Monday, 4 June 2018

Seeking My Style Archetype

 In this post I will explain how I explored archetype blends and what I found.  Going in I expected to see Ethereal in myself but there were surprises.

The Ethereal essence is sometimes referred to as Angelic and can be found described in various places.  I like these two:

Truth is Beauty
Shopping For the Real You

Using a black and white close-up photo of my face, shot straight on, no makeup and hair pulled back, I compared my face to photos of clothing grouped on Pinterest boards and labelled according to style type.  You can find these boards by Truth is Beauty and similar though without the Ingenue or Ethereal component by Best Dressed.  Somewhat interestingly both are women named Rachel.

Rachel Nachmias of Best Dressed does not endorse the dress for your face strategy but you might still find her boards useful for this exercise.

The idea is to hold your face up to the clothing and accessories images and determine if there is harmony.  I made brief notes and tried to really focus on what the clothing was like with my face although I sometimes encountered something suiting my face when I know it doesn't flatter my body.  This was usually not a problem in the end because these were not my best options overall, it was just that there was something there that worked and I made note of it.

Rachel Arndt posits that the Ethereal and Ingenue essences are versions of yin/feminine that are needed for some people and that as they are missing from the Kibbe system Romantic is the only version of yin found there.  The Dramatic, Natural and Gamine essences are yang/masculine and Classic is a balance of yin and yang

 Yin/Feminine visuals are soft, curved, rounded, small and Ethereal is elongated curves

Yang/Masculine visuals are large, squared, blunt or sharp, straight and wide, elongated straightness reads more yang if I understand this correctly.


My best looks are found in Ethereal Romantic, Ethereal Ingenue, Ethereal Romantic Ingenue, Ethereal Dramatic Ingenue, Ethereal Dramatic Classic and a bit of Ethereal Natural Classic.  I was not prepared for how good Ethereal Romantic Ingenue looks but with hindsight I should have been.

A Few Words About Ingenue

Kibbe's those who agree, is that the Ingenue essence is childlike and has no place in the style type of an adult woman.  Gamine can also read as childlike but it has a masculine vibe, it is feisty and funky.  This seems to me some sort of fear of sexualising female children and yet I think that fear would be misplaced.  The whole point of the Ingenue essence is that it is feminine but it is not sexy.  Denying something that is part of you doesn't seem appropriate to me and seems like yet another way of telling women what they can and cannot be.  
  Summing Up The Experience:

In the Kibbe system I seem to have too much yin to be dramatic and too much yang to be romantic so I end up in Classic which is balanced yin/yang.  And yet something is missing.  It seems that the problem is Kibbe doesn't address the kind of yin and yang I actually have, perhaps because of the ethereal influence.   

I am a very visual person and this has helped.  Although I am still playing around with the right words to express what I can see in my head, I will say this was a worthwhile though time consuming exercise. If you want it more organised, more concrete and more certain, the Style ID Calculator would be a smart purchase.  I am still employing some guesswork.

It is a challenge to remove personal taste from the equation, as well as the confusing fact that the Ethereal look is difficult to translate into everyday casual clothing.  This might be why Kibbe doesn't use it but I think that Rachel's efforts to work out that translation are more helpful than ignoring the existence of the essence. 

I recommend that if you try this, hold your photo near the images and then look for your first gut feeling of yes or no.  If it's sort of good, make some quick notes about what is good and what isn't.

Below are my Notes while holding the photo near image.
Here is the photo I used

I went over it all three times, the second time using the coloured version of this photo and the third time looking at the Ingenue categories which I had originally ignored. I admit I didn't look at the Gamine categories because I know Gamine is all about broken up lines and those are not good for me but the Ingenue was a surprisingly good fit.  I refined my observations in repeating the activity but my instincts did not change.  I continue to revisit the best ones and may write more about that in future. Out of everything the ethereal part seems very certain and Ingenue surprisingly possible.  I am not yet certain of the best category.

