Archive of ‘Kibbe’s Metamorphosis’ category

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.

ornate_peplum

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.

audrey_twofortheroad
(Source)

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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Know your type in several systems but having trouble putting it all together? My workbook can help.

The Three Levels of Dress: Flamboyant Gamine Casual with Athletic Wear

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One of the chapters in the workbook is about something I call “The Three Levels of Dress.” The basic premise is that there are three general levels of formality, and it’s important to know how to dress true to your style for each. You don’t stop dressing Theatrical Romantic because you’re in casual wear, and you don’t skip out on formalwear because you have a Natural base.

I’ll do more posts in the future talking about specific types and what the different levels look like for them, but today I’m going to focus on my own type and one way to approach casual dress if you’re also a Flamboyant Gamine.

While Flamboyant Gamine isn’t exactly challenging for casual wear, since as a type, it has low level of formality in general, it still can be a bit intimidating when you look at Pinterest. It can seem a little out there, or like you’d need the body of an 18-year-old runway model to pull it off.

fg_mini
(Source)
Typical FG Pinterest example… No one needs to see that much of my legs!

One approach that I really like, and something I do in my own life, is mainly getting my casual clothes from two places: the “basics” section of stores like H&M, and athletic brands. The latter is something I’ve done for a long time, before I had even heard of Kibbe.

Now, if you’re picturing the Real Housewives of Orange County going out to lunch in their gym gear, that’s not what I’m talking about. Athletic brands are actually a great source of clothes that tick essential FG boxes: asymmetry, boxiness, bolder choices in color and pattern than most “street” clothes, and pieces that can provide the narrow base FG is built on. Put in a different context, they’ll look like more interesting versions of a sweatshirt, t-shirt, leggings, whatever, rather than you looking you were too lazy to put on real clothes.

I got a little end-of-year bonus yesterday, and since I’ve found myself with only two sweaters to my name, I decided to invest in some sweatshirts.

NIKE-TECH-FLEECE-CAPE-684928_696_A_PREM

Nike Tech Fleece Cape. I’m not sure why this is called a “cape,” since it’s really a hoodie/jacket. Number one for me here is the asymmetry, obviously. But I also love how the hood is oversized, and since this hoodie long in the back, it means I can wear it with leggings. Definitely something I can wear all year long–as a sweater layer in the winter, over another sweater when it’s really cold, and as a jacket in the spring/summer.

ctopped_sweatshirt

T/F Cropped Crew. Here we encounter one of the problems with every single model being FN 🙂 I promise you that this looks boxy on me! Cropped, boxy sweatshirt + bodycon tunic + leggings/skinny jeans are one of my uniforms, and the old sweatshirts I have, a gray leopard-print one and one in the elusive DA yellow, are from Forever 21 and thus can’t really be worn and washed for more than a season. I hope that this sweatshirt–mine has black accents, not silver–will last a little longer. Plus it was on sale.

Athletic wear is also a great place to find pieces you need to put together FG’s narrow base layer.

NIKE-LEGENDARY-ENG-LATCE-TIGHT-694373_065_A_PREM

These Legendary Engineered Lattice Tights could be paired with an oversized, boxy sweater.

AA8815_21_model

Stella McCartney’s Adidas line is one that I shop from when I can afford it, and the Essentials Short Tights would look very cute with a boxy t-shirt or sweatshirt.

AA7058_21_model
The color selection is also more varied than we usually find in these styles. If you’re a soft season FG, it can be hard to find clothes… but this Running Essentials Graphic Tee would definitely work.

hmprod
Brands like Nike and Adidas are expensive, and I can’t imagine buying these clothes just to sweat in them. When I buy clothes for exercise, I always go to H&M. But their clothes are actually just as cute, and while I haven’t gone to the gym in like a year, the clothes I bought to go to the gym are things I wear on a weekly basis. This Sports Top I picture paired with skinny jeans in a neon color and a statement necklace, or a tight miniskirt.

The athletic wear department is an easy place for FGs to find their asymmetrical, cropped/boxy + narrow silhouette in a variety of colors. Plus it’s super comfortable. If you mix it up with non-athletic clothing, it will definitely not look like you were too lazy to change after the gym.

