Sunday, 23 October 2016

Affirmation, Validation, Understanding

These days I am very much an internet lurker.  Yes, I am making a bit of an effort to have a presence on FB and I am still writing on my blog, but in most ways I just lurk.  I read but rarely comment.  People talk about taking breaks but I feel as though my break is taking forever.  Perhaps I was trying to be someone I am not.  That wouldn't surprise me, really.  I always feel I owe other people more than I can give, particularly in terms of my attention.  Learning to be selfish is difficult and I constantly worry about people understanding that I still value them, support them and and grateful for their existence.  There are a few very needy people in my life and I give as much of myself as I can, while still remembering that my self care is important.  It's possible I am an extreme example but I think women are quite familiar with the idea that they need to be all things at all times.  Even the most exuberant, outgoing, extroverted women I know are running themselves to exhaustion being and doing all things.  Whatever our maximum capacity is we try to do more, believe we should do more.  Learning that we are enough just as we are is difficult and I really believe that if women can and should help and support each other in something that should be it.

In my life I've learned that some people need more affirmation than others and I've also learned not to judge that.  We have our different needs just as we eat different amounts of food or get a different number of sleep hours.  I've also learned, through studying MBTI, that there are variations on this need to know we are somehow making our way through this world in the way that we hope to.  I have an ISFJ mother who needs no affirmation, not validation, no understanding from anyhow.  She is a self contained unit.  She is certain of her direction.  She makes her decisions based on her experiences and on what has wored before.  She is solidly S where I am N.  I don't see validation, but I do seek understanding.  I long to be understood as much as I long to understand everything.  It's a subtle difference to an observer, but it manifests in that I am constantly explaining myself as though I am some sort of mathematical equation that I need to teach you, and as though I think my world will fall apart if you do not understand me.  At the same time, growth and maturity has taught me that many people will not understand, but will accept.  They don't want to understand or don't see value in it.  It doesn't mean they don't care about me, so I've learned to accept their acceptance.

An INFJ dives deeply; it is a need and I think that is why the tendency to also try to spread widely makes life so exhausting.  I am caught between the constant pull of my own desire and need to go deep but the belief that I owe it to the world to spread widely.  The cure is to tell myself not to be such an egotistical idiot and think everyone needs me or even wants me.  I was  much more judgemental person in my youth and I confess I saw many people as shallow.  I now know there are other ways to look at it.  For one thing, I adore shallow water.  There is nothing so soothing to me as wading in it, dangling my toes in it, looking through it to see the pretty things underneath.  Deep water scares me.  It is dark and murky and who knows what slimy things lurk there.  Also, I am sure we need those wide spreaders in the world.  Lots of them.  Not so many navel gazers such as myself.

In my life I have a beloved INFP and an ENFP.  The NFPs want validation, more than understanding.  On the surface it can look similar though Es are extroverted so it will show more.  The Es are doers, making the world a better place actively and their Facebook feed will show it.  They want to make the world a better place and I think they are hoping to lead by example.  I think it would be easy to dismiss it as bragging when it isn't.  INFPs are more reserved, they go inward much more but the surest way to hurt them is to not give them credit for knowing what they are doing, for clearly charting their own path and having very firm notions about right and wrong.  NFPs can appear very flighty and scattered.  It makes them both adorable and annoying at times if you cannot see past that.

 I mentioned my mother, the ISFJ and oh what a saint that woman is.  SFJs do make up a large portion of the population though they seem less interested in the internet so there is a good chance few of them are reading this.   ( I amuse myself with my humour, if nobody else. )   SFJs are nurturing, caretaker types who tend to be very down to earth and practical.  They care deeply about the well being of others and are the stereotypical wonderful mother, though they can be male too.  Because the SFJ trait of strong nurturing is considered so female in our culture, the SFJ male is said to often present as hyper- masculine.  That guy who seems too good to be true, who is manly and muscular but such a sweetheart and a great husband and father, is quite possibly an SFJ.

We have to be cautions of the stereotypes that can grow out of MBTI concepts but I have found learning about it remarkably useful as a tool to better understand myself and others and how we relate.  For me it's not enough to just say oh we are all different-let's celebrate.  I want to know why and understand how.  You guessed it-that's INFJ for you.

This is what a navel-gazing, poet looks like when she gazes out the window so she can attempt to show how clever she is by wearing two earrings in the same hole.

looking tired and dazed....can't seem to remember to smile for selfies.

My partner said, 'I thought you were going to take a photo smiling.'

So, I gave it my best effort on a different day.  It's true, that this is much more representative of how I usually look, or at least when I am not exhausted.  So, there.  Now you understand.

Poems coming soon.  No selfies.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

I Want to be Pre-Raphaelite

Not as an artist, as a woman.  I love how the Pre-Raphaelite women are not delicate twigs, and it's not often I see a more robust body being celebrated.  I am not curvalicious plus-sized and although I am tall I am not model thin.   Honestly, I don't get my knickers in a knot over not seeing myself represented in fashion because fashion is clearly not my thing, but as an archetype in general I do love the Pre-Raphaelite woman.  She makes me want to grow my hair long and dye it red, oh yes.  And to wear flowing crushed velvet gowns.  She is pale like I am, and her neck and limbs are sturdy.

                  She loves nature and flower sniffing is one of her hobbies.  Mine too!


                                         She is as fond of the sea as I am too.


                       Though perhaps she does like the water a little more than I do.


                                                    She's a bit day-dreamy

                                                   But she does lover her books.




                         When her husband/lover artist isn't interrupting her reading.                             

If I had been one of the real Pre-Raphaelite women, I'd be longing for the paint brush and canvas myself and I bored with all the posing.


                                     Which is how I tend to imagine Jane Morris.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

I'm No Tilda Swinton, But...

