Archive of ‘Kibbe’s Metamorphosis’ category

My Kibbe Journey: Part 3

***5/1/2015: I now see Kibbe in a totally different way than I write about here. Please see this post for my current views.***

Sometimes I feel like it may seem like I have no idea what I’m talking about, because pretty much every time I come to write a blog entry, I feel like I have decided on a new Kibbe type for myself, or a different season. But I think that most of us who set off to determine our Kibbe type find that it’s a pretty convoluted and confusing process, and many live in what turns out to be the wrong type for years–and the only way to actually confirm is to spend around $2000, plus hotel, airfare, etc., to see David Kibbe in person.

So. With that in mind, I’ve come to yet another major conclusion about the whole process. I recently joined a Kibbe group on Facebook, and there is a wealth of information there, including how Kibbe feels about the book, and how he wanted people to use it (look at the types presented, try stuff on it and see if it works, no quizzes necessary). It turns out that my approach to Kibbe–look at lines only, and then use your personality/essence to make it your own–is totally wrong. You should start with your essence, and then make adjustments to fit your body as needed.

This all became clear to me a couple of days ago, when it was pointed out to be that Charlize Theron is an official Kibbe Theatrical Romantic. One of the key features of a TR, according to the book, is a wasp waist (which I have, which will become important later). Charlize Theron has a straight figure, one that’d probably be called an inverted V. Looking just at her body, I’d probably be inclined to put her in Flamboyant Natural. But her face is so beautiful and full of S-curves. She looks the most herself when she is glammed up and dripping with jewels. If you compare her Dior ad to her sweatshirt look from Young Adult, which is truer to the person? I think it is jarring to see her look so dishevelled. You can tell she doesn’t have any natural in her at all.

(Sources: 1, 2, 3)

Charlize’s glamorous face supersedes the fact that her body lacks these key physical feature of a TR. The TR clothes follow the lines of her face. The more reading I do, the more I realize that it’s about figuring out what is key about you, how you look the most yourself, what people notice first. Like Zyla, Kibbe was inspired to do what he does from the acting world, where he saw some people get cast and some who did not.

So maybe what we should do is typecast ourselves. I wrote about this idea in my first post in this series, and then I said I was wrong. But now I realize that I may have been right. I’m not a Soft Natural, a “Fresh and Sensual Lady.” I am much more aggressive and dynamic and funny. The energy I put into the world is that of a Flamboyant Gamine. My TR-style wasp waist that was tripping me up before? That’s not the first thing people notice about me. My task now is to find the FG clothes that work with my body, instead of hiding it. But I feel like it will be a relief to go to stores and be able to try on the clothes that appeal to me naturally, and not have to feel like I have to fit myself into styles that should work for me, taken as a sum of body parts.

Kibbe’s Romantics, or Your Inner and Outer Essence

I think that sometimes, Kibbe’s flowery descriptions work against you when you’re trying to figure out your type. Take, for instance, the description for Romantic:

If you’re hosting a dinner party, chances are you’ll expend enormous energy on things like place settings, flowers, and soft lighting. You’ll gladly search the entire city for those rare and exotic orchids that evoke images of a mysterious, faraway land, or dedicate yourself wholeheartedly to locating special gardenias with a heady fragrance. When you’re planning the menu for this party you’ll be coordinating color and texture in addition to taste. The added dimensions of your attention to the sensual elements of touch, taste, smell, and above all the look of things brings us much pleasure, and an invitation to one of your soirees is very much coveted!…Lest we categorize your Yin qualities as frivolous or superficial, let’s remember the extreme magnetic power that exist within you. We don’t describe your extreme Yin nature as “the irresistible force” without reason! You are capable of effecting enormous change in the world – when you remember that the power of the Yin is always indirect. Steamrolling through outworn attitudes or attempting to knock down mountains won’t work for you. Direct attacks are never effective, since they are so contrary to your projected softness.

(Source)

Now, to be honest, this “dinner party” business is what I think when I think of a Romantic. The image really stuck with me in my mind. But then I start to think of someone whose body lines and facial features fit very well in Romantic, but who couldn’t care less about the aesthetics of their home or being subtle and whatever else Kibbe is talking about to. Will someone be turned off from Romantic because they have a personality with more yang in it?

