Image Identity vs. Image Archetype

Whenever I’m in a Kibbe Facebook group and I see someone use the term “Image Archetype” in place of “Image Identity,” I always correct them. To some, this may seem pedantic. But to me, they mean very, very different things.

Image ID is the term David always uses. Image Archetype, or IA, is used by Rachel Nachmias. I’m not going to get into the whole thing in this blog post, but I want to point out a key area where they differ.

An Image ID is who you are. I like the definition from “the condition of being oneself or itself, and not another.” You simply are what you are. Your Image ID is a framework, and you place your own style on top of it. Kibbe’s Metamorphosis is about accepting your physicality and essence for what they are and stopping feeling like the grass is greener. Image IDs don’t place a limit on your self-expression.

An Image Archetype, however, is something else entirely. The word “archetype” infers a pattern, whether that’s in unconscious thought as in Jung or simply meaning a prototype more generally. The focus isn’t on who you are; rather, the focus is on how well you represent a certain idea. In her book The Face of the Business, Rachel lays out the style stereotypes that are supposed to suit each Image Archetype. So if you’re a Pixie (what she calls FG in this book), and you don’t relate to flapper, punk, or mod–you’re out of luck.

This is why people say that a Kibbe Image ID can feel limited, or that they wish they could be X because they want to wear certain clothes, but unfortunately, they’re Y. They are coming from the Image Archetype idea, and not Image ID. As David says, the Image ID is supposed to set you free–not box you in.

To give one example, I will often hear people say, “Well, I’m an Audrey type of FG.” By this, they mean that they don’t want to dress like the stereotype (Kelly Osbourne, perhaps) and prefer simpler, more elegant clothes.

There is nothing wrong with admiring Audrey’s clothes–she is an icon for a reason. It’s the idea that she is somehow an anomaly that I have a problem with, as well as the idea that style is static and that your mood today will be your mood forever. We all evolve. Our yin/yang balance doesn’t change, but we do.

David does say that FGs “have trendy in their DNA,” but that doesn’t mean that FGs have to dress wild all the time. FGs can dress however they want, as long as they respect their yin/yang balance. The same goes for all Image IDs. And this is why I’m so picky about the usage of the correct term: you are who you are as an individual; you are not just one of many made from the same mold.

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Why I Stopped Dressing My Truth

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Before I begin, I think some people who are really into DYT would say that I never did in the first place. And they may be right–I never went full-on on what would be a recognizable T3 look.

And there’s a couple of reasons for that. The first is that some of it just isn’t my style. I knew from past experience that some things wouldn’t flatter me, and some of it, I just don’t care for the aesthetic. The other is that some things, like the jewelry, are literally too big and heavy for me. I have tiny earlobes, small wrists. I have ordered a couple of pairs of studs from the DYT store, and they are always larger than I expected when I receive them. They show the earrings on a ear on the website, but my ears are just that much smaller.

I don’t think I’ve typed myself incorrectly. My movement is very Type 3. But T3 fashion doesn’t necessarily express what I want to express. While theoretically, it should be a looser framework into which you can inject your personal style, T3 generally looks earthier than I go.

Whenever I look at other systems, I have to say that I just always come back to Kibbe. Whatever else I’m thinking about with style at the time (and I’m writing about this right now for the new workbook), Flamboyant Gamine is always the sun that any other style system floats around. If a system isn’t compatible with FG, it isn’t going to work for me.

I tried to combine them for a while… judging both the yin/yang balance of an item on me and whether or not it fit the T3 keywords. But in the end, this just felt too stifling. In addition, my style has started to shift to where “edgy” has taken a less prominent role. So while I previously liked the edgy aspects of T3, it no longer feels like who I am. I could definitely not wear T3 jewelry, and I don’t want to cut my hair short in a T3 way; I like my current haircut, which is probably a 1/4 or a 4/1 cut.

I still really appreciate the self-exploration aspects of Energy Profiling. I just no longer feel like the aesthetic aspects of it fit who I am. I feel like Flamboyant Gamine expresses my essence really well, and I am happier dressing that way than I am when I try to add T3 into the mix.

For instance, this dress is on my list… there’s no way it would fit T3. But it would be a dress I would feel comfortable and confident in.

Martha Dress, Boden, $150

Martha Dress, Boden, $150

Have you tried Dressing Your Truth? Do you find that your energy type’s clothing suits you, or have you found that other style systems work better for you?

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Why I Write About What I Write About

You may have noticed that there are some prominent style and color systems I never discuss, and some that I only speak about in a negative way.

