Greetings ❤️ I’ve just posted about how I got to know and love Kibbe’s Metamorphosis and this is a follow-up post. I am a Soft Gamine, but this post will probably be relevant for anyone interested in Kibbe’s system because I’ll share how I actually apply it. To me, the main thing about applying Kibbe’s system in practice is understanding my Yin-Yang balance. I don’t follow book recommendations to every last detail, however I find them extremely helpful regardless. I’ll give examples from my Pinterest and some examples of how Kibbe’s suggestions work in terms of applying the Yin and Yang balance knowledge in practice. Also, this post is ultimately about how I apply this system – not ‘how to dress if you’re a Soft Gamine’. Let’s begin!
According to the information on David Kibbe’s website, he has altered his system quite a bit, and if you ask me, he’s made it simpler. Please note that in this post I’m using only the concepts and ideas that I’ve learned based on Yin and Yang because this is the information that’s available to the public (e.g. book excerpts). Unless David Kibbe himself publicly reveals the new details about how he suggests his system can be applied, this is the only source I’ll be referring to. I am aware that pieces of information he’s provided in private FB groups have been published on different forums without his permission, however I consider this unethical and will not use this information.
At the same time, the main idea of this post is that the suggestions from the book can still be used – the key is truly to understand your own body shape.
Researching style and fashion of different decades and eras is my hobby, so I can definitely see how the recommendations from the 1987 book would have worked for me back then (I actually have a soft spot for 80s fashion and fragrances – I mean, just take a look at this Chanel ad – so much glam and chic!). The interesting part is that they can still work today too. How?
For me, it’s not about specific garments or styles, but the overall Yin-Yang mixture that they create. Kibbe’s approach has taught me to never look at every specific garment as an individual piece, but as a part of an outfit, so everything counts here – shoes, hosiery, hairstyle, accessories, etc.
The main features about me are curviness (narrow, now wide) and petiteness. I’m working on softness + angularity. While applying the Kibbe’s system to my wardrobe, I don’t focus on each piece, but the whole looks they participate in. I also don’t feature on my every individual feature – my guidance is my spot on the Yin-Yang scale.
UPDATE: After going through this post again today, I thought I’d add a table with examples of features that help me shop for everything online & in stores. These features are just off the top of my head (I don’t have an actual list of these features – all of my choices are intuitive) & something I apply when shopping:
lots of detail
close to the body
small, but not too delicate
small polka dot
fabrics that hold shape
crisp collar & sleeve at the wrist
small soft pleats (but not too many)
ankle length (for pants)
ornate, but not too baroque
crisp prints with small elements
skin-tight short skirts
deep sharp or soft pleats
all things flare
bell sleeve & pants
A-line dresses and skirts
babydoll tops & dresses
messy prints & aplique (e.g. heavily ripped jeans)
straight large rectangular shapes
all things boho
drop shoulder & raglan sleeve
A-line skirts with buttons in the front
The overall book recommendations for Soft Gamines were:
Your silhouette is animated and staccato, composed of clean curves with sharply tailored nips and tucks at strategic edges. Your shapes are rounded (because of your extra dose of Yin), but they are crisp and formed, kept close to the body, as opposed to softly flowing. The sharp edges are always present through the shoulders, as well as tapering at the cuff, the collar, the waist, and the knee, and in detail such as pleats, plackets, and lapels. (This comes from your Yang side). Likewise, it’s always best to keep a well-defined waist.Metamorphosis (1987) by David Kibbe
As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, I’ve discovered that this kind of silhouette was the best even before discovering Kibbe. I wear clothes very carefully and take care of them (I wrote a bit about my strategies in my post on how to look expensive on a budget) and I am passionate about reducing waste, so I got many items redone & donated. Here’s how I’ve revampled my closet:
- I donated my wide pants and pants with big pleats – deep pleats are too large for me and too Yang, they ‘cut’ into my soft rounded shape
- my tapered pants I’ve got tailored to ankle length – now they work with my outfits
- sweaters/shirts with soft necklines I’ve donated (too Yin for me – lacks structure and tapering) and instead invested into button shirts with small collars, detailing, and color blocks (example below)
- I’ve cuffed the sleeves on my t-shirts so that they’d be close to the body rather than sticking out and flowing
- I’ve donated my stiff midi A-line skirts (too Yang and structured for me – overwhelm my small frame) except for one (example below)
- the skirts above the knee I got tailored into this shape ( ) – fitted at the bottom, then a bit softer fit, then fitted at the waist. I find it very true for me that skirts above the knee are best for my specific shape
- I’ve invested into high-waisted pants and jeans – well, not high-waisted – they just fit on my natural waist – they fit very well and if not for Kibbe, I’d never discover this
- all tops have to fit me really well on shoulders to add structure to my extra Yin bust area (I’m talking 32G bra size, ladies, with narrow shoulders – my shape craves for some Yang there in form of fitted and sharply defined shoulders!)