Wandering the web reading about style types and archetypes I have also come across one called Ethereal or Angelic* which intrigues me, and I wonder, how much of this do I have in me? Some style specialists say we have all types in us and it's a matter of percentages.  Essentially we look for the overall impression a person gives, using face, body and in some cases personality.  I don't think Kibbe accounts for personality and that is a bit of a stumbling block for me and his style references are both dated and geared towards career dressing or glamour dressing.  Others, like Dressing Your Truth, seem to think that you are what you look like, although they would claim that no they are showing you how to look like what you are, I am not convinced and to me some of the people they make over just don't look right.  

Of course I don't find it easy to know what I look like and I suspect I do not see myself as others do.  There is also a matter of just how much of us is public persona and private?  For me there can be big distinctions, which I think is not so unusual for an introvert.  It's definitely true of an INFJ, who tends to behave like an extrovert in public because it's more socially acceptable and because INFJs truly do love connecting with people.  It's still an act in a sense, though it's a well meant one.

I know that as a child I was the type often described as an old soul.  I have always been the person friends come to for advice not fun.  Or in some cases just a good listener.  I know that in high school I was perceived by many as aloof.  And I know that men tend to like me more readily than women do.  Actually men are rarely indifferent about me and either really like me or find me threatening.

Many people also find me very warm and friendly because if I am not staring off into space, pondering things -which is often, I generally am warm and friendly.  I go out of my way to talk to everyone who serves me or assists me on a daily basis.

A long time ago, a couple of years after high school I found myself on a Greyhound bus travelling the few hours from university to my home town and someone I'd known only slightly in high school was also on that bus.  We sat together, though I do not recall which of us initiated that.  If I am intimidated I am shy and if I sense another person is intimidated or shy then I will go out of my way to be friendly.  Cheryl sat beside me and we chatted amiably.  About half an hour into the trip she said, loudly and in a surprised tone, "Oh My God!  You are really nice!"  It was news to me that anyone had thought I wasn't.

I can look quite natural and friendly. ( This is literally a makeup free and freshly scrubbed face.)  Especially if I am making eye contact with people or am aware someone is looking at me.  If I am not lost in my own world I will definitely smile.  I look a bit more approachable in this warm lighting too.

 Do I appear spiritual, friendly and kind?  Such is the way an Ethereal will apparently appear.

 The style gurus who mention ethereal types, and usually it is a combination type, ethereal and something else since a fully ethereal person is rather rare, tend to present pictures of celebrities who fit this type and I see some features I may have in common.

Strangely, they are often tall.  While the angelic types tend to be fair, light coloured and literally look as though they should always be dressed in white gossamer and sparkling shoes, there is a slightly darker and more brooding look to the ethereals as well.  Other features which I may be seeing in myself are serious, soulful looking eyes, a straight mouth, a longish nose and oval face.  There is something straight and strong about them and yet also delicate and curved.  Examples cited are Darryl Hannah, Tilda Swinton, Cate Blanchet, Rooney Mara, Carolyn Besette, Vanessa Redgrave and Canada's pride, Margaret Atwood.  Liv Tyler also looks wonderful as an ethereal, as evidenced by her role in Lord of the Rings.

Other features mentioned are blended or soft colouring, high cheekbones, deep set and hooded eyes, high foreheads and a translucence to the skin. 

I doubt I have all of these features but I do have some, and clothing lines recommended for Ethereals is also draped, body skimming and soft, which I know suits me, and I have already referred to it for Kibbe Soft Dramatic and Dressing Your Truth type 2.  What makes ethereal more appealing to me is that there is less bombshell about it.

Could I convincingly play an elf in Lord of the Rings, given some misty lighting and the right wig?

Or does this image help to explain why I could potentially be an Ethereal type who suits a pixie cut?


Rachel Arnt- Schemmel at Truth is Beauty, suggests that ethereals are not all that attractive to men but they are to women.  Men are more likely to call them weird looking.

I am not familiar with how people would describe me.  My mother is firmly in the camp that believes you don't tell your daughter she is pretty.  I was always told I had a pleasant face.  My partner thinks I am the most beautiful woman in the universe which is very nice but not helpful here.  I would certainly go as far as to suggest that I am not conventionally pretty.  People usually say, "you have kind eyes".

Rachel also says that "Ethereal beauty is often confused with Dramatic beauty, because it's unusual looking and rare, and because both tend to have long faces and frames."

Another of Rachel's beliefs is that it's your face that matters and not so much your body.  Yes, you tweak things to suit the lines of your body, but your face is what people are looking at and which gives the impression of you.  I admit this appeals to me because it doesn't automatically shunt me into one of the Dramatics.

Do I think I am unusual and rare looking?  That has never occurred to me.  I don't think so, in a stand out sort of way but I do relate to the look of the faces of many of the women identified as Ethereals.  The example women tend to be thin but we are talking about celebrities.  It's generally their job to be thin.  Might they look more like me if they gained 30 pounds?

Ethereals are more likely to be introverts.  They have a calm and gentle look naturally.

In all I've read it's not yet quite clear to me how an Ethereal dresses on a daily basis.  Most Ethereals have some sort of secondary quality that should guide this.

Ethereal hair would be a little more soft and fluffy, floaty as opposed to smooth and wavy like a glamorous Soft Dramatic.

Makeup would be lighter in colours and perhaps with a touch of frost or sparkle to it, which we all know I am frightened of, but I am slowly coming around to small touches of iridescence and can see how judicious use of highlight might flatter my face.

Clothing lines would be similar to the Soft Dramatic, rendered in lighter colours and less attempt at bold flourishes which might be more suited to my Soft Autumn palette.  I also find myself preferring to wear those light colours.  While I cannot imagine dressing in gauzy, floaty, cream-coloured gowns on a daily basis I can imagine myself as a fantasy character who looks like a cross between an angel and a bohemian bride.  Despite my darker hair, I feel light coloured and I like wearing light colours.  This may bias my perception because I also like the look of myself in light colours better.  The darker they get the more pale I look and it starts to look hard and cold and a too dramatic or goth for the person I feel I am.

