One of the things that really trips people up when they’re trying to figure out their Kibbe is the idea of essence. Essence is not personality. It is something outside yourself–it is what you project. Kibbe’s idea of creating a total look that harmonizes with your essence comes from old Hollywood, where a complete image was manufactured for a star. You can have an Image Identity that may not match up perfectly with your likes and dislikes. That is why Kibbe has a “fantasy” quiz in the book, so you can determine if there is a mismatch between your type and your inner desires. You still, however, have to figure out a way to express your inner desires through your Kibbe type, not by just going with what appeals to you.
But how do you figure out your essence? Jane Rekas has a McJimsey/Northrup essence quiz, but some of those questions were difficult for me to answer, or I felt like I didn’t fit. Also, it won’t give you the difference between, say, a Soft Gamine essence and a Flamboyant Gamine essence.
I think there are two questions that you can ask yourself to help shed light on your essence.
1. Which actresses/celebrities have you now, or in the past, felt a kinship to, or just liked a lot?
I think this is where Mad Men‘s “Jackie or Marilyn?” question comes into play. I have noticed, for instance, that it is women with a Romantic essence who get really into Marilyn Monroe. I like some of her movies, but for me, she is no different from any other star. Audrey Hepburn, on the other hands, was the one I was obsessed with as a teenager. Think back to whose poster was on your wall and whose movies you watched over and over again. Chances are it was someone who had something you connected with, someone who had a similar essence to your own.
The other female celebrity who really captivated me was Edie Sedgwick. How I ever mistook myself for a Soft Natural, I’ll never know.
2. Which actresses/celebrities have people compared you to?
I have been told by friends that they were watching a movie and felt like they were watching me on screen twice: Breathless (Jean Seberg) and Drive (Carey Mulligan). The only other celebrity I’ve ever been compared to is Juliette Lewis. I’m not sure if she is FG, but she seems to dress like one. I think that the answer to this question can reveal what other people see in you, and what vibe you give off. In other words, your essence.
You can also ask yourself how people usually describe you, but I think this may end up getting confused with personality. The danger with both of the questions above, of course, is that you could have always been hiding your light under a bushel and afraid to see yourself, say, as an outwardly sexy Romantic. One of the things that makes Kibbe a genius is his ability to see through people to get to this essence. When you look at the book, all of the women are dressed in the same blah 80s conservative workwear, and he somehow saw past it and saw who really was C and could wear it and put the rest in entirely different clothes.
Anyway, does this work for you? Or do you come up with something totally different than your essence? I know that these questions were helpful for me, but they may not work for everyone, for various reasons. I intended for this post to sort of help nudge people along on their journey to figuring out their essence.