I suppose this brings up a key point about Kibbe: are we supposed to assume that, like in Zyla, where your coloring matches your personality, that you outer and inner essences should match? Or, say, could you be a Romantic who relates to Soft Dramatic, and look to Soft Dramatic for some clues to develop your personal style and maybe introduce some snake jewelry into your Romantic look?

Even the examples for Romantic Kibbe mentions in the book–Madonna, Susan Sarandon, Elizabeth Taylor–are women that I see as being quite ballsy, and not exactly ones who sit around waiting for their yin charm to get them what they want–they do seem to use the steamroll technique at times. Madonna, a Type 3 Leo lioness like myself, is someone who stirs some controversy when Kibbe’s classification of her as Romantic is brought up. If we ignore how she looks today–she seems to have exercised and nip/tucked the Romantic right out of herself–Madonna in her early career had quite a Romantic look to her. I feel like her “Like a Virgin”-era look would be great for a young, punk Romantic to draw inspiration from, and it’s no surprise that she used Marilyn Monroe, Prime Kibbe Romantic, as her inspiration for her look in “Material Girl”:


(Sources: 1, 2)

Of course, there’s still the question of how to express her Type 3-ness. But maybe she doesn’t have to. If we go back to McJimsey, Romantic women are still the epitome of female charm, but they’re theatrical and sophisticated and a yin/yang blend, and not total yin like in Kibbe. Even when Madonna is dressed in head-to-toe pink, her strength still comes through. Maybe it’s a case of if you’re dressed exactly right for your face and body type, your personality can come through and take precedence. Maybe she doesn’t need all the angles and the fall color palette of Type 3 because her own inherent Type 3-ness is enough.

Do you relate to the description of your Image Identity’s Inner Essence? Should you consider the Inner Essence description when trying to figure out your Kibbe? Was Kibbe wrong when he typed Madonna?

My Kibbe Journey: Part 2

My last post on my Kibbe journey was only twelve days ago, but reading it again, it feels like a lifetime ago, in terms of where I’m at with Kibbe’s system. Basically, I still see the things in me that led me to believe that I was a Soft Dramatic, but after trying on clothes, I now believe that I actually fit with the Soft Naturals.

This makes sense, because I think it seems to be fairly common for Soft Naturals to misdiagnose themselves as Soft Gamines, and vice versa. This pin by Rachel Nachmias has been a revelation for me. Yes, I am youthful looking, but my bone structure is too substantial and my face is too yang.

Looking around for Soft Natural clothes has been a breath of fresh air. I don’t feel at all like I did when I was looking for Soft Gamine clothes, like I was trying to put myself in a box that wasn’t right for me at all. Part of this stems from my most major Kibbe revelation of all: Image Identity does not define your style.

When I look for sets and boards for various Image Identities on Polyvore and Pinterest, I find that most of Identities are seen in a very narrow way. For Soft Natural, this seems to be Boho Chic with a dash of Jennifer Aniston. I don’t even like Jennifer Aniston, except for her Living Proof line at Sephora. I had spent all of this time I’ve been looking at Kibbe feeling turned off by Soft Natural because it was presented in this very narrow way. But as I read about Kibbe’s clients’ experiences, it became clear to me that there were no set styles. Obviously, it’s easiest to dress in your “native” type, so a Soft Classic in a Classic style or a Romantic in a Romantic style. Some things are more challenging, like making Dramatic Classic boho (as was recently discussed on Seasonal Color. But Kibbe seems to dress everyone differently to work with the individual.

I think it’s important to not look at “examples” of dressing for a type because it can really throw you off. You get mired in thinking that a Soft Natural, or whatever you think you might be, has to dress in certain ways. Just look at the guidelines in regard to print size, fit, cut, etc. and try things on. Ask for objective opinions. See how you feel.

I know that my Soft Natural will look different than the Pinterest boards. So will my Light Spring. But it’s the one that will work for me.