I recall Kibbe did say that a Soft Dramatic could dress in head to toe pastels but he was inclined to want to add some sparkle to that. I wonder if the subtle difference I am looking for is irridescence as opposed to sparkle.

Without much to guide me, I attempted to dress and make myself up assuming I am an Ethereal type, and I would also assume that if I am a combination Ethereal type it would be Ethereal Natural.    In my first attempt I chose a blouse with some subtle shape and embroidered detail in a colour that I know looks dramatic on me.  I added, though rather haphazardly, a lacy styled scarf and some appropriate earrings which don't really show in the photo.  My hair is off my face, which always feels good to me, and some of my natural wave is starting to show as my hair grows.  I don't know that this hair qualifies as Ethereal or Dramatic or Natural or anything but it's what I've got right now.  My makeup feels quite natural for me, as it's minimal and softly peachy.

There is something about this that doesn't feel right to me but I can't put my finger on it.  It's aside from the sloppy styling.  Is it the colours?    Is it because the camera seems to have darkened my hair?  Something looks hard and cold.  The photo below looks better.  Was it the contrasting colours then?  My scarf application is a hot mess, but the teal scarf with the teal blouse seems to work better for me. 

I admit I am intrigued by my body language in this photo.  I am aware that I tend to keep myself quite folded up.  This is the real me, as opposed to an pose attempts I might make for blog photos when trying to model clothing.  You can see why I make a terrible model. I keep myself quite folded up.  This seems like a great deal of stillness or at least very soft and gentle motion.  Although I look compact, as I am accustomed to seeing myself, I look slimmer and less boxy, there is an elongated effect I don't usually notice in myself and my hands and fingers look long too, just as my face and nose do.

After my attempts at Ethereal influenced dressing and makeup, taking several photos to get a few that were blog-worthy, I was quite exhausted and feeling feverish so it was time to return to bed.  The makeup is subtle enough and the jewelry all typical so I can leave that one without feeling strange but the blouse and scarf felt a bit formal to me.  I removed them and put on a cream coloured tee shirt and in that moment really truly felt like myself.  I felt everything relax.  I love the colour cream and may versions of off white.  I know it's not really a colour to many people but for me it little stirs my soul.

Out of curiosity I dragged my carcass back to the kitchen, where there are so many windows the light is brightest and I took another photo.  It's the one I used at the beginning of this post and like the one below where I am wearing a soft camel coloured sweater, it's one of my favourite selfies so I will inflict it on you again.  It all feels like me, like home, not fun or bold or dramatic but not frumpy and boring either.  Boring is of course quite a subjective concept and this may indeed look boring to some people.  I probably wouldn't dress this way if I wanted to project power, but I am rarely in a position where I feel a need to project power, and I am confident enough in myself not to care whether someone else sees me as powerful or not.

 In case you would like to know, this lipstick is a new discovery and a big favourite.  It's Revlon Super Lustrous in Pink Truffle which is a sheer so somewhat like a tinted lip balm.

My current profile picture looks like it fits with the celebrity Ethereals.  Could you picture me with cascading auburn waves and wings on my back?

                                                           Rooney Mara

                                               Vanessa Redgrave

                                                            Frances Conroy

Note:  Women of colour can be Ethereals too and there are some shown on Rachel's blog.  I chose these three for their lighter skin since I am trying to see if I resemble them.

I have yet to find any style guides as explicit as Kibbe, regarding what an Ethereal type should wear.  Kibbe's book has been around long enough that it's well known and quoted.  Other gurus on the internet want to sell their advice, which is fine, but that leaves me looking at polyvore and pinterest boards created by amateurs like myself.  I'm getting pretty good at looking at other people and knowing which archetype would fit them but it's always hardest to see yourself accurately and I am still relatively new at this.

* Credit apparently goes to John Kitchener for conceiving of the Angelic Archetype which he added to the much used types,

My research is not as thorough as it could be in that I gather ideas and lose track of their source.  Many style guru names are in my head; I could probably name them all but would have more difficulty recalling what system they developed, whom mentored whom and which system grew out of another.

Below are some Pinterest Boards created by Rachel Arnt-Schemmel

Ethereal  Natural is  a romantic boho style so it appeals to me.  Liking it is not the same as embodying it, of course.

Ethereal  Dramatic is likely to have an arty style.

Ethereals who are more gamine will do well with Goth, Fairy, Witchy or Forrest Elf styles, Goth and Witchy, especially if they have deep colouring and can wear black.

Ethereal Dramatic Natural ( yes a trio ) is rather appealing to me as it is sort of Arty and Boho

Ethereal Dramatic Classic has a simple elegance with arty touches.

Ethereal Dramatic Ingenue is youthful/ fairy child

This Pin Board by KH is Romantic Ethereal as per John Kitchener and is similar to Kibbe's Soft Dramatic

Pinterest Boards by Solania Rose are also interesting and I like how the images are inspirational more than career dressing, though perhaps not helpful if you are trying to figure out what to shop for or wear on a coffee date.

I like her Ethereal + Natural board

It seems to me that for a casual look the best idea is to figure out what style jeans suit you best, combine those with the type of blouse, sweater or tunic that is right for your body shape and essence, and then embellish with the accessories that suit and feel right for your lifestyle.  When it comes to the accessories, the hats, bags, shoes and jewelry, the mood of the outfit should be a reasonable guide.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

INFJ Stuff

Being an INFJ on the internet is an experience that leaves me with mixed feelings.  It is apparently a personality type that is appealing enough to some that they misdiagnose themselves or misinterpret things and believe themselves to be one when they are not.  Whatever other people think about their own personality type and temperament is not my business even if I do have an opinion.  INFJs are supposedly among the least common types but if they are to be found in high numbers anywhere it would seem to be online.  That's not overly surprising considering the internet is often a comfortable place for introverts in general, INFJs are likely to be seekers of information, studiers of systems and highly interested in what we call the soft sciences, or in other words, human nature.   Those descriptions all definitely fit me well.  I want to understand everything I can about myself and other people.  I am driven to do this because it seems to me that this would enable me to contribute to making the world a better place and to helping people.  In this way I am very typically INFJ

I think we should all beware of falling into stereotypes though and if we readily say oh yes, yes, yes, all those things are me therefore I am X, I would suspect we are deluding ourselves.  We are all still individuals and are a unique collection of genetics and experience and thus no two INFJs will be identical.  It is not a wonderful thing to be a rare type, though for some this idea seems to contribute to what is called Special Snowflake Syndrome.  I've spent my life with the perception that I do not quite fit in, that others do not think or feel the way I do, nor do they quite get me.  Getting me is not the same as accepting me so don't imagine I have spent my life feeling miserable and isolated.  I have not.  But I have always felt just a little bit 'Other'.

