As someone who struggled a lot finding my own personal style, what really helped me was the Kibbe test.
Created by David Kibbe in his 1987 book ‘Metamorphosis’ he categorises the human body into five specific types, according to height, width, proportions, bone structure and fat distribution.
He argued all bodies have a mixture of ‘Yin’– elements more typical to males and therefore perceived as more masculine, and ‘yang’– elements more typical to females and therefore perceived as more feminine.
In terms of fashion, Yin and Yang mean this:
- Yang: Curved lines. Graceful, flowing, silhouettes. Hourglass outlines. Fitted waists. Rounded shapes. Swirls, curves, circles. Intricate, delicate detailing.
- Yin: Strong vertical lines. Stiff, smooth silhouettes. Elongated outlines. Sharp edges. Geometric shapes. Rectangles, triangles, etc. Bold, dramatic, big shapes.
And these can be applied to the 5 types. What are they, you ask?
The Five Kibbe Body Types
Dramatics (Extreme Yin)
Think Tilda Swinton. Or as pictured above, Tyra Banks.
These people often look ethereal and otherworldly with Intense, sharp features and an imposing, elongated form.
They have a sharp bone structure and wider shoulders and are typically tall, angular and dynamic looking. There is also a subcategory of dramatics called soft dramatic (more yang, feminine-looking).
Naturals (Uneven mix, more Yin)
Naturals are broad and athletic in body type, of medium or tall height with broad shoulders.
They typically don’t have a defined waist, with straighter, more athletic bodies. Jennifer Anniston is a Natural- and not just at acting!
Naturals can be softer, termed soft Naturals (more yang, feminine features) or flamboyant Naturals (more yin) with more angular features.
Classic (evenly mixed Yin and yang)
Grace Kelly is famously typed as a classic. So is Lupita Nyong’o, pictured above.
Classics are defined by the balance of their features and bodies. They are incredibly even and symmetrical, not too angular or too soft. They are typically often medium height.
They are thought of as refined, elegant beauties in media and tend to have a delicate hourglass body shape.
Romantics (Extreme Yang)
Marilyn Monroe is the most iconic Romantic. Christina Hendricks, while taller also has all the features of a romantic.
They are defined by extreme femininity in body and facial features.
Their features tend to be lush, meaning softly big and defined, or extremely rounded.
They are always hourglass with a defined waist. They have soft, rounded flesh and smaller legs, arms and feet. A romantic is of average height, or short.
Gamine (uneven mix)
Gamine is french for ‘Little girl’ which is how these types often look.
Jenna Coleman aka Clara from ‘Doctor Who’ pictured above is a fantastic example.
These people tend to be cute, small and have doll-like, babyish features. They have a mix of angularity and softness.
This angularity comes from the fact that while they are small and petite they have a straight up and down figure and more angularity in their legs, shoulders and face.
They can be softer (soft gamine) or even tomboyish-looking (flamboyant gamine)
How Does My Type Impact What Looks Good On Me?
To be clear- you can wear whatever you want, fashion should be all about your freedom to express yourself.
But in the same way neon’s tend to dull rather than flatter paler skin, certain styles, cuts, colours, fabrics will celebrate certain body types more than others.
This is due to the physical nature of the body as determined by your Kibbe body type. For example, a heavy or wide bone structure, like that of a natural or dramatic, will clash with very delicate and ornate fashions.
It makes that person look like the clothes are wearing them- rather than the other way around!
What is so wonderful about Kibbe is that unlike so much fashion advice it isn’t about aspiring to a specific body type and look. There is no advice here on how to appear like an hourglass, how to make yourself look smaller or how to give yourself a more oval face.
Kibbe suggests taking a unified, holistic approach that accounts for your entire appearance– rejecting arbitrary fashion trends or theories.
Its advice tailored to uniquely flatter YOU rather than advice which demands you change yourself to fit a narrow ideal of beauty and style.
You can take the Kibbe test here and find out more about what cuts and fashions will celebrate your unique body type.
Then head on over to UltaModan to get that perfect outfit to celebrate what’s beautiful and special about your body.
Author Bio: Rachael is a content writer at Pearl Lemon who has written on a diversity of topics, from colored diamonds to SEO software. In her spare time, she enjoys singing, sketching, cooking, and video games.