For an introduction to the Sew Your Kibbe Series, please see this post. The posts in this series are intended to be a well researched and thorough investigation of the Kibbe style recommendations, along with several example patterns for each “level of dress.” The posts in this series will be picture heavy and quite lengthy. You may want some tea.
To kick things off, I thought we’d start with one of Kibbe’s pure essences, Dramatic. Dramatic is the pure yang, all sharp angles and straight, long lines. Kibbe’s Dramatic is described as a “Regal Lady.” You can read more about Kibbe’s Dramatic here.
Body Type Characteristics
The following are Kibbe’s descriptions of a Dramatic Body Type:
DRAMATIC PHYSICAL PROFILE
NOTE: The following information should be taken as a broad outline of what makes a Dramatic. It is the overall combination of strong, sharp physicality, a cool reserve, and charismatic power that creates this Image Identity category. Therefore, a slight deviation here or there is always possible and should not be worried over as long as no single factor upsets your extreme, sharp Yang balance.
Moderate to tall, usually 5 feet 5 inches and over.
Straight and angular, may tend to long or sleek musculature (sinewy or lithe.) Usually have long legs and arms. Narrow in width.
Angular, with sharp edges. Usually have square shoulders (may be narrow). Hands and feet are usually long and narrow. Facial bones are sharp or prominent (nose, jawline, cheekbones). Sometimes, the bone structure is called “delicate” because of its narrowness. This is actually not true, for example length keeps it from being truly delicate. A more helpful description would be “sleek.”
Straight, sleek lines. Sloe or almond eyes; narrow, thin or straight lips; taut skin, especially around the cheek and jaw areas.
Extreme texture. Fine and silky, either poker-straight or with a bend. Very coarse and curly or wavy (wild).
Any coloring is possible (warm or cool, high-contrast or blended), but a Dramatic is usually distinct, either very fair, very fiery, or very vivid.
Heaviness usually congregates around the hip and upper thigh area as opposed to the upper torso.
A Dramatic will not:
- Have an hourglass figure
- Have lush, full facial features (round eyes, fleshy cheeks, full lips)
- Have a broad or blunt bone structure or facial bones
- Be petite or extremely small in stature
- Be perfectly symmetrical
- Have short or fleshy arms and legs
The following are Kibbe’s recommendations regarding the clothing and style choices that best suit his Dramatic image ID. The following recommendations will be taken into consideration for each garment type listed below:
- SHAPE: Shape is the key to your look. Whatever mood you want to express, in whatever situation your find yourself–work, play or glamour–keep your shapes sharp and geometric. Triangles, rectangles, and anything sculpted, sleek, and elongated with crisp edges.
- Avoid: Anything rounded, swirled, or overly draped. Also, anything delicate intricate or overly fragile. Ornateness translates into “fussy” on you.
- LINE AND SILHOUETTE: This goes hand-in-hand with your shape. Long, vertical lines are essential. Always straight, with elongated draping that is sleek, is your version of a “soft line”.
- Avoid: Soft, flowing lines (too matronly on you). Unconstructed silhouettes (sloppy on you). Broken or horizontal lines (not elegant enough for you).
- FABRIC: Fabrics that hold a defined shape are necessary. Moderate to heavyweights are best, with a matte finish and smooth surface. Textures should be tightly woven and shiny fabrics should be very stiff and ultraglitzy. Italian tweeds, thick gabardines, twills, faille, stiff brocades, and heavy satins are a few examples that will tailor best for you. Keep in mind, however, that occasionally lightweight fabrics can work, if they are extra structured in the design of the garment.
- Avoid: Overly sheer, lightweight fabrics that float. Also, in most cases clingy fabrics are extremely unsophisticated on you. In addition, extremely rough textures that are thick and heavy will overpower your sleek body.
- DETAIL: Detail should always be clean and minimal to complement your sculpted, chiseled look. Bold, sweeping geometrics, angular shapes, and sharp edges are called for.
- Include: Square, sharp shoulders (shoulder pads are essential in every garment you own, without exception). Clean, angular necklines (plunging V’s, skinny turtlenecks, high Mandarins, slashed collars, halters, man-tailored, etc.). Anything tailored (crisp cuffs, sharp pleats, sharp lapels, etc.)
- Avoid: Small, fussy detail. Overly ornate or intricate detail (ruffles, lacy frills, feathers, frou-fou, bows, tucks, gathers). Overly unconstructed detail (sloppy necklines, shapeless or oversized sleeves, etc.).
- SEPARATES: Your look does not include an obvious use of separates; keep individual pieces blending together in an artful way for elegance. You are striving for a head-to-toe ensemble effect, not the “mix ‘n match” approach!