In studying MBTI I have come to believe that this is because I am an N-type and the world has more S-types.  It should.  Because the S types are the doers who function well in the here and now.  The N types are future oriented, dreamers, and we need them but not too many of them.  Imagine a tribe.  Does the tribe need more hunters and gatherers or does it meed more shamans?  The Ns are the shamans, the inventors, the healers and the teachers.  Not that S types cannot do these things, of course it's not that literal, but it's a tendency, an apt generalisation.  Sometimes we do things, select a career for example, that doesn't quite match our type.  We can do it.  But we may not be happy or comfortable.  We may burn ourselves out or be unfulfilled.

No type is better than another.  Different is not better, it is just different and all types are needed, though I suspect there are ideal proportions of them for a society to run smoothly.

I am an N type who has spent much of her life surrounded by S types, raised by S types, and always feeling that something was wrong about me.  I married an S type, of course I would, having been raised by them.  It didn't go well.  He couldn't understand or value me.

The INFJ type is often prone to being spiritual if not religious.  I guess that is a good feature for a Shaman.  I am definitely not.  Not religious and not even spiritual.  That doesn't mean I am not capable of feeling great wonder and awe, of awareness of just how small I am in the vast multi-verse or of how I am small but yet connected to it all.  But to me none of that is spiritual, it is science.  I reject religion but I do love philosophy.  I am intrigued by non-religious Buddhism, its philosophy not the religious trappings which developed and spread, creating a variety of Buddhist sects.

 I am a loner who loves people deeply but needs to spend the majority of her time away from them, a very very close few excepted.   Some people say that INFJs are the type most likely to be Highly Sensitive People ( not the only type but the most likely type ) and some talk of Empaths as though it is something separate from regular human empathy.  To me this is getting into Special Snowflake territory and I want to shun it, and yet I cannot deny that I am highly sensitive in some ways, more so to physical things like noises, bright lights and strong smells and too much time with people.   I am highly in tune with the emotions of others and feel them in my own body before I am conscious of it.  Before I knew about MBTI and that I am an INFJ I used to describe myself as a sponge who absorbed the emotions of others and felt it too.  I make no claims to do this from a distance, but only with people I am in close proximity to.

A friend once told me I am a magnet for broken people. He acknowledged being quite broken himself and that he could not imagine his life without me.     I want to help and heal and will sacrifice too much of myself to do that before I realise the cost.  I am learning to pull away. I have already given more of myself than I can support.  There are some who believe that CFS/ME is actually a manifestation of being the type of person I am.  I'm skeptical but can see how it is at least a chicken or egg thing.  Which came first.  Am I exhausted and has my body actually altered because of who I am, or is a very physically caused disease contributing to how I function in this world?  I don't have the answer but I do know there is a strong physical basis to this illness.  It is not a psychological one although it can have psychological effects.

Are INFJs prone to rambling and navel gazing?  probably.  Why am I writing this?  This blog is one of many forms of journalling that I use, and its intent is to reach people who may be like me, who may be helped by knowing they are not alone.  Anyone spending any time on the internet reading articles about INFJs will encounter the idea that most who think they are INFJ are not.   This gets bloody depressing.  I get tired of reading the idea that if I declare myself an INFJ most people will doubt it or immediately think I have special snowflake syndrome.  Not that I actually declare it often, except here.  Where I have decided I want and need to write about it, regardless if anyone cares.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Soft Dramatic - The Finishing Touches

The details are important in order to suggest the drama and because drama isn't readily in my nature I do tend to struggle with with these, which contributes to my feeling that Soft Dramatic is almost right but not quite.  Of course it's all relative and I am more dramatic than my mother, who tends to be classic, but whether or not my look is labelled dramatic, my own taste and opinions are always likely to balk at strict guidelines by any expert.  It is absolutely okay to follow the guidelines exactly if they fit you and to say no to them if they don't.  I'm always interested in systems and what I can learn from them but I am not a good rule follower.

 Prints:  Bold, wild, and ornate shapes. Splashy watercolors. Oversized and abstract florals. Animal prints. Irregular shapes with soft or rounded edges. 

Prints are tricky for me.  I know what I like when I see it but that is rare in clothing, and I definitely have a difficult time wearing large swathes of print.  Typically I use print in scarves.  I do prefer prints where the shapes blend into each other or overlap and I think that is what he is getting at here.  I love paisley and large florals in particular and look silly in polkadots.  I am not a fan of animal prints, and might be the only woman on the planet who has no desire for anything leopard. 

Avoid: Sharp geometrics. Small, symmetrical prints. Delicate, fussy prints. Animated, "cute" prints.

Yup, I've definitely noticed these do not suit me.  One of my blouses does have a small and somewhat symmetrical print however the colour of the pattern nearly blends into the background colour so I think that makes it wearable as it reads more like texture.  If I am pushing the boundaries too much with it I will just pile on the dramatic earrings.

Makeup: Should be lavish and ornate, even for daytime. A very polished face is part of your everyday look. In the evening, pour on the glitz! Bold eyes, with a touch of bright color. Full, vivid lips and strong cheeks. 