Is there an unexpected source of clothing that is a goldmine for your type? How do you do casual?

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Know your type in several systems but having trouble putting it all together? My workbook can help.

David Kibbe Letter #3: My Response, Part 2

I’ve already written about David Kibbe’s most recent letter, but there’s something I overlooked last time that I want to address. It’s at the end of the letter:

—-HEAD TO TOE, ONLY. (Don’t forget accessories…shoes, bag, hat, jewelry, stockings)

—-MIX ‘N MATCH= MIS­MATCHED! (Don’t buy a piece at a time….Think outfits).

The first point I absolutely agree with, although I’m not the best at it. I only have one bag and one hat per purpose (small and large, and keeping warm, respectively) and I definitely don’t have enough jewelry. Finding jewelry that fits my exact specifications has been a challenge.

But even though I should do better myself, generally, I agree. When people are trying on types and just put on a dress, it’s hard to get the full picture. You need the hair, the makeup, the shoes, the accessories to really understand the full picture of a type. Especially if you’re in good shape, a lot of different things can be flattering, but the key is whether you need the whole image of a type. You might look great in that TR wiggle dress, but do you need the TR jewels, or does it look better if you pair it with something simpler? If you don’t have it all put together, it’s not an outfit; it’s just clothes.

The second point, however, is more difficult for me. My goal with style and color analysis has always been to put together a small, but high-quality and stylish wardrobe where different pieces can be “remixed,” as fashion bloggers like to say. I want to be able to “shop my closet.”

But here, Kibbe seems to be saying that you should put together a head-to-toe look, and have those pieces just be for that one outfit. For my lifestyle, that just doesn’t make sense. I live a casual life. I have the kind of job where jeans and a t-shirt are just fine, and I find myself in situations where more than that is required maybe two or three times a year. I don’t tend to have the need for Outfits like the ones you can see the Kibbes wearing in photos.

Yet I’ve also seen the Kibbes “dressed down” in photos from people who have gone to see them: sweaters and khakis or leggings. I doubt that David and Susan buy a new pair of khakis or leggings for each sweater or t-shirt they own. That would be totally ridiculous. Like anyone else, for their more casual clothes, I’m certain they have a set of clothes that they mix and match, just like everyone else.

I think that thinking in terms of outfits is good for special events. But you’re more likely to get mileage out of your more hard-wearing, every day clothes if you can think of a lot of pieces in your wardrobe that your new piece will coordinate with. And once you’ve pretty much converted your wardrobe to a cohesive style, that process becomes more or less automatic, since everything already works together.

Hyper-coordinated outfits are great for the when the occasion calls for it, but our daily lives are probably served best by maximizing our possibilities with every new purchase.

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Know your type in several systems but having trouble putting it all together? My workbook can help.

David Kibbe Letter #3: My Response

For the past couple of months, David Kibbe has been posting “letters” to his Facebook page. I responded to the first one, and this latest missive is also one I found interesting.

Kibbe writes:

At this point, I’ve had the chance to get a handle on the “land of Kibbe” that’s all over the web. While I’m delighted, gratified, and thrilled at the vast landscape where my work has reached so many people….I have to honestly admit, at times I’m also horrified, and even heartbroken, at some of what’s misleading out there that’s contrary to my intent,­­ and actually harming people that are genuinely looking for my philosophy of style help. The results being: a mass of incorrect analysis and misguided concepts of updated silhouettes, leading to wrong clothing choices.

I’ve spent a lot of time pondering what’s the difference between some of the current misconceptions on the internet, and the successes of the thousands of people who’ve either come to me personally or read my book before the internet existed.

Then it hit me: Two things have been cut out online……..My Vision…….­­­­­ Your Heart.

So if you’ll let me, I’d like to help correct what’s wrong. Think of this as a USER’S MANUAL to re­interpret from analogue to digital!

Anybody who has looked at Pinterest could tell you that there are a lot of misconceptions about how to interpret Kibbe’s guidelines to our contemporary understanding of fashion. I think the best thing to do for people who are new to Kibbe is to try to understand what he means by yourself. Don’t look at Pinterest for examples of Soft Classic. Google to see what the terms he uses mean, and learn from the text so that you can extrapolate that, say, line-breaking does not mean color-blocking.