For some Soft Natural non-Boho inspiration, I’m on the fence as to whether this works, and it’d probably on work on SNs who are super skinny, but I like the mix of textures and the fit of the dress that Carine Roitfeld, my favorite SN who doesn’t often dress SN, is wearing:
la-modella-mafia-Carine-Roitfeld-Fall-2013-fashion-week-editor-street-style-2
(Source)

Kibbe vs. Dressing Your Truth

Most of us who have delved into style systems deep enough to end up getting into a system from thirty years ago like Kibbe has undoubtedly come across many different style systems. One of the most popular today seems to be Dressing Your Truth, which is a Four Types-based system. Before I start talking about, I have to say two things. One, I haven’t bought the course and have only read Carol Tuttle’s books and watched her YouTube videos. So I don’t know the exact recommendations you get once you shell out the $99-$297 for the course, but I feel like I get the general idea. Two, I think it’s important to understand some criticism of DYT, which include not giving sources and some customer service issues. I still find DYT helpful, though, because the materials are much more accessible than the older Four Type systems, and I think it’s good for understanding your inner yin/yang balance and how it can potentially influence your style.

With that out of the way, one of the issues that many people come across is that things don’t always match up. Once you’ve typed yourself in all of these systems, your various types may not be all that compatible. For instance, I’m a Light Spring in 12-color systems, a likely Soft Natural, and a Type 3 in Dressing Your Truth. Light Spring and Soft Natural work pretty well together, but Type 3 in Dressing Your Truth wears shaded colors, colors that have had black added. This is basically as incompatible with Light Spring as you can get, which is as light as you can get and would be compatible with Type 1 energy.

Then there’s Kibbe. I realized that Kibbe’s recommendations are based on yin/yang balance and contrast/blended, and Carol’s are based on yin/yang balance and high/low energy. “Contrast” and “Energy are basically referring to the same thing, right? So I took a graph showing the exact location of Kibbe Image Identities on a graph and overlaid the DYT type, thinking that the influence of balance of your non-primary energies of DYT would pull you into a certain direction of yin/yang and energy balance on the graph and you would find the Kibbe compatible with your DYT type that way. (I found the original graph on Pinterest and I tried finding the original site, but they were all linked to the image file on Pinterest and not a website. So if this is your graph, please let me know if you want me to take this down or give you credit. I have my own graph, but it doesn’t illustrate what I’m talking about as well.)

graph-dyt2

So as a 3/4 with 1 being a strong tertiary, I figured I’d end up in on the far left portion of Soft Dramatic. I hope this makes sense. But of course, I’m pretty sure now I’m an SN, which is in the opposite quadrant. The other issue with this chart is that, despite the fact that Carol presents the Energies this way visually, the movement levels of the types next to each other on the X-axis are not equal. The movements go 1, 3, 2, 4, from highest to lowest. So I guess you could say Type 1 is Yin Highest Movement, or SG; Type 3 is Yang High Movement, or D/SD; Type 2 is Yin Low Movement, or SN/SC; and Type 4 is Yang Lowest Movemnent, or DC. These kind of seem to work, if you look at the recommendations for the types, but there are, of course, four other Kibbe Image Identities to consider that then wouldn’t be included in Dressing Your Truth at all.

More importantly, when I posted this image on Seasonal Color, it was pointed out to me that Kibbe is mainly focused on the lines of the body, and Dressing Your Truth on your inner expression. A Dressing Your Truth purist would insist that your inner energy movement would trump all. So I, as a Type 3 Light Spring Soft Natural (if I am in fact a Soft Natural, which I’m not sure of yet), should forget about the light-yet-bright colors of Light Spring and the softer lines of Soft Natural, and just dress with the sharp lines and heavy autumnal colors of Type 3, since that’s what my inner energy requires.

I am not, of course, a Dressing Your Truth purist, if you couldn’t tell from the fact that none of my blog posts have focused on DYT thus far. But I do think it’s important to understand how your inner self can affect your Image Identity. Kibbe does, after all, dress people within the same type differently. People fall in different places on the continuum. You may find that if you have a yang DYT type and you’re a yin Kibbe, you may want to look for inspiration in accessories or prints in the yang version of your type. If you’re a Type 4 and a Light Summer, try using the purest colors your palette has. If you’re a Type 1 Soft Classic, look for things that are a little more “fun” than the usual Soft Classic might wear. And so on.