I thought this would be difficult but it's not actually.   Having said that it doesn't feel like every day me.  Since I found better makeup colours for myself I can actually apply it more dramatically without looking like a clown but I am still hesitant about drama and  I am unlikely to do any bold glitz and am not really sure how to create strong cheeks.  It all sounds like the eighties controuring with those blush duos-put the dark one under your cheekbones and then the lighter one on the apples of your cheeks.  Makeup application can make you look on trend or dated too, though contouring and dramatic makeup is definitely back.  Kibbe would likely want me to do my eyebrows too and  I've learned to touch them up just a little with some light brown powder.  As for lush lips, well nature didn't quite give them to me and I'm not going to draw them on, but the right colour lipstick and a bit of liner can certainly improve the look of them. 

A polished face is fine, though I don't want to be worrying all day about whether or not my lipstick has stayed on.  The drama of at eyes and red lips is still too much for me, but I believe the idea is to be bold within the parameters of what suits your face.  I think cat eyes are better on the young and probably also better for some eye shapes than others.

Hair:  More lavish and full looking. Shape should be bold either geometric or asymmetric, but softened with curls, waves, or partial layering. 

Oh the big eighties hair was never something I could achieve and asymmetrical hairstyles drive me crazy.  I would end up chopping it off myself to even it up.   Side swept bangs are a good way to softly suggest asymmetry.  

My hair is abundant but fine, slippery and heavy and I dislike crunchy or stiff hair due to  product use, though I do have to use product to achieve the look I want.  Lavish and full does not necessarily mean long, so although I am going to grow my hair a little, I am not aiming for long.  I am not the mermaid hair type. My hair is slightly wavy so I can achieve some sort of soft tousled texture if it is layered, but it's best if the fullness is at the top half of my face.

Jewlery: Should always be large, bold and ornate. Bold geometric shapes with soft edges. Oversized, ornate shapes. All sparkly, glittery, and shiny finishes are excellent. Wild costume jewelry that is obviously faux. 

Okay, some troubles here.  I don't like plastic costume jewelry or faux things so much but I do like large, artsy pieces in metals, stones and beads.  I can go with softly geometric and ornate.  Sparkle and glittery, not so much.  I do have many earrings that are smaller and might qualify as delicate but I wear them less often.

Avoid: Sharp geometrics. Simple, symmetrical pieces. Delicate, antique pieces. Rough, chunky pieces. 

Shoes: Tailored and angular with tapered toe and heel. High, narrow heels are best. Bare styles also excellent

I run into troubles here.  High heels are out, and I just prefer a chunkier shoe for comfort and stability.  Since my style is more casual, and this is not typically about pairing shoes with a dress, I think I make it work.  For comfort sake I am not inclined to very point shoes either, which I suppose is what is meant by angular.  It seems to me we are going for quite a sexy shoe here.  More modern interpretations I've seen on Pinterest include a very high heeled, platform pump. My theory is that if boot cut jeans are covering half my shoe, it is less important to get this right.

Avoid: Chunky styles. Overly delicate styles with excess trim. 

Bags: Softly rounded shapes in over-sized styles. Exquisite leather or fabric. Very slim briefcases. Ultraornate evening styles.

Just as want comfort in shoes, I want comfort and ease in a bag and my preference is cross body.  A bag whose handle is not long enough to get over my shoulder is just a big nuisance, and I have attempted to stop carrying oversized bags because then I am just lugging around too much weight.  I do prefer a softer bag though and not too structured or squared.

Avoid: Plain, symmetrical bags and small, delicate styles.

He would probably classify my every day cross body bag as plain and symmetrical.  Perhaps wearing it cross body and thus asymmetrically helps to counter that.
Belts: Should be bold and wide, of supple leather or special fabric, with large and ornate buckles. 

I've not seen such a belt in my size, real leather and the right brown but I am definitely in need of a belt.

Hats: Should always be theatrical and glamorous, emphasizing rounded shapes and ornate trim. Should be large and oversized.

I definitely can't do this without feeling like I am in a costume.  Either I wear the wrong hats or I give up on them.  I do know that very small and perky caps aren't good on me so I at least avoid that.  I like a newsboy cap or a fedora, both probably being a bit too masculine for Soft Dramatic.  Large floppy hats, Russian style fur hats and turbans are often recommended for Soft Dramatic.
Hoisery: Keep you stockings ultra-sheer. Your strong vertical line is best emphasized by blending with both your hemline and your shoe. Always blend with the shoe. Very lacy or ornate textures are wonderful for evening.

Flesh, sheer tights have been a fashion faux pas for awhile now,  but they weren't in the eighties when this was written. I think they will make a comeback.  It's easier to get an appropriate nude colour now, and sometimes they are a dress code requirement for certain work places, are definitely warmer than bare legs for those of us who don't live in perpetual summer, and not everyone is flattered with black or coloured legs.

If hoisery, shoes and hemline should all match or blend, that either leaves you with always wearing brown and beige skirts and shoes, or having to buy a pair of coloured shoes to match each skirt.  I find this advice a bit problematic and would go with blending shoe and hoisery and worry less about the skirt.

I must admit that the challenges of hoisery are making me move away from skirts and dresses.

Color: Your use of color should always be bold and dramatic, never dull. You shine in original color combinations that emphasize bright/dark mixtures. Pastels can be extremely elegant if your execute them in head-to-toe sweeps. Monochromatic schemes will general require some vivid accenting in the accessory department. Strive for a very polished, ensemble approach to your use of a palette. 

Avoid: Multicolor splashes and mix 'n match approach. 

 Does this advice seem somewhat conflicting?

Somewhere else I read that Kibbe is very much on board with the personal colour systems and he means for this advice to be used with your colour palette in mind.  Either way, I do like colour mixes and every personal palette has it's own bold versions of colour.  I wonder what he means by an original colour combination.  Something unusual?  And how do you do bold and dramatic with original colour combinations and yet not use multicolour splashes or blend your hoisery into your hemline and with shoes?

