Sew Your Kibbe: Classic

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 the first two posts about Kibbe’s Dramatic and Kibbe’s Romantic, I thought the next logical space to explore would be a true mix of yin and yang, the Classic.  I’ve heard Kibbe’s Classic explained as the result of mixing equal parts yin and yang together in a blender.  The result is a very moderate shape – nothing too straight or too curved; everything in even proportions.  Kibbe’s Classic is described as a “Sophisticated Lady.”  You can read more about Kibbe’s Classic here.

Body Type Characteristics

The following are Kibbe’s descriptions of a Classic Body Type:


NOTE: : The following information should be taken as a broad outline of what makes a Classic. It is the overall combination of the perfect balance between the Yin and Yang extremes (symmetrical physicality and cool, reserved 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, usually between 5 feet 4 inches and 5 feet 7 inches.
Body type: Evenly proportioned bust, waist, and hips. Slightly lithe and sinewy musculature. Moderate to slightly long limbs.
Bone structure: Symmetrical, with a tendency towards slight sharpness. Slightly angular. Slightly straight. Tapered shoulders. Moderately sized hands and feet.
Facial features: Chiseled, symmetrical and evenly spaced.
Hair: Smooth and even surface texture. May be straight, wavy or slightly curly. Moderate thickness.
Coloring: Any coloring is possible (warm or cool), although Classics are usually of blended or low-contrast coloring. High-contrast or vivid coloring is quite rare among Classics.
If overweight: The body remains symmetrical, and the weight is usually evenly distributed.
A Classic will not:

  • Be extremely tall.
  • Have large bone structure, or large hands and feet.
  • Have prominent or exotic facial features.
  • Be extremely petite with extremely delicate features.
  • Have an hourglass figure.
  • Have full, lush facial features (extremely round eyes, full lips, fleshy cheeks).


The following are Kibbe’s recommendations regarding the clothing and style choices that best suit his Classic image ID.  The following recommendations will be taken into consideration for each garment type listed below:

  • SHAPE: Symmetry is the key to all your shapes. Whether slightly geometric or slightly curved, always blend the same shapes together in your look.
  • Avoid: Extreme geometrics, extreme round shapes, extreme ornate shapes, extreme unconstructed shapes.
  • LINE AND SILHOUETTE: Your use of line goes hand-in-hand with your use of shape. Keep your outlines smooth and symmetrical with the emphasis on controlled and even edges, soft, straight lines or smoothly curved lines-softly tailored or slightly flowing. A clean, unbroken silhouette is your most elegant statement. Think “head-to-toe,” and blend everything accordingly.
  • Avoid: Overly flouncy silhouettes. Overly sharp silhouettes. Overly unconstructed silhouettes (wide).
  • FABRIC: Beautiful, luscious fabrics are an important element in your understated look, which stress your love of quality. Spend your money on the most expensive fabrics-here’s where it will show on you!
    Moderate weights. Lightweights in very constructed and tailored garments. Matte finish or slight sheen. Very slight draping in constructed garments. Luxurious to the touch (French silks, Italian gabardines, etc.). Lightweight textures (raw silk, shantung, linen). Smooth knits (cashmere, softly ribbed, heavy jersey). Smooth chiffon and elegantly beaded fabrics for evening.
  • Avoid: Heavy fabrics. Rough textures. Sheer or clingy fabrics. Stiff metallics, and extremely shiny fabrics (unless lightweight).
  • DETAIL: Your use of detail should be clean, simple, and minimal-just enough to add an elegantly understated touch. It should never call attention to itself; it should only add to the smooth visual line of your garments.
  • Include: Slight, crisp shoulder padding. Clean, tailored necklines (man-tailored, notched, jewel, slashed, small V’s, turtlenecks, and narrow cowls). Crisp and finished cuffs. Elegant scarves in symmetrical ties (jabots, ascots, self-ties). Symmetrical lapels (notched, smooth shawls, or clean, piped styles). Tailored pants. Crisp gathers.
  • Avoid: Overly sharp, geometric, or angular detail. Unconstructed detail. Overly ornate detail and fussy trim. Overly animated or “cutesy” detail.
  • SEPARATES: Use carefully and sparingly. An obvious use of separates is counterproductive to your elegance. Make sure colors, textures, and prints blend together to maintain your smooth visual lines.
  • COLOR: Your use of color should accentuate your smoothly blended visual outline. This means that a mixture of colors in an outfit should blend together in intensity so as not to disrupt your clean and smooth silhouette. Monochromatic schemes are excellent, although you do not need to be limited to just one or two colors. The key is to make sure the tones (intensities) blend, instead of contrasting. Neutrals in exquisite fabrics are also quite rich-looking on you.
  • Avoid: Sharp color contrast. Multicolor splashes. Mix ‘n match color combos.
  • PRINTS: Should be symmetrical, evenly spaced and regular or realistic patters. Understated prints (pin dots, pinstripes, checks, blended plaids, herringbones, symmetrical paisleys, etc.).
  • Avoid: Oversized prints. Sharp and angular geometrics. Contemporary, avant-garde prints. Splashy watercolors or abstract florals. Ornate prints. Animated prints.
  • ACCESSORIES: Should be simple, clean, and elegant. Here is another place to invest substantially. The quality will definitely show!
    • Shoes: Slender pumps. Sling backs. Tapered toes. Narrow heels. Elegant leather. Softly tailored flats.
    • Avoid: Chunky or heavy styles. Overly tailored styles. Overly delicate and strappy styles. Ornamentation.
    • Bags: Crisply tailored. Moderate size. Supple leather. Clutch. Envelope. Tailored briefcase (slim and elegant).
    • Belts: Keep elegant, slim, and narrow with small smooth buckles.
    • Avoid: Overly wide, angular belts. Overly ornate belts.
    • Hats: Tailored, symmetrical shapes. Small and crisp with even brims.
    • Avoid: Oversized, ornate, or sharply angular hats.
    • Hosiery: Blend with hemline and shoe for one long line (one or two shades lighter than hemline) for a “light leg” look. Keep sheet or lightly textured.
    • Avoid: Opaque stockings. Contrasting the stocking with the hemline and the shoe (too choppy for you).
    • Jewelry: Keep your jewelry elegant, smooth, and symmetrical. Small, slightly geometric shapes are good, as are smoothly curved swirls. Be careful not to overdo! Go “elegant” instead of extreme.
    • Avoid: Extremely severe, angular pieces. Extremely ornate or intricate pieces. Overly dangly styles. Chunky and heavy pieces. Funky costume jewelry. A “no jewelry” look.

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: Should always be narrow and tailored with a smooth outline. Standard length is best (just below break of hip). Lightweight unconstructed jackets are find when they are kept sleek and narrow. Blazers, cardigan-style, elongated Chanel (not cropped) are all good choices. Slightly longer jackets are possible when the corresponding skirt is also elongated to match.

Avoid: Overly angular jackets. Oversized jackets. Boxy jackets. Cropped jackets. Flouncy jackets (peplums and nipped waist styles).

Coats – Level 1: As I think may soon become quite apparent, Classic styles really can fit into multiple Levels of dress.  I think the major distinctions will be fabric choice and amount of detail.  Because classic lines are so clean, any amount of detail can really inform the perception of formality (or lack thereof) for a Classic.  You may also notice quite a few of the Dramatic patterns I discussed making a re-appearance here.  I’ve got some thoughts on this in the conclusion, but I think what’s important is looking at each pattern and seeing how well it fits into the guidelines, and if it also works to communicate your own sense of style.

