role.

A Kibbe verification that threw people for a loop is Mila Kunis, who is a Theatrical Romantic. True, she doesn’t have the “wasp waist” associated with TRs.

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One piece of advice David gave when discussing Mila is to look at their breakout role–which applies to January obviously!–and for Mila, that was Jackie in That 70s Show, whom he called “the epitome of teenage TR.”

While this applies to what David refers to the “parlor game” of guessing celebrity types, I think we can apply it to ourselves as well. What would be your breakout role? What would cause your star power to be unleashed?

Understanding My Place Within the Gamines, Part Two

I’ve discussed my score on the Kibbe test before. I retook it again a few days ago, and my score is evenly split between yin and yang. This should perhaps mean that I’m one of the Flamboyant Gamines for whom the straight Gamine recommendations work better, but that isn’t what I’ve found in practice. The things that the women who seem closer to Gamine (very narrow, straight bodies, cute faces) are things I can never get to work on myself. When I picture a woman who can wear the Gamine recommendations, I picture someone like Mia Farrow in the 1960s.

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I don’t relate to her at all. But recently, as I’ve been watching some Kibbe-recommended movies, I’ve realized that there are straight Gamines I relate to, and ones I’ve been compared to.

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Paulette Goddard, in The Women.


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Jean Seberg, in Breathless.

These women are a bit fleshier than the FGs tend to be. The “taut flesh” is something that has always tripped me up. I’m not really someone who looked toned, even when I am thin–my arms, especially.

So anyway, some of these things have caused me to question FG for myself lately. What if I’m really Soft Gamine, and the square shape of my hips is something I should just deal with using shapewear? What if I just have the wrong idea about Gamine recommendations, and they end up being better for me than the FG ones? (I’ve also had a question about essence, but then I realized that I’m probably the only one who feels like I give off a vulnerable vibe, which is present in both Soft Gamine and Gamine and not really in Flamboyant Gamine.)

I made a spreadsheet with all the recommendations for all three types, and bolded what works for me. What I found is that the Flamboyant Gamine recommendations are still the clear winner. Almost everything works for me. But there are a few areas where I found that Gamine and Soft Gamine recommendations are either wearable or even better than the Flamboyant Gamine recommendations.

The major area where I found I have a lot of wiggle room is dresses. My best dress, a fitted, tailored silhouette with a narrow defined waist, is found in Gamine, not Flamboyant Gamine. I can also wear many of the evening dresses in the Soft Gamine section. Bustier dresses (cut straight across only, no sweetheart necklines) and poufy cocktail dresses work on me. I have a small enough waist to make them work, as long as the shape of my hips is hidden.

There are a lot of similarity in places like pants and skirt recommendations. But the major area where I saw Gamine working better than Flamboyant Gamine is the hair and makeup recommendations. Maybe it’s because I have full cheeks and don’t really have the major cheekbones that a lot of FGs have. “Boyishly tousled,” asymmetrical but wavy, etc. are the best haircuts for me. Makeup-wise, while I did when I was younger, I don’t like to go that smoky in my eye makeup most of the time. And because my facial bones aren’t as pronounced, I find a softer touch with contour works better. The Gamine makeup recommendations definitely sound more wearable to me.

My conclusion is that FG still works the best, but my softer face and smaller waist give me some room to play in Gamine and Soft Gamine. I think that this is a very helpful exercise for everyone to do, especially if you’re in a C, G, or N type, since you have those extra base type recommendations to consider.

The Myth of “Universally Flattering”

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I was looking at tops for the Theatrical Romantic Casual blog post (which is taking me longer than I expected–TR is definitely out of my comfort zone!) when I came across this top from Forever 21.

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Forever 21 Ornate Matelassé Peplum Top

The site has this to say about it: “With a universally flattering peplum silhouette, an ornate floral and paisley matelassé pattern, and a double V-neckline, it’s a subtly sultry statement-maker.”

If you’re reading this blog, you probably already know that this is far from the truth. Peplums are something that you’re rarely going to see cross type boundaries. If you’re a yin type that can wear a peplum, it has to be the very specific kind that suits your type, and it has to be just the right length, or it just looks wrong. And an FG like myself shouldn’t even think of touching a peplum.

The Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress is an iconic piece of clothing that is probably one of the first things that comes to people’s minds when they hear “universally flattering.” Oprah herself even said it.


Diane von Furstenberg New Julian Two Silk Wrap Dress

Personally, I think this may be even worse for me than the peplum. I can’t imagine a garment less suited for my body. The cut and the material require smooth, long curves to lay correctly. Thin fabric looks cheap on me, and anything that lacks shape, yet skims the body, creates what I call the “lumpy bowl of gravy” effect on me.

The problem with this is that if you grow up hearing that something like a wrap dress is supposed to flatter every single woman, and then you try one on and it looks awful, you feel like something is wrong with you. So you begin to think that your body is wrong, and you just need to lose weight or tone up. But the truth is, even if I were as slim as I could be while still remaining healthy, something meant for a body with an S-curve is just never going to look right on my body.

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Frankly, I don’t believe that a “universally flattering” clothing item exists. I have entirely different clothing needs from women with other line types. I need structure and asymmetry. Another woman may need clothes that are fluid and ornate. The idea that the same item of clothing could flatter both of us is laughable.

So why does this myth exist, and why do fashion publications continue to write about these mythical garments year after year? Obviously, it moves clothes. Ideas like an A-line dress being “safe” are going to get us to buy things. Figuring out what works for you as an individual can be overwhelming. But I guarantee that figuring out what works for you will go a long way in helping you no longer feel like there’s something wrong with you because you don’t look good in the same things your sister or your mom or your best friend does. Once you know the clothes that are made for your particular line type, you understand how these kinds of declarations are completely meaningless.

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