In aiming for a polished ensemble approach I think the personal colour analysis palette is helpful.  All of the colours of the Soft Autumn palette work together, so I can get quite creative in what I combine and yet still look harmonious.  

I am still finding, though, that I am happiest in soft and light colour combinations, though the darker colours and even the medium ones can look rather dramatic against my pale skin.  That drama doesn't feel like me, though I might use it for a formal event.

Well interpreting Kibbe is a bit like interpreting the bible, but hopefully I won't end up in style hell if I get it wrong.   I can't say I am completely sold on this being the right style for me, though I do believe it's the place Kibbe would say I fit.  For me the big takeaway is that wearing softly draping clothing is right,  and there may be something to why I am always wanting to grow out my pixie cut.


Soft Dramatic- Clothing LInes

Kibbe's Soft Dramatic-Leaning Boho 
Part Two of Boho My Way

I have copied and pasted the guidelines from Kibbe's book, found on the site, and for this post am focusing on the top half of me, and interpreting it to suit my casual and boho style.  Kibbe's words are in bold.

Soft draped necklines may be high or plunging. Lavish trim (beading, applique, oversized bows, and jabots, deep and soft pleats or folds.) 

For me, high necks and detail are not flattering, but I prefer a low neck with some embroidery around it or beading would be a better replacement for the necklace.  Beading, applique and soft draped necklines can definitely all look boho. The addition of a scarf can be quite a good boho touch and it also adds that soft drape to the neckline of an otherwise plain top.

Jackets: Broad shoulders, long lines, mid-thigh area. Lightweight, draped fabrics. Lightly structured or unconstructed. Soft draped detail (lapels, pockets) 

This description screams eighties.  Jacket length and style is quite trend driven and wearing something outdated can make you look outdated unless you look vintage and then it's good.  I don't wear jackets normally, except for the outerwear type and prefer cardigans.  Kibbe advises against cardigans but I get the impression he has a certain image of a cardigan as preppy or classic.  The waterfall style is often suggested as soft dramatic but I've found that not just any waterfall type works for me.  Too much bulk at the front isn't a good idea for a busty woman and I don't like the ones that are longer in front than in back.  I would look for more side draping, length and a very light weight.  Similar properties in a knit or crochet vest would be nicely boho-dramatic.

Blouses should be soft and draped with broad shoulders and draped necklines and sleeves. Detail should be elongated and soft. Ornate detail should be very oversized and lush (large bows, or jabots, sheer lacy trim or sparkly applique) Fabrics should be lightweight, very soft, or very shiny. 

Ahh the era of the shoulder pad.  I must admit that a small shoulder pad flatters me as I am not broad in the shoulders and the idea dramatic silhouette is a bit T shaped.  Shoulder pads are also trend driven and I haven't seen then in new blouses or jackets since 1989.  I love the draping, softness and lightweight fabrics, some lace or sheerness is good, as are appliques and beading so long as it's not sparkly.  I really don't like to sparkle.  Bows and jabots are out. While it says that ornate detail should be large, it does not say I have to have it.

Avoid: Sharply tailored blouses. Plain blouses. Delicate, fussy blouses. Wide, unconstructed or shapeless blouses. 

Interpretation is tricky.  I know a plain blouse or a wide, unconstructed or shapeless blouse when I see one but what defines delicate and fussy?  My guess is that high necked victorian style blouse might qualify, with small ruffles and frills.  I loved those in the eighties and probably looked awful in them.

This probably qualifies as delicate and fussy.  It's quite beautiful but I can see how I would look silly in it. It is probably for a romantic gamine type, or possibly soft classic.


          This beautiful way out of my price range blouse is probably Soft Dramatic.  


Sweaters: Soft and clingy knits with draped necklines. Plush knits. Draped knits. Broad shoulders and an elongated waist. Oversized patterns or trim, especially ornate or sparkly. 

Oh Mr. Kibbe, there you go again with the sparkles.  Not for me.  But I do love soft and draped.  Like this, which is my ideal except it is black. You can see I shy away from the embellishments, but I would add my own with a scarf and earrings.  An ornate sweater is not my idea of daily wear.  I would even consider a longer camisole under it, as it's clearly rather sheer and I'd like a bit of lace or silk detail at the bottom.  This gets a bit more romantic boho rather than earth mother boho.


Avoid: Rough and heavy knits. Skinny, ribbed knits. Short styles, including crewnecked, shetlands, cardigans, and cropped sweaters. Wide, unconstructed styles. Overly delicate, fussy trim. Overly fitted styles.

I instinctively avoid fussy sweaters, but I've experimented with heavy knits, ribbed knits and crew necks enough to know they don't work for me.  I've tried cropped and bolero type cardigans and they tend to look wrong too. I think I might be partial to the half tuck with tops because it creates that asymmetrical line that seems to be so important.

Short skirts (knee length) may be paired with a long jacket, sweater or top. Detail should be elongated (shirring, soft folds and slits) 

I've always loved the long over short silhouette and would particularly like it with tall boots.  This look would be almost too formal for my lifestyle though so I haven't quite pulled it together.  I can't justify spending the money on the boots if I wouldn't wear them except with this look.

I am also not sure how to pair a draped style skirt with a draping top and not get lumps. I would think the skirt should be smooth and relatively unobtrusive.  A supporting player in the outfit.

I don't see any mention of longer skirts, and it's possible that the longer skirts I favour belong to another category but others around the internet seem to also interpret a skirt like this one as being Soft Dramatic as it has soft pleats and a definite feeling of soft draping against the body.  I would not pair it with a blouse but with a tunic or light knit that also drapes and use an analogous colour to give more of a dress-like effect.  Not that I'm any sort of style expert.



Avoid: Full skirts except on certain dresses (see dress category). Wide unconstructed skirts. A-lines and sharp pleats. Overly fussy and fitted skirts with delicate detail (gathers, tucks, etc.; plackets, etc.) 

