Archive of ‘Kibbe’s Metamorphosis’ category

Shopping for Your Kibbe Type: Line or Vibe?


This is an issue that came up recently in the Flamboyant Gamine Facebook group. Flamboyant Gamine is often associated with the 60s Mod fashion, with generally features a lot of short shift dresses with A-line skirts. If you read the recommendations for Flamboyant Gamine and even Gamine, however, A-line skirts are seen as “too symmetrical” and get a “No” from Kibbe for both types.

Now, these do often work on FlamGam bodies, especially if the FlamGam in question is narrow-hipped, like Twiggy. This look is, in fact, so closely associated with FG that I think that people who would look good in actual FG recommendations might question themselves if they don’t look all that great in what Twiggy was wearing in the 60s. I would consider myself among this group of people–I looked great in it in high school, when I was very thin, not so much now.

This all comes back to the question of “vibe,” and how important it is. It also raises the idea of people making something a certain type, not the clothes themselves being a certain Image Identity, something that has gained a lot of traction in Kibbe circles recently.

I think this idea, more or less what Kibbe himself says now, but something that we can’t take to an extreme, comes from the fact that clothes now are constructed differently than they were in the 80s, when Kibbe wrote the book. Most things now come with stretch. If you take a bodycon-type dress and put it on a Romantic, you see sexy curves. If you put it on a Flamboyant Natural, you see their strength and power. If you put it on a Flamboyant Gamine, it looks fun. And so on. On the other hand, if you take something that is very specifically Soft Natural, like a jersey wrap dress (my clothing nemesis!), and put it on an FG, the dress won’t magically become or look FG. It will just look bad. So you have to be careful, I think, when you go outside the guidelines. It may work. It may not. If absolutely everything were simply to be shared across types and your body would just alter it, there would be no reason for Kibbe types at all, because we’d all just look fabulous in everything.

Some would say that a wrap dress has the wrong vibe, and that’s why it doesn’t work. It probably doesn’t. It is my opinion, however, that if we spend too much time looking for vibe, we end up with something akin to Dressing Your Truth: everyone in a type more or less dressing the same. Sometimes, people are shocked when they see the photos of outfits that are Kibbe-selected, especially for types like Soft Natural and Soft Gamine, which happen to be types that have their stereotypes (“boho” and “cute, in a Zooey-Deschanel way,” respectively) firmly entrenched on Pinterest, Polyvore, etc. When this happens, I think we have to ask ourselves whether Kibbe is stretching the boundaries of what a certain Image Identity can wear, or if he is actually following the rules he set out, and it is the outfits that people found looking for an SN or SG “vibe” that actually were the ones that broke the rules. As I’ve written before, I doubt that people in the Facebook groups would recognize the outfit worn by the SG in the book as Soft Gamine if someone posted it as a try on.

As for what the role of “vibe” is in clothing selection done using your Kibbe Image Identity, well, Kibbe basically contradicts himself on this one, even in the book. He says that our inner self is infinite, yet our physical self is finite, and we should express our inner self through our outer appearance. Which is great. It is a shame that his section on how to dress Shirley MacLaine is her New Age phase has never made it online, because I think it would be helpful for people who feel at odds with their Kibbe, personality-wise. The Fantasy Quiz is also not online, sadly. But the long-winded personality descriptions for each of the types ARE readily available, and I think this can lead some astray, both in finding their Kibbe type and how to dress in it once they have found it.

Among people with certain Kibbe types, you’ll find as wide a range of personalities as you would with any random group of people. You will likely have had some common experiences due to your physical similarities (e.g., for FGs, feeling like your appearance is kind of “weird”), but you will have different tastes and interests and values. You will not be a homogeneous group.

So what should Flamboyant Gamines do with A-line Mod shift dresses? Try them on. If they look good on you and you like them, great! I think they have enough crispness to fudge the rules. I think they can successfully convey an FG look. But if you are considering a type, I think it’s important to look carefully at the recommendations, and examine things with a critical eye using these recommendations before deciding whether something is a certain type or not. Don’t blow off a type because things seen as having this type’s vibe don’t work for you. The actual recommendations may suit you perfectly.

Forget About Essence in Kibbe

One of the main things about Kibbe that causes confusion is the idea of essence. He says that “inside” and “outside” can be different, but yet he also goes into the personality of the various Image Identities at length. This can be confusing if, say, you are physically a Gamine, but have a more reserved Classic personality.