Butterick 6385: Great Classic coat!  I definitely see a smooth outline with tailoring here.  The small details (like welt pockets), add just enough break in the line to make this coat feel “casual” for a Classic.  The different collar options also work well for the subtypes; A would be best for a Soft Classic, B for a true Classic, and C for a Dramatic Classic.
BS-03-2012-110: Very clean lines, very smooth.  Fabric choice could take this from casual to formal very easily.
BS-02-2011-1125: This coat has almost too much detail for a Classic, but I think the symmetry and smooth silhouette could make it work for a more casual situation.
Vogue 8884: Another option with a smooth shape, symmetry, and tailoring.
Burda 6647: I think the shorter version (View B) would work well for a Classic.  It has a nice length and simple style lines.

Coats – Level 2: This middle level is the “native” level of Classics.  As such, there are a lot of great patterns at Level 2 that fit quite well in the Kibbe guidelines.

Burda 8292: Very clean lines, simple silhouette, and minimal tailoring.  All of the variations show just how versatile this pattern can be depending on fabric choice.
BS-02-2005-112: Another coat with smooth lines and slight tailoring at the collar.  The sharp collar and round button provide enough balance to give an overall Classic feel.
Simplicity 4014: Everything in this pattern would be great for a Classic.  Smooth lines, minimal tailoring, a jacket the is the perfect length.  Even the monochromatic styling fits in with the Classic recommendations.
BS-09-2012-103: This coat may have a bit too much detail, but the overall silhouette is quite smooth and streamlined.  The gun flap could easily be left off to restore symmetry if necessary.
Butterick 6430: This pattern comes in Plus sizes and has a very smooth line with minimal detail and great symmetry.
BS-11-2017-124: Another great Plus sized pattern.  This also has potentially too much detail, but I think the overall symmetry and balance of features makes it suitable for a Classic.

Coats – Level 3: Many of these patterns could also work in Level 2 (or even Level 1), but have been showcased with fancier fabrics, so I thought I would list them here.

Butterick 4688: Smooth line and lots of symmetry.  The hidden button closures add to the sleekness of the look.
Burda 6772: View B would be such a great coat to wear with a fancy dress!  The pocket flap details could also be easily removed to get an even sleeker line.
BS-01-2004-101B: Another very sleek Classic look.
BS-10-2012-125: The minimal detail works well for Classic.  The rounded print Burda used also balances out the sharper collar detail.
BS-03-2009-122C: This is a great Burda Plus style.  The fabric choice is not the best for a Classic, but the lines of the coat are great.

Jackets – Level 1: As with the coats, fabric choice or addition of detail can really alter the perception of a Classic’s jacket.

BS-11-2018-104: Simple shapes, narrow, and lightly tailored.  None of the edges are too rounded or too angular – perfectly blended for a Classic.
BS-11-2004-103: This jacket has the silhouette of a little French jacket, but the fabric choice make it much more casual.
BS-01-2010-105B: Even athletic gear can be quite symmetric, clean, and with minimal detail.
BS-12-2006-122: This jacket has a tad too much detail, but made in a monochromatic wool, the sleekness and minimal feel come through.
BS-04-2015-115: This jacket could easily work for Level 2, but the numerous pockets add a detail that could make this jacket more casual for a Classic.
Kwik Sew 2895: While denim jackets could be perceived as having too much detail, again I think the smooth, close shape and symmetry fill enough of the checkmarks to work well for a Classic.
Burda Plus S/S 2016 #408: This Burda Plus design is a cute lightweight jacket that also has a nice blend of soft and sharp elements.  A Classic may want a less textured fabric, but the style lines work well.

Jackets – Level 2: These patterns have style lines that work incredibly well with Kibbe’s recommendations.

Vogue 1467: Perfect length (break of the hip), close-fit, with a smooth outline and some tailoring.  Perfect Classic pattern.
Burda 6703: Kibbe recommends blazers.  It is interesting to note how a small design feature, like an exposed zipper, can really allow a Classic to express their own sense of style.
BS-08-2005-110: Again, we have a perfect blend of soft and hard in this blazer.
BS-02-2011-126: You are going to get sick of seeing well tailored blazers.  This one perhaps leans a bit Dramatic Classic on the top half, but the curved hem and welt pockets balances out the sharpness of the collar.
BS-01-2016-129: Here’s a great blazer for the Burda Plus lovers.
BS-10-2018-101: If you have this year’s Burda magazines, this blazer is a real winner!  Perfect length, great symmetry, smooth details.
Butterick 4610: An oldie but a goodie.  The teal version would be great for a Classic, whereas the version with the outline of the lapels would fall into Dramatic Classic, and the purple view with the bows on the pockets could go Soft Classic.
Burda 7135: Another great blazer.  The styling with the skirt lengths also totally follows the recommendations.
Simplicity 1421: This is a fantastic Classic pattern.  both views A and C would be perfect.
Vogue 8333: This Claire Schaeffer pattern has a nice balance of soft and sharp elements – very Classic.
Burda Classic 2012 #0001B: A perfect Classic look.  Everything is smooth, clean lines, with slight tailoring.
Burda 7934: View A would be great for a Classic; views B and C would be have a bit too much detail.
Butterick 6062: Longer French jacket – just as Kibbe suggested.  I’m sure the fringe at the hem is not quite Classic, but the overall silhouette of the pattern would be great.
Butterick 6382: Another good “elongated Chanel.”
BS-12-2013-110: Here is another Chanel inspired pattern.  There is lovely symmetry in the version with the center placket.
Vogue 8804: Classics are one of the few Image ID’s who have this style of jacket as a recommendation; really they could have one in every color!
Vogue 9095: In case you didn’t like any of the other versions…
Burda 6393: This new Burda Plus blazer would be good for a Classic, especially the shorter version.  It has a nice balance of soft curves at the hem and sharper edges around the collar.
Burda Plus F/W 2015 #424: This Burda Plus pattern could be a good starting point for a Little French jacket.
Burda Plus F/W 2016 #410A: This Burda Plus pattern could be an even better starting point though!  The monochromatic styling with the smooth skirt is once again on point for a Classic look!

Jackets – Level 3:

BS-02-2014-107: Really, any of the previous pattern could realistically fit into Level 3 with fancier fabrics.
BS-03-2017-114: This is possibly a bit too sharp for a Classic (might veer more Dramatic Classic), but I thought it could look very polished over a sheath dress for a Classic.  It still has symmetry and the lack of traditional collar does make it read a bit more elevated as opposed to office attire.

Skirts: : Should be kept smooth and simple. Clean lines. Soft and straight or slightly flared. Minimal detail. Moderate length to match jacket length (standard straight: one inch below knee; slightly flared, mid calf; paired with a long jacket). Softly pleated skirts.

Avoid: Long, pencil-slim styles. Full, flouncy styles. Over detailed touches (pockets, gathers, trim).

Level 1: I think by adding those “avoid” touches (like pockets) to an otherwise Classic skirt, you can modify the Classic lines towards being more casual.  Fabric choice will absolutely factor into the levels here – everything is so clean in line that a linen or ponte will read much more casual than a wool gaberdine or crepe.

Butterick 6597: Smooth, simple, clean, slightly flared.  This is a knit skirt (and has pockets!), so it would be a great casual style for a Classic.
BS-05-2009-104: The fly front, pockets, and front vent add enough “messiness” to tone down the otherwise very smooth, straight lines.
BS-07-2010-126: Once again, this is a very clean skirt, but the simple addition of pockets and choice of cotton fabric make it feel very casual for a Classic.
BS-07-2007-115: Very smooth and clean lines.
BS-09-2006-109: Here we have an example of a skirt that is longer, and thus flared slightly at the calf.  Again the pockets and fly keep it casual, but I think they could be easily changes to a side or back zip to use this base pattern for something a bit fancier.
Simplicity 1072: Great Classic skirt – the knit fabric keeps it casual, but the shape is pure Classic.
BS-02-2007-110: I’m not sure we would call this “softly” pleated, but I had trouble finding styles that had both “soft” pleats and an overall clean, smooth line.  I think this whole outfit would be great for a Classic, though perhaps having a different fabrication for the skirt?
BS-04-2007-106: Another examples with pleats – I think this one reads a bit softer, but, again, I was struggling to find patterns that really worked with this description.
Burda Plus S/S 2013 #407: Here is a great Burda Plus skirt option.  The simple topstitching adds enough detail to take the skirt down to a Level 1 for a Classic.
BS-10-2006-134: Smooth, slightly flared Burda Plus skirt.  I think this would be great for a Plus Classic.  Imagine it with a cute blazer!
BS-04-2007-136: A Burda Plus example of a mid-calf flare.  Again, top-stitching detail brings it down a level in formality.

Level 2: With Classics, you will notice that a lack of additional detail really makes the difference between the Levels of Dress.

BS-10-2006-117: As pictures, this would be a great skirt for a Dramatic Classic, but without the hem detail and in a simpler fabric, it would be a great silhouette for a Classic.
BS-09-2009-126B: Similar shape with fewer details.
Burda Classic 2012 #0002C: Perfect pencil skirt for a Classic.  Super clean and smooth, and a great length.  Even the fringe may not be too much detail here – it is tamed enough to look just about right.
Burda 6679: I think this could work well as a Burda Plus pattern.  The longer length would be best for a Classic, but kept to a monochromatic color scheme.
BS-01-2004-106: Even simple pipping details feel like a lot of detail on a Classic style.
BS-09-2005-113: This skirt is great because it work best with slim belts – one of Kibbe’s recommendations for a Classic!
BS-08-2011-122: The pockets on this skirt are quite well hidden – a great way for a Classic style to both fit the recommendations and be practical!
Simplicity 1465: A Classic would do best in the simple version of this skirt (green in the drawings).  The addition of extra details could be too much for a pure Classic, but will work well with some of the subtypes.
Burda 6582: View B is a great Classic skirt – smooth, clean lines, with a hem just about the knee.  The longer version was one we picked out for our Dramatic ID.
McCall’s 5523: I think these styles could work well for a Classic (especially the grey and yellow versions).  There is a slight flare, but it is minimized to the back of the skirt, and the effect is really quite subtle.
BS-07-2007-126: A great Burda Plus version!  A different technique to smooth out the waistband might be preferable for a Classic, but the silhouette is very smooth and clean with the calf flare.
BS-11-2007-132B: Another great Burda Plus example of a mid-length flared skirt.
BS-12-2013-136B: This Burda Plus skirt looks so smooth and perfect on the model!
Simplicity 8461: Looking at vintage styles will work well for a Classic – very smooth shapes but with a different silhouette than is common today.  Vintage will likely read as vintage on a classic, but those patterns could expand the silhouette options quite a bit.
Simplicity 8242: Another vintage style that is smooth, slightly flared, yet very different in silhouette from the more recent design examples.

Level 3: As with most things Classic, fabric choice and simplicity are key to elevating something to Level 3 status.

BS-12-2012-108: Very smooth, very clean, and in an exquisite fabric.  The jacket is clearly not Classic, but could be easily swapped for any of our previous examples.  A fancy suit would serve a Classic wardrobe quite well.
BS-03-2017-109B: Could there be a more perfect Classic skirt?
BS-08-2008-121: The slight hem flares fall within Kibbe’s suggestions, but dress up this skirt quite a bit for a Classic.
BS-12-2013-118: Another great skirt option for a Classic.  Yet again, the jacket is not really in the Classic suggestions, but the idea of a single-fabric suit does follow Kibbe’s recommendations.
BS-11-2006-137: Both patterns feel very Classic.  The fabrication used in this Burda Plus pattern is perhaps a bit less so, but in a lovely boucle this could be a beautiful fancy suit.
BS-03-2016-134A: Another Burda Plus example with smooth lines, expensive fabric, and soft pleating.  This outfit feels very Classic.

Pants: Clean, tailored styles with a minimum of detail. Plain front or trouser-pleated. Slim, narrow shapes.

Avoid: Extreme man-tailored pants (deep pleats, cuffs, etc.). Oversized, unconstructed or baggy shapes. Draped, clingy, tapered shapes.

Level 1: Kibbe says nothing about hem length in this specific recommendation, so I assume he meant for trousers to be a standard full length.  However, many recent styles that most closely resemble the recommendations have been made in a cropped or 7/8 length.  I feel that most could work as-is due to the Classic’s symmetry, but if you imagine many of these patterns lengthened I think they would provide a more Classic look.

Burda 6811: Clean, tailored, slim shapes with a minimum of detail.  Check!
BS-03-2010-109A: A front crease adds a level of sophistication to a casual style trouser, which is really good for a Classic look.
BS-03-2010-109C: Here is a longer version of the same pattern, which I believe proves my point about Classics needing to lengthen most of the recent pattern releases.  Notice how length immediately takes it to a more formal/expected Classic space?  Versatile trousers – this pattern could easily be worn more casually as well.
Burda 6432: The very slight flare makes these trousers a Level 1 for a Classic – the lines are otherwise quite clean and detail is minimal, but the silhouette isn’t quite straight enough to be a more formal Classic look.
Burda 6534: I think Classics can wear jeans quite easily.  Especially a very straight version with minimal detail.  I don’t think jeans will look anything above a Level 1 for a Classic though – it will read far too casual on them.
McCall’s 6610: Another option with some very straight jean styles (especially the mustard and black views – not so much the blue style on the right).
Burda 6816: A great Burda Plus Classic trouser!  This could very easily be a TNT pattern that could be made in several fabrications.
BS-09-2010-135: This is another great style for Classics in the Burda Plus size range.  These could also range from Level 1 to Level 3 depending on fabrication.
BS-06-2013-144: Another great Burda Plus trouser option, this one in the more trendy cropped lengths.
Butterick 6565: The style lines of this pattern could be a bit much, but the overall silhouette is very clean and reads as quite Classic.

Level 2: This level has a bit more of the tailoring elements (front pleats) that read slightly more formal.

BS-12-2011-111B: Very cute Classic style.  Adding length would make these a great Classic pattern that could work for all situations.
BS-03-2016-03-115: Another pattern that utilizes slim fit and smooth lines.  This one avoid a fly front, which could be helpful to some sewists.
BS-12-2016-126: A great Burda Plus option – these also have a side zip, which can keep the front lines quite smooth.
BS-08-2005-132A: More Burda Plus goodness.  I love the very slight hem detail – just enough to be interesting, but not too much to overwhelm a Classic.
BS-08-2006-129A: Another very clean Burda Plus trouser style.
BS-12-2012-148: This is a very slim leg, but I think a Classic could rock it.  The hem zip is not too overwhelming as a detail, and adds some personality to a Classic wardrobe.
Burda Classic 2013 #0009: More slim, clean trousers.
BS-01-2013-122: Burda is really a goldmine for Classic trouser styles.
Vogue 9176: A nice Classic style from one of the Big 4.  Again we see the cropped length that is so popular at the moment.
Butterick 5818: I think the view to the far left would work well for a Classic, though the view to the right would also be ok.  The center view would be a bit too wide and unconstructed for a Classic I think.  The shape would be a bit overwhelming.
BS-01-2006-102: Another perfect Classic trouser.  The line, the pleating, the minimal tailoring detail are all perfection.
V8781: This Vogue Wardrobe pattern would work well for a Classic.  It is a great blend of tailoring and softness that would be fantastic for a Classic, especially if the jacket, trousers, and skirt were all made in the same fabric.


Level 3:

BS-12-2005-130A: The jacket may be slightly too detailed for a pure Classic, but the trousers would still work well.  I included this in Level 3 just to show how Classics could wear pants for an evening look.  As pictured, the whole outfit could read a bit Dramatic Classic, but the general concept works well I think.
BS-02-2013-143A: Love that Burda utilized trousers for a wedding look.  These Burda Plus trousers would be great for Classics for a more formal event.  Too bad we can’t see much of them in the photo, but the line drawing is quite good.
BS-11-2005-108: A fancier fabrication will totally elevate a Classic trouser.  Since all of the style lines are quite similar, it really is fabric that will make the most difference.

Blouses: Smooth tailored styles (elegant silks and soft cottons).

Avoid: Flouncy or frilly styles. Unconstructed styles.

Level 1: I’m going to sound like a broken record, but fabrication and styling will do a lot to alter the perception of a Classic look.

BS-06-2011-122: Smooth, fitted, and symmetric.  This would look great in a smooth cotton fabric.
BS-02-2007-108: Smoothly tailored.  The pocket adds an element of asymmetry that brings this down to a Level 1, but the collar is the perfect blend of yin and yang lines for a Classic.
BS-05-2007-116A: More smooth tailoring.  I thought having shorter sleeves would be great for a casual Classic look.
BS-09-2009-105: This is tailored, but slightly less fitted.  The very minimal looseness reads very casual on a Classic.
BS-05-2012-103: Another great short sleeves example; the collar is also really great on this version.
McCall’s 5138: Some of the views on this pattern are better than others, but the simple striped view at the top has great lines for a Classic.
McCall’s 7575: The line drawings look a bit overly fitted for a Classic (too much waist emphasis), but it doesn’t read that way on the model.  This is a more recent pattern, so it could be worth exploring.
BS-11-2006-111: It’s not really tailored, but it is smooth, clean, and symmetric.  I think a Classic could easily wear this under a jacket as part of a casual look.
Burda 2561: This Burda pattern is fantastic for a Classic.
BS-07-2007-106A: Another lightly tailored look.  The shorter sleeves keep the feeling quite casual.
BS-02-2009-108A: I think in today’s world every style ID needs some knit option.  A simple neckline like this is great for a Classic.
BS-02-2005-114A: The deep-V might veer into Dramatic Classic territory, but I think the clean lines and overall simplicity would work well for a Classic too.
BS-03-2006-112: The addition of the front neck placket makes this feel very casual for a Classic, but it still has a slightly tailored vibe.
BS-07-2012-137: This Burda Plus top also has slight tailoring and smooth lines.
Simplicity 8303: The tops in this Plus sized Simplicity pattern are a great knit option for Classics.

Level 2: More styles that would work well for an office look.

BS-09-2005-112A: This turtleneck would look great under a Classic jacket in the cooler months.
Simplicity 1462: Views A and B are quite clean and symmetric.  They would look quite nice under a tailored jacket as well.
BS-10-2005-103: This is a great shirt for a Classic – the tailoring is quite soft, and the overall feel is very smooth and clean.
BS-01-2006-111: Perfect button down office blouse.
BS-02-2010-114: Another good shirt option.
McCall’s 7546: View A would be great for a Classic girl.  I’m thinking View B would work well for Dramatic Classic, and View D might work for a Soft Dramatic?  We haven’t gotten there yet, but I think Classic looks can easily be transformed to styles for the other IDs with slight tweaks to the details.
BS-10-2009-105B: I’m sure Kibbe would approve of a blouse made from “elegant silks.”
Burda Classic 2013 #0010A: This top could be a great Classic style for sturdier knit fabrics.
BS-08-2005-133: This Burda Plus top has an interesting collar that reads very Classic.

Level 3: To find Level 3 tops, I had to veer away from the strict descriptions and focused more on the general Kibbe guidelines for Classics, as stated above in the Shape, Line, and Silhouette sections.

Butterick 5995: The scalloped neckline is a detail that could read a bit much, but I think presented with an overall clean silhouette in an expensive fabric it could be just enough detail to elevate the look to Level 3 status.
BS-12-2005-101: Symmetric styles in beaded fabrics fit into Kibbe’s guidelines.
Butterick 6100: This top is perhaps not quite fitted enough for a Classic, but I think the overall impression is smooth and clean, and the use of fancy fabrics helps to elevate it a bit.
Butterick 6134: Very smooth style, with clean lines.  Lace fabrics read a bit Soft Classic, but I think the overall silhouette of the pattern would work well for a Classic.

Sweaters: Smooth knits. Moderate weight. Ribbed or softly textured.

Avoid: Oversized and baggy sweaters. Clingy knits. Nubby or roughly textured knits.

Level 1: It’s really hard to find a Classic sweater that doesn’t read as Level 2.  I choose to include this one as Level 1 just because I thought the styling was a good way to showcase how Classic can do casual:

BS-04-2010-117B: Smooth knit of moderate weight in a clean, smooth silhouette.

Level 2: Most classic cardigans will work well for Classics.

McCall’s 5978: The added details could sway this pattern to Dramatic or Soft Classic very easily, but I think the general shape is quite good for a Classic.
BS-09-2005-103: Another good option in smooth knits of moderate weight.
McCall’s 6708: This is perhaps a bit too cropped, but I don’t think lengthening this pattern would be too difficult.
Butterick 6495: I think Classic can pull off a longer cardigan depending on how it is styled.  This is certainly a smooth style, not too baggy, with clean lines and minimal detail.

Level 3: I couldn’t find any Level 3 sweaters.  I think a Little French Jacket would be the Level 3 alternative.  For the styles that utilize more tailoring, a soft knit sweater is never going to read as formal as a jacket with proper tailoring and really clean lines.

Dresses: Should always be elegant, with smooth shapes, softly tailored styling, and slim widths. Waist emphasis should be understated (narrow, elegant belts or ties). Shirtwaists, tailored wraps, soft sheaths, smooth knits, and belted coat dresses are all good.

Avoid: Sharply tailored styles. Flouncy styles with ornate detail. Oversized and wide styles.

