Archive of ‘Three Levels of Dress’ category

Three Levels of Dress: Gamine Summer Casual (Bonjour Tristesse)

If you’ve been waiting for the palette comparison–I have the photos ready, although getting them was challenging, since I’m so far north that I don’t have many daylight hours, but I’ve been sick, so I haven’t had a chance to sit down and work on the post. I decided to write this post first because some of the items are on sale, so it’s a little more time-sensitive.

Lately, I’ve had some interest in the Gamine Kibbe recommendations. I don’t know what we’re supposed to do with the recommendations for Gamine, Natural, and Classic–David Kibbe hasn’t given an answer to this, and I’m not sure if we’re supposed to be able to work them into our Soft or Dramatic/Flamboyant Image ID recs or ignore them altogether. Regardless, I actually see a lot of things in the Gamine recommendations that work for me, like the tailored dresses and geometric shapes. There are also Gamine celebrities I feel a connection to that David hasn’t moved to SG or FG yet, like Paulette Goddard and especially Jean Seberg. The comparisons to her I’ve gotten were one of keys to figuring out that I’m FG.

Last night I decided to watch a movie, and I checked out Otto Preminger, since I loved Laura so much. Once I saw he had directed Bonjour Tristesse, that was it for me. (For some reason, I had always thought it was a Godard film.) I started watching it immediately, and when I saw this title card I almost had to pause the film out of excitement:


Givenchy in the credits: Always a good omen for gamine fashion.

Indeed, the little black dress in this movie may be one I fantasize about having in my wardrobe even more than the one in Sabrina:



But the real star of the movie for me–and the reason behind this post–is Cécile’s (Jean Seberg) French Riviera summer wardrobe. I’ve always had a hard time when it comes to dressing for summer. I find dressing easier when I can make use of layers. I usually end up in an oversized Ramones tank top and some frayed denim shorts and call it a day. But seeing Cécile’s version of summer inspired me. It still looks so fresh and chic, despite being nearly 50 years old. I see this a lot with gamine styles, actually–they don’t really tend to look dated.

Her frequent use of men’s shirts in this movie is iconic–this hasn’t ever really been a look I’ve been into very much myself, but she makes me like it. I wonder what DA color would work best… The traditional light blue isn’t really for me.


A hangover has never looked so chic:


And yes, a sleeveless blouse and high-waisted shorts are definitely going on my list:


I love this kind of collar, but it’s hard to find nowadays:



The only thing I’ve seen it on recently is this dress from Boden, but it definitely doesn’t fit into the “summer casual” theme.

BodenMarisa Dress

Marisa Dress, Boden, $103.60-$118.40

Another fun outfit is this one, with a white button-down blouse that is kind of a modified sailor shirt, with a regular front but the rectangular collar in the back, so from the front it looks kind of like a hooded shirt:


It’s paired with patterned cropped pants, which I’m also going to hunt for:

But my absolute favorite outfit is her striped-shirt-and-white-shorts outfit:

The neckline of the t-shirt makes it just a little more interesting than your basic shorts-and-a-t-shirt combo:


Accessories-wise, in the summer, she doesn’t go much beyond sunglasses and sandals or white flats, but she pairs the stunning Givenchy black dress with some slightly oversized studs and a pearl bangle:


I think the simpler approach to accessories is so fresh for summer.

While we’re still in the midst of winter, since there have been so many sales going on, I’ve already picked up a few things, mainly accessories.


1) Rebecca Minkoff Small Darren Leather Messenger Bag, Nordstrom, $172.49; 2)Type 3 Leopard Lover Earrings, Dressing Your Truth, $8.78; 3) Ingrid Sandal, Boden, $43.20-$54.00.

1) Rebecca Minkoff Small Darren Leather Messenger Bag, Nordstrom, $172.49.
Olive is a great neutral for me, and gold hardware is a must. The small size keeps the bag from looking too Classic, and it’s also just right for my needs.

2) Type 3 Leopard Lover Earrings, Dressing Your Truth, $8.78.
Oversized studs are Cécile’s main accessory throughout the film. I love the geometric shape and nod to leopard print in this pair.

3) Ingrid Sandal, Boden, $43.20-$54.00.
Obviously, some simple sandals are essential for any easy summer look. These have the added bonuses of leopard print and rose gold.

Other things on my list:

1. Simple linen shorts.
I’m not going to go as short as Cécile does in the movie. I like these because they don’t have any visible buttons or cuffs. Very clean.