I think you have to go back to Kibbe’s inspiration, which is Old Hollywood image making. It didn’t matter what your personality was; they would concoct an image for you based on your physical features alone. Romantic Marilyn Monroe was given a “sex kitten” image, and that was all she was allowed to portray. I think Kibbe does much the same thing, really. He gives you a “metamorphosis” based on what he sees, and nothing else.


Another way to look at it is to think of animation. When designing a character, animators look for how to express who the character is using line. You wouldn’t give a princess-type character non-princessy features unless you were trying to make some sort of statement. Sharp features go to sharp characters.

Real people, of course, are far more complex. Kibbe is a surface system. It doesn’t work with your personality or lifestyle to try to create something that works with who you are. It simply is meant to create some kind of ideal image of you. It doesn’t work if you look at it as, “But that is not who I am.” He talks a little bit about it in the book, when he goes into how he would dress Shirley MacLaine in her very yin New Age phase. But how to do that for yourself is something that Kibbe doesn’t really go into detail about. Figuring out how to reconcile the two is your job.

I think part of the confusion also stems from the fact that Kitchener uses essence in a different way, and everything is custom. Kibbe is not, and is not going to go deep into you as an individual. Look at your lines and your geometry, and reflect them in your clothes. How to reflect everything else while staying in your Kibbe type is something you have to figure out on your own.

For me, I find that Flamboyant Gamine fits me better, personality-wise, than any of the other types, and I’ve never had a problem with how to express myself within my Kibbe type. But I’m sure that plenty of you have struggled with this, and I’d love to hear how you managed to resolve this issue, or where you are in the process.

Statement on Kibbe, Part Two: My Own Interpretation of Kibbe

I thought it might be worthwhile to talk a bit about how I see the system now, and the ways in which I’ve deviated from how Kibbe present(ed) it and the ways in which I haven’t.

1. It’s all about geometry.
Kibbe doesn’t talk much about face/body lines in the book. But if you look at the celebrities he uses as examples in the book, you can see it. This is the philosophy used by Guiding Lines. I think that it is something that you can train your eye to see. Lately, my accuracy rate with guessing what people will be typed as by Guiding Lines has been 100%. I don’t think I could do what Sarah does (drawing your face and body lines on top of your photographs), but I am pretty confident in my ability to see it. You can try to do the same thing for yourself by looking for harmony in facial collages with Kibbe celebrities.

2. Forget about personality, taste, etc. when deciding your type.
As I have often complained about, Pinterests and Polyvores, even my own, show just one interpretation of a style. But if you just take the lines and Kibbe’s general guidelines, I think you can express yourself and achieve any style you desire. This is where John Kitchener can help, I think. Or you could try writing a style statement or creating a mood board. And then take that information and filter everything through the lines for your type.

3. I do agree, more or less, with eliminating C, N, and G…
…To a point. I can see in people who are in the Cs, Ns, or Gs that there are people who are much closer to the middle than distinctly, say, Dramatic or Soft Classic. They will probably want to base their style on the middle type, but add touches from the yang or yin type accordingly, pretty much like what I wrote about Gamines here.

4. Modern Kibbe examples are just asking for trouble.
Kibbe has typed some modern celebrities in recent sessions with groups. I believe, however, that the things he says during these sessions are to be taken with a grain of salt, because he likely hasn’t made a thorough study of the celebrity being discussed and just says what’s come to mind from what he’s seen in passing in magazines or whatever.

This is what I’ve come up with so far. Thoughts?

The Two Types of Flamboyant Gamines

Update, 6/24/15: Please read this post. I no longer believe in the idea of “curvy FG” or the idea of “two types of FGs” as described here.

When I last talked about FG, I discussed the physical guidelines that can help you decide you’re a curvy FG or a Soft Gamine. Today, however, I’d like to expand on the idea of a curvy FG, and discuss what I see as the two categories of Flamboyant Gamine.

Kibbe has, for the most part, done away with the middle categories of C, G, and N. The obvious result of this is that people who would have once found themselves comfortably in one of these middle categories now has to decide whether they fall on the yin or yang side of the scale. (Note: I am linking that post mainly for the chart. Some stuff in that post, especially about how I see myself, no longer applies.) This means that people who have just a little bit more Dramatic than Romantic in the composition of their Gamine are now Flamboyant Gamines.

This is actually a huge change. In the quiz, while I know some feel that it can only confuse you, it actually gives very good clues as to how the types are put together. If we look at FG, he says that FG is nearly equal A and E answers (Dramatic and Romantic) with extra B answers (Natural). These extra B answers ensure that even if you have more E answers than A answers, you’ll still be yang-dominant. Gamine is just an equal mixture of D and R, but if you had a little more D than R, you’d probably still fall into the Gamine category, rather than Flamboyant Gamine.