Level 1:

Butterick 5638: The blue version (without the flounces) would be a good casual Classic sheath.  The narrow belt is also fitting with Kibbe’s recommendations.
BS-05-2007-114: Clean shirtwaist with minimal detail and soft tailoring.  The belt on the model photo is too large and contrasted for a Classic, but a narrow belt of self fabric would work well, or a smooth leather looking style.
BS-03-2009-113B: This is perhaps a bit unconstructed for a Classic, but I think the overall silhouette is slim and symmetric,  Classic goes to the beach is definitely a vibe I’m getting from this style.  This wouldn’t work at a higher level, but would be great for a vacation wardrobe.
BS-04-2015-122: Coat dresses are on Kibbe’s list.  I think this is perhaps a bit voluminous for a Classic, but that volume can help tone it down to casual status.
Butterick 6244: Very simple shapes, clean lines, and soft tailoring.  Note how the slight flare fits with Kibbe’s skirt recommendations as well.
McCall’s 7386: View B would be great for a casual Classic look.  I think we’ll see this pattern work well for multiple style types, but the simple shapes definitely suit a Classic.
New Look 6301: Wrap dresses are on Kibbe’s list of go-tos.  Based on the view on the model, I think both A and B would be great Classic styles.
McCall’s 7531: Another great knit dress for a Classic – simple, symmetric, smooth.
Burda 6713: A great Burda Plus shirtwaist for a Classic.  Minimal tailoring and clean lines.
BS-05-2010-137: Another Burda Plus shirtwaist.  The model is certainly doing her best to make it Theatrical Romantic, but the line drawing reads casual Classic to me.  It would look great with a slim belt too.
BS-05-2012-137: Another Burda Plus shirtwaist with soft tailoring and a lim style.
BS-07-2013-138: Here is a great knit option from the Burda Plus selection.
Simplicity 1688: This whole pattern would really suit a Classic – jacket and dress work really well together!

Level 2: The Level 2 dresses remove some of the tailoring details and have even cleaner lines and shapes.

New Look 6447: Gorgeous look for a Classic.  Perfect harmony between lines and elements to create a super smooth look.
Butterick 5030: A slightly more formal looking wrap dress.
Butterick 5984: With a slightly shorter hem this would be perfect for a Classic.  The details aren’t too much, and the overall look is smooth and clean.
Butterick 6410: I could see doing a mashup of views A and C to create a great Classic knit dress for a work look.
Burda 6676: Great Classic dress from the Burda Plus line.  In a plain solid fabric it would be the perfect go-to dress for a Classic.  Fabric choice could make this work at any level.
BS-10-2009-115: Another sheath with simple tailoring.  This could lean slightly Dramatic Classic because of the angularity around the neckline, but again I think symmetry lets Classics dip their toes into looks from both subtypes.
BS-05-2010-109: The sheath dress has a great Classic line, with a rounder neckline.  As the previous look was a bit more Dramatic, this could read a bit more Soft Classic, but I think a Classic could wear either.
McCall’s 5972: View A is great for a Classic, and I think View B could work well too.  View C (with the ruffles) would be far too much detail.
New Look 6261: Simple shape, smooth line, and minimal detail – great Classic pattern.
Burda 6672: This Burda Plus look could work well at Level 1 or Level 2.  I think in a smooth knit it could work well under a blazer for a work look, so I included it here.
Burda Plus S/S 2013 #421: A nicely tailored shirtwaist from Burda Plus.
BS-12-2009-137: This Burda Plus sheath is great.  Adding matching tights and shoes really adds to the overall Classic vibe.
Butterick 5277: The simplest view (shown in the florals) would be a good pattern for a Classic.  The green style reads more Soft Classic, and the black version is a bit more Dramatic Classic.
BS-02-2009-101: This coat dress reads a bit more formal than our previous examples, I think because of the symmetry at the center front.
BS-09-2018-118: Here’s a shirt dress that incorporates pleating into the skirt.  When looking for dresses, I think also knowing the skirt recommendations can expand the options quite a bit.


Level 3: A lot of my Level 3 Classic looks also overlap quite a bit with some Dramatic choices.  Most of these also follow Kibbe’s “Evening Wear” guidelines as well.

Burda 6441: Clean, smooth line, minimal detail, and moderate waist emphasis.  View B would be a great formal look for a Classic.
Burda 6483: View B here as well would be great for a Classic.  Simple shapes in expensive fabrics really sell the Classic style.
Burda Classic 2012 #0004B: Another clean shape with minimal detail and slight waist definition.
BS-03-2013-118: I can’t tell if the style looks baggy on the model because the sample is too big or because of how she is standing, but the line drawing is very Classic.  It has perhaps a bit too many style lines going on, but I think it doesn’t read that way in the finished garment.
McCall’s 7282: Sparkly fabrics and beaded trim fit into Kibbe’s criteria for a fancy Classic look.  Notice how in a smooth eyelet over a plain cotton, this same pattern could immediately go to a Level 1 classification.  Fabric really is key for Classics.
Vogue 1579: Perfect Classic dress!  The capelet adds just enough interest to elevate it to Level 3, and the combination of the straight and curved lines on the capelet keep the overall look very Classic.
Burda 7258: Both views would suit a Classic.
Burda Plus F/W 2013 #424: A Burda Plus sheath that would look great in fancier fabrics.
BS-11-2008-133A: The neckline detail really elevates this basic Burda Plus sheath dress.
BS-11-2009-137A: Simple clean lines in smooth and shiny fabrics – very Classic for evening.
BS-11-2009-137C: The longer version of this dress works great for Classics as well.
BS-05-2010-140: The model definitely doesn’t make this sheath read as Classic (I’m seeing very Theatrical Romantic vibes on her), but the actual line drawing shows a shape that would be great for a Classic.
Butterick 5353: Very smooth lines, with a clean neckline.
Simplicity 8163: All of these Amazing Fit styles would totally work well for a Classic.
Simplicity 8460: Once again, I think vintage patterns can be a great source for Classics.  This sheath dress is very clean and minimal.

Evening Wear: Symmetrical shapes with clean and elegant detail. Smooth fabric. Beaded fabric. Understated trim. Smooth chiffon gowns. Jacketed gowns. Tailored dinner suits. Beaded jackets and bodices. Simple little cocktail dresses.

Many of the Level 3 dresses would fit here, but I tried to find more extravagant examples for this section.

Burda Classic 2012 #0004C: This dress also worked for the Dramatic, but beaded fabrics with clean detail works well for Classics too!
Burda 6865: I don’t think the dresses work well for Classics (these would look messy on them), but the jacketed gown concept is shown quite well here I think.
Burda 6939: View A would be great for a Classic who really wanted a strapless gown.  The slim belt is also a great Classic detail.
BS-12-2006-112: Symmetry, minimal detail, and some use of beaded fabrics.  Very Classic.
BS-12-2008-108: A similar style, but with long sleeves.
McCall’s 7283: The style is very Classic, but the slit adds just enough “pizazz” to really read as something special.
Burda 6518: Soft chiffon looks.  I think View A works well, for a Classic evening look. Both styles would probably be great for a Soft Classic.
Butterick 5212: Simple shapes, minimal detail, beaded, elegant trim.  This style also came in Plus sizes I believe.
BS-03-2009-123A: Burda Plus has a lot of great Classic styles, but this one is showcased in fancy fabrics, and the jacket would also work well for a Classic evening look.
McCall’s 4714: So many wedding patterns fall into Classic recommendations!  View A has the soft fabrics and lines, but with a symmetric neckline that work well for a Classic.
Butterick 5325: The drawing in the smooth satin would be a great Classic wedding gown, especially if you want to keep the idea of a fuller train but not have a huge ballgown skirt.
BS-04-2009-126: A slimmer style with a symmetric neckline.
BS-03-2008-123: This is a great Classic gown!  Especially if the overlay was a beaded fabric or smooth chiffon, and the belt were a bit slimmer.
Burda Plus S/S 2016 #403: This very simple gown would be great for the Burda Plus bride.