- COLOR: Always think “head-to-toe” with your color schemes.
The deepest colors that complement your coloring are best. Dark neutrals are especially effective, and color combinations should be bold, but elegant. Combining bright shades with dark shades achieves this with ease. Pastels can be stunning if you create an entire ensemble. All monochromatic schemes are excellent.
- Avoid: Multicolor splashes and a mix ‘n match approach to color.
- PRINTS: Prints should be bold and geometric; stripes, zigzags, asymmetrics, and irregular shapes. Bold color combinations and high-contrast blends work best. Think “Picasso,” and strive for a contemporary feeling.
- Avoid: Watercolor print, florals, soft swirls, and overly “cute” animated styles. Small, symmetrical prints are also to be avoided.
- ACCESSORIES: All accessories should be crisp, sharply tailored and angular with geometric shapes. Keep everything sleek and contemporary in feeling.
- Shoes: Should be tailored and angular. High, straight heels, crisp soles, and elegantly tapered toes.
- Bags: Should be crisp and geometric. Angular envelopes, clutches, or structured briefcases.
- Belts: Should be bold and wide. Leather will be stiff and shaped. Metal belts will be sculpted and quite large. Buckles are always geometric/asymmetric. Hip belts for dropped waists are best.
- Hats: Should be crisp and geometric and man-tailored with wide brims and sharp edges.
- Jewelry: Should always be sleek and elegant, with an emphasis on bold, modern shapes. Thin, sharp pieces are good choices, as are avant-garde works of art. Asymmetrical shapes work well and pieces should be large, but on overly bulky.
- Avoid: Delicate, antique jewelry. Extra-glitzy costume jewelry. Heavy chunky ethnic pieces. Small, symmetrical pieces.
For the individual garment types, obviously, I will be focusing on the lines of the garment, as fabric and color choices would easily be controlled by the home sewer. It’s nice that he included a long list of acceptable fabrics though!
Jackets: Jackets should always be tailored and sculpted, with very defined shoulders. Generally they should be long (ending at the mid-thigh area), although a very sleek, Italian-style might be cropped (be sure this has an extremely sculpted, streamlined shape). Double-breasted could be another choice.
Avoid: Overly flouncy jackets with peplums, nipped-in waists, and fussy touches such as shoulder tucks, ornate buttons, and tapered sleeves. Overly shapeless and boxy jackets.
Dramatics are certainly lucky when it comes to jackets! They are all about a sharp, tailored look, which is perfect for finding jacket and coat patterns. I’ve divided the category into lighter jackets and heavier coats, as well as subdivided them by level of dress.
Coats, Level 1: This category is the most casual styles I could find to fit the Dramatic criteria.
Coats, Level 2: These are coats that would be acceptable to wear to a business meeting or perhaps to a fancy dinner date.
Coats – Level 3: Basically these are coats a Dramatic could easily wear to a fancier event, like a wedding or other formal occasion. I had trouble finding newer patterns for this category, but I expect we should be seeing more Dramatic styles hitting the pattern releases soon, since strong shoulder lines were a major runway trend recently.
Jackets – Level 1: Again, these jackets would be appropriate for every day sorts of errands and casual looks.
Jackets – Level 2: These are perhaps the most “true” to Kibbe’s recommendation – they don’t have to compromise on sharp, tailored details or long line to get a more casual feel. Dramatic is definitely easier to dress up than to dress down.
Jackets – Level 3: I feel like Dramatics are definitely the type that could wear a tuxedo to a wedding and look fabulous. These are some fun options:
Skirts: Should be straight and long. Minimum length: two inches below the knee; maximum length: as long as you dare! The only flared skirt you successfully wear is one with the middle section (from waist to knee) sleek and straight, with the bottom piece flaring our gently. Likewise, all pleats should be stitched down through the hip area.
Avoid: Full skits, gathered waists, draped and shirred shapes.
Level 1: There isn’t a lot of shape variety for Dramatic skirts, so I tried to find options that would allow for use of different fabrics. Dramatics are supposed to use stiffer fabrics, but in today’s world of knits that’s not always practical, especially at Level 1. Again, by going slightly outside of the general principles, it allows us to tone down a Dramatic look for daily wear.
Level 2: The Dramatics don’t really have that much range in skirt shapes, so honestly Level 2 would be more achieved with fabric choice than with pattern choice I think. The nice thing is that once you find your TNT you can really get creative with fabrication and Dramatic details!
Level 3: For fancier events I took a few more liberties with the ability to have a flared hem. That simple feature adds and extravagance that lends itself to a wedding/red carpet look.
Pants: Should always be straight and man-tailored. Deep pleats are a good touch, as is a long hem, gently breaking the shoe.