But now that G has been eliminated, those of you who have more D than R, with no N, would still end up in Flamboyant Gamine. There have always been people, such as Twiggy, who have seemed to lack N and ended up in Flamboyant Gamine. But they were exceptions. Now, there are lots of Flamboyant Gamines who don’t have N at all, and thus will look a little different. What the N does is widens. It adds a more mesomorphic figure. It may even add curves–I believe all curvy FGs are FGs with N. N is, after all, sharp D yang softened by some yin. Those without the Natural yang are the people who look more classically gamine, rather than the sturdier and wider FGs with N.


Tina Turner and Geraldine Chaplin
(Sources: 1, 2)

The elimination of the plain G type has created two kinds of FGs. We can think of them as F-leaning FGs (Flamboyant Gamine with N) and G-leaning FGs (Flamboyant Gamine without N). I do not like to use “N-leaning” or “D-leaning.” I find it misleading, since neither kind of Flamboyant Gamine can borrow recommendations from the Naturals or from the Dramatics. F-leaning FGs are actually the FGs described in the book, and will probably find it easier to stick with the book recommendations for FG, without dipping into the Gamine section. G-leaning FGs will likely prefer the Gamine recommendations to the FG recommendations alone, and may find some of the FG recommendations, such as plunging necklines, to be unflattering, but may want to sharpen up Gamine to work with the extra yang they have.

I am sure that you can find a similar phenomenon among the N types, C types, and SGs. For SG, for example, I think the general idea would be the same, with some SGs having moderate yin (D answers on the quiz) and some not. I just happen to have spent more time thinking about FG, and have observed the patterns in our FG Facebook group. The division is very obvious. I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic, especially if you’re in a type that had the middle type eliminated.

Kibbe Style Stereotypes

If you don’t have the physical copy of Metamorphosis and haven’t ever seen the pictures from the book, look at the image below. What type do you think this is?
photo (50)
A monochromatic look? No line break? Maybe it’s some kind of classic, or even a dramatic.

Nope. It’s the Soft Gamine makeover from the book. You may be asking, “But where is the line break? Where are the cute details and the Peter Pan collar?” It doesn’t fit in with the popular image of Soft Gamine at all. But it has crisp details (the shoulders), interesting accessories (big red bead necklace, little gloves), and there is, in fact, a line break. It does not obey the popular rule for short women that you should have your hosiery and your shoe be the same color to create the illusion of a longer leg.

Kibbe himself, according to people who have seen him in person, seems to go back and forth on how useful the book is. Some he tells to ignore the book, some he tells to read it. But while the recommendations can be outdated (I don’t buy sweaters with shoulder pads!), I still find that the recommendations are very useful. It helps you understand the parameters of your type that you can do then use to create your own unique style.

What I would definitely avoid doing, and I think I have mentioned this before, is relying on Pinterest and Polyvore to get an idea of the way your type should use their lines. Even with my own Pinterest, I’m not entirely satisfied with how I represent the types, because I feel like I know my own type the best and the rest I usually just repin from other people. We end up with stereotypes like Soft Gamine=Ingenue and that Soft Natural=Boho. People who come back from Kibbe with these types assigned to them do not end up dressed how the type is generally represented at all.

I think that we tend to look at the types with a point of view that is too narrow. While there is debate in the Kibbe community right now about whether the book has any use at all, I think it’s still the best resource for understanding your type and the lines that it requires. Anybody else’s interpretation should only be considered once you have gotten to know your type well, and when you know what works or what doesn’t.

Determining Your Kibbe Type: Listen to Yourself

When you first discover Kibbe and start looking at blogs, communities, forums, etc., inevitably you’ll begin asking for feedback on what other people think you are. This can sometimes be helpful, but other times it can set you back farther on your Kibbe journey than you were when you started. The only person who I would 100% trust when it comes to my Kibbe type is Kibbe. While I know many people who have been very satisfied with their analyses from people who offer their own services based on Kibbe, they are still offering their own vision of what Kibbe says.

This fact goes double for random people in communities. No matter how much of an expert someone seems to be presenting themselves as, and no matter how sure they sound of how they see Kibbe, don’t forget to listen to what you think and what you know about yourself. This would apply even to me, if you happen to see me around on message boards or if you ask for my advice in the comments. Like anyone else, I’m always learning new things and coming across new discoveries in this style analysis business, and I don’t claim to be an expert, just someone who loves discussing this subject. This especially goes for things I wrote early in this blog. If you read My Kibbe Journey, I went from thinking I was a Soft Dramatic (correctly recognizing the mix of yin and yang in my features), to Soft Natural (thinking that I was a youthful looking SN, recognizing that I had gamine youthfulness but was too yang for Soft Gamine), to finally Flamboyant Gamine, where I remain today. But since I discovered Kibbe, which was only around April (!) of this year, I have had many a world-shaking revelation.

