Archive of ‘Kibbe’s Metamorphosis’ category

New YouTube Video: David Kibbe’s Metamorphosis Book: Foreword

When I finally decided to start making YouTube videos, I wanted to start with what I identified as the most pressing need in this space, and to me, that was making the content of Metamorphosis available to people who don’t have the book. Parts of the book are online, like the quiz, physical profiles, and checklist, but not that parts of the book that explained the purpose of the system. Without it, Kibbe becomes just another body typing system.

So I’m going to be going through book, making videos explaining the content in each missing chapter. If you’ve never had the chance to read the book, I hope these videos help give you a better perspective on what the system is meant to do for your style and your life.

Click here to view the Style Syntax YouTube channel!

Please check it out and let me know what you think! 🙂

Height in Kibbe: Why Tall People Can’t Be in Short Image Identities

Disclaimer: This information is not something I have learned from David Kibbe, and only represents what I think. Please join Strictly Kibbe if you would like help on your journey with Kibbe.

In my last post, I talked about how you can’t really add anything to length except width or curves, and that’s why D, SD, and FN are the only possible options for women who are tall. But this doesn’t really seem to be a sufficient explanation for why literal height is always length and thus yang, whereas literal shortness isn’t always yin. While I could repeat what David says, it was hard to get people on board if they felt that they had a short line, despite being tall.

I think I have come up with a way to explain it that makes sense. Let’s talk short lines. The Romantics (Romantic and Theatrical) and the Gamines (Soft and Flamboyant) have “yin size,” or a short body line. The Romantics have one due to their round shape, their curves. Think of yin as a circle, and yang as a line, either standing straight up (sharp yang) or on its site (blunt/strong yang).

Gamines, on the other, have a broken line. I can see this easily in my body. It is composed of short lines. My body line is basically in fits and starts, and it’s something I mirror in my clothing.

Jean Seberg, 5’3″ Kibbe Gamine (hasn’t been moved to F or S yet!)

Now, when you add length to either a broken line or a rounded line, it loses that quality. With length, I would lose that “broken” quality to my line. All of the individual lines in my body would be longer. A rounded shape lengthens and the curvature is less dramatic compared to the length of the body.

But you can have someone who is shorter, and yet doesn’t have a broken line visually.

SJP in 1991, a 5’3″ FN

This seems fairly common when you’re just on the lower end of moderate (5’3″ or so), and less so when you get very short. But again, a long line on a short woman is just possible in the way a short line on a tall woman isn’t.

I hope this explains why there isn’t necessarily a lower limit for the tall Image IDs, but there is an upper one for shorter Image IDs.

Height in Kibbe: About Dramatic, Soft Dramatic, and Flamboyant Natural

Before I start, I’d just like to say that while I usually try to stick to things I can find direct citations for when it comes to Kibbe, this is something that I’ve seen come up so frequently that I’d like to address it. Please do not ask me what you’d be with your vertical and outline combination; this is based on what I’ve been able to learn from David but is not authorized by him in any way. Please join Strictly Kibbe if you would like help on your journey with Kibbe.

With that, something I have been seeing a lot lately is people saying that D, SD, and FN are broader Image IDs, and tall women are going to find that their Image IDs are less to specific to them than to me at 5’4″, for example. It’s true that my height doesn’t rule out anything for me, but it doesn’t mean that every Image ID is open to me, either. I believe that D, SD, and FN don’t cater to wider variety of women than the rest, except for the fact that they cover a wider range of literal heights.

Let’s think about what goes into the yin/yang balance of different Image IDs. Putting flesh aside, we can divide them into two fundamental elements:

Your vertical can be:

  • Short
  • Moderate
  • Long

Your outline can be:

  • Curvy
  • Straight (nothing really in your outline to accommodate)
  • Wide (has width somewhere from the ribcage through the shoulders)

While there are subtler nuances, this is basically what you’re dealing with when it comes to the physical reality of your body. When it comes to the tall Image IDs, I often hear people say that they are so much more diverse in terms of appearance because they are the only ones open to tall women (over, I would estimate, 5’8″). But I would counter with this: tell me what is missing for these women, because I really can’t see it. If you are tall, and don’t have width or curves, you’d be D. If you’re tall, and have curves and maybe width, you’d be SD. If you’re tall and accommodate just width in your outline, you’d be FN. The other variations come from having short or moderate vertical. You have literal, physical length. You’re not going to be moderate/symmetrical/balanced, because the length rules out that symmetry. You’re not going to have a combination of opposites, because your length is too significant for that balance. You’re not going to be all curves with no vertical, because you have that vertical.

I don’t believe that tall women get the short end of the stick, and I’ve never seen anyone put forth a convincing argument for this. All the Image IDs have a broader range of women than Hollywood might make it seem, because generally to find success in Hollywood, you have to adhere to a certain beauty standard. In real life, you’re able to see the true range of each Image ID. Each Image ID includes a wide range of women who share particular features in their physicality, but every individual in an Image ID is unique. If you are a tall woman, you just happen to have one major piece of the puzzle solved for you, which is your vertical. So yes, ultimately, you can narrow down your exploration to these three, but it doesn’t mean that your actual options are narrower than anyone else’s, because we are all limited to one ID based on the constraints of our physical selves.

Kibbe Style Icon: Audrey Hepburn, the Misunderstood Flamboyant Gamine

We all know that Audrey Hepburn is one of the major style icons of the 20th century, and she also happens to be a Flamboyant Gamine. Her style is often talked about as if it is exceptional for FG, but really, it’s only exceptional in that she was so exceptional–it fits perfectly within an FG context.

I think this is due to the fact that Audrey dressed so well for her Image ID that she was able to make items with a lot of design elements, or adding these herself, look classic, chic, and sophisticated. I will often see guides to “dressing like Audrey,” but they generally miss the mark. They tend to feature very plain clothes, the kind of things relegated to the “basics” category, and claim that this is how you achieve an Audrey look.

If you actually look at how she dressed, however, it’s clear that even when she wore similar items to those on the lists, she did something to them to add more interest, what we might call “breaking the line” in Gamineland. Yes, she wore a plain white shirt, but she added a knot. She always added flourishes that provided what we need for our yin.

I think this is a mistake that a lot of people who have more of a classic sensibility make when they come to FG. They figure that can follow Audrey’s example, and that she is kind of an exception, but she really isn’t. She embodied what it means to be a Flamboyant Gamine because she always knew what an outfit needed to take it from something anyone would wear to the level of design a Flamboyant Gamine requires.

So don’t think of Audrey as some kind of model for the way to do FG that “isn’t like the rest.” By studying Audrey, any FG can learn how to create that special quality unique to us.

Is Kibbe’s Book Relevant Today?

Some people seem to view the book as completely separate from “new” Kibbe, as if what he does on Facebook is totally removed from what he wrote in 1987. What he does on Facebook and on his website is painted as something totally different from what he said before. David has continued to work and develop his theory since the book came out, so naturally some things have indeed changed:

The Clothing Checklist.

Part of this impression stems from the fact that only selected portions of the book have made it to the internet, primarily the quiz and the descriptions of the Image IDs and their recommendations. This not only makes it seem like the system is a set of stereotypes you fit into, but, since nearly 35 years have passed since the book’s publication and clothing construction has changed radically, we are not limited to exact styles described in the book. In fact, due to these changes in clothing construction, trying to replicate the effects in modern styles might actually not even work. I think this is especially true for anyone who has to accommodate width or curve. “Flow” or “drape” in a non-stretchy material is very different from a stretchy cotton jersey, for instance. Clothing construction now means that clothing also tends to take shape of the body it is on, instead of the other way around. So one garment may suit several IDs, but they would all style it differently.

Classic, Gamine, and Natural are no longer given as an Image Identity on their own.

Everyone now is either the Soft or Flamboyant/Dramatic versions of these IDs. This also has the effect of broadening the descriptions of these IDs, since people who may have been one of these base IDs are now in the Soft or Flamboyant/Dramatic category. There are going to be SGs and FGs, for instance, who are going to be closer to the 50/50 split than before, but still, one of the two will win out. (This is not something that Kibbe has said, but rather my assumption based on the fact that these IDs once existed, and now do not.)

Makeup!

I don’t think any of us would want to wear 80s makeup, and David doesn’t want that for us either. David now prescribes the same watercolor technique for everyone, and you work with your bone structure. Glossy lips are also favored for all. So please, do not listen to YouTube videos that try to follow the heavy 80s makeup recommended!

Height.

The upper limits still pretty much hold true, but there is no lower limit for height in an Image ID, and SG and FN are no longer portrayed as the only ones that are “very petite” and “very tall,” respectively.