Boden Shorts

Richmond Shorts, Boden, $27.40-$41.10

2. High-waisted shorts.

3. Men’s or Men’s-style shirt.
Still on the lookout for the perfect color.

4. A simple gold bangle.
I think a bangle would really complete things. Something super simple, like this Kate Spade bangle:

Kate Spade  Bangle

Heart of Gold Bangle, Kate Spade, $32.00

5. Simple necklace.
I have a necklace at my mother’s house that was hers in the 60s that would suit this perfectly.

6. Sleeveless blouse.

7. Patterned cropped pants.

8. Plain cropped pants.

9. T-shirt out of thick material with a high neckline.

10. Lightweight but stiff long-sleeved shirt.

Have any movies inspired you, fashion-wise? What are you dreaming about wearing in the summer?

Three Levels of Dress: Five Puffers Under $200 (That I Don’t Hate)

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Now, I know it’s important to stay warm in winter. But so often, otherwise stylish people resort to the most boring puffer jackets ever designed once there is snow on the ground. So I decided to find some really unique and stylish puffer jackets across the yin/yang spectrum that still have some style while also being functional.

I would personally restrict puffer jackets to Level One. For Level Two and above, I would suggest finding a real wool coat or a vintage fur (I do not recommend faux, because one time in the snow and the fur will be that of a small child’s stuffed animal that has seen better days). If you can’t abide any animal options, be forewarned that you will be a little chillier. It is also much easier for find stylish and unique coats for all the types once you move into wool/fur coat territory.

I do have a few tips. One, look for interesting design details. If it looks like it comes from L.L. Bean or something like that, as nice as it is for shoveling snow or a winter hiking trip, it’s probably not going to look like the most fashionable thing around. Puffer jackets present a special challenge for yin types, and I think going shorter is better–shorter length, so it kind of looks like a short fur jacket, and then I also think shorter sleeves help. Get a long pair of leather gloves and it looks very chic, especially for Romantic/Theatrical Romantic, Soft Gamine/Flamboyant Gamine, Soft Classic, and Soft Dramatic.

As far as long yin coats, I didn’t really find any in stores, but I think if you look for “princess puffer coats,” you may come across some. I found some by searching for “lolita puffer” on eBay:


As far as the jackets I found in regular online stores, one of the coolest ones I’ve found is this one from a brand called Silvian Heach.

Silvian Heach Down Jacket, $102, available in XS in pink and XXS-M in black

Silvian Heach Down Jacket $102, available in XS in pink and XXS-M in black

I think this would be very cute on an SG or a FG who would wear this kind of Chanel-style jacket. I think it may be a bit too quirky for either SC or Dramatic Classic.

 Snow Secret Down Jacket, $181, available in sizes 4-8 in black and 4, 6, and 12 in cream

Snow Secret Down Jacket, $181, available in sizes 4-8 in black and 4, 6, and 12 in cream

This jacket has the shorter length and slightly short/wide sleeves I mentioned. I see it as Romantic. The lace pattern is obviously yin, and I think it would look cute on top of a casual winter outfit.

Bomboogie Down Jacket, $130, available in sizes 4-8

Bomboogie Down Jacket, $130, available in sizes 4-8

This is one I could see working for a lot of people–basically Dark Winters who could wear a cape. The shape of this coat gives it the illusion of being a cape instead of a boring old jacket.

Calvin Klein Long-Sleeved Puffer Jacket, $99, available in sizes XS-XL

Calvin Klein Long-Sleeved Puffer Jacket, $99, available in sizes XS-XL

I think this jacket would be very cool on a Dramatic. It almost approaches avant-garde with its sleekness and asymmetrical design.

 Neve Scarlett Down Jacket $199.99, available in L and XL in charcoal and S-L in natural

Neve Scarlett Down Jacket $199.99, available in L and XL in charcoal and S-L in natural

I’m not sure who exactly would wear this. I think the collar, the asymmetry, and the wideness of the last section of the sleeve make for an unusual design for what seems like a very practical jacket. The collar can also be unzipped to for a wide neckline, for even more drama. I would have to try it on and I’m not always that fond of a waist, but I might wear it as an FG. I could see on an avant-garde natural. Maybe it would even work on a Dramatic who wanted to express a bit of a rustic touch.