And there have also been instances where someone else’s vision of Kibbe has distorted what I knew from the beginning, which is that Flamboyant Gamine is where I belong. Others’ doubts and distortions clouded my instinct. How did I know I was Flamboyant Gamine? Looking at the groups of celebrity examples, I knew that the Gamines and Flamboyant Gamines were where my “people” were. While I do distrust Pinterest and Polyvore and recommend staying away until you know the difference between Kibbe’s recommendations and a type’s stereotype, everything on a Flamboyant Gamine board made me go “I WANT THAT.” I knew from experience that these were the clothes that worked for me. And for every style I tried outside of FG, I just wanted to add angles and asymmetry to it. Lastly, and most importantly, if you put my face in the Flamboyant Gamine face collage, it just makes sense there.

Basically, what I want to say is that there are two important sources of information when trying to determine your Kibbe type: things that come straight from the horse’s mouth (the information Kibbe provided in the book, although there are some errors–we just learned that Natalie Wood was supposed to be in the Soft Gamine section!–and things he has said to people during their sessions with him) and you. Use your own eyes to see what people verified by Kibbe have in common, and try to discern patterns. Listen to your own inner voice and how you feel in different clothes, and try to see yourself objectively, although it’s very difficult. It is still fine to ask for advice and to seek out information (or an analysis!) from non-Kibbe stylists whose work is based off of his system or people in communities and on message boards, but ultimately, your happiness with your Image Identity is what matters, not someone else’s opinion. Listen to Emerson and “trust thyself.”

Below are images from my own Pinterest that I have connected with along my Flamboyant Gamine journey. I encourage you to look for places where you see yourself, too.

Do You Really Need a Style Analysis?

***Update, 5/21/15: Gwen is a tough one! After examining pictures of her body, I have decided that she is actually FN. Her shoulders are very broad, and her rib cage is wider than her hips. The celebrity I found with the most similar body shape to Gwen’s is Cameron Diaz, who is pretty much universally regarded as FN.***

Note: I have discussed Gwen Stefani with some real-life TRs, who feel that her body is far too yang. So I have settled on her being a Soft Dramatic, with a yin face and a yang body. I still definitely do not think she is FG!

Do I need a style analysis? This is a question I’ve been turning over lately in my mind. While I can’t afford Kibbe, there are two other people that I know of who offer a Kibbe-based service and have generally good reviews: Rachel of Best Dressed and Sarah of Guiding Lines both offer reasonably priced services.

I have, however, yet to get myself analyzed. Truth be told, I’m scared. I don’t want to be told what I don’t want to hear. I don’t feel like I fit the typical body type we see in FG, and I score in C/G range on the test. I find, however, that Kibbe’s recommendations work really well for me, I feel good in FG clothes, and I ruled out other possibilities like SN because I need structure. I have blathered on about how I landed on FG in depth.

So I guess what I’m wondering is, if you feel good in the type you’ve selected, do you really need to get an official analysis? Maybe someone would put me in SG because of my body shape. Maybe someone else would make me a small SD. But at the end of the day, FG is where I feel the best and where I feel myself. I think of Gwen Stefani, who you’ll sometimes find on Flamboyant Gamine Pinterest boards. Gwen, though, has always seemed like an outlier to me in FG. Her face is not FG at all. Then I remembered that she played Jean Harlow in The Aviator.

(Sources: 1, 2)

She looks fine in FG. She is STUNNING in TR, with a face that would absolutely not be out of face in glamorous 1930s Hollywood. I think she’s always known this, because even when she was wearing Dickies, she still did a very glam makeup look. Now, I do think that Gwen’s beauty is truly revealed in in her TR/Jean Harlow look. But she has made an image for herself as a cool dresser, not a glam one. So I’m divided on whether a TR Metamorphosis would be the best thing for her. But looking at her in the Jean Harlow pictures, I see her, not the clothes.

As for myself, what if I went to see Kibbe and he made me an SC, my nightmare type? (No offense to any SCs out there; it’s great on you, but not for me.) The ladylike image of SC is so far removed from everything I am. Would I stop dressing FG if an analyst told me I wasn’t? To be honest, probably not.