And with that we have another Kibbe ID down!  According to Style Syntax, Classic’s have the easiest time finding a Level 2 wardrobe, and the most difficult time finding a Level 1 wardrobe.  I would say this was pretty accurate with the proportions of sewing patterns I found, though I actually had more struggles finding non-gown Level 3 styles.  Of all the types, I think Classic can have the least distinction between Level based purely on the pattern.  So often the “feel” came from the fabric or styling in the model photo or envelope art.  For many of these styles, fabric choice will be critical to signaling that a style is meant to be for casually walking the dog as opposed to wearing something chic as you walk down the aisle.  It has been noted by other sources that of all the Style IDs, Classics are most likely to have success with small capsule wardrobes as having fewer, but more elegant/expensive looking items would be more important than having lots of variety to mix and match.  Kibbe stresses the idea of having coordinating pieces that create a “whole look.” I think this is why so many of the styles I chose for Dramatic also seem to work well for Classic.  The idea of vertical line is similar, but the Classic styles tend to have shorter hems and can have softer edges and slightly rounder details.  The Romantic silhouettes are much farther from the recommendations from the Classics, though the influence can be seen from those higher hem lines, rounded necklines, or softer lapels.  What is also interesting to note is the major differences we see between Classic and the other types.  Neither Dramatic nor Romantic would do well in the Chanel style jackets – it would be dowdy and stiff on a Romantic and far too plain for a Dramatic.  As we move forward into the subtypes I think we will see much more overlap of patterns, which makes sense, but we should also focus on what makes each type unique.  We will especially be making constant comparisons with these Classic patterns because the alternative views often take a Classic pattern into subtype territory.  Even in this post I was hesitant to recommend anything that would veer too Dramatic or Soft Classic, but it felt wrong to limit the number of patterns to those that were perfectly Classic.  Part of this series is exploring where we can push the bounds, and what affect that will have for an overall “look” for a style ID.

To be honest, I actually had more trouble finding patterns for Classic than for either Romantic or Dramatic.  Classics are tricky because you are constantly asking, is this too much?  Is the shape too severe?  Too soft?  Too wide?  Too detailed?  For Romantics, it was totally the opposite – I was always thinking, is this enough?  I was surprised with the amount of overlap between Classic and Dramatic, but when reading the suggestions the patterns did work well for both.  I think those overlap patterns could read more casual on a Dramatic and more formal on a Classic.  The overlap could also be due to pulling from home sewing patterns and not the entirely of images on the internet.  I feel like Dramatic looks tend to come from higher end RTW, and the sharp tailoring is so specific that it wouldn’t be a feature that would have mass appeal in a home sewing market.  I feel like I’ve been pretty honest when it comes to pointing out when a certain pattern falls outside of the strict guidelines though, and why I feel it would still work for that ID.

I would also say that I did have a comparatively easier time finding Plus pattern examples for Classic – the Burda back catalog is a goldmine of great Classic styles!  I think Classic recommendations can be helpful to understand because, as pointed out by Merriam Style, Classic is really what you should go for when you really don’t know your Kibbe type, or if you want to add a neutral “background” type piece to your outfit.  It may not add anything to your sense of personal style or add emphasis to your overall look, but it also won’t clash with your lines either.  It’s sort of a neutral ground that anyone can utilize, which is perhaps why fashion’s idea of “classic” never goes out of style.

Coming Next Week: We’ve already seen the hard Yang Dramatics and the soft Yin Romantics, and we’ve just seen what happens when you blend them in equal amounts with Classics.  Next week we’ll see what happens when Yin and Yang combine, but in a less blended fashion, as we take a look at Kibbe’s Gamine!

51 thoughts on “Sew Your Kibbe: Classic

  1. I’m loving these posts! They make so much sense of the pieces in my wardrobe that I hardly ever wear. Now that I understand the Kibbe concept I can see that I’m a Natural / Classic and the things that sit in my wardrobe unworn are either too Romantic or too Dramatic. This definitely will help me save money in the future by not buying those crazy items on a whim that just don’t suit my type. I’ve saved heaps of the examples from this post, and can’t wait until you get to the Naturals 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks! It’s helping me make sense of my own wardrobe too. I’m doing Gamine next week, and Natural will be the week after that! Then I’m going to head into all of the subtypes. I will get to everything eventually, it’s just going to take a while.

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  2. I’m thunderstruck with all the research you must have done for this. Once again, just a goldmine of patterns… A couple of these were in the Dramatic Kibbe, and a couple I just must hunt down. Some Burdas are difficult to find…

    As you mention, it looks like Classics might have an easier time of finding the right style. Can’t wait to see what the Gamine is!

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  3. Woohoo, Gamine is coming up soon! I find I’m kinda stuck on what dress patterns are supposed to fit Gamines, besides short shift dresses. I’m hoping you’ll have good suggestions for me! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I’ve been working on pulling patterns and Gamine is hard! It’s sort of all over the place – tailored crispness and 20s styles are so antithetical in my mind… There are also a lot of patterns that will fit the Flamboyant Gamine or Soft Gamine categories but don’t really fit the straight Gamine recommendations, so when we get to the subtypes I think we’ll see more variety in silhouettes and styles.


  4. What an eye opener! When I worked in the corporate world I was absolutely a classic. I still tend to prefer simple lines and I cannot stand little bits and bobs all over clothes, buttons that don’t button, bows for no reason, tabs without purpose all drive me nuts. So obviously I am leaning toward classic, with perhaps a dash of dramatic.

    Again, thank you so much for all the work you are putting into this series. It is wonderful.

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  5. I was prepared this time – got my cup of tea ready. I’m mostly Classic, and yes, I was agreeing with everything as I read through and inspected all the patterns. Love the fabric recommendations and all the other information! It makes me think of Grace Kelly and the days when people always wore accessories from head to toe.

    I have lots of Classic styles represented in my collection. My challenge is saying no to all the other patterns that I love but aren’t my style! It helps to have these guidelines handy.

    This was another fantastic post, thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Grace Kelly is Kibbe’s primary example of a Classic in the book. Often I would ask myself, “Yes, but would Grace Kelly wear it?” It helped a lot with visualization, and weeding out examples that are Dramatic or Soft Classic.

      It’s funny, because I find I have lots of examples from all the styles in my collection thanks mostly to Burda, but having a clear idea of the Style IDs is helping me avoid buying all of “the pretty.” I’m still getting some pretty (not-strictly-Soft-Natural) patterns, but they are definitely something that would be tweakable to work for me.


  6. I am loving these posts, and am desperate for you to get to the Naturals (as that’s me). Thanks for including so many Burda magazine back catalogues, I have a large collection of them and its given me some great ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! I will be doing Gamine next week, then Natural the week after. I plan to cycle through subtypes in the same order I did the main types, so the subtypes for Natural will be at the end of the series, so those two should be at the end of December. I’m partially doing this because I think understanding what makes a Type builds best in this order, but also because I want to do Soft Natural last, since that is my own type. It’s sort of how the host nation goes last in the opening ceremony at the Olympics…

      But fear not! All of the base types will be done in 2 weeks, so everyone should have at least *something* to look at that relates to their own wardrobe plans, or helps narrow down options to a few types and/or subtypes to consider.