What Hasn’t Changed

As I said in the beginning, sometimes people act is the book is just completely outdated, and what David teaches you in Strictly Kibbe is completely different. But when I go back to the book and read it, I see the same David on the page as the one I encounter in Strictly Kibbe.

The Process.

What unfortunately didn’t make it online–and what I really wish had!–is all of the content besides the quiz and the descriptions. In the book, David lays out how his system is different and the idea at the heart of it (creating your unique “Total Look” by integrating your finite outer appearance with your infinite inner self). He then introduces you to yin and yang as used in the system, and how you can rectify these two different selves, if there is a conflict. There are 25 pages of text before you even get to the quiz, and then there is a fantasy quiz, for you to understand your inner self better. Like today, you are thinking about yourself and your dreams, and you understand yin and yang, before you ever get to the quiz. The lack of this foundation in yin and yang is why people have such trouble with the quiz. I remember the first time I took it I scored myself as extremely yin, because I didn’t really understand that measurement and shape weren’t the same thing.

The Fundamental Yin/Yang Balances and Image ID Descriptions.

This is the portion before the checklist, where he describes each Image ID. This is really where I find the “meat” of the information about the Image IDs. They make it clear to me why David got rid of the “middle” types, because I think these work even when you don’t have those. For instance, for FG, the description of the yin/yang balance says: “Physically, you are Yang in shape (angular), Yin in size (height). Both sides are important, but Yang is dominant.” This makes complete sense to me as an FG. SG is “slightly angular” in bone structure and “Yin in shape (curvy flesh, rounded features).”

He describes the overall silhouette like this:

Your overall silhouette is composed of Yang shapes: very angular and geometric, straight lines with sharp edges. Your important Yin secondary characteristics are expressed by working with broken and staccato lines and detail.

This alone captures how I approach dressing for my yin/yang balance. Armed with this, I really don’t need all those “recs.” I work with these angular-but-short straight lines and add detail.

Color.

David’s color system seems to be largely ignored, but I definitely feel like he regards color as equally important to line. He teaches it basically exactly as described in the book, and works with the same seasons and, while the makeup application techniques have changed, the same colors still work.

If you have the book, I would definitely pull it out and read it and see whether you can see Contemporary Kibbe in its pages. I know it’s now hundreds of dollars on Amazon, but it really is a wonderful book with a lot of insight. He says he will write another, so let’s cross our fingers!

These are just the things that came to me when looking through the book, so if you have any other questions about the book vs. what David says today, please leave them in the comments.

Height in Kibbe: 2020

A couple of months ago, I rewrote an old post on this blog about the “curvy” Flamboyant Gamine. This blog has been around for a long time now, and the older posts date from before David joined the Facebook groups and changed the way all of us see and work with his system. It feels like the most appropriate thing for me to do, rather than make a whole bunch of posts private, is to continue to rewrite posts to update them to how I understand the Kibbe Metamorphosis system to work now.

Today, I’ll like to go back and write about height in Kibbe. This is a subject of some controversy. You can find all kinds of things on the internet, like height is just one factor of many, and shouldn’t be given more weight than something else. But let’s remember the basics of yin and yang. Yin is short and rounded; yang is long and angular. Your height is key to this very fundamental aspect of yin and yang.

1. Why can’t certain Image IDs be taller?

R, TR, SG, FG, and SC all top out around 5’5″ (SC 5’6″). Why? Because the taller you are, the more prominent yang is, and it starts to become too much length (yang) for these balances. TR is much more yin than people seem to think, especially. Gamines need to be compact, and you would lose that compactness with more length. SC, of course, needs to be moderate, with extra yin, and you cannot have that with length.

2. Why are tall women limited to three Image IDs?

Literal length is automatically yang. At a certain point (which seems to be around 5’9″), a woman automatically has a dominant vertical (Dramatic, Soft Dramatic, or Flamboyant Natural). You automatically have a strong vertical, because it’s literally there. And then what you have is vertical, vertical with curve (and perhaps width), or vertical with width. There is no way to get to moderate, or juxtaposition. You always have that vertical you must honor, because it’s literally there. You cannot ignore it while dressing, or you’ll look like you’re wearing the clothes of a much smaller person.

