Sunday, 3 June 2018

Kibbe Style: Where I Arrived and Why I Won't Stay There

Also Known as Part Three

 I think David Kibbe has some very good ideas but that they are possibly not quite the whole picture.  I also find his vision and style a little over the top.  He is theatrical so that could be part of it, though perhaps it's also something to do with someone giving a makeover feeling as though they really need to deliver something substantial.  I have a small fear that he would see me as a Flamboyant Natural and this style type is just to weighty for me.  It is too much for my personal taste but I also believe it is too much texture and busyness to flatter me.  I am quickly lost in looseness, layers and accessories. Rather than looking elegant I look bulky.  I look bulky in thickly textured garments.  My facial features disappear from sight the more you add to my outfit.  I could wear many of the basic lines thought not all as I need a sleeker torso in my garments.  A flowy boho dress with no seaming to shape it is not elegant on me but rather, frumpy.

One challenge with trying to identify my Kibbe type was knowing how much personal tweaking was normal and how much meant I was in the wrong category.  It is also difficult to know if you are interpreting the guidelines correctly.  None of this can be known unless the information comes from a personal consultation with the man himself.  It is entirely possible that everything I say here, everything I believe about the types and how they apply to me or don't is entirely wrong.  But Kibbe's ideas are out there in public domain and being used with varying degrees of success by people and I am one of those people who has explored these ideas.  I have learned much but also struggled.  The thing to remember is how useful what I have learned is and that Kibbe's word is not the final word or guaranteed to be the most accurate word. 

Kibbe devotees are convinced his system has provided all that is needed and that any discomfort a person experiences with yin or yang qualities is simply about resistance.  Some people would put on their psychologist hat and say, okay so you are terrified of being typed as a Flamboyant Natural so clearly you must be one.  If that is the case I would just have to walk away from the whole system because I am uncomfortable in Flamboyant Natural clothing and really do not believe it my most flattering look, even though when I look at the body of someone he has determined to be a Flamboyant Natural I see a similarity to my own and it is the category most likely to be assigned to anyone over 5'8" tall.

It frustrates me a little that over 5'8" is considered 'extremely tall' and that there is only one category for it whereas everyone else has 10-12 other potential options and for those of average height all of the categories are an option.  I just can't believe that all tall women are Flamboyant Naturals though Kibbe does sometimes put them into other Dramatic categories.  The bottom line is that a skeleton larger than average is always considered to be primarily yang and dramatic and to Kibbe this means bold or sharp use of colour, line and accessories.  We tall people are told we just have to accept that fact and that believing ourselves to be one of the average height categories is just denial about our true appearance.

It might be true or it might be that accusing someone of denial is just a method of covering up a flaw or not understanding that something is actually missing from the system.  Do we really need to be told that we don't know ourselves and our inability to accept the category someone else has put is in is just our inability to accept something factual about ourselves?  I don't know the answer to this.  I don't know if it's true that some people experience denial or resistance or if some people just don't fit neatly into Kibbe's system.  I do tend to think there is usually a sweet spot, somewhere that has enough complexity to encompass all people but not so much complexity that hairs are split.  When a system meets our own needs we tend to believe in it and believe it is complete.  

I will never know what David Kibbe would type me as but I can learn from his ideas and attempt to type myself.  I have done this.  Would he agree with me?  I don't know.  

I explored the Natural categories, seeing something in them that was working for me.  The downward flow of line, a little bit of asymmetry, a slight relaxed vibe all seemed good.  I suit straight leg and slightly flared jeans, skirts that have gores, godets, bias cuts and which flow over the waist and hips smoothly and flat.  It is best if my waist is skimmed over and no bulk added or dividing line.   The slightly antique touches suggested for Soft Natural seem good for me.  Better than large, bold jewelry.  But the Natural groups have too much weight in accessories and textiles.  There would be too much personalised tweaking of the recommendations for it to be a good fit.

I also explored the classics, and returned to them after a blog reader left a helpful comment telling me she saw me as definitely a classic.  It's true that there is something about me that reads as classic.  There is much balance in my body and there is an air of ladylike reserve about me.  It is easy to put too much on me and not the worst thing to go in a less is more direction.  My height is yang in the Kibbe system so I am simply too big to be a Soft Classic, although it seems that what works best for me is a little bit of Soft Classic and a little bit of Dramatic Classic.  Perhaps I am a pure Classic, although Kibbe has abolished the pure categories and says everyone leans at least a little yin or a little yang.  I seem to wobble in both directions.