As far as the first point goes–I only want to spend my time on systems that I consider valid and useful. If a system is well known and I never write about it–it’s one that I don’t see much value in. I will cover historical style systems even if I don’t find the system itself particularly useful, but that is out of an academic interest. I will not use my blog space to promote contemporary materials/businesses if I do not think that they provide much benefit to the consumer.

And then there are the ones I talk about, but only in the context of why I don’t recommend them or why their ideas are incorrect. These are generally systems that are either offshoots or imitations of another. If I seem to take it all a little too seriously, I genuinely feel that the systems I say negative things about have a negative impact on not only their clients, but anyone who is exposed to what they teach. Even my early blog posts, which I have been meaning to edit for a long time, show the influence of these bad ideas. Some of them were absolutely pervasive a few years back, before David Kibbe became more accessible on social media and was able to clear up misconceptions about his system himself. I feel that many of these systems are limiting, and do the exact opposite of what people like David Kibbe and David Zyla try to do, which is accept and harness the power of your own beauty. Instead, you’re placed in a narrow style box, or given a palette that makes you look seasick, or told that you look like an alien.

So if I seem like I take things a little too seriously, or if you’re wondering why I haven’t ever talked about a certain system–these are some of the reasons why.

Vibrant Autumn

In recent months, I’ve felt myself become disillusioned with the Sci\ART system, at least as it is practiced today. There are a couple of reasons for this.

1. My issues with the two main schools of thought.

The two branches of Sci\ART that are the most widespread, with the most analysts, are True Colour International and 12 Blueprints. I have issues with both, although these issues are different. I wrote about it before, but I simply don’t like the results True Colour gets. They drape a lot of Softs, and I think that the look they go for is flattening and graying. They make a lot of fuss about redraping former 12 Blueprints analysts and clients, and I don’t see an improvement. I don’t look at a TCI client and go, “Wow, this woman looks fabulous.” I see someone who now blends into the background.

I tend to prefer the way 12 Blueprints/Your Natural Design clients look, but the intertwining of this branch of analysts and the Best Dressed Kibbe knockoff system means that I can’t support them, either. My feelings on this subject are well known, but suffice to say, there are so many 12BP analysts that are now offering typing in this system that I feel I can no longer endorse it. I take Kibbe’s legacy very seriously; his system totally upends conventional wisdom and is so honoring of individual beauty, and he is such a wonderful and generous person to boot. The Best Dressed system undoes what it great about Kibbe.

2. The palettes feel limiting.

Despite the fact that Zyla gives you a limited color palette, many people who come from Sci\ART still feel liberated when they get their color palette. He gives people colors that are great for them, but may fall into various Sci\ART seasons. Sci\ART palettes can begin to feel a little confining, in my opinion. You need to hit all three markers of hue, chroma, and value, and then soemtimes it feels like your season is a compromise, which I will explain in a bit.

The wrong way to solve the latter problem, in my opinion, is to further limit your palette and make it more specific, like the systems do that have 16 or more seasons. I find that they are often redundant, further limiting your Sci\ART palette over adding new options. In recent months, I have actually begun to favor a four-season approach, which would have shocked me of a couple of a years ago. I’ve been using my T3 palette from DYT, actually.

After reading Tina’s blog post on her House of Colour experience, I feel like I’ve found my solution. House of Colour drapes you into one of four seasons, and then further refines it into a subseason, but you can use all of the colors of the main season–the subseason just has your bests.

On the Kettlewell (which I think is close to House of Colour), I found a blog post that has a Vibrant Autumn, which I think best describes me. I put myself into Dark Autumn from Sci\ART because it’s the brightest Autumn, and less because it’s the darkest. The coolest colors in DA are not my best, for sure. I stock my wardrobe with colors that are bright, but still have that muted/dirty autumnal quality.


These are the kind of colors you’ll mainly find in my wardrobe, and the ones I get compliments on. From the descriptions on the site, it sounds like I could be their Soft Autumn (which is far less Soft than a Sci\ART Soft Autumn), since people frequently think I’m a Summer until they see how much cool colors drain me, but I think these colors are truly the best from the Autumn family for me. The Dark/Blue Autumn in Kettlewell and House of Colour is very cool, to my eye–I know we have had some people in the Dark Autumn group on Facebook who come from this methodology, and the colors they can wear are far cooler.

As I write this, I realize that the approach is very similar to what Kibbe does. He has one palette for each of the four seasons, but then the way you use the palette varies. So like with style in general, maybe once again it is Kibbe who holds the key to what works for me.

Have you looked at House of Colour at all? What do you think about what is basically a four-season approach versus Sci\ART?