- invested in a pair of high-waisted black skinny jeans with button fly as a basic, but still not devoid of detail kind of pants – truly see how I need details now compared to my regular fly jeans
- to add more Yin to the outfit, I use lightweight and bright colored scarves and gloves
Note that the things that I got tailored are made from fabrics that allow it – they are soft, but hold shape. Things made from very soft or very stiff fabrics I donated – they clearly didn’t work for me by conflicting with my Yin-Yang balance. I also don’t have that much clothes, so all these changes didn’t cost me too much, especially given that I’ve made them over the course of months.
one skirt I didn’t donate – I have this exact skirt in dark green, it’s got soft and not deep pleats, small enough to create a soft effect for extra Yin
Note: you’ve probably noticed that my new coat style is double-breasted, which means a serious ‘amount’ of Yang and usually for Soft Gamines there’s a recommendation for fitted waist instead. I choose both, because my shape requires a very precise Yang element to counteract that Yin. At the same time, I choose only those double-breasted things (trench coats & coats) that are not longer than the knee (buttons end by mid-thigh) to avoid overdoing the Yang. I also avoid very contrasting buttons is a piece is double-breasted – it creates a harsh and wide vertical line, which clashes with my petiteness and softness.
In terms of hair, I’ve tried everything – from pixie cut (in the early 20s, looked good with it, but same as Winona Ryder – not the best because not enough ‘freedom’ for hair to move around) to very long hair without layers or bangs (the worst on me). My favorite length is probably shoulder length and gently tousled long bob – sleek hairstyles don’t work on me at all (they are too Yang). However, my hair grows pretty quickly (especially since I’ve been doing my anti-dryness routine for scalp) and it’s also very thick and lives its own life. It’s not curly, but just textured and porous, meaning that I experience a bit of something like Monica from ‘Friends’ in high humidity:
My best solution includes hairstyles with bangs (just suits my face the best):
half-updo 60s style with bangs – my absolute go-to
updo with short blunt bangs – the Yang element of bangs goes well in line with my jawline shape – my Yang feature
Very soft and messy hairstyles, such as this tousled shoulder-length bob without ‘intentional’ structure (or at least a bit defined bangs), ‘fight’ my Yang features (in my case it’s a softly wide jawline) and make them look more prominent than they are (my jawline looks wider and more blunt in contrast with such soft hairstyles).
So generally I don’t keep my hair as short as Kibbe recommends for Soft Gamines, but at the same time I choose hairstyles that ‘lift’ my hair up, while the length allows me to take care of it properly and not have to use a lot of products and heat to straighten it and make it keep the shape I want it to. At the same time, every my hairstyle is a bit voluminous thanks to my natural hair texture (I embrace it and love it), but not messy. I found that there’s a thin line between ‘tousled’ and ‘messy’ and ‘messy’ makes me look sloppy immediately. So my hair is always in place, but free to move also.
As a Soft Gamine I need precise rounded shapes and my shoes should also translate that extra Yin in the combination of opposites. Chunky heels like these look too heavy for my small frame because they are too Yang, even if the toe is tapered. Now, I haven’t found my perfect tapered heel shoes yet though – still searching! Ideally, I’d want something in 1930s style – the heel is tapered, but not a sharp stiletto heel.
My favorite shoes by far are these Clarks brogue-inspired with fringe (actually own these). I like how the toe is a bit tapered and there’s a suede fringe that adds that extra softness (Yin).
