Friday, 1 June 2018

Style Archetypes Beyond Kibbe

I had to turn a very long post into about seven posts because I am either thorough or tedious depending on your perspective.  We are on the home stretch now and I am posting two a day, with the last three posts about the Ethereal archetype and type blends. 

Perhaps the first thing that needs to be said in this post is that this is not about some other style consultant doing Kibbe. That does happen.  It might look as though this system developed by Rachel Arndt-Schemmel is some sort of Kibbe re-interpretation but it isn't.  It could be argued that it is a response to the Kibbe system, or a variation on what John Kitchener does.  None of these people are doing something entirely original and there is nothing wrong with that. 

I really like Rachel Arntd-Schemmel's blog and her approach to personal style for women.  There is so much information she provides about colour and line, such good explanations about how she arrives at her own conclusions and plenty of room for some great discussion in the comments. I have noticed she tends to think 'out loud' on her blog in the same way I do, although her blog is much more focused and professional.  This means that she puts forth her current ideas but might later develop, expand or retract those ideas, which I always find interesting.  Unlike me, dabbling in what is interesting and remaining mainly focused on figuring out my own colouring and lines,  Rachel is a professional colour analyst and style consultant so she has much more to offer than I have. 

So, there is bias in this post in that I very much like and appreciate the style guru about whom I am writing.  In fact she really isn't a guru and that is what I like.  She is knowledgeable, skilled and generous with her help, but never does she imply that you can't figure things out on your own with a little help and always she clarifies her thinking and meaning so that nothing is too abstract or vague.  It is possible that this is a skill she possesses and that other personal style gurus simply don't have this skill.  It is also possible that Rachel is an introvert and I am more approving of that than I am of extroverted personalities who seem attention seeking to my own introverted nature.  My biases are revealed here for all to see.

A Style Type Review

Kibbe describes five types (sometimes called essences, image ID, or archetypes by various stylists and consultants) Gamine, Natural, Dramatic, Romantic and Classic.  Kibbe calls them your Image ID

John Kitchener adds Ingenue and Angelic as types which to him are useful because he sees people as type blends.  Kibbe rejects these types because he doesn't see people as blends and thinks that to be purely one of these types is inappropriate for an adult (in the case of Ingenue)  or essentially impossible (in the case of angelic).

This is arguably not so, but that explains why Kibbe doesn't use them.

Thus we have these possible single types if we reference both Kibbe and Kitchener, whose ideas seem to have grown from Harriet McJimsey's ideas, which also came from people before her.


Kibbe does allow for these type blends though he doesn't refer to them as blends but rather as the yin or yang version of each type. 

Soft Dramatic
Soft Classic
Dramatic Classic
Soft Gamine
Flamboyant Gamine
Soft Natural
Flamboyant Natural
Theatrical Romantic

As I hopefully described successfully in the previous post, Kibbe sees a person's type in both their face and body lines and this is a complex set of things to see.  Rachel Arndt  has found through her study of types and interactions with people that the face and body do not always seem to be saying the same things and that the face is probably more important to address.  Our faces are, after all, what people are generally paying attention to.  They are what represents us.  Someone with a youthful face is seen as youthful even if she has a very curvaceous and womanly body.  Someone with a face that seems like an old soul, wise and experienced, is seen as such even if her body has the lithe and straight lines of a youth.  She isn't suggesting to ignore the body but to give more weight to what the face tells us.

 Here are some pictures of my face.  Oh Goody!  With makeup and 'done' hair in the first one and a black and white photo with no makeup and hair off the face.  I did my best to photograph myself from straight on though it's probably not perfect. Now my goal is to figure out what my face says about my style archetypes and in particular, do I see any Ingenue or Ethereal there, the two types David Kibbe leaves out and the reason his system may be incomplete for some.

One of the first things I notice, aside from the slight deer caught in the headlights look of the second photo, is that I am fairly low-medium contrast, which is less likely to read as Dramatic and more likely to read as Ethereal. I also notice that the makeup and hair in the first one tips me more Classic looking.

I think I look more youthful without makeup and the hair off my forehead. I think this might be why for decades everyone preferred me with bangs. If bangs made me look more mature twenty years ago that was a good thing.  Strangely, in addition to youthfulness I also see old soul.  I am not sure how that happens but I do know that this might explain why I really don't do obviously sexy well.

