Archive of ‘Kibbe’s Metamorphosis’ category

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

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.



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!

Understanding My Place Within the Gamines, Part Two

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

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


Paulette Goddard, in The Women.


Jean Seberg, in Breathless.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Myth of “Universally Flattering”

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


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.


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.

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.

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. 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.


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.


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


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.

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.

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?

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.

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.


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.

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.


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

3/15/2020: I have written an updated version of this post.

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.


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