3. But [celebrity] is taller!

First, celebrities are not intended as data points. They should not be used as points of comparison. They are there as “lodestars,” i.e., inspiration. Some celebrities David has seen in person; others he hasn’t. There is far more emphasis placed on celebrities around the Kibbe-focused internet than there should be. The best examples of an Image ID are people who have actually gone to Kibbe and been given a Metamorphosis by him. Celebrities are fun to watch on screen for inspiration, but should not be taken more seriously than David’s own words on an Image ID. Please, please never bring up Rihanna being 5’8″ and in TR to me ever again. If she is truly 5’8″, she would no longer be in TR. Same with every other celebrity listed with a height taller than the range for the Image ID.

4. Why can shorter women be in the taller IDs?

Women who are shorter but in a taller Image ID (i.e., a 5’3″ SD) are there because they still have a vertical that needs to be addressed in clothing, even if they aren’t literally tall. But you cannot have it the other way around, because literal length always has to be addressed.

5. But what if people are taller in my country?

Your Image ID is the same no matter where you are. It’s not relative to your surroundings. If people tend to be taller in your country, that just means there are more yang people in your country. How your body needs to be accommodated in clothing doesn’t change. This is the same for ethnicities. You are assessed as an individual.

Conclusion

Basically, height comes from the way yin and yang works. If you think about it in terms of the basics I have in the beginning of this post–yin is short and rounded, yang is long and angular–it helps makes sense of why height plays such an important role in your Image ID. If you think about what “moderate” means, for instance, and why Cs are described that way, the fact that Classics aren’t going to be 6′ tall makes perfect sense. And if Gamines need to be compact, they just can’t be tall either. And so on. Thinking about yin and yang will help you make sense of the question of height.

Why Strictly Kibbe Is Private

This is something I see a lot in online chatter. People don’t really understand why Strictly Kibbe is a private group on Facebook, and why it’s not public. There are many reasons for this, and none of them have to do with being elitist, or making David’s work harder to access.

The first is history. The Kibbe community was already established in private and secret groups on Facebook, and it made sense to stay on Facebook so that when we started a group with a new philosophy, people could easily join from the old community.

The next reason is privacy. I personally don’t like posting a lot of pictures of myself online, and I’m sure a lot of other people feel the same way. The Kibbe process is a very personal one, and I believe it works best when it is done in a space where people can allow themselves to vulnerable. I have clicked on photos people post on imgur when they’re asking for Kibbe help on other sites, for example, and I see random people leaving rude comments. We want people to be able to go through the process in a supportive, protected environment.

The last is an element of control, although maybe not in the way you think. I do want as many people to be able to access the information as possible, and as long as people follow the process, they are allowed in. The only people I don’t allow in the group are people who have a profile picture that catches my eye in a negative way (something that sets off my radar) or people who I know have an online presence where they are putting forth Kibbe misinterpretations. I have seen people use his test to type people or put portions of his book on their website while letting people believe that it is their own work. And if people make YouTube videos or blog posts that propagate misinformation (it is easier to blog or make videos about the wrong way than the right way, unfortunately), we also don’t want them to have the privilege of getting feedback from David either. David gives the kind of help and feedback other people have paid thousands of dollars to receive from him. But while you do need a Facebook account, I don’t look for things like how long you’ve been on Facebook–I know people create accounts just to join the group.

Additionally, David has information on his own site, www.davidkibbe.co, so if you’re on the fence, I suggest checking it out. The way he works with his own materials is very different from the way it’s presented elsewhere. The process isn’t what everyone wants, but when it works for you, there is no comparison!

I hope this clarifies some of logic behind why we have made the choice we have. The intent has always been to create the best space we can to learn about and discuss David’s work.

Does David Kibbe Contradict Himself?

The idea that David Kibbe contradicts himself all the time is something I see frequently in non-sanctioned Kibbe spaces on the internet. In fact, this idea just seems to be generally accepted as truth.

Now, David has adjusted his thinking over the past 30+ years. He has had that much more time to think about his work. For instance, Natural, Gamine, and Classic are no longer used as Image IDs. And the way he is able to present his work now, by interacting with us, has brought a lot of clarity. But this does not mean that his work contains contradictions.

The place where I usually see this being brought up is in regard to height. David is clear on height and how it functions within his ideas of yin and yang. People will bring up a celebrity that is reported to be taller (I love Rihanna, but I never want to hear about her being a tall TR again) that David put in an Image ID that has to be shorter. This is taken as a sign that David contradicts himself, so his clear statements on height don’t matter.