I. RE­VAMPING THE WAY YOU USE MY BOOK.

A. You’ve got to take the journey yourself. Your Metamorphosis is a personal journey that has to start from the heart­­­­­­­—-YOUR heart. Take the tests yourself; identify with the descriptions yourself; decide for yourself. If you’ve let someone else do it for you, go back again and do it yourself. Your metamorphosis is designed to be a journey, not just the destination. If you forsake the journey and skip to the destination, even if they guess it “right”——, ­­ you may reach a destination— ­­­­­­­­but it won’t be your destiny.

This is something I believe wholeheartedly. It’s why I’m working on a DIY workbook, instead of offering typing services or something of that nature. I run a Kibbe Facebook group, so obviously I’m not opposed to groups, but I have considered banning typing from that group (although I would never actually do it, since it’s what the people want). While I’ve learned a lot from the women in the community–I had so many ideas that were wrong!–I definitely feel that my journey has mostly been a solo one, one that has taken place offline for the most part. Suggestions for my type mainly showed me how wrong these types were for me. When I go to Flamboyant Gamine basically on my own (with some encouragement, especially from the wonderful women in the FG group on Facebook), it truly felt like reaching something, and no one else could ever tell me that I was something different. I knew it in my bones.

The best use of groups, I think, is a central place for gathering knowledge, for support, for encouragement. While I used to enjoy the parlor game, I now try, as much as possible, to ask someone how they feel in this type. What is their experience of living in this look?

B. Don’t give up your power. Your analysis should not be a group consensus. The most effective use of the groups is to support and encourage each other’s journey. “Too many cooks spoil the broth,”­­and ruin the recipe! When the groups or individuals decide and/or vote on what you are—- ­­­­a delicate souffle can turn to mush!! Guessing is great….fun, and encouraged…voting, deciding and especially, critiquing…NOT.

Yes! There is nothing that pains me more than when I see a woman who is in a type that is clearly wrong for her, but she sticks to it because other people told her so, or, even worse, was “verified” by some person offering services based on Kibbe. Someone who has declared themselves to be an expert told you so, therefore, your own instincts must be incorrect. Funnily enough, these people often tend to dress in the correct type anyway, and just call it the type they were determined to be by a third party.

These style systems are all about you finding something that works for your wardrobe and your life. Sometimes, someone else’s opinion can be helpful, and lead to a revelation. But other times, it can lead you in the wrong direction entirely.

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Know your type in several systems but having trouble putting it all together? My workbook can help.

Understanding My Place Within the Gamines

On the Kibbe test, my numerical score places me in straight G. I’m more yin than most FGs, and more yang than SG.

But given the peculiarities of the G types, this doesn’t make me a straight Gamine, and it wouldn’t even if Kibbe still assigned people this type. Gamines are yin in size, with yin faces, but straighter, yang bodies. That is not how my mix of yin and yang shows itself in my body and face, and Gamine clothes don’t work for me at all.

This becomes clear if you look at a comparison of the Gamine types, with the things in bold being the characteristics that apply to me.

gamine_chart

While my characteristics seem pretty evenly split between SG and FG, almost nothing from G applies to me. It has been suggested to me that perhaps my combination of yin and yang is just more extreme. But also, if we think about how Gamine types are created, it’s only logical that the transition from FG to SG is not always going to be a linear one that passes through G. Gamine features from all three types can show in one person, since that juxtaposition of yin and yang can show up in a myriad of ways.

Looking at this chart, it also almost seems to favor SG. Why I am FG, then? The fact that I have short legs and and small hands and feet are not as important as the fact that I am broadly angular over round. I have wide shoulders and broad, flat hips. These make the FG recommendations work well for me, and cause the SG ones to not work at all. Not all characteristics are going to carry the same weight; it is not a pure numbers game. The overall impression is what counts.

Also, since I have so little straight G, I have to remember that while some of my FG sisters can carry off pieces from the G recommendations, I can’t. But I’m excited to see how far I can dip into SG.

