Saturday, 7 October 2017

Kibbe combined with DYT

Since I am currently diving into style systems I am also writing about David Kibbe's system which is very popular online as well though less promoted than DYT.  Kibbe has his fans and followers with facebook groups and forums and there are many images on Pinterest to be found where people attempt to create visuals for the categories and their guidelines.  This system is very thorough which will thrill some and put others off.  It appeals to me because I love things to be thorough and I think it is a better system than DYT in that sense though more challenging to figure out.

Kibbe published a book in the eighties and in that time has tweaked his system slightly.  The images and some of the suggestions are a bit dated but can be modernised with a bit of clear thinking.  As a woman of some extra height, I think Kibbe has a bias with regards to height and I think this is in part because he is not a tall man but he likes to live large.  Tall women, basically over 5'7", are prohibited from certain style categories.  According to Kibbe it just can't happen because the categories are all about the physical impression one gives based on size, line and proportion.  The categories women with height are given are all on the dramatic, flamboyant side, following the basic premise of big body therefore big accessories, big drama.  However some small women have been put into these categories despite their size because Kibbe says they give a large impression.

People like me are of course only guessing themselves into a category and not actually given one by David Kibbe himself.  I don't think that matters since it's about the person who will be wearing the clothes feeling comfortable with them and in my case I've narrowed it down to two similar categories and finally chosen one.  If Kibbe would say no, it's the other I'm not terribly far off track. 

Kibbe's categories are numerous and detailed so I can't explain them all here.  They are easily found in detail if you do a search using Kibbe and the type as key words.  Pinterest and Google Images are places to begin looking.  For Kibbe's own words transcribed from his book, visit  If you search "Kibbe Soft Natural" or any other types, this forum tapatalk (apparently renamed recently since I used to know it as yuku) will be one of the hits you get and I recommend going there.  Remember that images created by people using Polyvore or Pinterest are only their best guesses and interpretations.

Kibbe Categories, also known as Kibbegories

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

Flamboyant and Theatrical are alternate words for dramatic and soft is an alternate word for romantic.  Dramatic is yang (masculine) and romantic is yin (feminine) and most of us are a combination of yin and yang in some way or another.

Kibbe eliminated the pure types eventually except Romantic because he decided that everyone leans slightly one way or the other so there are few pure Naturals, Gamines or Dramatics as generally they are slightly more yin or more yang.

My Mental Journey

It took me a long time to figure out which category I might belong in because I have difficulty seeing my body accurately.  I took a quiz but came out as soft classic because my body is very symmetrical so I answered questions accordingly.  Soft Classic clothing style really doesn't work on me though so I kept investigating.  There is a forum which outlines all the Kibbe categories in detail, describing what the bodies and faces are like as well as the styles, lines, textures and accessories best used with them.  Kibbe himself continues to show examples and transformations of clients on Facebook and there are of course many images on Pinterest, with varying degrees of accuracy.

I concluded I am a Soft Natural but agonised over the fact that I am technically too tall and thus should be automatically a Flamboyant Natural.  My own style preferences and what I have learned with trial and error will work for me is perhaps a blend of the two, though not much FN.   FN is too bold overall and I dip into it, pulling off some of the lines because of my height but seeming to suit the SN guidelines better most of the time.  What Kibbe himself would decree me I am not sure but I suspect FN.  He makes height very important for tall women and his own personal tendencies lean towards the dramatic.

 I just don't pull off drama at all, and if I am a Type 1 in Dressing Your Truth that might be why.

Most models are FN types.  It's an elongated T shaped body which if I have, I only barely have.  While I am tall my proportions are very even and I don't give a leggy impression.  My shoulders are not broad, definitely not broader than the rest of me but look more balanced with my hips.  The description of SN is a broad and yang bone structure with a fleshy yin body.  That's me!  Broadly curved, best in body skimming lines, almost hourglass but not flattered by a cinched or emphasised waist.  My body is very balanced, definitely not long-legged when viewed in proportion with the rest of me, although my legs will be longer than average just as my torso length is longer than average.  This is what makes me taller.

Kibbe describes Soft Natural bodies as appearing compact, not in a small sense but in terms of them not looking leggy or lean and lithe even if they are actually lean.  I am both muscular and fleshy with a broad frame and I've always felt large and bulky unless dressed in certain ways.  I look pretty darn good naked though!  Just sayin'.

Actual shape and size matter but so does overall impression which is why some people use terms like essence and energy when talking about style images.  A  shorter woman who is larger than life, such as Shirley McLaine or Sarah Jessica Parker gets put into Flamboyant Natural as a category because of that energy.  The Soft Natural is a little curvier and softer.  Jennifer Lawrence is the tallest woman, at 5'8", whom Kibbe has designated as a Soft Natural.  I am 5'9.5" and I insist on being one too.

For some people the Soft Natural category is unappealing because it's very girl next door and seems a bit of a dumping ground.  If you aren't any of the others you must be soft natural, goes the thinking.  Here I am determined to be a soft natural while others are peeved at possibly fitting the category!

In some ways the SN category works with DYT T1 and in a few ways it is completely opposite.   Only gamine style would actually work with T1. The ways in which it clashes are typically aspects of T1 that really don't work for me.  Animated cuteness is a must avoid for SN, but  light, bright, fresh, nature inspired, asymmetry and body skimming but unstructured are the basic guidelines for Soft Natural and can be seen in T1 as well.  Both types are feminine, approachable and friendly. 