Avoid: Drapey and clingy pants that taper at the ankle. Oversized, baggy shapes.
Level 1: Finding casual pants for the Dramatic was a bit tough, because “main-tailored” styles always seem to add a sense of formality, but I did find a few options:
Level 2: Because of the tailoring elements, so many Dramatic pants fall into this middle category. There are a lot of great pattern options.
Level 3: I feel like Dramatics can get away with wearing Trousers to fancier events perhaps a bit easier than other style types. Again, while I think most of the Level 2 patterns could be used for a fancier event as well, fabric choice is going to be key.
Blouses: Tailored and sleek-never flouncy or frilly or oversized and shapeless.
Level 1: It’s a bit tricky to find casual “tailored” tops, but I think I’ve rounded up a few decent options:
Level 2: There are so many tailored blouses that would be a great fit for Dramatics at the business-attire level of dress.
Level 3: The Level 3 tops could also be mixed and matched with the other levels, depending on fabrication for the most part.
Sweaters: Lightweight, elegant knits. Skinny, ribbed knits. Long cardigans or pullovers with sharp shoulders.
Level 1: Sweaters are a bit tricky because the idea of a soft, draping knit is sort of the antithesis of a Dramatic. I was, however, able to find a few examples of longer cardigans or emphasized shoulders.
Level 2: To achieve a more formal look, I had to turn to sweater patterns with more length.
Level 3: Dramatics are so structured that it is hard to find a “tailored” sweater or cardigan for them. If you are a dramatic going to a fancier event, you should probably stick to one of the sharper tailored jackets that look so great with this type.
Dresses: Dresses should be elongated and sleek, the more tailored the better. Again, sharp shoulders are essential. Coat dresses, chemises, and very narrow bias-cuts work well. Waist emphasis is reserved for use with very wide, geometric belts. Dropped waists and no-waist styles are elegant when the shape is kept narrow.
Avoid: All flouncy styles with flowing silhouettes, fitted waists, and fussy necklines. Shapeless, unconstructed styles.
Level 1: The more casual dress is a bit tricky for a Dramatic, because too much tailoring starts to look more formal. However, I’ve found some interesting options.
Level 2: There are so many more options for a Dramatic at this more formal level. Some of these selections are intended for a more formal work environment, and others are included to be used for a dressier dinner date.
Level 3: These are dresses that would be fitting for a more formal event. There are a surprising number of sewing patterns that would be great for a Dramatic party dress.
Evening Wear: Geometric shapes. Elongated vertical lines. Hard metallic fabrics. Smooth fabric. Sculpted trim. Angular necklines. Should emphasis. Slinky sheaths. Tailored dinner suits. Long gowns with sharp shoulders, halter necklines, and jackets. Evening pants with tailored jackets.
Evening looks are, for the most part, and extension of the Level 3 Dress section, but Dramatics also get to play with tailored suits, which gives a lot of options for evening.
Wheew! There we have it – a sewing perspective on Kibbe’s Dramatic. According to Style Syntax, Dramatics will most easily dress in Level 3 clothes, and have the most problems finding Level 1 outfits. I would say I actually found more sewing patterns that hit a Level 2 Dramatic style, but also that many of them had very similar features. I also feel like a lot of these patterns could work on multiple levels, depending on how outfits were put together or what fabrics were used. Interestingly, I am noticing that while some looks are hitting the “pure Dramatic” recommendations dead on, by adding slight touches of the non-Dramatic essences it can help bring the Dramatic look down from a Level 2 or 3 to a Level 1. I think the trick with choosing patterns is to look for something that hits at least 2-3 of the recommendations, and add a bit of personality beyond that to express your inner self. I also feel like Dramatics are a type that could benefit a lot from having TNT patterns. Kibbe’s recommendations are pretty narrowly defined for a Dramatic, so a lot of the silhouettes I pulled are pretty similar. Having a TNT would be a great way to get a lot of Dramatic staples in the wardrobe, and then allow Dramatics to experiment beyond the base recommendations, and see how far they can push their style using new or different shapes.
What do you all think? How are you feeling about the Dramatic style? Do we have any Dramatics in the audience? What about people who wish they were Dramatics? How many of these patterns would you wear? How would you add personality or your own sense of style to a Dramatic wardrobe? Do the Kibbe recommendations seem to jive with your personal preferences, or do you want to rebel against all the sharp lines and angularity? Does anyone have any other suggestions for great Dramatic patterns, or any indie brand recommendations for Dramatic looks? Feel free to discuss in the comments!
Coming Next Week: We are heading to the opposite end of the spectrum to learn about Kibbe’s Romantic!