I think it’s a worthwhile exercise to take a look at the characteristics of your sister type(s), and see exactly how your unique yin/yang balance presents itself. It will help you understand both your own type and how you can push its boundaries.

Response to David Kibbe’s Recent Letter + Update on Workbooks, Etc.

Last week, we got the first new writings from David Kibbe since Metamorphosis was published 30 years ago. You can read it here. He discusses the changes that have gone in the fashion world since the book was published, and also tries to correct some misconceptions/misuses of his system. I did find the letter to be interesting food for thought, so I thought I’d respond to some of the things in the letter.

“I found that many of you are looking at yourselves from an OLD IDEA — based on that time and the mind-set of the times ― not my vantage point at all. I found that some of you are trying to squeeze or fit yourself into the Image Identities™I put forth in the book.

That was never my intent.”

It is hard to know what to make of this part. Yes, as he mentioned before this, the way clothing is made has changed, and now a lot of things come with spandex and bodycon is very common. But what is his system beyond the Image Identities? What are we trying to “squeeze ourselves into”? Is he referring to the fact that the recommendations are based on what was available when the book was being written, or are the Image Identities themselves a reflection of the times? He still types people using the same Image Identities as before, obviously, so perhaps what it means is that we have to expand our understanding of what types can wear. But then again, without guidance from the recommendations, how can we understand that what we’re wearing is really true to the type?

I have to say, sticking to the Flamboyant Gamine recommendations nearly 100% has been very successful for me. There are places I’ve discovered where I can bend the rules, and perhaps that’s what we have to do. Start with the recommendations, get a feel for your type, and branch out from there.

“I also discovered that on the sites, for some, it is a very left-brained intellectual process. I discovered that sometimes the groups type each other and some individuals elect themselves as experts in my system. Although it may be well-meaning, it doesn’t help because it shifts the focus from organic to intellectual.

My system is an art – not a science. But like all art, it must have an iron-clad technique at its core which is what I have created and my book was meant to outline.”

I feel I have definitely been guilty of this. This is simply how I understand the world. I work with an impression I receive from my intuition, or look at a system like Kibbe that seems a bit mysterious in how it works, and then I try to break it down and understand it in a systematic way.

But I do try to go with my first impressions, to see if a certain type makes sense for a person overall. And have I elected myself an expert? Yes, I have a blog–but when I do give people my impression of their type, whether here or on Facebook, I hope that they understand that I am not coming at this from the point of view of a self-appointed expert, just someone who enjoys studying these systems.

I do wonder if perhaps he was instead referring to people who do take on clients and charge money for their typing services, ones where the emphasis is on physical features or lines instead of the overall impression a person gives. But by then, I suppose, you have already gone in an entirely different direction that Kibbe.

“The multiple choice test was never meant to be the only thing to determine your Image Identity™. Used by itself, it will always come up wrong. Only use the test combined with the lists and descriptions. Add to that your deepest instinct about who you are. Think of yourself at the age of 7- or before the world did its thing to you. Remember how you felt about yourself and what already made your heart sing! Remember above all, this as an organic process – not an intellectual one. Listen and hear yourself.”

This I have always found to be true. I do not really come up as FG on the test. I am somewhat more evenly divided between yin and yang according to the test–but answers aren’t weighted differently according to importance. My impression is still more yang than yin.

The idea of your “deepest instinct about who you are” though, I think is a major one. I can say that I have always somehow known that I am FG, although of course FG is simply an idea created by one guy. I have always been drawn to other gamines, and couldn’t relate to actresses of other types nearly as well. Even as a small child, I somehow knew that I wouldn’t grow up to statuesque or voluptuous. I was never going to be a Jessica Rabbit type. Audrey Hepburn always resonated with me far more than Marilyn Monroe.

“Hollywood Stars. Many of you that I’ve worked with personally, keep asking me to “slot” them in my Image Identity™ system according to the movie stars of today. I always gently decline. The reason? The celebrities of today are not necessarily STARS. The Hollywood Stars of yesteryear had a whole studio to evaluate and execute a one-of-a-kind expression of that individual. Therefore Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Greta Garbo were born. Now with the homogenization of Hollywood, the fashion world, and the preponderance of plastic surgery, the individual person underneath is often not recognizable.”