      But, yes, I’m also excited for Natural on a personal level too. And Burda LOVES to draft for the Natural girl, so you should see lots of fun stuff in the back catalog when that comes up!


    1. I think some people have an innate understanding of their own style and what works well, and some of us have to work a bit harder at it. I also think that figuring out that I’m a Soft Natural has really clarified *why* clothes that “should” work really don’t make me excited to wear them. I always knew I needed waist emphasis, but I never associated that with the loose style of the Natural. I’m looking at my wardrobe in a whole new way, and I think it’s going to really help me evolve.

      The more I study this system, the more I like it. It really is self-consistent and doing these posts makes it really clear how each type is affected by the yin/yang balance Kibbe describes, and I hope most people will start to see themselves in one of these types as we go on.

      Glad this post was helpful for you!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. OOoooh good work Doctor T! The mists are beginning to clear after Romantic and Dramatic, and I feel like I’m beginning to see myself in all of this. Thank you SO MUCH for the truly epic work you are putting into this – it’s phenomenal. I’m still not 100% sure what I am, so am looking forward to Gamine and the subtypes, but I am definitely getting closer to my innate style, and I can see how knowing more about this in detail will be a huge help to me. Thank you for all this amazing work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so excited that this series seems to be helping people! With only 3/13 types done so far, I wouldn’t be surprised if most people haven’t found their sweet spot yet, but hopefully after the five main types you will have narrowed it down a bit. Sometimes knowing what you absolutely are not can help a lot too – I look ridiculous in Gamine style; not so much the colors and prints, but the silhouettes. Natural is pretty much the opposite of Gamine in terms of silhouette, so knowing what I *am not* is also really helpful in finding the right ID.


    1. Actually I’m trying to get as ahead as I can. 😓 I know I’ve got some busy weeks coming up, so if I have some buffer time it’ll be helpful. Finishing the Classic post was quite the marathon though.

      I think one of the best things I ever did was snap up old Burdas from EBay back when I started sewing. Burda is my favorite draft and I love the fashion magazine aspect as well. And everything post-2003 still looks quite modern (not the styling, but the garment lines). Plus, with the cyclic nature of things, even my few pre-2000s styles are starting to come back into fashion!


  8. I absolutely love this series! You are doing a phenomenal job at it, and what a lot of work it must be. Last week I said I was gamine, but perhaps I’m really more of a classic. I don’t like overly dramatic items and I just feel silly covered in lace or ruffles and increasingly also in fabric with a print. Thank you so much for this series.

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    1. I’m working on Gamine now and I’m finding a surprising amount of overlap with Classic – more than I was expecting anyway. What’s really different between the two types is hem length and need for detail. Gamine detail isn’t like Romantic detail (it’s much crisper), but it is far more than a Classic could handle. Also, Gamine hem lengths can go much shorter than Classics which could also help make a distinction there. If you find print fabrics are too much, it is quite possible you could be in one of the Classic types, as Gamine look amazing in prints.

      Glad you are finding this series helpful! Hopefully after seeing Gamine next week it will be more clear what are the similarities and differences. That should make it much easier to narrow down a main type, and help focus on subtypes to explore.


  9. What an absolutely phenomenal post and series! You have put an amazing amount of work in on this. Truly, Thank-you! I have somewhat settled on Soft Classic. I know that sounds odd, I just it so hard to be objective about myself, so, I have really struggled with the typing. I did the typing quiz again (after reading your thoughts and the conversation on Gilliancrafts Instagram post ) and came up almost all classic with about 1/3 of those answers slight soft leaning. I have many, many of the patterns in your above recommendation list. Excited to see what you love for Soft Classic. One thing that really helped me accept the “soft” in Soft Classic was reading somewhere that Classic trumps, the softness is just a well edited accent (my words).

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    1. Yes, that is so true! I think the subtypes can utilize ideas from the main type, because that is the dominant way the yin/yang is combined, but with additional touches leaning either softer or harder. Classic is really hard not to fall into one of the two subtypes, but I think it could be easier for sewers because there are so many “learn to sew” type patterns that will work out great for Classics.


  10. Fabulous post. I have to say the only outfits that appealed to me are the ones leaning towards soft classic or different view esp. with ruffles, but I have a couple of friends that would look so elegant in all these. I gave up on tailored jackets and shirt/shirt dresses. My grandmother lived in shirts and looked great but I do think she was more Gamin than Classic. I look like a girl playing dress-up or a ‘stuffed shirt’ so to speak. Romantic definitely speaks to me more. Bring on the ruffles and lace! 😉 What a great presentation.

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  11. Thank you for these interesting posts! I had never heard about Kibbe before. But going through your posts, I understand more why some of my clothes are my favourites and others are not really making me feel good (although they look nice, but not so nice on me apparently). Classic/dramatic classic seems to be my thing as opposed to the boxy clothes I was going for lately. I am looking at my sewing magazines with new eyes now. Thank you for the inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel like recent trends have been very much oversized/loose/boxy, which is great for Naturals, but not really the best for any of the other types. Making these posts has really helped me solidify the idea that I’m *not* a Classic myself, though I had thought I was when I originally found Kibbe’s system. I think having these visual references has been really helpful, but going through my old patterns with a critical eye has also been quite fun! Glad you are enjoying the series.


  12. Thank you for these interesting posts! I had never heard about Kibbe before. But going through your posts, I understand more why some of my clothes are my favourites and others are not really making me feel good (although they look nice, but not so nice on me apparently). Classic/dramatic classic seems to be my thing as opposed to the boxy clothes I was going for lately. I am looking at my sewing magazines with new eyes now. Thank you for the inspiration!


  13. Thank you so much for all the hard work you’ve put into this series so far!

    What I’m really loving is that you’re showing how to dress down each type of clothing. As a work at home mum of small kids I can’t really dress in most of the recommendations for dramatic classics, as the way Kibbe puts them they sound like 1980s office attire! It’s nice to have ideas of how to stick with the main style but tone it down for every day.

    Keep up the good work! Oh, and don’t be creeped out if I stalk your blog and read a load of your old posts. I just love your approach to wardrobe planning XX

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww, thanks! I’ve done my fair bit of blog-stalking, so no shame there.

      As for Kibbe, he is a celebrity stylist, so I think the concept of dressing movie stars definitely filters down into the book. And I think the idea of women dressing “for work” in the 80s was a bit challenging – I’m not a typical fan of 80s style, so I really think dressing for anyone in the 1980s was challenging – so I’m pretty sure that’s where the focus of the book really went. Even today stylists that I’ve seen on YouTube, etc. really aren’t interested in getting you ready to do dishes or laundry, they are styling you to be seen, and thus tend to focus on what I’ve been calling Levels 2 & 3.