 I have definitely noticed I do not pull off full skirts well.  I believe I pull off long skirts with gores, godets and pleats which give movement but am not certain if Kibbe would consider those Soft Dramatic.   The cinched waist and full skirt doesn't work but a slightly full skirt can work in a dress because the dress gives the look of one long and continuous line.  The dress should skim or suggest the waist but not emphasise it.  Of the two dresses I own I am not certain how Soft Dramatic they are, but I am not wearing them much anyhow.

Dresses: Dresses should be elongated and draped, with broad shoulders. Detail should be oversized and ornate (shirring, trim, etc.) A dropped waist is best on dresses, but an exaggerated waist is also effective when combined with very broad shoulders and a full, sweeping skirt. Narrow, clingy shapes are basic. 

Avoid: Sharply tailored dresses. Shapeless, unconstructed or wide styles. Flouncy styles with delicate or fussy detail. Overly fitted and nipped styles.

 I am not clear on the difference between an exaggerated waist and a fitted, nipped waist but I do know that a nipped waist and full skirt does not work for me.  

I think we are looking at the difference between this...


and this...


 I would defiitely suit the former dress and not the latter.  I don't wear evening wear so won't include his recommendations for that.

Pants should be straight, long and draped. Detail should be soft and elongated (deep pleats, shirring, softly draped) 

At the point Kibbe wrote his book flares, bell bottoms and boot cuts had gone out of favour but they seem to actually quite suit the Soft Dramatic look as well as all of the Naturals.  It's as though everything a Soft Dramatic wears should flow downwards and then outwards but very softly, so that it drapes against the body, and although denim is stiffer, this effect can still be achieved with boot cut jeans.

While I love a pair of high waisted, soft, draped pants with a full leg, getting those to fit me properly is pretty much impossible so I don't own any.  I would also consider them more appropriate as career wear and not something I need.

Avoid stiffly tailored pants. Wide, unconstructed or baggy shapes. Overly delicate detail (pegged legs, fussy gathers, small trim, etc.) 

Yup, experience tells me this type does not work for me.

While there is a suggestion of elegance and formality to the Soft Dramatic style I think they can be interpreted to a version of boho that I am quite comfortable with.  Incidently the large, floppy hat favoured by boho-chic women is definitely the type of hat Kibbe recommends.  I don't wear that type and tend to favour a newsboy, or a smaller and stiffer brim like a fedora.  I think drama is the key idea so perhaps I can get away with that and still make it work even if it is borrowing from another type.

Boho style has room for variety and personal expression and if it is going to be true to its roots in Bohemian style attitudes it should simply be about eschewing convention whatever that happens to be at the time.  That's why I think anyone adopting boho style must make it their own and not follow a formula too closely.  Be inspired, but do it your way.  What I like about boho style is the loose, draped, easy vibe, earthy colours and ornate jewelry and some embellishments like beading, embroidery and applique.  Those elements are suited to the Soft Dramatic look, colours excepted.  Making my interpretation of Soft Dramatic casual and jeans based, makes it look all the more boho.  Soft Dramatic style is dramatic with a touch of romantic and it's the romantic element that brings the boho.

Other Kibbe styles that work well for boho are Soft Natural and Flamboyant natural and I spent some time thinking I might possibly be one of those before finally narrowing it down to Soft Dramatic based on the descriptions of bone structure, flesh and face.  

In Part Three I will explore the details -makeup, colours, accessories.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Soft Dramatic on her Day Off

For me every day is a day off, and that does not feel like bragging.   I recall when I was trying to work, and could not manage it full time, as I would be leaving around mid-day a colleague would inevitably say to me, ''I sure wish I could go home early."  I am sure I've put my foot in my mouth more than once so I forgive these people, and it's true that I did not advertise my illness.  I wanted to point out to them that I had half their income, half their energy and that I was not leaving work to head up the ski hill but to go home and rest.  I just smiled and said, 'Yeah it's great."  Then, dragging a load of work home with me, work which I would not be able to manage, I left the building, apparently leaving behind an impression that was far from the reality of my life.

From that brief story I mean to be leaving you with the impression that I am someone who is relatively reserved and has many days off.  In other words, I am not dressing for a career nor a glamorous social life and I am not a diva.  Of the many women I've worked with over the years I have definitely been the least diva-like and I was once told that I needed to work harder to find my inner bitch.  Not that bitch should be associated with diva necessarily, but I am attempting to paint a picture here.

Because, you must imagine my horror when after having determined that I was a Kibbe Soft Dramatic, I was confronted with this image from his book.


I don't own this book, but images from it and quoted passages are all over the internet and especially to be found on   I don't believe he has ever made another book, to update the style suggestions and photos, but he is reputed to be a lovely and kind man who affirms everyone's loveliness and confidence in being themselves and is still consulting today.  

Never in my life have I done myself up like that woman on the right -the closest was when I was in a friend's wedding and submitted to the dress, hair and makeup.  I know that I have definitely approximated the "before" photo. 

Kibbe writes that woman who are larger than average hate it and wish to be tiny and delicate just as much as those who are tiny and delicate wish to be tall and dramatic.  Basically most of us want something nearly opposite to what we are.  I can attest to this.  I have hated my size most of my life, feeling unfeminine and more noticeable than I ever wanted to be.  I felt that my size brought expectations.  As a child I was always thought to be older and as a teen it was assumed I would love basketball.  My mother, who is as tall as I am if not slightly taller, has lamented that she will never be a 'sweet little old lady'.  She is definitely sweet and I regret to inform her that she will indeed be an old lady, but she is right.  She will likely never be little.

So, dramatic woman above, who is soft and exemplifies that with her fluffy hair and draped clothing, is still scaring the heck out of me.  I take a deep breath and remember I am always accusing my mother of being so damn literal.