Of course, we can all explain until we’re blue in the face that David believes that most celebrities are shorter than their reported heights, and that if he saw someone in person and they were clearly tall, he would change their Image ID, not his definition of the Image ID–i.e., Blythe Danner being moved from SC to FN.

But I think that this answer doesn’t address why this rumor persists. It is convenient for people to think that David contradicts himself, because then they can remain in a state of resistance. If you believe David contradicts himself, you can be whatever you want, including a tall Gamine, since any statement on his part is up for debate.

So no, David does not contradict himself. It is just that resistance is hard to get through, and people latch on to these ideas so that they don’t have to deal with their resistance. But it is the acceptance of your yin/yang balance that leads to style freedom.

Combining Kibbe and Dressing Your Truth

I’ve never been someone who looks at one style system at a time. I have always worked with multiple style systems. My approach to doing so has evolved over the years. In my systematic way, I used to think that you can just write out a list of recommendations for each, and see where they differ and where they overlap. I no longer endorse this approach. This is partially because I now know that “recommendations” aren’t the correct way to go about using David’s work, and partially because I am interested in a cohesive look, and I feel that picking some elements, but not others, could result in something that just looks like a mishmash. I plan to go more in depth in my new workbook, but until then, I will share how I combine the two systems I use in my daily life: Kibbe and DYT.

Color

Color is easy: I stick to Type 4 colors. As I’ve said before, I feel the most like myself in these colors. I deeply appreciate David’s feedback, and maybe if I saw him in NYC and he could style me, I could see how Bright Spring or Gentle Autumn could be me, too. I don’t think mixing multiple palettes in one outfit works, and while I thought that perhaps I would have entirely Spring or Autumn head-to-toes, it just doesn’t appeal to me and I don’t seem to ever do it.

Style

Style I would describe as Flamboyant Gamine being a kind of operating system or framework running underneath, almost subconsciously, in a way. From knowing that I’m FG, I know where my star power lies. I know which clothes will accommodate my particular body, and what is best left to someone else. DYT I can use in a more concrete way, with the particular patterns, textures, etc. that go along with it, and how to balance something that maybe isn’t 100% T4 (although it always is in color!). I don’t carry around a list of recommendations. I can look at things and determine whether, when paired together, an outfit will meet both the requirements of juxtaposed yin and yang with more yang (Kibbe FG) and yin-yang-yang-yang (DYT 4/3). When used together, even in my casual days (which, as a grad student, most are), I am able to feel 100% myself and confident in my choices.

Is It Easy?

For me, it is very easy to make the two work together. My personal T4 style keywords are “Bold, Structured, and Edgy,” and it’s easy to see how FG would fit into that (although of course you could be an entirely different Image ID and those keywords would still work for you!). But sometimes, the options you get from different systems don’t really seem to coalesce. In my case, that would be the season/color palette aspect. I’m sure there are colors on the Spring and Autumn palettes that would fit into T4, but I wouldn’t get my black and white. Trying to satisfy both would leave me with very limited options. In that case, I just had to make an executive decision in terms of which I would choose.

What has been your experience with trying to merge different style systems into one wardrobe?

“Curvy” Flamboyant Gamine: 2019

Five years ago, I wrote a post about the conclusions I had come to about how I was a Flamboyant Gamine.

Of course, this being so long ago, I didn’t really understand a lot of David’s system. I somehow understood intrinsically that I was a Flamboyant Gamine, but I didn’t really understand what my body was showing me. Reading that post, I have no idea why I didn’t think I was a Soft Gamine except for pure instinct, and that I knew that attempting to dress taking into account what I saw as my “curves” was a disaster.

I’m always learning new things from David, and one of the things he has said recently is that Women start with a baseline of curves. Men have a baseline of length and width. Having measurements that indicate a bust, waist, and hips are not enough to add yin. The most yang women can have a body shape that would be considered “hourglass” if you put it into a calculator.

What matters it how clothing falls around the body. On a Dramatic woman, they have their long vertical:
Lauren.

(And no, I am not suggesting people try clothing on to see! David has an exercise to figure this out on Strictly Kibbe.)

For me, as an FG, it is a mixture of long and short:

Audrey

For an R, their curves need to be accommodated:

Marilyn

Having a bust, waist, and hips does not mean that you have to accommodate curves. It may sound funny, but I dress to accommodate my lack of curves, width, and balance. I am not a unicorn among FGs, because what I have is a baseline of curves, and not curves that need to be considered. I simply have a juxtaposed mix of yin and yang, and yang wins out.

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