There is a good chance Kibbe would declare me a Flamboyant Natural and either do the requisite tweaking or that there would be a difference of opinion over how much flamboyance suits me.  It is also possible he would say Dramatic Classic.  There would be less tweaking and  it is a category I could almost feel at home in.  It does work. It just leaves me feeling that something has been left out. Something that could be borrowed from the Naturals and Soft Classic is left out if I stick strictly to Dramatic Classic because there is more softness in me than is seen in a Dramatic, especially in my face.

 I couldn't shake the idea that it was somehow a blend of Classic and Natural.  And I couldn't shake the idea that my elongation of face and body did not make me dramatic the way Kibbe sees drama but it did do something.
 Kibbe  bases his categories on the idea that the face and body will easily fit into the same category.  But it seems that at least sometimes and for some people they do not.   Kibbe devotees will insist this is a mis-reading of what Kibbe means but it is just as possible that it is Kibbe choosing to ignore things he couldn't make easily fit into his system or things which he believes are insignificant.

People can be found on various forums around the internet, expressing frustration that they cannot figure out their Kibbe type.  There is no doubt that if they consulted with the man they would be given a type, an explanation in detail and a makeover according to what he sees.  And there is no doubt that he frequently gives people some very effective makeovers.  This doesn't mean that his vision is the only possibility or that it is correct or better.  It is the Kibbe vision which is arguably very impressive but there is always some degree of subjectivity in this, even when we are observing qualities which seem measurable, such as sharpness or roundness.  I still think that part of the success of a makeover comes from its being a very polished finished product and that  a person looking very styled can fool the viewer into thinking this is the right or best look.

Through the Kibbe system I figured out many things about my lines and overall appearance and found words and mental images to understand it but it resulted in a bit of a muddle and felt like something was missing.

I could just take what I know and forget categories and labels but I understand how they help to keep the vision consistent and I am always seeking to either perfect a system or find a system closer to perfection than the last one.  I am always convinced that it is possible to figure out all of the patterns in human appearance, sort them out and create categories with guidelines.

I think of all the other things in the world that can be classified and organised and I do not imagine that human beings are any different, though some people do greatly resist this.  They like to think we are all unique.  I think that we are and we aren't but that is probably not within the scope of my blog.  Some people are happy to figure out their type, their best lines and colours and how to put together the whole consistent look, through experimenting on their own and either not naming it at all or coming up with their own name.  This is fine; this is wonderful.  But it's a hobby that takes time, effort and money.  Others like systems of classification and extensive description that allow  for just figuring it all out on paper and then getting on with just wearing stuff, no extra shopping required.

While Dressing Your Truth is obviously simplified and lacking much, not to mention containing errors about colour and wackiness about energy, it might be on the right track about the importance of the face in determining the best overall style type.  I am somewhat comfortable being scornful about Dressing Your Truth but I want to like the Kibbe system.  It is well organised, seems complex enough to cover all the possibilities and he seems like a very nice person even if he does have short person issues about height.  It is also possible to find enough information online to attempt a DIY compared with that  used by John Kitchener and others who are part of the Personal Style Counselors group.    

In the end it doesn't matter who has correctly figured it all out.  The consumer will choose what pleases and as I make my choices, I am sharing the reasons and all of my discoveries on my blog.  Maybe it will help you or just entertain you.  More to come on how I might be resolving the confusion.



  1. Is he short? Maybe it's just a case of "you're all too tall up there"!
    Incidentally I am 5'91/2" so I understand your frustration.
    I would be dramatic or flambouyant for sure. But that kind of suits my personality ;-) xo Jazzy Jack

    1. I am also 5 91/2"...did I say that already? I don't know Kibbe's actual height but in pictures he looks short to me and he talks about tall women as being 'big' or about how they are so magnificently large' I think he would make you a dramatic but that might not actually be an uncomfortable fit for you. I can see that working well, actually. I've not got a dramatic bone in my body unless you count my ability to fake Queenliness which is handy but not something I do much. LOL xo


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