February 2018 Style Update: Tawny Spring?!

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So a little over a year ago, I started moving away from the edgy looks of my 20s and began transitioning into style that was influenced by the late 50s/early 60s and French New Wave cinema. Since this has also coincided with a major move and weight loss, my wardrobe is almost entirely different than it was at the time I wrote that post. Anyway, as you know if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, Zyla is a system that I cycle in and out of every few months. I’m interested in his work and would love to see him, but unlike Kibbe, there isn’t an archetype that resonates with me right out of the box. And because the recommendations vary so much from individual to individual within an archetype, unless there is one where the narrow view presented in the book fits you very well, there are a number of places where you could potentially land.

I’ve generally gone back and forth between a handful of Autumn archetype and a handful of Spring archetypes. I’m back to thinking that I would likely be Spring, specifically Tawny, as recently there was a consult writeup that I read where the image he was giving is something that would suit me well. I played around and created another palette for myself:

Essence, Romantic, Dramatic, Energy, Tranquil/First Base, Second Base, Third Base

Essence, Romantic, Dramatic, Energy, Tranquil/First Base, Second Base, Third Base

I’ve also picked up some items recently that I think suit this Tawny vibe well.

The first is this Botkier bag. It’s a small crossbody, which is something that I was liking, and I was glad to find a brand that suited my style as well as Rebecca Minkoff does, but without that Scientology connection.

I love the yellow, and I also appreciate how they have matched silver hardware to the cool colorways and gold hardware to the warm. You may also have noticed that I included the large version in my Vivacious post.

I’ve never been one for button up shirts. David Kibbe is the one that pointed out that they are just somehow incompatible with my personality, and he’s right. That’s why I’ve had my eye on this shirt from J.Crew for a while, but it used to only come in blue and black pinstripes. When I saw that they had an olive for spring, I bought it immediately.

And lastly, I have been in love with the idea of a camel-colored wool coat for a while, but it had to be just the right one. The right shade of camel, a warmer and richer golden brown. And it had to have a straight cut. I finally found one, although sadly few colors and sizes remain. I’m very happy to have picked mine up and at the price I did, which was around $120.

Cocoon Coat in Italian Stadium-Cloth Wool, J.Crew, was $350, now $226.99

Cocoon Coat in Italian Stadium-Cloth Wool, J.Crew, was $350, now $226.99

So these are the key pieces I’ve added to my wardrobe lately. What have you gotten for yourself lately?

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Who Should Do Your Style Analysis?

Lately, there has been a real uptick in color analysts also performing style/image analysis. I’m not talking about something like Caygill, where the style advice is built into the system. (By the way, if you haven’t seen it yet, Cornell has made Caygill’s book available for free!) I’m talking about people who were trained in systems that just look at one thing–your coloring–and now also offer some kind of style or image analysis.

Now, I can understand why a color analyst would want to offer such a service and expand their business. But just because they can doesn’t mean they should, for two major reasons.

The first is that the barrier for entry for becoming a color analyst seems to be whether someone can pay the money. Someone who is a color analyst isn’t necessarily an artist with a great eye and a great sense of style that they come by naturally. The quality of analysts, from what I’ve seen, varies widely, even with the same methodology and training. You can teach people to look for certain things, but an eye can’t be taught. The analyst, who in all likelihood is no style maven themselves, because how many of us really are, simply can’t see beyond what is in front of them, so they give you something close to what you already do, maybe just tweaking the lines a little.

Both Zyla and Kibbe have this ability to see beyond. They can look at someone and see their style potential. That is why they are geniuses. Now, you may think, “Well, [random analyst] probably isn’t a style genius like Kibbe or Zyla, but they were trained in a system to look for certain characteristics and apply this framework.” This is the second reason. Most seem to be working with some permutation of a system based off of Kibbe’s work. The fact is, there isn’t a system that is based on his work that doesn’t do the exact opposite of what Kibbe aims for with his. They put you in a box with a style stereotype, and chances are good that it’s the wrong box anyway. They don’t teach you how to apply the principles of yin/yang and express any style you want. So they are analyzing you to the best of their ability, but they are working from something that is based on an incorrect understanding of David Kibbe’s work (and there are numerous people now who profess to “teach” Kibbe; they’re all over the world, and they’re all wrong).

Now, again, I’m not talking about Caygill analysts here, or other systems where color and style are inextricably linked. I don’t know enough about these systems to criticize them, really. I am talking about color analysts who also offer some kind of “image analysis” service as something separate.