This is only one way of looking at this issue of conflicting seasons and types and identities, but I think it could be a useful tool for those of us feeling overwhelmed by all of this information. Have you experienced a mismatch between your various types?

My Kibbe Journey: Part 1

When I started looking at Kibbe, I was fairly certain I was a Gamine of some kind. I’m small in general, with especially small feet and hands, short legs for my height, and what I felt was a gamine energy. When a friend compared me with a celebrity, it was usually someone like Jean Seberg, who is obviously ultra gamine:

jean-seberg-in-jean-luc-godards-c3a0-bout-de-souffle-breathless-photo-by-raymond-cauchetier-1960
(Source)

At first I thought I was a Flamboyant Gamine, since those are the clothes I’m drawn to naturally and what my closet is already full of. But as I read the description, I realized that I was in no way leggy and lacking curves, the way a FG would be. I figured then I was a Soft Gamine, since I have curves, short limbs, and feel heavy even when I’m not, since I don’t build muscle easily and am always soft.

But when I would go to a store and look at Soft Gamine clothes, I didn’t even want to try them on. They just felt wrong. At first, I thought it was just a classic case of resistance to my Image Identity. But I liked the idea of Soft Gamine. I had no underlying psychological issues about being Soft Gamine. The clothes just didn’t seem right.

So I went to Seasonal Color, and asked for some opinions. I found, with the help of the very helpful members there, that the broken, staccato silhouette of the Gamines doesn’t work for me. I need a continuous line. I also found that my face while my face has a lot of volume, it still is quite yang in structure. (This makes sense, considering I’m a Type 3/4.) It lacks the sweetness and doll-like qualities of a Soft Gamine face.

Where my face does fit is with the Soft Dramatics. I have full features and a prominent nose. I also have the high hip common to Soft Dramatics, and I can relate to the idea of my curves being “circles placed onto a square,” the source of which I can’t find at the moment. But my limbs are shorter. Also, it’s far harder than I imagined it would be to find Soft Dramatic clothes in stores; I think I am going to wait until fall clothes are in so I can find some nice sweaters with SD lines. I also think I’ll probably have more luck in expensive stores, so I am going to have dress up nicely and brave the snobbishness and try stuff on in fancy places.

There are also the Classics and the Naturals to experiment with. I don’t relate to the Classics at all, though, because my features are not even. “Symmetrical” is not a word I’d used to describe myself. But the only thing to do is to try things on and see what works and what doesn’t.

How are you doing with Kibbe? Do you know your type and happily go to the store and buy all the clothes and love it? Do you know your type but are unsure if you can live your life in that type? Are you completely lost, like I am?

Why Your Kibbe/Image Identity Matters

One thing that’s long flummoxed me is the fact that when you see a picture of a star on the red carpet, inevitably what you see the result of the hard work of stylists, makeup artists, and top fashion designers. But somehow, even with an entire team behind them, sometimes the stars just look… off. Is the dress ugly and no one noticed, or is it just not the right dress for that person?

Understanding Kibbe can go a long way to help you avoid this in your own life, even if you’re not going to be on a red carpet anytime soon. Let’s take Jessica Paré as an example. Most seem to be in agreement that she is a Soft Dramatic. If you look on Pinterest, two of her most-pinned looks, if you search for her name, are these:


(Sources: 1, 2)

What comes to mind when you look at these dresses? They’re bold and dramatic. For a lot of people, these dresses would be just too much. But for a Soft Dramatic, these dresses are exactly what she needs. Anything less would be not enough.

Now, look at her in this dress:

Jessica-Pare-Baume-Mercier-Promesse-Launch-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-TLO-1
(Source)

It’s not dramatic, at least, not in the right way. Picture it on a Flamboyant Gamine like Lizzy Caplan. Totally different dress, right? But it’s simply not enough for a Soft Dramatic. It kind of looks like a tablecloth is wearing her.

