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.
After last week’s post about Kibbe’s Dramatic, I thought it would be good to move to the opposite side of the spectrum, the Romantic. In a direct contrast to the Dramatic, Kibbe’s Romantic is the pure yin, all soft shapes, curves, and ornate detail. Kibbe’s Romantic is described as a “Dreamspinner.” You can read more about Kibbe’s Romantic here.
Body Type Characteristics
The following are Kibbe’s descriptions of a Romantic Body Type:
ROMANTIC PHYSICAL PROFILE
NOTE: The following information should be taken as a broad outline of what makes a Romantic. It is the overall combination of extreme, soft Yin (soft physicality and magnetic essence) that creates this Image Identity category. Therefore, slight deviation here or there is always possible and should not be worried over if it does not upset your Yin/Yang balance. Height: Moderate to petite, usually 5’5″ and under. Body type: Soft and voluptuous. Hourglass figure; curvy (bustline and hips, with a small waist (in proportion to the curves). Fleshy arms and legs. Bone structure: Delicate and smallish. Usually to the wide side. Rounded or sloped shoulders. Small hand and feet (may be slightly wide). Facial bones are small, delicate and may be slightly wide or lush (nose, cheekbones, jawline). If your bone structure is slightly wide or lush, you may think of yourself as having a large bone structure. This is actually decdeving to you, for the shortness of your limbs and extremities (hand and feet) offsets the width. In context of your overall voluptuous figure, your bone structure is definitely delicate. Facial features: Lush; full, and sensual (rounded). Large, luminous eyes. Full lips. Fleshy cheeks. Hair: Soft and luxurious. May be silky and wispy, or thick and wavy/curly. Coloring: Any coloring (warm or cool, high-contrast or blended) is possible but a Romantic usually has a delicate skin tone that is luminous or translucent. If overweight: The body only gets more rounded; the face gets very full. A Romantic will not:
Be extremely tall
Have a large bone structure or large hands and feet
Have a straight or boyish figure
Have angular or sharp facial features
Have a prominent nose or angular chin
The following are Kibbe’s recommendations regarding the clothing and style choices that best suit his Romantic 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 rounded with soft edges! Circles, ornate swirls, and intricate flowing shapes are the direct expression of your extreme Yin. Soft bouffants are also acceptable. Always maintain the hourglass figure!
Avoid: All straight lines. All sharp edges. All geometrics.
LINE AND SILHOUETTE: Second only to shape in importance, your outline should always be soft and flowing silhouettes that showcase the lush curves of your body. Waste definition is essential, always, as is lots of gentle draping everywhere.
Avoid: All severe silhouettes. All tailored silhouettes. All straight lines with angular edges. All vertical lines that hid the waist. All unconstructed, boxy, or horizontal lines.
DETAIL: Detail should be soft, intricate, ornate and feminine, with emphasis on framing your face. Oversized bows, flouncy ruffles, and delicate lace are always good choices as long as they are luscious and womanly, instead of “little-girlish.” Necklines should be soft and draped with curved edges (ornate necklines are especially sophisticated). Shoulders should be curved, with round pads; shoulder tucks or gathers, leg o’ mutton, and draped dolman styles are all appropriate. Sleeves should be tapered at the wrist with intricate buttons, or very soft and flowing. Any kind of sparkle is excellent (pearls, sequins, beading, etc.) The waistline should always be emphasized, with soft gathers, folds, draped sashes, and lightweight and supple belts to give a cinched effect. Belt buckles should always be intricate and feminine.
Avoid: All tailored, angular, or severe detail. All chunky, rough, or oversized detail. All geometric necklines. All sharp edges–pleats, square shoulder pads. All crisp detail–perky bows, tiny ruffles. All minimal or “no detail” looks.
SEPARATES: Your use of separates should always include an artful blending of plush textures, draped fabrics, and luxurious colors so you never disrupt the soft fluidity of line.
Always avoid any kind of harsh contrast between the top and bottom.
COLOR: Your use of color should emphasize a watercolor palette of soft pastels and luscious brights. Any shade that is named for a food or flower (grape, melon, raspberry, rose, salmon, etc.) is a prime candidate. Rich, luxuriously blended colors are your most effective tools to express your lush femininity. Pale neutrals (bone, dove gray, white, taupe) are your best accents.