Yes. I do this for fun on Pinterest, but the days of studios creating a true image for a star are long gone. Now it seems that you can barely tell one apart from another. Relying on celebrities to type yourself is also a fool’s errand. Just because you vaguely have a resemblance to someone does not mean you will be the same type as them. I think it’s when you don’t actually look like someone, but someone still senses something you have in common with that person, is when a celebrity comparison is significant. I have been compared to Jean Seberg, even when I had long hair, but I actually look nothing like her.

I had planned to really do a thorough study of facial features and body features for each type. But as I’ve spent more time working on Kibbe-related things, I’ve realized that this isn’t really the direction I want to go. I have seen people get lost in the most minor of details, like what feet look like in a certain type, thus sending them off on a wild goose chase to types that have nothing to do with who they are and how they present themselves to world.

So I will work on looking at the essences of types–yes, I realize I have only done Dramatic so far–and maybe stop there. I am working on a typing workbook for style and season (in addition to finishing up edits on my style customization workbook) and while I first wanted to put together a bunch of clothing suggestions to try and see if you need a long line or whatever, I now feel like that is now how I want to spend my time. If you’d like a book like there, you can pick up The Triumph of Individual Style. What I want to do with the workbook is lead you on an exploration of who you are. Belle Northrup believed in dressing the whole person, inside and out, and that is what I want to focus on, not which sleeve length is best.

What was your reaction to Kibbe’s letter? What has been your experience trying to understand his system in a more “right-brained” way?

Height in Kibbe

How much we should stick to the height requirements when trying to find our Kibbe Image Identity by ourselves is a hotly debated topic in the Kibbe community. How much we should stick to the requirements when there are verified celebrities who fall outside of the range? Some take the approach of basically ignoring height completely. While I don’t think it should be completely rigid, I don’t really agree with this approach.

Height indicates scale. Types for taller heights wear larger things, and vice versa. So as a rule of thumb, chances are very high that you’ll end up in a type indicated for your height. I’d like to address a few questions about height that come up frequently, and answer them as I understand them.

1. [Celebrity] was put in [type] by Kibbe, and she [taller/shorter].
First off, I think we have to remember that when Kibbe wrote the book, he wasn’t thinking that in 30 years time, hundreds of women would be sitting around making spreadsheets about the height and bra size of every single celebrity. That kind of information wasn’t available back then on the level it is now. The celebrities he chose are meant to evoke a certain mental image and to give you an idea of what the type is like, not serve as the parameters of a type.

I think that he did knowingly do things like put celebrities over 5’5″ in FG. As a model, it was obvious that Twiggy was on the taller side. But she was so FG otherwise that it didn’t matter. And we do have real-life examples of FGs going up to 5’8″. (But I don’t think you could really get taller than that and not have your height be the most striking element of your appearance.) We also have the modern example of Christina Hendricks being Romantic. Christina is 5’7″, but she is absolutely “curves first.”


(Sources: 1, 2)

Basically, I think that if you are going to fall into a type where your height doesn’t fit, you need a really solid case otherwise. You need to be renowned for your angularity and mixed facial features to be a tall FG, or be famously curvy and clearly lacking SD’s D base to be a tall R.

2. I live in [country], where average height is [taller/shorter] than the US.
If we start making different charts for every country or group of people in the world, we’ll give ourselves a giant headache! But it’s not just laziness on my part. This is an easy one. If you live in a country with a lot of taller people, you’ll find more of the taller types. And vice versa. A Soft Gamine in New York City will be a Soft Gamine in Timbuktu. At 5’4″, there are countries where I would be maybe considered almost tall. But it doesn’t change the compact impression I give off.

3. People have gotten taller since the 80s.
This is probably true. But again, I would say that this means that, with more women who are taller with broader bone structures and larger feet, the taller types are simply becoming more common. It’s not that short people don’t exist anymore, even if it is harder now to find our tiny shoes!