In the Kibbe system I am considered to have some yang or dramatic elements in me.  For David Kibbe this comes automatically from height and a long face.  I don't have the sharp cheekbones or jawline of a Dramatic nor the broadness of a Natural, which would both be yang.  In some systems Dramatic is also described as a little dangerous or threatening looking.  Even when I am looking serious or not smiling I may look aloof but I don't look dangerous.  I can manage a withering look of scorn.

This might mean that I have Ethereal in me, according to Rachel Arndt's system.  Ethereal is a yin dramatic type that isn't acknowledged in the Kibbe system.  When David Kibbe allows for dramatic types to be softened they become very sexy.  The Soft Dramatic is a knock your socks off strongly sexy type.  This is Sophia Loren or Raquel Welch.  I am not that.  My struggle with the Kibbe system is that my kind of drama does not seem well addressed though it comes closest with Dramatic Classic.  

My face does not look appropriate if it is competing with chunky jewelry, heavy texture, thick fabrics, complicated necklines, wildly teased hair or a sleek geometric cut   My face tends to recede and the more you put around it the more it recedes.  The stronger the lines around it the more it recedes.  

Here are some things I am told about my appearance.

"You look kind/have kind eyes."

"You look ladylike"  "You are very feminine"

"You intimidate me"  "You seem very confident" "You seem very mature/wise"

"You seem very posh"  (Posh wasn't the actual word used but that was the gist and I forget the actual word)

"You are nicer than I thought you would be."

"You don't look like someone who would laugh at a dirty joke."

When I was a teen I caused many peers who didn't know me well to think I was aloof and looking down on them.  I came across as reserved, older, ladylike and would not have looked inappropriate wearing pearls.  My wedding dress was very ethereal looking and it was a clear winner out of all dresses tried on.  I wore a garland of flowers on my head rather than the traditional veil and it looked right.

Ladylike Forest Fairy?  Could I play an Elf in Lord of the Rings?

Although I have some degree of youthfulness in my appearance I think it is more of an agelessness than something Ingenue.   Ingenue clothing doesn't work on me much at all, though Peter Pan collars looks like there is something right about them and so do headbands.  

I don't really know but I am considering that a style identity for me might consist of two or three concepts and both Classic and Ethereal seem likely.  If there is a third I think it is either Dramatic or Natural.

It is perhaps interesting to note that there is a degree of Ethereal in the Dressing Your Truth Type 2 which is how I ended up typing myself.

As always, we are free to ignore guidelines like this.  Not everyone wants guidelines nor believes they are useful.  The position Rachel takes, as far as I understand it, and with which I am in agreement, is that humans do tend to look for harmony and find harmony pleasing to the eye.  You don't have to present yourself harmoniously, and perhaps you are among a smaller set who do not see or care about harmony.  It's certainly possible.  I think there are two types of people who take the 'I make my own style rules' position.  One type is  seeing and imitating their own lines accurately without being aware of it.  The other type doesn't see, doesn't believe anyone else sees, and thus doesn't buy into it.  Those who create deliberate disharmony are probably rare.

Rachel has developed a system where there are two and three combination types.  Being a single type is still possible though perhaps less common.  When you are a multi-type one type is still likely dominant but the others contribute to what works for the overall look. Someone with the same type blend as another person will likely have that blend in different proportions.  This means that while you can identify a type for yourself with style guidelines attached, you can also play with the guidelines according to your own percentages. 

A Style ID calculator and Style guides are available for a fee which seems to be quite low, if you like to figure it out yourself.  She also offers a virtual Style ID consultation.  She also has copious amounts of information on her blog and Pinterest boards which can be of help as well.

So far I have not purchased anything but I am leaning towards thinking I am either an Ethereal Dramatic Classic or an Ethereal Natural Classic.  Ethereal Classic on it's own seems a little too delicate for me and Dramatic Classic seems too sharp and stiff.  The method Rachel recommends is to use a photo of your face and hold it next to garments and accessories that represent the style ID types to determine what looks like harmony. The Style ID Calculator you can purchase from her helps you to do this and puts the data into a spreadsheet which then gives you a calculated result.  I have yet to do this but am considering it.

In the next post I will show you how I tested my archetypes and what I learned.

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