All of these jackets are on sale right now. There seems to be a lot of more unusual designs on the site Yoox. What coat are you wearing for winter this year, if you’re in a place in the Northern Hemisphere that gets cold? Do you share my frustrations with the ubiquitous puffer jacket?

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Three Levels of Dress: Kimono Blouse Two Ways

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As I’ve mentioned here before, I have some issues with Level Two in my wardrobe: I don’t really have any. Basically, I have formal dresses, and then jeans and sweatshirts.

There are several reasons for this, but the main one is that at the moment, dressing up is not required for my job. I am rarely in a situation where Level Two is required. I don’t usually want to allocate my not-so-sizable resources to clothes I won’t wear as often.

I’ve realized that this problem can be solved by just adding certain pieces to my wardrobe than can be dressed up or down. At the moment, getting a cute little FG pantsuit isn’t the most practical option for me. But adding things like sweaters and blouses that can be worn with many kinds of bottoms is a different matter.

I actually didn’t really own any blouses. I picked up my first one today. It’s a little out of my comfort zone, but I fell in love with it because it looks like Dark Autumns’s candlelight white to me, and I’ve been into floral prints lately. While I often have trouble with unstructured pieces, I decided that the cropped and boxy fit made it okay for Flamboyant Gamine. I came up with two outfits based around this piece, one for Level One and one for Level Two. I’ll walk you through these two outfits and my thought process.

The star of this post is, of course, this Floral Print Kimono Top from Zara. For a crop top like this, high-waisted skinny jeans, which are flattering on me, probably because I’m long-waisted and it balances me out, are an obvious choice. I went with a waxed version in merlot, because the floral print has some dark red in it and it’s more interesting than basic black. I also picked up the merlot in a studded wrap bracelet for a Fitbit Flex. I think this is a really cool piece, even though I don’t have a Fitbit. Part of why I don’t have one is that I don’t like accessories that look more like tech than accessories, so this is a fun, casual piece of jewelry to disguise it, if you do have one. I did select black for the shoes because I wanted to include the Wild Diva shoes from Amazon. These are fake Valentino Rockstuds, and they come in a huge range of styles, colors, and finishes, and they’re insanely cheap. I have them in the leopard-print, sueded, ballet-slipper version, which I also considered for this outfit, and I might do that in real life, because I’m going to be more limited in terms of my shoe collection, but I felt there wasn’t a true connection to the rest. Instead, I went with shiny black, which calls back to the black outline of the print on the top. I just found some fun ear jackets for the earrings.

I think that for some people, this skirt wouldn’t really seem like Level Two. But since my legs are short, it would look as short on me, and I think the rocker edge it has brings it where I need my Level Two to go. While I don’t think the Fitbit cuff would be inappropriate for Level Two–I’m sure people wear their Fitbits to work; otherwise, what’s the point?–I wanted to glam it up and a little more, and added a cuff that I liked so much, I bought it for myself–the danger of doing these posts, I guess! The black stones, again, pick up the black in the shirt’s print. With the
shoes, I switched to a heel, which I think goes better with the skirt, but if you can’t wear high heels, maybe some kind of bootie would work. The sueded version is a little more subdued, especially on Dark Autumn, although this exact one is currently sold out. Wild Diva is sold by several Amazon sellers, so you may find it somewhere else if you look for it. They do have a burgundy sueded version right now, which would also be a good option, although I generally don’t like to match my bottoms to my shoes. The earrings have spikes, but they are even more sparkly than the ones in the first outfit.

What I like about these two outfits is, apart from the jeans, since in my personal definition of the Three Levels, Level One is the only one that gets jeans, these pieces all work for both levels; it’s just all in how you style it. The accessories are basically interchangeable, as are the shoes; I could wear the heels with the jeans instead to add a little more to my first outfit, or I could exchange the blouse for a cropped t-shirt to bring the second outfit down a level. If you have a limited budget like I do, making sure your pieces are versatile is key. I’m planning on releasing my Three Levels of Dress workbook early next year, but until then, I hope to do more posts like this to give you an idea of how to work with them.

What something you’ve been lately that could work for multiples levels and situations?

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The Three Levels of Dress: Theatrical Romantic Casual

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Before I begin, I think I need to clarify something that came up on my Facebook page. When I say “casual,” I don’t mean the most comfortable clothes you own, the things you wear to clean your house or run to the post office or work in the garden. These clothes fall outside of the purview of the Three Levels. I’m not going to tell you what Romantic workout wear looks like. Anything you’re supposed to sweat in, forget about Kibbe.