Have you ever been analyzed? Were you pleased by the results? Do you think Gwen should dress in bias cut silk gowns all the time?

Defining Yourself By Your Don’ts

You may well be able to find something from each Kibbe type that you could potentially wear. And when two types both seem like pretty strong contenders, it may seem like you’ll never nail it down. But one thing I’ve found that can help is defining yourself by your “Don’ts”: what doesn’t work for you, or what key part of the recommendations you can wear, but aren’t absolutely necessary. For instance, confusion between Soft Dramatic and Theatrical Romantic seems to be common: are you Dramatic with a Romantic undercurrent, or are you Romantic with a Dramatic undercurrent? Sometimes, it can be difficult to tell. But if you realize, like some people I’ve come across in the Kibbe world have, that while waist definition looks good on you, you don’t actually need it, then you can probably put yourself in Soft Dramatic.

This should not be confused with “Every recommendation for your type should look good on you.” You should be able to follow your recommendations painlessly and effortlessly, and maybe just skip one or two things. Like I don’t do drop waists, for example, although I might try them on if I lose some weight. But following your recommendations should cut your shopping time in half at the very minimum, and if you’re struggling, you’re probably in the wrong type altogether.

Sometimes, especially if you’re in Classic, Natural, or Gamine, it can be hard to tell which side of the yin/yang balance within your type you fall on. If you’re deciding between Flamboyant Gamine and Soft Gamine, for example, and you seem close to plain old Gamine, you can ask yourself if you do better with rounded shapes or sharp, angled shapes. Do you need a narrow silhouette that then has angles placed on top, or do you do well with a narrow silhouette that is also rounded?

Sometimes there’s a lot of “Cans” in a potential type… but it may the “Don’ts” that reveal our Image Identity.

Bringing Back Natural: The Conclusion

One thing that is inevitable with all of these systems is that you’ll realize something that changes your perception of a certain system. This has happened to me several times with Kibbe: when I realized that face was more important than I previously thought, when I realized that I could be a Flamboyant Gamine even if I’m not shaped like Twiggy, etc.

Since I wrote my last post, I’ve been thinking about the issue of what Natural or blunt/soft yang really is. I think I may have figured it out.

Some people view the different Kibbe base types as essences, and you’re either the yin or yang version of this essence. I don’t think this is really the proper way to look at Kibbe. Perhaps the confusion comes from systems like Kitchener, who views people as being composed of percentages of essences.

In Kibbe, however, your essence is your type. The base types are more benchmarks for certain ways that yin and yang can fit together. After looking at the book some more, I realized that Natural is a representation of mostly yang with yin added to soften the edges a bit.


This chart is from the book. For the sake of argument, let’s say that Natural is 75% yang/25% yin. This means that natural features, like broad shoulders, can be seen as having this much yang and yin. The yin widens the features. So a wide natural nose is a like a Dramatic nose with the width that comes from yin. If we look at its opposite, Moderate Yin (D on the Kibbe quiz), which for some reason Kibbe didn’t give its own base type, it’s as if Romantic yin has been stretched out a bit and made sleeker.

So I have been wrong in the past when I have said that N blunt yang is another ingredient in Kibbe’s system. There are still just two influences: yin and yang. When we say that a Flamboyant Gamine can have blunt N yang, it means that they can have features that show this 75% yang/25% yin balance. While the pure yin influence shows in size, and the mix of D and R can be seen in their Gamine facial features, this N influence can also cause Flamboyant Gamines to be stockier, for instance, than our Dramatic counterparts.

I’m still not entirely sure why he got rid of the pure Natural type, though. I suppose that you’ll still have a more yang or a more yin impression of someone, and you’re just as unlikely to have everything about you be a perfect 75/25 mix as you are a perfect 50/50 mix.

Bringing Back Natural

Obviously, I spend a lot of time thinking about and overanalyzing Kibbe. One of the things that has thrown me for a loop as of late is the fact that Kibbe has gotten rid of the Natural category. Now, getting rid of Classic and Gamine I understand. Very few people will be either a perfect blend of the two or a perfect contrast of the two. Nearly everyone will fall a tiny bit on the side of one or the other. But Natural is different. Natural is only one element, blunt yang, which you can also sometimes find in Dramatic Classic and Flamboyant Gamine.

The other pure types, Dramatic and Romantic, can still be found in Kibbe. Yes, Dramatics are rare, but he didn’t get rid of them completely. So why did he get rid of the pure version of the other element in the system?

I don’t have much to say about this. I’m just confused right now.

So is OG Natural Ingrid Berman.


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