So what should you do when it comes to height? I would look at the types that your height qualifies for first. If they all seem off, then I would begin to seriously consider the others. Are you a Twiggy or an Audrey who needs broken lines despite being tall? Are you a taller woman for whom SD just isn’t yin enough?

The requirements in the book represent the general tendencies you’ll see within a type. You can differ from the book description… as long as it doesn’t upset your yin/yang balance. For instance, I have a small waist, hands, and feet. My waist doesn’t need to be shown at all, and in fact, true waist emphasis isn’t flattering on me at all. My hands and feet don’t look delicate. They just look compact. So none of these things are enough to pull me out of FG. Height is the same. If your height truly doesn’t affect how the recommendations work on you, then you may be able to fit into a type outside of your height range. (But I think this happens less often than we think.)

I leave you with Mae West, a 5’0″ woman that Kibbe as mentioned as being SD. Bigger for her was certainly better, even if she was about half a foot shorter than the average SD. But she was truly an exception—which is why she made such a strong impression that we’re still talking about her, and a “Mae West type” is still a term that has meaning.

mae-west-hat
(Source)

Kibbe Vs. Zyla

One of the most confusing experiences someone in this world can have is going to see Kibbe and Zyla and getting completely opposing Image Identities/Archetypes. They’re both masters at what they do. How could one of them be wrong?

I think the answer is that neither of them, in this case, would be wrong. They just approach their work from different angles.

Kibbe, in my opinion, looks at what you are. He looks at your physicality and what it communicates. Then it is your job to take this understanding of your physical self, and use it communicate everything else that makes you who you are.

Zyla, on the other hand, looks at who you are. The personality and inner self is built into the archetype. You’ll find a wider range in terms of height, build, etc. within the celebrities in his archetypes. The guidelines he gives in the book are incredibly specific and meant to express a specific style, not just lines.

I think you can get a hint of how Zyla works when you look at his palettes. They are smaller than other palettes, only a select few colors. And they’re not meant to reflect the entire range of colors a person can wear. They are the colors that, on you, will express certain things.

Kibbe’s recommendations are not meant to express a specific style or a complete expression of you. They’re meant to give you a framework that will enable you to work it out by yourself.

So what do you do when your Kibbe type and Zyla type don’t match? I think it’s important to keep your ultimate goal in mind. We got into these systems because we wanted to be stylish and to know that we’re making the right fashion choices, and to have that process made just a little bit easier for us. It should never be dressing a certain way because a guru told you so. So you can just choose the one that feels best for you, or use one to influence how you use the other, or simply forget both and forge your own path. In the end, a style system is only useful if it’s working for you.

How to Know If Your Kibbe Is Right

Some people believe that the only way you can truly know if your Kibbe Image Identity is correct is if you visit Kibbe himself and he tells you what you are. Some feel the need to be told by any analyst what they are, and will go with that, even if it feels wrong.

I am not in either camp. To me, the point of all of this color and style stuff is really to make our lives easier and to feel better about ourselves. It doesn’t matter what an analyst says if the designation they gave you feels wrong. You are the ultimate judge of what works for you.

One thing I’ve learned from reading reports from people who have gone to see Kibbe is that there is no real way to distill his process. Some say it’s essence. Some say it’s lines. He sometimes seems to contradict himself. Whatever the actual process he uses to decide people’s types, the only way we’d ever really replicate it is by cloning the man himself.

So what do you do if you can’t spend thousands of dollars to go to New York and see Kibbe? I would advise you to go back to the real reason you got interested in all of this stuff in the first place. The point is that you want to look better, right? So if you can decide on your type for yourself and it accomplishes these two goals, I’d say you’re doing pretty well.

While you’re not confined to the recommendations for your type–I figured out how to make maxi dresses work for me, for example–keeping your basic silhouette and line requirements in mind while shopping makes shopping really easy and much less stressful and disheartening.

This is how shopping the right Kibbe type feels:

When I was in incorrect types, I hated shopping for the first time in my life. Being in the right Kibbe type does make things easier and feel better, even if your type isn’t found in stores all that much. You know exactly what works and what doesn’t. You know that you won’t hate what you see in the mirror when you try something on. The only stress is manufacturers who seem to really only want to design clothes for N types.