A Soft Natural and a Flamboyant Natural have some things in common with DYT T2, mainly the downward flowing lines and body skimming shapes.  I am more attracted to T2 lines than I am to T1 though the colours are too muted for me and when T2 goes awry it gets frumpy.  When I go awry I get frumpy also.  Kibbe has written that a Soft Natural can easily look heavier than she is and needs the body skimming shapes to avoid this, suggesting a waist but not emphasising it, keeping silhouettes close to the body, not boxy or baggy but not tailored and structured either.  That is exactly what I need.  T1 is quite flexible in the lines and shapes of the actual garments worn, it is more about suggesting an uplifting energy with colour and accessories, the patterns on clothing, weight of fabrics and hair and makeup are significan for T1 and this makes it easy enough to align with Soft Natural style.  Tweaking both of them for personal preference and need is expected.

Flamboyant Natural adds more drama than I am comfortable with, bolder  accessories, hair and makeup, long jackets that in reality don't make me look long and lean but tend to shorten my legs.  Skirt lengths are long unless it is a straight short skirt worn above the knee and with a long top.  I don't think these are actually my best looks though they aren't my worst.  I am convinced I look great in a shorter but softly flared skirt, something just above or on the knee, which is a SN look but not FN.  Flamboyant Natural also wears thick, plush, and even bulky knits and I really just look fat in something like that.  Makeup for FN is too heavy for me.  A little goes a very long way for me and sheer and light applications are better, matte lips aren't great.   Another Flamboyant Natural look that doesn't work for me is wide man-tailored trousers.  We all make modifications and adapt to our own needs and preferences in some ways but it seems to me that too many modifications need making for Flamboyant Natural to be my best category.

Perhaps I am doing David Kibbe a disservice by being convinced he would be biased by my height and type me as a Flamboyant Natural.

                            How I Will Apply This

Kibbe describes body build and facial structure in detail but it takes awhile to understand what he means and to see how you do or don't fit that.  More words don't necessarily produce clarity, however I do think his system is detailed, thorough and very accurate in comparison with DYT.  For Kibbe, colour matters and is to be applied to your type in accordance with your palette determined by a personal colour analysis.  A Soft Natural could be using any colour palette, there is no such thing as a Soft Natural palette, though how the colours are used will vary a little by type.  Soft Natural colour use is in line with T1 in that the suggestion is for a mix of colours and neutrals in small doses, colours are light, bright and a monochromatic look is avoided.

I'm working on lighter and brighter in my wardrobe, the shirt in the above photo is as dark as I get now.  You can't see my circular gold earrings at all given the current state of my growing out hair.  Since I know SN lines work for me I am playing a bit with the DYT T1 rec's to see if they work too. 

Both Soft Natural and Flamboyant Natural will work with my style aim of Boho Redux, though I am beginning to move away from that a little.  Or at least there is more redux.  I do find myself wanting a cleaner, lighter feel  and boho relies on accessories and style lines such as bell sleeves and kimonos. These are looks I love but find I can't wear because I am a push your sleeves up and tackle the job with no encumbrance sort of person and dangling things, whether they are accessories or parts of my clothing really get in my way physically and mentally.  Perhaps that is my secondary T4 asserting itself.

Soft Natural things to avoid are fussy detail, cute and animated detail, structure that doesn't allow you to move freely, sharp geometrics, small and regular detail in prints and too much structure.  The aspects of T1 that I wanted to limit are included in that list but I am also interested in seeing where I can push the boundaries and the term 'fussy detail' is probably somewhat subjective.

Recent consignment shop purchases were bought with T1 in mind and not so much Soft Natural.  I don't think these items are blatantly not SN, though and they fit the criteria for casual, brightly coloured, open necked. Detail suggestions are shirring or applique.

I can't be sure Kibbe would agree to this being a Soft Natural outfit.  I am more sure of it being Type 1 DYT but I think it also qualifies as SN. Colours are a little off i this first photo.

I don't know if the neckline detail is what Kibbe had in mind as appropriate for SN-I think he had a more downward flow in mind.  I prefer this. 

Soft Natural does casual style well, though all style types have their version of casual.  My basic uniform of jeans, a softly draped top, flats, ankle boots or sandals depending on season, a pair of large earrings and the addition of cardigan or scarf as needed is very easily Soft Natural style.  So is the cross body bag I am likely to carry and the quick flick of mascara and slick of tinted lip gloss I will probably add if going out.

T1 and Soft Natural Style Overlap

light, bright and fresh effect
softened, curved shapes
nature inspired images
light-medium textures and weights
easy of movement
girl next door vibe
light and colourful makeup
abstract florals

T2 and Soft Natural Style Overlap

downward flowing shapes
ease of movement
S curves
antique details/old world touches
soft and natural makeup

T3 and Soft Natural Style Overlap

nature inspired/natural materials
artistic/creative effects in accessories
warm colours appropriate
T3 works better with Flamboyant Natural

T4 and Soft Natural Style Overlap

Practically none. T4 aligns more with Classic and Dramatic styles

Possibly of Interest

Another source for style category advice is a favourite blog of mine, Truth is Beauty.  Not much information is available for free, but a little is and one interesting bit of advice is offered.  Rachel suggests paying more attention to your face than your body, which reminds me of Dressing Your Truth.  She says people look at the face so the face really needs to align with the image identity.  She has gone on to create her own set of categories, and why not since so many have.  Kibbe didn't invent them and people have been modifying and adapting them for decades if not more.   Some systems want to direct you to choosing one best style type while others want you to figure out what your personal mix is and build on that.

Use the link below for more information if this is a topic that interests you or you are currently bedridden and bored, as I am.

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