The woman pictured above is a metaphor.  The real woman in the photo cannot dress like that for her day job as a real estate executive and she won't dress like that on Sunday at home with her family.  Kibbe gives descriptions of line, shape, fabric, detail as well as hair and makeup that are appropriate for each of his types, but they do need some translating out of the eighties.  He writes that women who are told they are one of the dramatics do often balk.  They say, I will look too strong, too harsh, too bold.  I can't dress like that.  What I want to add to that is my fear that I will look fake.  I have always loved a natural look, and always wanted to be authentic.  Kibbe would tell me that in order to be authentic to my natural appearance I must amp up the drama a little.  In order for me to do that, I must take into consideration that my life is very casual, and that this is not the nineteen-eighties.

How to proceed?  The feminist in me cannot quite accept that my best look is dramatically made up.  That would be denying that I am enough as I am.  I know that I will often choose not to wear makeup at all.  I certainly won't if I am spending the day in bed, sleeping most of it, dressed in pyjamas or sweatpants and that does happen.  Not by choice.  That is not my idea of a lovely day of indulgence.   I won't go full drama if I am going for a walk on the beach or in one of the local nature parks, but there is no reason why I couldn't if my plans are to paint, to work on my writing, to go shopping, or meet a friend at a cafe, and while people closest to me might notice if I begin to wear a little more makeup than I used to and change my hairstyle, I am not sure it would be all too significant a change.

I already favour draped clothing, large earrings, hats, scarves and I already have the body and face I have, which Kibbe says is Soft Dramatic.  It is quite possible, quite likely, that other people see me as more dramatic than I see myself.  I cannot help wonder about the difficulty of reconciling inner personality with outer appearance, but on the other hand it may not be as radical an approach as it initially feels.

My version of Soft Dramatic would wear much of what I favour now.  I suspect I stray from the guidelines at times but I also think that the overall effect can be achieved with hair, makeup and accessories if the clothing lines are not perfect.  It works the other way around too.  If the clothing lines are fluid and draped and suggest the appropriate effect, I don't need glittery gold gloves or a statement necklace, but can suggest the drama with my large earrings and abundant hair.

Here is an attempt at weekend diva.  This looks like I've only got one earring on but there are two.  They are cheap costume jewelery though and tend to fall apart.  I think a diva deserves something a bit better.  How does a diva do tee shirts and jeans?  I'd say she puts them on and says Damn I am Awesome.  For me, not matter how formal or informal the look, high colours and big necklaces are not a good idea.  I've got a shortish neck and a large-ish chest so it's better to keep that area uncluttered.

The makeup is the same as in the previous post though I improved the lipstick, using a matte bullet and some lip liner.  I've got a wax, colourless liner I like as it doesn't give the look of lined lips and goes with anything. It's not meant to increase the size of lips, just prevent lipstick bleed.

Looking at this picture I am thinking that this just might be a more dramatic face than I ever thought it was. And observe this hoodie as proof that I am an Autumn.

Hmmmm, about that hair.  What I am supposed to aim for is soft abundance, though it does not have to be long. I admit I am relieved about the soft part.  The last thing I want is big, stiff country music star hair.  But this is SOFT Dramatic and we are not in the eighties.  I keep reassuring myself  that. 

Other than the hair, the most problematic for me is the high heels so often given as a Soft Dramatic type of shoe.   That makes sense if the representative outfit is a semi-formal looking draped dress but my goal is to translate the idea into something more casual and comfortable.  This has to be interpretive, as there is no other way to function.  I have always noticed that too small and delicate a shoe looks out of proportion with the rest of me and emphasises that fact that my build is not delicate.  I don't have those slender ankle bones that are so desirable so for a sturdy leg to taper off to a barely-there shoe usually looks a little odd.  I will aim for substantial but still feminine looking, and sometimes the advantage to a boot cut jean is that it covers half of the shoe and makes it less relevant.  My love of boots is on track, though I do have a thing for combats and hiking boots which are too masculine for the Soft Dramatic.  I think I will just summon that inner diva and say, 'I will do what I want."  At home, and in the photo above I am either barefoot or wearing a pair of soft wool socks.  Divas are certain they deserve comfort.

Confession:  After getting all Diva-fied and taking a couple of photos I was exhausted and went back to bed.  I lay there all day but kept the makeup on and felt relatively like a reclining Diva.  Lying in bed I had more time to fantasise about some Soft Dramatic outfits.

Fantasy Diva Outfit- For semi-formal special events I would feel like myself in this ensemble.

I want some boots that are tall and slouchy.  Getting them tall enough is a challenge, and often they are only as high as mid calf or they stop a few inches below my knee instead of right at my knee.  I  need a low heel or else a side zipper because I cannot get my high arched foot to slip into a pair of flat tall boots without that zipper.  I've tried in vain many times.

These would work.


A long, draping and asymmetrical top, even better if it has a lower neckline.  It could be a soft knit for a more casual look or a sheer layering of blouse and camisole for something fancier.


I can't wear a long top and leggings without feeling I am not fully dressed.  Instead of the leggings I would wear a skirt that hits an inch above the knee.  According to Kibbe this should also be soft and draping but I am not quite sure how to line up all the angles and drapes here and am inclined to think that since the top is more visible than the skirt it would be fine to just be straight.  Too much folding and gathering would create lumps under the smooth line of the long top.

And oh would I love to have these earrings!


I would easily wear a version of this outfit on any day, with boot-cut jeans instead of the skirt and a pair of ankle boots.

Foot Note-or perhaps I mean shoe note.

I doubt that my go-to style of a flat soled Mary Jane shoe is considered Soft Dramatic, but it's comfortable and it stays on my foot so I'm not likely to give those up.  With my jeans tending to cover the strap it tends to look like I'm wearing a chunkier style ballet flat so maybe that's reasonable for a Soft Dramatic. 

It isn't the style of clothing that needs to change so much as the way I wear my hair and makeup, and remembering that fewer but bolder accessories is the best way to go.

I'm still stunned to realise I am warm-toned, so adding dramatic looking to that is a double shock.  I am enjoying it though.  David Kibbe calls his style guide a metamorphosis and I am beginning to feel as though I am experiencing one.