That’s the point of all of this Kibbe business. Once you figure it out, it makes it easy to go to a store and immediately know what’s going to work for you and what’s not, without even trying a whole bunch of stuff on. It’s about understanding what nature gave you and using that information to look fabulous. I also think it goes deeper than something like Trinny and Susannah’s 12 Body Shapes, because Kibbe takes into account the entire person, and not just a series of deviations from the norm. According to Trinny and Susannah, I’m a Skittle and should wear chunky shoes, bows, and A-Line skirts. But what kind of prints? What kind of vertical line? How dramatic or how can cute can I go?

Knowing your body shape is helpful, of course. But you can dress your body shape perfectly fine, and still look off, somehow. Without knowing your Image Identity and your season, a.k.a. most flattering colors, you’re still fumbling around in the dark.

(To see more analysis of stars’ red-carpet looks in relation to Image Identities, see this pinterest. They use Yin/Yang C, G, D etc. instead of Kibbe’s names, but the idea and the concept are the same.)

Soft Gamine vs. Ingenue

One of the notable things about Kibbe’s system is that it lacks the Ingenue category. If you look at the quiz, A answers are Dramatic, B are Natural, C is Classic, E is Romantic, and mixed A and E is Gamine. But he does not mention Ingenue, nor what the D category means, at all. The D answers correlate to the Ingenue answers for systems that do have this category. As someone for whom D answers predominate on the Kibbe test, this is something I have thought about a lot. I have seen D-dominate people be categorized as Soft Dramatic, Soft Natural, Soft Classic, Soft Gamine, and Theatrical Romantic. I am still more or less trying to decide between those five.

What to do with your D, however, is a topic for another day, one I’ll cover when I feel like I’ve figured myself out. What I want to discuss today is how Soft Gamine often gets conflated with Ingenue, and how they are, in fact, not the same, and shouldn’t be used synonymously. Kibbe himself has apparently said that no adult woman should dress as an Ingenue. Many of the modern interpretations of Soft Gamine that you’ll find on Pinterest and Polyvore, however, retain the sort of cuteness and innocence that you’ll find in Ingenue, and many people do, in fact, name their boards or sets “Soft Gamine/Ingenue.”

I think it’s important here to clarify the major difference between Soft Gamine and Ingenue, and that is the amount of yin. In McJimsey’s interpretation, the Ingenue is the polar opposite of Dramatic. In Kibbe, I would say that the polar opposite of Soft Gamine would actually be Dramatic Classic, since it has the opposite ratio of yin/yang and is blended (see my chart here to see what I mean). In Kibbe, Romantic takes the place of being the opposite of Dramatic, so I suppose that if Ingenue were even on the scale, it’d be off-the-charts yin.

Kibbe’s system also does not change with age. In McJimsey, and Carole Jackson’s Color Me Beautiful, a Gamine or an Ingenue will eventually mature into a Classic or a Natural (in a Gamine’s case) or a Romantic (in an Ingenue’s case). I think Kibbe’s system only really works for adult women, and being a Gamine is not something you age out of. Betty White, as a Soft Gamine, is a perfect example of this, I think. At 92, she still has the Gamine joie de vivre:
BettyWhite1
(Source)

Soft Gamines are yin in size, yin in flesh, slightly yang in bone structure, with yang drive and charisma and yin charm. This is a far cry from McJimsey’s “artless and naive” Ingenue. A Soft Gamine is a force to be reckoned with. While there are some recommendations–peplums, bolero jackets, bouffant skirts–that can apply to both, a Soft Gamine does not need the ruffles and daintiness that an Ingenue does. A Soft Gamine is a grown-ass woman.

There’s a reason why Kibbe’s prime Soft Gamine example is Bette Davis:
bette-davis-blonde
(Source)

It’s because Soft Gamines are awesome. So let’s give these Soft Gamine Betty(e)s some respect, and stop confusing “Soft Gamine” and “Ingenue.”

Finding Your Kibbe

The first thing about finding your Kibbe, your Season, your Dressing Your Truth type, whatever… is that it’s not easy to do on your own. And in the case of season, where there are plenty of experts in business, many people will type you as different things. You can go to Kibbe’s studio in NYC or Carol in Utah, and you can get what they think is right. But regardless, you will have to live in this type or this season and see if it works for you.