So when you see that the color analyst you’re planning to go see for a draping also offers some kind of styling or style analysis service, I would pause before adding it to your appointment. If you’ve been exploring these style systems, are you really going to get any clarity from this person, or will it just set you back more and confuse you? My money is on the latter. My suggestion would be to save up for either Kibbe or Zyla, artists who can give you their vision for your style. Being able to look at a client and see their potential is not something you can learn in a course. That’s not how you end up with this moment:

In fact, you are better off exploring on your own, learning how to apply Kibbe or Zyla’s work to yourself if you are unable to see them. At least then, you don’t have the voice of an “authority” in the back of your head and you’re not out $200 or $300.

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NEW! Resources

I’ve added a Resources page again. I used to have a list of websites I’ve found helpful, but as I got further into my studies, I realized that I no longer endorsed the content on those sites. Instead, I’ve replaced it with a list of books that I find myself referring to. I hope you all find it helpful.

Don’t Be a Kibbe Masochist

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You’ve done it. You figured out your Image ID. The old-school celebrities feel relatable to you. Getting dressed is so much easier now. You see how all your supposed “flaws” are just part of your yin/yang balance.

Sadly, at this point, many people actually abandon their Image ID. They go back to something else, something that they wish they were. Why? Maybe it’s, “I don’t want to be a part of a club that would have me as a member.” Maybe once the exciting haze clears of the new discovery, you are left to go back and confront those “flaws,” to finally accept them once and for all. You may now be sure about how to incorporate your personality into your Image ID.

Finding out where you belong, and then putting yourself somewhere else, is masochistic. You are torturing yourself with what you are not. You are saying to yourself, “What I actually am will never be good enough.”

This happens to every Image ID. If you’re an FN and you’re insisting you’re a very tall TR, for instance, there is certainly a TR who is looking at all the supermodel FNs and wishing they were a glamazon. Most people have a hard time recognizing their own beauty, but they can see it in others.

Read Kibbe’s chapter on resistance to your Image ID. Recognize that no one Image ID is superior to another. Beautiful people are found in every single Image ID.

Various Image IDs on display in The Women, 1939. (Source)

Various Image IDs on display in The Women, 1939. (Source)

Give yourself a break. Recognize your own beauty and let yourself be in the Image ID that actually supports your yin/yang balance. Just remember the following:

1) There is no hierarchy. Sure, the TR chapter may be especially flowery because David is writing in part about his wife, but it doesn’t mean that TR is the superior Image ID in practice. I think any TR around could tell you about their own struggles with their self image in their yin/yang balance.

2) There is no limit to your self-expression within any ID. FGs don’t have the market cornered on punk clothing. You can express any look you want within your Image ID.

3) Being in the right ID makes your life easier! You are no longer struggling with clothes that don’t fit right because they weren’t intended for someone with your yin/yang balance.

So stop torturing yourself. Don’t think that just because it’s your yin/yang balance, it is somehow inferior or boring or unattractive. You will shine in whatever your Image ID is.

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Personality Plus: Putting It All Together

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Now that I’ve covered all six personality types from the Personality Plus system described in Clothing Construction and Wardrobe Planning, I’m going to explain how to put it into practice. It is not a complete style system the way others I’ve discussed are. It is meant to cover only your natural clothing preferences (your personality) with the rest determined by whatever other system you use. The book has some standard body-type sort of advice, but we have numerous other systems to pull from.

So what is this system supposed to help you figure out? What it is really about is listening to your own instincts and recognizing your preferences. What do you reach for, and what stays in your closet, unworn? Sometimes even things that are perfect for our Image ID just aren’t things we want to wear. Identifying your Personality Plus category can help you avoid these mistakes, and it can also help you with making your Image ID (or whatever other type you’re using) feel like your own, especially if your Image ID seems to be at odd with your tastes/personality/lifestyle.

My suggestion would be to look at your closet, and look at the things you wear all the time, and the things that you never touch, the ones that may even have the tags still on them. What are the things you reach for again and again? The point of this system isn’t to give you a makeover. It’s to work with your natural instincts, and to save you money by preventing you from buying things you aren’t actually going to wear. Identifying your own personality can also help you further develop your personal style by making your wardrobe even more cohesive.

When applying the advice from the text, I think the easiest place to start is color and pattern. Look at pattern in conjunction with whatever other system you’re using–if you’re Dainty and a 6′ Kibbe Flamboyant Natural, it may take some work to figure out how to convey daintiness in a way that works with your physicality.