      Regardless, I really think that today everyone has a mix needs and various lifestyles, and while looking through a bunch of evening gowns is fun, it’s not really what most of us are wearing on the daily. As home sewers, I think it is also easy to get tempted by sewing frosting (I love sewing frosting), but for myself I really want to start making more things I will wear more regularly, instead of having to wait for special events. I think that having a range of options (from casual to evening), will really help me create a wardrobe for all parts of my life.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My first few years of sewing was mainly frosting projects, I’ve got to admit. These days I’ve gone perhaps too far the other way and only sew quite practical garments. At least I generally wear them lots, though. I’d definitely like to have a higher hit rate, though, as some things I’ve made just aren’t quite right. I haven’t been able to put my finger on why until now, though, so thanks for helping me understand my style!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I definitely want to do a hindsight post and really look at what I’ve made/worn/liked and why or why not. I think there really has to be a trifecta of style-color-fit for something to be a real success. Missing any one of those components the garment will just feel a bit off. I think studying Kibbe is really going to help identify the style component, and I’ve already spent a few posts exploring color, so I’ll just have to worry about fit.

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  14. Thank you so much for helping me streamline my sewing projects. You should be awarded “the most helpful, insightful and exhaustive sewing blog of 2018”. Let me know where to cast my vote!

    I have a few questions. Firstly, would Vogue 9292 be considered classic or is it dramatic? I think a navy silk/wool (expensive) would be a fabulous choice of fabric. I think the Simplicity coat, 8796, that you reviewed is very au courant and elegant. I prefer the longest version. Would this coat be too unstructured? Also McCalls 7865 dress is beautiful. Is it a Classic? I would love to make a midi-length dress (not office wear!) for any event from weekend to the opera. Any suggestions for this newest length?

    Lastly, do you think Megan Markel is a classic? Her wardrobe is gorgeous (as is her budget).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Vogue 9292: While I think a Classic could get away with this dress, I think the skirt is a bit wide for both Dramatics and Classics. I would think it best fits into the Soft Dramatic category (based on how it is shown on the Vogue website) because the shapes are large and exaggerated, but the silhouette is still elongated, and the neckline is quite sharp. In a silk/wool it may not be as stiffly wide at the skirt, and in that case I think a Dramatic or Classic could both wear it, though it might not be the “best” option based on the wording of Kibbe because the skirt is a bit wide still. I agree, though – I think it would look stunning in a navy!

      Simplicity 8796: I think this coat is a bit unstructured, but the overall shape is actually quite narrow, so I think a Classic could wear it as a Level 1/casual type coat. As depicted, I don’t think it is quite tailored enough to work for a Classic or Dramatic at a more formal level, whereas I think it could possibly work for a Natural at a Level 2. However, if you wanted to tweak the pattern/fabric choice a bit, I think you really could get some more structure and in that case it could easily work for a Classic or Dramatic.

      McCall’s 7865: I could definitely see that working for a Classic! It’s the sort of dress that I actually think could work for a lot of Kibbe types, especially with the multiple neckline options.

      I think Burda has some fantastic midi-length options; I especially like 6576, 7254, and 6442. Butterick 5984 is also a great midi-length style.

      I’ve not done a lot of celebrity typing myself (I know it’s other Kibbe fanatics favorite pastime, but I’ve been more selfishly focused on me), and I haven’t done an in-depth analysis so please don’t consider this cannon by any means, but my best *guess* is that Meghan is a Soft Natural who has lately been trying to dress like a Classic. I don’t want people to get upset, because this is just a quick guess and not that well researched, and I love her style as much as the rest of the internet, but I have to admit I think she looks her absolute best when her clothes are a bit less constructed and having waist definition. When things get too clean and precise I think they can look a little stiff on her. We see the clothes (which are fabulous!) but we don’t see *her* as much. I don’t think she needs to go too unconstructed, but a slightly relaxed fit is stunning on her. She also looks great in asymmetric detail, which is not the hallmark of a Classic, and contributes to my putting her in the Soft Natural category. Again, this is my best (quick) guess, and I’m sure a more practiced Kibbe die-hard would prove me wrong, but that’s my impression after looking up a few google photos. So I would say her clothes tend toward Classic at the moment, but I don’t think she herself is.

      Hope that helps!


  15. Yes, your feedback is very helpful and makes a lot of sense! I guess I hadn’t considered how wide the skirt is nor the sharp neckline in Vogue 9292. I appreciate, too, your comments on the other patterns I mentioned. My “issue” centers on my change in jobs and lifestyle. I have worked in a very strict corporate environment for my 20+ year career. Classics were de rigueur. So while I am a classic keebe, I am trying to figure out how to be classic yet not corporate given my new life. I am a consultant and work for a really great European software startup company. They dress, well, European. Certainly I still have many occasions to bring out my classic suits but I am quite keen to morph my style into a more relaxed yet elegant wardrobe. I also want femininity for the first time. Outside of work, I spend a fair amount of time at an upscale (but not snobby!) social club. This calls for elegant classics but I just can’t stomach wearing corporate clothes. My guess is that you will say it’s all in the choice of fabric.

    Your blog has really helped me focus even if the lines are a bit blurry for me because of this change. I think I will sew a couple of classic patterns and see how it goes. I am fortunate to have a stash of really great quality fabric that I bought about 15 years ago when a fancy fabric store in NYC went out of business. I haven’t had time to sew up until now. So if I can save time (and not use the beautiful fabric for the wrong keebe) it will be a huge relief and nice sense of accomplishment.

    All of this said, if I can ask your advice again: which blouse would be best in 4ply silk? Which of the level 3 dresses would be the least corporate? Lastly, would Vogue 9267, View C, fit into the classic keebe? It could be a good one for my Thanksgiving this year. I have a darkish cranberry cashmere wool that I thought I would finally cut into. I like something soft for the holidays.

    Lastly, I found your comments on Meghan to be very intelligently thought out. I agree that we see the clothes but not necessarily her. Classics must be the palace corporate look, so to speak.

    Thank you, again, for getting back to me. It’s wonderful to be able to discuss sewing and style selection in such depth. And very very interesting!

    Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Vogue 9267 would totally work for a Classic! I think it leans slightly Dramatic Classic, but as I will discuss in an upcoming post, Kibbe categories can sort of “cheat” from their neighbors and subtypes to some extent, because everything overlaps a bit on the yin/yang spectrum. Also, I think it would look stunning in a cranberry wool; you should totally do that!

      I vote Vogue 1579 as being “least corporate” – for some reason I don’t see a cape and bow-belt being worn to the office that much.

      As for a silk blouse, I think something like the BurdaStyle (then Burda World of Fashion) 10-2005-103 blouse would look great. That particular pattern is quite old and might be difficult to find, but I am sure there are *tons* of modern blouse patterns with simple darts like that one.

      Hope that advice is helpful!


  16. Great, as always! I would not have chosen Vogue 1597 but for that very reason it intrigues me. Black wool crepe? I could not find even an image of 10-2005-103. Am I not thinking of a source? Just an image would suffice if you know where I can find one. You have really been generous with your time! Thanks.


  17. Dr T: You have helped me so much by introducing me to Kibbe. I am a classic and now don’t stress about lots of different styles. Thank you! That said, I am still honing my new knowledge. If you have time to respond, are McCalls 6172 and McCalls 7876 in Kibbe Classic? I wasn’t sure if the shoulders of the jacket are too sharp and if the pants are too loose. I like the jacket because the silhoette is simple. In my stash I have a heavy-ish wool tweed that I think will make a great jacket. The pleats are really nice on the pants.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 6172 is perfect! I found a few options for 7876 – if you are talking about the older OOP version, that is also great! I think the brand new 7876 may be *slightly* too unconstructed for a Classic (I think it is more Natural). The pleated details work, but you might want a narrower/crisper silhouette for the trousers if you are looking at the new pattern. Hopefully that helps!


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