“Casual,” in the definition I’m using, is when you want to look nice, but you can still wear jeans. These are the clothes you’d wear to meet a friend to lunch or for a meeting at your kid’s school. Or if you work somewhere without a dress code, like I do, these are even things you may be able to wear to work. This version of casual includes things like dresses and skirts, and not every type will get jeans and a t-shirt.

With that in mind, let’s talk Theatrical Romantic Casual. One of the common concerns from people who think they might be Theatrical Romantic is that they don’t want to be so “done up” all the time. They live a more casual lifestyle and want to be comfortable. My answer for these people is that there is good news and there is bad news.

The good news is that you can be comfortable. Clothing doesn’t have to be sloppy to be comfortable. Jeans actually aren’t really all that comfortable when you think about it. The clothes you will wear in Theatrical Romantic Casual are going to be no less comfortable than the clothes your SN and FN sisters get to wear.

There is a “but,” however, and that is the bad news. You will still look more dressed up. You do not lose your glamorous side just because you’re not going to a fancy event. You will be glamorous whenever you leave your house, except for the exceptions I mentioned above. You don’t have to be glamorous if you’re doing physical labor or exercise or lounging at home. But the rest of the time, if you want to preserve what makes Theatrical Romantic special, you need to retain your innate glamour. (This will apply to Soft Dramatic as well, which I will cover at a later date.)

Retaining glamour is not a question of just adding rhinestones to things that would look better on a Natural type. The lines of the clothes themselves already need to fit Theatrical Romantic’s recommendations and lines for them to work. One of the issues that we find with yin types is that fashion has been stuck in a Natural rut for years. To combat this, like we did for Soft Gamine, we’re going to go into the past a bit for our first Theatrical Romantic Casual look.

While Theatrical Romantic, just like Soft Gamine, draws inspiration from the 1930s, it draws from the formal, Hollywood glamour side. I don’t think even a true lover of glamour like Kibbe is going to suggest that you show up for a casual lunch in a long, bias-cut satin dress.


The casual clothes of the era are clearly going to work better for SG than TR. So instead, we’re going to look back at a different era, the 1950s. Not everything from the 1950s is going to work. But the very feminine shapes that show the body will.

In the Theatrical Romantic workshop tape, David Kibbe recommends “wearing oversized tropical prints with big flowers. Feminine prints keep tops more casual.” This is a good thing to keep in mind for dresses and skirts, too.


Bettie Page Pin-Up Flamingo Cross My Heart Dress

If this dress were a solid color, it would look far more formal. With a flamingo print, it’s a fun, casual dress for daytime. You’re going to wear this for shopping or lunch. You may still be more dressed up than others, but that’s the price we pay for fashion.

Adding details around the neckline and showing a little skin can go a long way to bringing a simple knit top into TR territory.

Ivory Short Sleeve Knit Sophia Top

Unique Vintage Ivory Short Sleeve Knit Sophia Top

In the tape, Kibbe mentions Betty Grable wearing high-waisted, flared shorts in the 1940s.


Tops like the one above could look very fun and casual paired with a pair of shorts like these.


Ally Fashion High Waist Flare Short (back view)

Or stay with the tropical-for-TR-summer-casual theme and go with a pair of tropical shorts.


Planet Blue Show Me Your Mumu Shorts

My shoe pick for outfits like these are a sandal with a very low heel. Kibbe recommends strappy sandals with a tapered 2″ heel on the tape, so I’ve included a pair like that, too. Sandals are supposed to be TR’s best shoe.

Chelsea Crew Wanna Prance with Somebody Sandal in Gold

Call It Spring Staval Rose Gold Heeled Strap Sandals

That takes care of summer… but what about casual for winter? The pants described by Kibbe in the tape and in the book–soft and draped, tapered–sound like they could be hard to find in this age of stretch everything. Another option is one that has been seen on TR Queen Susan Slavin, Kibbe’s wife–a tunic and leggings, done in a glamorous way.


Venus Draped Cowl Sweater

Add a belt to cinch the waist. He recommends wide, soft, and ornate.

Fashion Focus Black Flower And Crystal Stretch Belt

Delicate boots from soft leather or suede are perfect for TR. Snake print is also a great animal print for TR, since it’s the most delicate and ornate of all of the animal prints.