As far as fabric goes, in order to find the fabrics listed in the book, I generally had to go very high end, as you may have noticed. So I would try and understand what these fabrics look like and the effect they give, and try and find their contemporary, inexpensive counterparts. You also always have to consider what works with your body. If you are Vivacious, maybe the crisp fabric doesn’t work for your lines–perhaps a lot of tight-fitting, modern fabrics can convey the same feeling for you. Just don’t go for fabrics that would convey the opposite message–i.e., flowy fabrics for Vivacious won’t work.

Accessories are going to be an easier place for all of to start in terms of adding in our personality. Just make sure everything is scaled correctly for you. An SG Sturdy is going to end up with different items than an D Sturdy.

Some notes:

-In my first post in this system, I introduced them in pairs. You will never find both personalities in a pair in one person; they cancel each other out. For instance, you cannot at once not want any attention (Demure) and then also want to always make an entrance (Dramatic).

-The instinct seems to be to want to create combinations, i.e., a Sturdy Dramatic. It is far more likely that one Personality is going to dominate in you. If you think you have two or three, I would first look at whether your style needs from another system aren’t dictating that. For instance, if you are a Kibbe Soft Dramatic, and you think you’re a Dignified Dramatic, in that case, I would say that the chances are very high that what you are identifying as the Dramatic aspect of your personality is really the Dramatic aspect of your lines.

-Don’t just look for the closest match to what you are in another system. Your personality may align with your lines–mine do! But don’t cheat yourself out of a chance to have another helpful tool by not being honest with yourself about where your actual clothing preferences lie.

-Your clothing personality may change over the course of your life. Demure and Vivacious especially are types that women might “mature” out of. Demure often ends up in Dignified as they mature and gain self-confidence, and Vivacious can really end up anywhere except, I’m guessing, Demure, since that is also a type associated with younger women (although it doesn’t have to be!). Dignified is going to be rare among the young.

If you have any more questions, please leave them in the comments! And I’d also like to announce that my next workbook is going to be a clothing personality workbook, so if there are holes you feel like this system doesn’t fill, that’s something I can take into account as I work on developing my own system of sorts.

Previously: Vivacious

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Personality Plus: Vivacious

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gay, sparkling, lively, flighty, impulsive

-You’re not a tomboy, but you do like woolens that take a certain amount of knockabout wear.

-You look for materials that make up into perky, crisp outfits.

-Slinky, soft materials to some extent bother you. They aren’t in step with your pep!
-You love faille, taffeta, pique, and organdy for evening.

Moschino Printed Taffeta Mini Dress, The Outnet, was $3,095, now $928

Moschino Printed Taffeta Mini Dress, The Outnet, was $3,095, now $928

Fausto Puglisi Geometric Technical Pique  Dress, Luisaviaroma, was $1,722, now $861

Fausto Puglisi Geometric Technical Pique Dress, Luisaviaroma, was $1,722, now $861

Roksanda Barham Bi-Colour Dress, Matchesfashion, was $1,253, now $322

Roksanda Barham Bi-Colour Dress, Matchesfashion, was $1,253, now $322

-You love sweaters that don’t have to be pressed and blazers that stand up to wind and rain.

Balmain Oversize Wool Blazer, Nordstrom,  $2,395

Balmain Oversize Wool Blazer, Nordstrom, $2,395

Note: the book does not give many specifics on color and pattern for Vivacious.
-You like plaid skirts that don’t show spots.

-There will be nothing ultraconservative about your clothes.

-You like styles that have a direct quality–a ready-for-anything look. You don’t like the type of dress that has to sit quietly in the corner so it won’t get messed up.
-You love tricky costume jewelry and fad accessories. You’re happy when you have a drawerful of belts, collars, kerchiefs, clips, and bracelets to choose from because you crave frequent changes.

Fendi Floral Snake Belt, Marissa Collections, $950

Fendi Floral Snake Belt, Marissa Collections, $950

All My Love Hinged Idiom Bangle, Kate Spade New York, $78

All My Love Hinged Idiom Bangle, Kate Spade New York, $78

-You really prefer to wear headgear of the moment, whether it is a hood or a headband arrangement. Of course, they can’t “go” everywhere. When you must wear a hat, you feel best in ones that aren’t too cluttered with “stuff.”

-Your shoes and bags tend toward casual styles, but you enjoy novelty shoes and tricky bags too.

Sophie Fringed Flats, Boden, were $150, now $135

Sophie Fringed Flats, Boden, were $150, now$135

Marc Jacobs Bow Pumps, Farfetch, were $454, now $318

Marc Jacobs Bow Pumps, Farfetch, were $454, now $318

-In short, you thrive on endless variety.

Excerpt from Clothing Construction and Wardrobe Planning

Previously: Dignified
Next: Putting It All Together

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