Avoid: Dark, monochromatic color schemes. Neutral, monochromatic color schemes. Sharp color contrast. (Note: Always within your Color Palette. Kibbe believes in the Color System, but doesn’t get heavy into it other than for hair and makeup. He suggests checking out Color Me Beautiful books (the books at the time of his writings). )
PRINTS: Should be rich and luscious with the emphasis on an abstract, watercolor blend (think Monet). Swirls of color, flowing together, with soft and rounded edges may be used in abundance. Keep prints luxuriously large; oversized florals or feather shapes are especially lovely.
Avoid: Tailored, angular, or boxy shapes. Stiff leather, or heavy shoulder straps. Elegantly slim briefcases.
Belts: Should be a soft and supple leather or fabric. Buckles should be intricate. All beaded, bejeweled, or sparkly styles are excellent. Your belts are a focal point, and should be selected as carefully as a fine piece of jewelry. They should give a “cinched-waist” effect.
Hats: Soft, curvy shapes. Picture-frame styles. Large, fluffy fur hats. (Monty note: In case you go skiing or to Russia in winter.)
Avoid: Crisp or man-tailored hats.
Hosiery: Keep your hosiery sheer. A “light leg” with the stocking and shoe in one color, several shades lighter than your hemline, is very elegant.
Jewelry: Should always be delicate and lavish, with intricate and ornate touches. Rounded shapes, curves, swirls, and lots of dangles add the perfect touch to pull your look together. Sparkly materials are essential (crystal, gems, glass, polished metal, etc.), and antique, baroque, or rococo effect is desirable.
For the individual garment types, obviously, I will be focusing mainly 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: Should always be fitted at the waist. Soft, supple styles with peplums, nipped-in waists, and belts are excellent. Lapels should be curved, rounded, or shall-collard. A lapel-less model would also be good. Shoulders should have rounded pads; gathers, tucks, or bouffant shapes work equally well. Sleeves should be tapered. The more intricate or antique-looking your buttons are the better. Any draped, gathered, or shirred touches are wonderful accents.
Avoid: Tailored jackets (blazers, double-breasted, boxy. Long, straight jackets that hide the waist. Unconstructed, shapeless jackets. All sharp edges (sharp lapels, pleats, or angular detail).
While I was able to find plenty of styles that seem to suit the Romantic type, it was much harder to distinguish Level of Dress for Romantics in this category. Because Kibbe recommends avoidance of anything “tailored,” all coats and jackets to some extent seem very formal or stiff for a Romantic. I think most of these styles could be utilized at any level, depending on fabric choice and styling.
Coats – Level 1: I had some trouble finding examples at this level, as Romantic styles exude opulence and femininity, and an every day coat is sort of the antithesis of that. But, I think we’ve got a few good options for the Romantic girls out there:
Coats – Level 2: These are coats that would be fabulous to wear to a more formal office job or on a fancier date to the theater.
Coats – Level 3: This section is pretty much for when you want to show up and look totally fabulous:
Jackets – Level 1: As with the Level 1 Coats, finding some Level 1 jackets was a bit tricky, but definitely doable if you look for rounded shapes, soft shoulders, and minimal tailoring. Raglan sleeves are a great option.
Jackets – Level 2: This mid tier is actually pretty tricky for jackets – it was hard to split the line between a softer style as would be recommended for Romantics and a more tailored style which would be expected in a formal office environment.
Jackets – Level 3: This section is really fun because the Romantics gets some really pretty jackets for special events.
Skirts: Should be kept full and flowing with soft gathers at the waist and uneven hemlines. Your version of the basic “straight skirt” is actually tulip shaped: full and gathered at the waist and tapered at the hemline, which is short. All flared styles are excellent, from trumpets and swings to any bias-cut or gored style. Lengths should be kept gracefully long on uneven hemlines (mid calf), and short on the tapered styles with an even hemline (mid kneecap).
Avoid: All straight and tailored skirts, A-lines, and pleats.
Skirts – Level 1: It was a little tricky to pick out good Romantic skirts, especially because there are so many varied styles that Kibbe recommends. Level 1 was certainly the hardest, but I think there are some good options out there.
Skirts – Level 2: For this level I used some more symmetric styles, with cleaner lines, but still looked for the drape and flow Kibbe wants for his Romantic.
Skirts – Level 3: Romantic Level 3 skirts are all about frothy fun styles that would look fabulous at a fancy formal event.
Pants: Should always be soft, draped, and showcase your luscious curves! Gathers at the waist and a tapered or pegged bottom are the best shape for you.
Pants – Level 1: I had trouble finding non-Burda patterns to fit Kibbe’s description; not because they don’t exist, but because I tend not to buy those styles. Regardless, he is pretty explicit on the style of pant, and doesn’t give nearly as many options as for skirts.