Then I love love love chelsea boots! They break the line of the silhouette for every outfit and fit especially well with my tailored ankle length pants. I also find that almond toe and tapered toe look so much better on me than round or square – those are a bit too chunky and wide.
Finally onto accessories! Here I think even the book recommendations work well for me. I’ve experimented for years and found that small, minimalistic, and delicate jewelry doesn’t work for me – too delicate, not enough to support the Yang element in my features, so something a bit bold yet chic is best. I never wear boho jewelry or very ornate jewelry with lots of stones – too flowy and shapeless for me or too Yin, while I also don’t wear large and harsh geometrics – they become the center of attention instead of just playing along with the look.
Some of my most favorite accessories are gloves – I have them in bright red, then black perforated leather, but without chunky fur trim or large details. I find that tight-fitting gloves look very chic with my outfits. I always wear scarves and have a lot of them. Kibbe’s suggestions about hats are spot-on for me – they should be soft and not too big. My ideal hat is a beret, but a voluminous one – thin fabric berets that don’t give much volume are skimpy looking on me and boring (I think they lack the softness of Yin).
In my particular case, my makeup is very much Yin. I look like I haven’t slept in 17 years if I don’t wear any color on my lips, so I always do red lip variations, blotted red being one of my faves. Interestingly, several other SG told me that they look very bad with pale lips and heavy eye makeup – interesting coincidence. The glossy lip suggestion works for me, but in form of sheen – not intense lip gloss shine. As for eye makeup, I find that luminous (satin finish) eye shadows work best, same as smoky eye done with one color (maybe +1 in the crease) like this one. Classic instagram smoky eye doesn’t work for me at all – it looks larger than my face and makes me look very very tired.
My perfect makeup look (example) that brings that Yin and Yang together is colored lips (even better if with soft application – not extremely sharply defined outline because that’s a lot of Yang and looks harsh), soft foundation (not too matte looking), soft application of bronzer (I apply it in a rounded motion on the cheekbones and nothing destroys my face worse than harsh contouring – just as David Kibbe said in the book), equally soft blush (if needed), curled eyelashes, and champagne eye shadow on the mobile lid (bold matte eye makeup look too harsh against my Yin features). Clumpy mascara looks good. As for cat or winged eyeliner, I find it can work in certain looks (to add more Yang) and doesn’t in others (if my hair looks not soft enough for instance). So no, I don’t go overboard with colors and rarely include any Yang elements in my makeup – I find that Yin makeup works best for me.
As you can see, I don’t follow book recommendations to a T. The book was written in the 80s, when the design, cuts, construction, and styles of clothing were different than now. Makeup was also very different, same as hairstyle as everything else. The book was written for that time and place, and it was more than 3 decades ago. At the same time, the idea of following your Yin and Yang balance in creating looks is perfectly applicable.
If you’re looking into the Kibbe system, I’d suggest this: don’t look at the styles in the book and dismiss Kibbe’s system because of them – instead learn from them, see how outfits, hairstyle, and makeup can go in line with Yin-Yang balance. For instance, soft flowy fabric draping is Yin, deep pleats that hold their shape will most definitely be Yang, stiff fabrics will be Yang, tapered toe and heel – Yin, and so on.
And most of all: have fun! Don’t get stuck on each detail – even if you’ll have a list of what to wear, you’ll most likely get tired of this limitation sooner or later. I think that human nature isn’t stiff like some precise system and never rigid. It’ll always want to break free from any box you’ll be trying to put it in (like people always make shortcuts instead of walking two seconds longer on the actual road):
Kibbe’s approach to me is simple to apply because I use the Yin-Yang balance of things and what exactly would suit me – my outfits follow my features. I hope that my example of how I apply it in practice will be somehow valuable to you. I don’t have ‘before and after’ pictures and even if I did, I wouldn’t want my specific style to influence your own perception. The outfits that work for me will never 100% work same well on someone else.
Another super long post – thank you if you’ve made it this far ❤️
As always, looking forward to your comments!
See you my next (normal length) post!
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More on Kibbe image IDs: