Archive of ‘Style Systems’ category

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.

Color Me Beautiful: 1980s Fashion Nightmare

For now, I am not going to really discuss systems that are defined by color and season. After reading the materials related to Dressing Your Truth and Zyla, I have some major issues with the way that kind of system works. I don’t see how having, say, a certain kind of nose will mean that you’re more likely to lose your keys (DYT) or that a certain kind of coloring will mean you have a certain kind of personality (Zyla). I like Kibbe because it is about working with your entire essence and your balance of yin and yang to find a type, and has nothing to do with what color your hair is. While obviously knowing your most flattering colors is helpful, whether you do it by a seasonal color analysis or by using the colors you find in your eyes, skin, and hair, like in Zyla, I don’t like using it as a starting point for finding your personal style. I’d rather have the style first, and the colors second.

That being said, before I get into Kibbe, I’d like to continue with the history kick and talk a little bit about Carole Jackson’s Color Me Beautiful. There are others, like Caygill and Kentner, but I haven’t been able to get ahold of their books–Caygill’s goes for hundreds of dollars–and Carole Jackson’s book is still in print. It was the first book I read that had at least part of it based on Belle Northrup’s and Harriet Tilden McJimsey’s work, and indirectly led me to Kibbe, DYT, et al. So I thought I’d talk about it a little bit.

Color Me Beautiful‘s main premise is splitting women into the four different seasons based on their coloring. (I have been fascinated with this concept ever since coming across it in a Baby-Sitters Club book.) Using these colors as a guide, Carole Jackson further split women into what she calls “style personalities,” using the categories determined by Harriet Tilden McJimsey. Jackson, however, totally rids the system of the yin/yang concept. She tells you just to use your season as a guide and then study yourself in the mirror and see which personality fits you best. She also says that some people can wear several personalities, depending on the occasion.

Thanks to the Internet, you don’t even have to buy the book to see what she’s talking about. Someone uploaded a 1980s Color Me Beautiful promotional video to YouTube. The very 80s fashions are alternately hilarious and frightening, and I can say that after watching this, I was more certain than ever that none of these fit me. The Style Personality segment starts at around 38:19:

(The rest of the video may be helpful for determining your season if you’re struggling with it, although nowadays using 12 Seasons seems to be more popular. But it’s a good starting place if you’re unsure if you should look at, say, Autumns or Winters.)

I think it’s interesting to look at this and then compare it to Kibbe, who came out at around the same time, and see what he did with the structure provided with McJimsey. His allows for a lot more variation, and gets rid of coloring=style personality, which I definitely approve of. I will finally begin discussing Kibbe in my next post, which will be on how I see the Kibbe system.

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