You don’t need reassurance from anyone in a group, or an analyst, or Kibbe himself. He wrote the book to enable women to do it for themselves. You are the ultimate arbiter of what works for you. Don’t worry about whether Kibbe would really make you this type, or live in a type that is wrong because someone else told you what you are and they’re the expert. You’re the one who has to live in a type–what is important is whether it feels right for you.

Why I’m NOT a “Curvy FG”

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Sometimes I consider deleting old blog posts that no longer represent how I see Kibbe’s system. I try and go through my posts every few months and add notes to posts that I feel represent an idea that I’ve “archived,” so to speak, and that no longer factor into how I see Kibbe’s system. But I keep on seeing these posts referenced in other places regardless, and I feel like I’m confusing people, despite my clear note explaining that I no longer agree with what I wrote.

One of the major ideas that falls into this category are the ideas of a “curvy FG” and “g-leaning” and “f/n-leaning” FGs. Seeing these terms now make me twitch. I’ve come to realize that I am not a curvy FG. I am simply an FG.

Part of this confusion is, of course, due to the idea that Kibbe has gotten rid of the middle types. Gamines and Flamboyant Gamines have different body shapes. Gamines are narrow and straight in addition to being angular, sharp, etc. and Flamboyant Gamines are broadly angular. “Broad” is the key word here, because it’s the major idea that gets lost.

The broadness is what makes the Flamboyant Gamine recommendations possible. If you want to hang a boxy top off your shoulders, you need broad shoulders to do it. All of the things that define Flamboyant Gamine as a separate type require a more significant bone structure than G has to pull them off.

So I’m not a “curvy FG” at all. I’m a regular old FG, no special changes necessary. I’m fleshier, because I’m a little overweight, not because I’m “curvy.” “Broadly angular” is how I would define the overall theme of my body shape. I have broad shoulders and wide, flat hips with angles in between. The Flamboyant Gamine recommendations as written respect this.

The issue arose when Gamines who are a little more yang were folded into FG. This does both groups a disservice. Suddenly the overall picture of the FG body shape gets a lot more narrow. Those of us who have the bone structure as described in the book somehow become the outliers.

I don’t think that FGs should be split into “N-leaning” (broader) and “G-leaning” (narrower, aka Gs). This is just a workaround for a supposed change that actually over-complicates Kibbe’s system. When I say “I’m an FG,” it should be understood that my wardrobe is built around the Flamboyant Gamine recommendations. Yes, Kibbe says you should also read the chapters for Dramatic and Gamine, and that Gamine is more important for the overall picture. At thinner weights, I think FGs can pull some things from Gamine. When I was very thin, I even sometimes dipped into SG (although of course at that time I had no idea SG existed). If you are broad enough to carry off FG, you are not going to need Gamine to make FG work for you; it may just be a possibility to expand your wardrobe possibilities, and one you may not always have at all times in your life.

Where I would use “leaning” is for Gamines themselves. I do see that there is variation in facial features that shows that the balance between yin and yang is not 50/50. But these Gamines should still base their wardrobes on the Gamine lines. Where they can pull from FG or SG is in things like pattern, jewelry, and even, in a way, “essence.” A Gamine that leans yang can easily pull off the mod and punk looks often associated with FG. And a yin-leaning Gamine might have even more of the “sweetness” and ingenue qualities ascribed to, sometimes mistakenly, to SG. Think Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby.

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Unlike FG’s ability to steal from Gamine, this is something I don’t think would change over the course of your lifetime with weight gain and body changes. In my observations, it is mainly derived from facial features.

So, in closing, I’d like to retract the entire idea of “curvy FG” and the idea of there being two kinds of FGs. When I say “Flamboyant Gamine,” I am referring to the Flamboyant Gamine described in the book, one that is not mixed up with Gamine. I consider myself to fit in this group with no exceptions needed. If Flamboyant Gamine had been presented this way to me to begin with, I would not have wasted months in Soft Gamine and Soft Natural because I felt I wasn’t skinny and lanky enough for FG. In the end, isn’t simplicity and clarity in a system like this what we need?

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