Romantic-not jarring but also not right
Romantic Ethereal-something seems good but too much? too delicate? too ruffled? Is that personal taste getting in the way?
Romantic Dramatic  too sharp and stiff, too sexy, too something
Romantic Natural (Kibbe Soft N) looks good just in lines but not patterns or accessories
Romantic Classic  ( Kibbe Soft C ) something looks right but possibly a bit too stiff and prim
Romantic Ingenue I begin to look dangerous; it is younger and sweeter than my face
Romantic Ethereal Dramatic looks okay-a bit too much in some forms perhaps,  am beginning to see that when it gets too dramatic I begin to look a more Ingenue
Romantic Ethereal Natural some of the dresses look great but many look quite wrong
Romantic Ethereal Classic something is right about this too but might be too delicate  
Romantic Ethereal Ingenue  it scares me how good this looks. So lacey, romantic and feminine
Romantic Dramatic Natural-too much going on
Romantic Dramatic Classic-some looks right-sheath dress with bit of detail. Rest looks too sharp.
Romantic Natural Classic-some looks good, natural patterns are bad, same as SN draping can be good, downward flow of line
Ethereal-really quite good but I think it would feel like a costume, difficult to make everyday outfits-looks like I can pull off a lot of ethereal though
Ethereal Dramatic something is good, can get too sharp or voluminous and my face looks friendlier than this
Ethereal Natural jewelry looks good clothes are a mix-Sarah Paccini looks good. long cardigans and floppy hats can overwhelm me, I look classic next to this
Ethereal Classic-similar to REC something is good but some gets too delicate and I begin to look a bit dangerous compared to its sweetness
Ethereal Dramatic Natural-too much sharpness, makes my face look sweeter than the clothes
Ethereal Dramatic Classic-quite good, possibly I look younger than the clothing
Ethereal Natural Classic-okay as long as I avoid preppy and keep torso from getting too wide or loose
Ethereal Ingenue looks really good and this scares me a little
Ethereal Dramatic Ingenue also good
Ethereal Ingenue Classic also good though not sure I like it as much as EDI or REI it seems to look fusty
Dramatic-NO, too shapeless and hard
Dramatic Ingenue somewhat good
Dramatic Natural-too much going on in texture, accessories and pattern, downward lines often okay but not flowy boho dresses-too frumpy on me without shape
Dramatic Classic-okay but something missing, can be too plain and sharp
Dramatic Natural Classic the same problems as with Dramatic Natural-gets too heavy
Natural-relaxed simplicity is good but patterns, accessories, sportiness not good
Natural Classic-too preppy is not good, some of these are good, simple lines are good, plaid and check not good, tweed a bit heavy, can look more masculine than I look, I look a bit like an alien disguised as a librarian.
Natural Ingenue looks okay, reads as innocent classic, possibly incongruous with my age now but I wore this when younger thinking of it as classic
Classic-pretty good but also a bit plain and stiff.  Seems to be something about balance, femininity and a dash of looking regal or ladylike that works
Classic Ingenue some of it looks good, looks like things I wore when younger; it wouldn't be the worst I could wear now
Ingenue definitely not.  Too sweet and young.

Too much dramatic and I look like a little girl playing dress up.  Too sweet and delicate and I begin to look dangerous.  Too much regular woman and I look like an alien who is plotting to kill you while trying to disguise herself as 'normal'.  

If I really do have a lot of ethereal and ingenue also it seems. It does explain why sexy things fail on me.

This was really a lot of fun and surprisingly informative. Now that I understand what to look for I really do see the Ethereal and Ingenue in my face, though it is difficult for me to see what else might be there.  If it truly is also Romantic I am not sure why.  If it is Dramatic I am also not sure why just as I am not sure how those two opposite things could both be looking right.  Maybe they cancel each other out and make Classic.  Honestly, I don't yet know.  I might be just a little bit scared of the one I think looks best.


  1. Hi Shawna,
    I found you from your comments on Truth is Beauty.
    I enjoyed your analysis and especially your comment about looking a bit like an alien disguised as a librarian. That made me laugh, especially since I recently bought a white shirt which does nothing for me and probably fits in that Natural Classic category.
    I'm trying to figure out my own style type. I haven't tried the style calculator yet because doesn't work on a Mac.
    I find it hard to be objective about myself and it was helpful to see your photo since you described some things I think might apply for me. Thank you for doing that. I think you're brave.

    1. Hi Cat, I'm glad you found something helpful here. I find it difficult to see myself objectively too and it has taken me awhile to figure things out. I was seeing Ingenue when it's probably a dash of Gamine but as you can read in my blog posts I persisted and began to see more effectively. I have a mac too but my partner has a PC so I used his computer. I think I've seen people saying you can use it on a Mac if you use Googlesheets. Also you can do it all yourself, it just takes more time. If you compare all the numbered pinterest boards with the named ones you can figure out what they all are, or you can just use the named ones. Try holding a pic of your face next to them, then score it and track the scores. If you do it with a 123 method you have more math to do. If you can eventually determine your seven best boards and work from there you just figure out how many times each type shows up in the blend. So if you chose END ENC and DNG you have two Es and two Ns so EN is strong in you. I am fairly sure that's how it works. I find making a pinterest board ( make it private ) with a few photos of your own face and then switch in and out different type images to get a sense of what looks right. After you do this for awhile you get better at it. Good Luck!

    2. Also meant to add-check the extremes. Take the images that seem to be the most extreme examples of their type and compare those near your face. I can get away with some Ingenue things. I look good in certain types of peter pan collars and puffed sleeves, but not all types. And a baby doll dress is a huge NO.

  2. Hi,
    I sent a longish (for me) comment, but I don't know if you got it, since I mistakenly sent it on Google, not with my name. I know everyone else figure this out a decade ago, but I am a very late adopter of technology.
    So I hope you got it and you can figure out that it's from me. In case you didn't, the main message was thank you, it was helpful to hear from you and to read your blog, which I appreciate.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Hi Cat, I am barely competent with comment leaving myself. LOL different mechanisms for doing it can get me quite confused. I had to edit the first reply I wrote to you here and if there is a way of doing that without deleting it then I don't know it. I didn't see your Google comment to me though I went to look for it after I saw this comment and I could not find it. I am glad you found my blog and my reply helpful. In some ways, I would say exploring style ID simply helped me let go of taking Kibbe so literally and thinking certain things had to go together. Good Lucky figuring out your style ID. It might not be the magical answer it seems like it could be but you will probably get a clearer idea of what does and does not work out of all the possibilities. Especially when things that seem like they should suit your body but don't suit your face have always seemed wrong on you and you didn't understand why.


I love comments; What blogger doesn't? If you take the time to comment, I will take the time to reply.

Over 50 Tall Gamine

Sometimes I reflect on everything I’ve worn over the course of my life.  Does that sound odd or unbelievable?  I have a good memory for t...