I’m not really planning to get into seasons, even though I think it’s equally as important to finding your style personality, or as Kibbe calls it, your Image Identity–one doesn’t work without the other. But there are already plenty of great resources out there on how to find your season, which I have linked on my Resources page.

Now, if you are familiar with Kibbe at all, you will know that a quiz exists to help you out. But the quiz can only give you a general idea of where you fall on the scale of yin/yang. Here is the quiz, and here is a scoring system. But the system has flaws. If you look at it, you have SG and SC, for instance, scoring one point away from each other. But, and this is especially clear from the chart I did in my last post, they are actually opposites in how they combine their yin and yang. So using that one point to determine Soft Gamineness or Soft Classicness obviously wouldn’t work.

So the only thing you can do, I suppose, is just try out different outfits and see what works and what doesn’t. What kind of lines flatter you? What kind of jewelry? What hairstyles? When do you get compliments on how you look, and not your outfit? You can also do things like photoshop your face and body into one of the Kibbe celebrity collages found on Pinterest, Polyvore, et al. I am currently in the process of this. I had typed myself as Soft Gamine, but I was having trouble buying Soft Gamine clothes, so I decided to start over to make sure.

I do think it is worth thinking about the essence you put out into the world as well and how others see you. Related to what I mentioned above, however, I feel like I am mostly seen as a Gamine in the world. If someone compares me to a celebrity, it’s usually a gamine one, and I look very young for my age and seem shorter than I actually am. But, I think I am discovering, this does not mean that I am a Flamboyant Gamine or a Soft Gamine. It could be that when I find my correct Kibbe type, I won’t be seen as young and small, but as a woman of my own age with my full height and power. Or I could go through the entire process of analyzing my entire wardrobe and the natural lines of my body and find that I am indeed a Soft Gamine, and emphasizing these SG lines to the best of my ability will lead to the fullest expression of myself.

Where are you on your Kibbe journey, if you’ve started it?

Kibbe: An Introduction (Sort of)

It’s hard to know where to begin with Kibbe. So I suppose I will just start at the beginning and explain who he is.

In 1987, a man named David Kibbe published a book Metamorphosis: Discover Your Image Identity and Dazzle as Only You Can. In the book, he outlines 13 image identities, all on a yin yang scale and also on a scale from blended to contrast. Confused already? I don’t blame you. He basically took McJimsey’s categories and shifted some things around and added some subcategories. He got rid of Ingenue completely, and Gamine is now not the most yin expression–Romantic is. Gamine is a contrasted mix of yin/yang now, and Classic is a perfect blend of the two.

In the book, his categories are Romantic, Theatrical Romantic, Classic, Soft Classic, Dramatic Classic, Natural, Soft Natural, Flamboyant Natural, Gamine, Soft Gamine, Flamboyant Gamine, Soft Dramatic, and Dramatic. Anything with “Soft” in the name is a more yin expression (basic category mixed with Romantic) and anything with “Flamboyant” or “Dramatic” in the name is a more yang expression (basic category mixed with Dramatic). I suggest reading the Kibbe libraries at Seasonal Color and Color Connection, which have a lot of the information from the book. I plan on discussing all of the types in depth (save three, which I’ll get to in a moment) on this blog, but for now, I think that your best bet is just to read the info there if you’re unfamiliar with Kibbe.

Okay, now that you know about the different types, I want to talk about the three I won’t be discussing and why. David Kibbe is still providing style consulations, and according to recent reports, he has gotten rid of Classic, Natural, and Gamine, and only the Soft and Dramatic/Flamboyant versions of these remain. If you identified yourself as one of these base types, I am sure it was disheartening to learn he no longer uses those. Reading about it, though, it became clear to me why. Nobody is going to be perfectly balanced. Everybody is going to lean slightly yin or slightly yang.

The thing to concentrate on is not matching the description perfectly and using it as a checklist, but identifying your yin/yang balance. I suggest watching the movies of the original, classic stars listed to get a good feel for the Image IDs–contemporary stars don’t have images in quite the same way. Try to see yourself objectively. Are you long? Compact? Soft? Do you look open? Aloof? Still? Animated? That is where I would start with David Kibbe’s Metamorphosis.

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