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. 


  1. I'm a SD too, and I think when it comes to shoes, ballet flats can be SD if the toe is pointed. I never liked the look of pointy toed shoes on the shelf, but when I tried them on I had to admit they were flattering (and I have big feet - size 11).

    1. Hi Eve, thanks for commenting! I have ended up deciding I am FN though for a long time it seemed it could be either SD or FN. It's difficult when you aren't a perfect fit for anything! I like the look of pointed flats though any shoe I wear has to be strapped to my foot or I walk out of it so flats are tricky. I think there are points and then there are points!


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