Pants – Level 2: The trousers in Level 2 are much the same shape as Level 1, but have more refined details like zippers, smooth waistbands, and more elegant fabric recommendations.
Pants – Level 3: I didn’t have much luck finding Level 3 trousers for a Romantic – honestly, it is much easier to dress up extreme curves with skirts and dresses, as I think “Level 3” pant styles are traditionally thought of as being more tailored, which is sort of the antithesis of Kibbe’s recommendations for the Romantic. However, I did find one style I thought would work well:
Blouses: Soft, draped styles. Sophisticated flounces and fills. Any antique styles.
Avoid: All tailored styles.
Blouse – Level 1: Kibbe’s recommendations for blouses are quite general, so there really are quite a few patterns that would work well, at all three levels. Fabric choice will be keep in making something feel more casual vs. more elevated.
Blouse – Level 2: There are so many great Romantic blouse options, especially at Level 2.
Blouse – Level 3: I think most of the Level 3 styles could also be worn as Level 2 (or even 1) for a Romantic. However, as part of the right outfit, I could easily see these looks heading to a fancier event as well!
Sweaters: Soft, fluffy knits. Clingy, draped knits. Plush knits. Short lengths with waist detail. Cowl necks.
Avoid: Skinny, ribbed knits. Thick, nubby knits. Oversized sweaters. Turtlenecks and long pullovers. Cardigans. Crew-necked shetlands.
Sweater – Level 1: Sweaters work really well for the Romantic; it’s easy to find styles that are soft and draped that will work well with the Style ID.
Sweater – Level 2: These sweaters are a bit more specific to Kibbe’s Romantic guidelines, and as such they feel more appropriate for fancier events.
Sweater – Level 3: With the Dramatics I had problems finding Level 3 sweaters, but not so with the Romantics! Adding a soft, draped topper can really elevate a look for them.
Dresses: Should always be feminine and flowing. Waist emphasis, ornate detail, and swirling or flouncy skirts.
Avoid: Stiff, structured, or tailored styles (coat dress, chemise, etc.). Straight styles with no waist. Shapeless, wide, or baggy dresses.
Dress – Level 1: It’s hard to find a really casual looking dress for a Romantic; anything with “ornate detail” and “swirling skirts” tends to look a bit on the fancy side. But I think we’ve got a few decent options to look through.
Dress – Level 2: Once again, finding a date-night dress for a Romantic was pretty easy; finding a work-appropriate dress was a bit more challenging, but there are plenty of patterns out there, so we’ve got a few good options here as well.
Really, evening wear is just an extension of the Type 3 Dresses, but who could ever get tired of looking at flouncy, pretty sewing patterns?
That was a lot! When I had a category that worked well for a Romantic type (like dresses or blouses) I found a lot of examples in my pattern stash, more than I even showcased here. However, I struggled a bit more to find interesting variations for things like trousers, where the options are much more narrowly defined. I think we will see that with most style IDs – some types of clothing are more well suited than others, but if you really want to find something, sticking to the general guidelines regarding shape, line, and fabric choice can really help. I also noticed that I had to look in my older patterns a bit more for the Dramatic lines, whereas I’m having much more luck finding newer styles that suit a Romantic. One one hand I think this certainly says something about how the concept of “ideal” is constantly changing, which is why it is a fallacious concept to begin with, but on a much shallower note, it also somewhat justifies the idea of a pattern stash. Despite the Dramatic styles coming from 1 to 2-decade old pattern magazines, those styles would still look really modern in the context of a Dramatic look, and I think we see the same with the prevalence of the vintage styles I pulled for the Romantic. I mean, sure, you could get into costume territory with the styling if you wanted, but I think a modern take on hair and makeup would make these clothes quite relevant today. Anyway, with this we’ve taken a look at patterns that fit the extreme ends of Kibbe’s spectrum, so now we need to see what happens when we start to mix yin and yang together.
Ok Kibbe fans – who out there is a Romantic? What do you think about all the frothy fun dresses you have to choose from? Does this very feminine style suit you? Or do you want to rebel against all the softness and the ruffles? Feel free to discuss in the comments, as well as add any suggestions for good indie pattern brands that might work well for our Romantic girls out there.
Coming Next Week: We’ve already seen the hard Yang Dramatics and the soft Yin Romantics, so it’s time to see what happens when we blend them together to get the center of the spectrum with Kibbe’s Classic!