Archive of ‘Kibbe’s Metamorphosis’ category

Why I Stopped Dressing My Truth, Part 2

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…Or did I start doing it, at least my definition of it?

In recent months, I’ve been moving away from stricter views of style. You can see that my first post on this subject, as well as in my posts about disobeying your recommendations and abandoning Sci\ART.

Some people may like having a very narrow outline of what they should wear, and having everything in their wardrobe coordinate. I see the appeal of this, and for a long time, I believed that this was the best way. But I feel like it’s started to feeling too constricting for me. It was taking the fun out of clothes. When I started my style journey, I pretty much only wore black and gray. I had no idea what colors looked good on me. Exploring all of these color and style systems has given me clarity, which in turn I now feel allows me to know how I can break the rules.

One of the problems with the stricter systems is that they can almost make you feel guilty for not following them. For instance, if I don’t dress as a Type Three, am I letting myself down because I’m not showing my “true” self? If I don’t want to wear shades and substance, is it giving the wrong impression about who I am?

As it so often happens, the answer came to me while reading Metamorphosis:

Since you don’t have Louis B. Mayer guiding you in developing your star quality, you’ve got to do it for yourself. Discovering your Image Identity is the first step, for it allows you to utilize everything you are–both physically and innately–so that you can integrate your essential uniqueness into your own total look.

Not only will you end perfectly coordinated, with all elements of your appearance working harmoniously and holistically, but you will also get to experience the fun, the excitement, and even the glamour of discovering how thrilling and fulfilling it is when your star quality is out in the open for everyone to see and appreciate. The most exciting part of your metamorphosis becomes the new way you experience yourself as you begin to glory and revel in your totally radiant being!

By putting your uniqueness on display, you allow the world to see that there is no one else exactly like you. You are also able to remember that fact yourself, which is not always easy to do. That’s what Metamorphosis is all about. We’re not transforming you into something that’s going to disappear when you slip out of your clothes or wash the makeup off your face and watch it slowly drain down the sink.

Your true special essence already exists. Your star quality is inside you this very instant as surely as the ability to take your next breath. All you need to do is discover it, acknowledge it, enhance it, allow it to be seen, and then simply sit back and experience the wonder that is you!

I’m putting so long an excerpt here because I think it really captures what I love so much about the way David Kibbe works, and what I think sometimes other people struggle with when they try to work out Kibbe’s system for themselves. You simply are who you are. I can’t make myself into a Marilyn Monroe type anymore than Marilyn could have turned herself into Audrey. It’s about embracing what you are, and letting go of what you’re not.

To some, letting go of who you are not means rejecting things based on color, or by following DYT’s principles. But being Dark Autumn didn’t feel like an essential part of who I was–it was simply a set of rules to follow. DYT didn’t feel like an expression of me. It seemed to just get in the way of who I was, with rules to follow that may reflect my heavy footplant, but that were not as good a representation of me as Flamboyant Gamine is.

For me, using my intuition to follow my yin/yang balance and enjoy being FG is the fullest expression of who I am and my truth.

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Image Identity vs. Image Archetype

Whenever I’m in a Kibbe Facebook group and I see someone use the term “Image Archetype” in place of “Image Identity,” I always correct them. To some, this may seem pedantic. But to me, they mean very, very different things.

Image ID is the term David always uses. Image Archetype, or IA, is used by Rachel Nachmias. I’m not going to get into the whole thing in this blog post, but I want to point out a key area where they differ.

An Image ID is who you are. I like the definition from Dictionary.com: “the condition of being oneself or itself, and not another.” You simply are what you are. Your Image ID is a framework, and you place your own style on top of it. Kibbe’s Metamorphosis is about accepting your physicality and essence for what they are and stopping feeling like the grass is greener. Image IDs don’t place a limit on your self-expression.

An Image Archetype, however, is something else entirely. The word “archetype” infers a pattern, whether that’s in unconscious thought as in Jung or simply meaning a prototype more generally. The focus isn’t on who you are; rather, the focus is on how well you represent a certain idea. In her book The Face of the Business, Rachel lays out the style stereotypes that are supposed to suit each Image Archetype. So if you’re a Pixie (what she calls FG in this book), and you don’t relate to flapper, punk, or mod–you’re out of luck.

This is why people say that a Kibbe Image ID can feel limited, or that they wish they could be X because they want to wear certain clothes, but unfortunately, they’re Y. They are coming from the Image Archetype idea, and not Image ID. As David says, the Image ID is supposed to set you free–not box you in.

To give one example, I will often hear people say, “Well, I’m an Audrey type of FG.” By this, they mean that they don’t want to dress like the stereotype (Kelly Osbourne, perhaps) and prefer simpler, more elegant clothes.


There is nothing wrong with admiring Audrey’s clothes–she is an icon for a reason. It’s the idea that she is somehow an anomaly that I have a problem with, as well as the idea that style is static and that your mood today will be your mood forever. We all evolve. Our yin/yang balance doesn’t change, but we do.


David does say that FGs “have trendy in their DNA,” but that doesn’t mean that FGs have to dress wild all the time. FGs can dress however they want, as long as they respect their yin/yang balance. The same goes for all Image IDs. And this is why I’m so picky about the usage of the correct term: you are who you are as an individual; you are not just one of many made from the same mold.

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Don’t Be a Kibbe Masochist

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You’ve done it. You figured out your Image ID. The old-school celebrities feel relatable to you. Getting dressed is so much easier now. You see how all your supposed “flaws” are just part of your yin/yang balance.

Sadly, at this point, many people actually abandon their Image ID. They go back to something else, something that they wish they were. Why? Maybe it’s, “I don’t want to be a part of a club that would have me as a member.” Maybe once the exciting haze clears of the new discovery, you are left to go back and confront those “flaws,” to finally accept them once and for all. You may now be sure about how to incorporate your personality into your Image ID.

Finding out where you belong, and then putting yourself somewhere else, is masochistic. You are torturing yourself with what you are not. You are saying to yourself, “What I actually am will never be good enough.”

This happens to every Image ID. If you’re an FN and you’re insisting you’re a very tall TR, for instance, there is certainly a TR who is looking at all the supermodel FNs and wishing they were a glamazon. Most people have a hard time recognizing their own beauty, but they can see it in others.

Read Kibbe’s chapter on resistance to your Image ID. Recognize that no one Image ID is superior to another. Beautiful people are found in every single Image ID.

Various Image IDs on display in The Women, 1939. (Source)

Various Image IDs on display in The Women, 1939. (Source)

Give yourself a break. Recognize your own beauty and let yourself be in the Image ID that actually supports your yin/yang balance. Just remember the following:

1) There is no hierarchy. Sure, the TR chapter may be especially flowery because David is writing in part about his wife, but it doesn’t mean that TR is the superior Image ID in practice. I think any TR around could tell you about their own struggles with their self image in their yin/yang balance.

2) There is no limit to your self-expression within any ID. FGs don’t have the market cornered on punk clothing. You can express any look you want within your Image ID.

3) Being in the right ID makes your life easier! You are no longer struggling with clothes that don’t fit right because they weren’t intended for someone with your yin/yang balance.

So stop torturing yourself. Don’t think that just because it’s your yin/yang balance, it is somehow inferior or boring or unattractive. You will shine in whatever your Image ID is.

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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:

cat_collage

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
(Source)

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.

paris waif
audrey1
audrey2
audrey3

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.

natalie_audrey

(Source)

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!

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