Nicole Miller Atelier Nicole

Lastly, jewelry is going to be a key part of a TR’s look for any level. Sparkly and dangly earrings are an obvious choice, but another good option for casual or professional wear, suggested on the TR tape, is “huggie” hoops.


Bling Jewelry Ritzy Wide Huggies

Even for casual wear, you’ll want to pile it on. Restraint is for classics. But while we’ve all seen what ornate TR statement necklaces look like, another option Kibbe mentions on the tape is several strands of seed pearls or liquid gold or silver. We all know what ornate statement necklaces look like for TR, but for casual wear, I think we can take inspiration from this other, unsung option for TR.


Layered Faux Pearl Necklace

It’s not that sparkly… but like with the earrings, it’s something for casual wear, not when you’re trying to make a big impression or statement with your look. The 1980s liquid gold version is much shinier, of course, and if you’re willing to spend the money on real vintage jewelry, it’s an option.

liquid gold

1960s Vintage Liquid Gold Necklace from Etsy

I did not include jeans and sneakers in this set of options, and compared to other types, this still looks pretty formal. But if you are a TR, that’s never going to be your best look. A dress or a pair of fabric shorts can be just as comfortable–and less restricting–than something made out of denim. Heels will definitely not be as comfortable as sneakers, but you’re a TR. You bring glamour into the world.

Theatrical Romantic is out of my wheelhouse, which is one of the reasons this post took so long to write. I didn’t even know where to shop for TR clothes. For an FG, it’s an alternate shopping universe! So I would like to thank Amy and Angèle for helping me by checking my selections and offering suggestions and showing me the world of yin clothing.

I am taking requests for the next installment of this series, so if you have something you’d like to see, please leave a comment. See this post for what I consider each base type’s most difficult level of dress.

The Three Levels of Dress: Your Native Level

A couple of weeks ago, I introduced the Three Levels of Dress from the system I outline in my workbook. I think that this concept can be applied to Kibbe’s system in a way that helps us understand why certain types struggle with different kinds of dressing, and what essential quality their clothes need to have in all three levels to work.

Native Level: Third, Formal/Two Star
Key Word: Chic
People with a Dramatic base type have a natural formality. In Soft Dramatics, this reveals itself in glamour. A Soft Dramatic looks perfectly natural dripping with jewels, even if they’re at work or at the playground, while the rest of us would look a little nuts. Instead of glamour in the sparkly sense, Dramatics have a high-fashion element to their look, and what they wear would probably look severe on anyone else.
Most Difficult Level: Casual

Native Level: Third, Formal/Two Star
Key Word: Feminine
Romantic women cannot go too feminine. While Theatrical Romantic has some sharpness, they still can’t borrow from the boys. Like Soft Dramatics, both Romantics also need some glamour in their look no matter what the occasion; their jewelry is just a bit smaller. Jeans, a t-shirt, and sneakers just aren’t going to work.
Most Difficult Level: Casual

Native Level: First, Casual
Key Word: Relaxed
“Relaxed” does not mean sloppy. “Relaxed” means ease of movement, lack of restriction. While Flamboyant Naturals have the scale to wear big jewelry and hair, they don’t really have to if they don’t want to, unlike Soft Dramatics, and dripping with diamonds would look like too much outside of a formal setting. Their long line can do a lot of the talking for them. Soft Naturals can go more ornate and feminine than we often think, but still it will look more formal on them than it would a Romantic. Both types need to be able to move in their clothes and their hair should be less stiff as well.
Most Difficult Type: Two Star

Native Level: Second, Business/One Star
Key Word: Elegant
Classics should never look sloppy, but they should also never “gild the lily.” The focus should be on their natural elegance and symmetry. Dramatic Classic can look like a stripped-down FG or a ready-to-wear version of Dramatic–it’s simplified, giving it the elegant air Classics need. Soft Classic always retains the femininity from its Romantic influence, but it never goes too far.
Most Difficult Level: Casual

Native Level: First, Casual
Key Word: Fun
Gamines need to keep their sense of fun or they will wither like a flower without water. For Flamboyant Gamines, this fun is edgy. For Soft Gamines, this fun is playful–it’s winking at us. Gamines can wear things to formal events or work that would make anyone else look a bit silly.
Most Difficult Level: One Star

In the coming weeks, I’ll show how each type can dress in their most challenging level and retain the essential characteristics of the type.

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.