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.
So far we have covered Kibbe’s Dramatic, Romantic, and Classic categories. While Dramatic and Romantic represent the extremes of the spectrum, and Classic a complete blending, Gamine is a category that consists of a mixture of opposites. The Gamine will have a mix of distinct yin and yang features, resulting in a random combination of rounded and linear shapes. Kibbe’s Gamine is described as “Piquant Chic.” You can read more about Kibbe’s Gamine here.
Body Type Characteristics
The following are Kibbe’s descriptions of a Gamine Body Type:
GAMINE PHYSICAL PROFILE
NOTE: The following information should be taken as a broad outline of what makes a Gamine. It is the overall combination of a combination of opposites on the Yin/Yang scale (sharply delicate physicality along with a fresh and spicy 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: 5 feet 5 inches and under. Bone Structure: Angular. Sharp. Narrow – sometimes described as delicate. Square or tapered shoulders (tend to narrowness, as opposed to broad). Delicately sharp facial contours (nose, jaw, cheekbones). Hands and feet are moderate to small, and tend to narrowness. Arms and legs tend to be long. Body type: Straight. Lithe and lean, tends toward sinewy musculature. Tends toward flatness in bust and hips (unless overweight). May be very leggy (coltish). Possibility of being slightly short-waisted. Facial features: Large eyes. Moderate to thin lips (narrow or straight, as opposed to full). Taut cheeks and flesh. Hair: Any type is possible but frequently hair is fine and silky. Coloring: Any coloring is possible (warm or cool), but Gamines are usually distinct or vivid in coloration. Moderate-to-high-contrast coloring is often the case). If overweight: Excess weight tends to show up in the hip and waist areas:rarely does it appear above the waist. If a Gamine is extremely overweight, the body tends to square or stocky appearance, as opposed to curves. A Gamine will not:
Be over 5 feet 5 inches (and is usually even more petite).
Have extremely large bone structure. Have prominent or exotic features (except for enormous eyes).
Have large hands and feet.
Have an hourglass figure, with a waspish waist and full bust and hips.
Be symmetrical in body type or facial features.
The following are Kibbe’s recommendations regarding the clothing and style choices that best suit his Gamine image ID. The following recommendations will be taken into consideration for each garment type listed below:
SHAPE: Small, sharp, geometrics. Precision fitted and crisply tailored. (The small size and precision fit come from the Yin; the sharp edges and crisp tailoring come from the Yang.)
Avoid: Oversized, large, or long geometrics. Unconstructed shapes. Soft-edged, flowing, or rounded shapes. Ornate, intricate, or delicate shapes.
LINE AND SILHOUETTE: Your outline should be sharp, straight, and staccato. The use of severe lines with sharp edges comes from the Yang; the broken, staccato, animated outline comes from the Yin. Utilizing many short vertical lines and many short horizontal lines is also effective. An overabundance of detail adds to the precisely fitted silhouette that is crucial to your look.
FABRIC: Fabric must always be crisp, able to hold a defined shapes and be tailored easily. A flat surface or light texture is best. Finely woven knits, especially when ribbed and skinny, are good choices. A matte finish is best, although hard-finished sheens can be very exciting (especially metallics). Usually your fabric will be of moderate weight, though lighter weights that hug the body are excellent.
DETAIL: You can never wear too much detail! An abundance of it used everywhere in your look is one of the most effective tools you have for capturing your animated effervescence! Detail should always be small, sharp, and call attention to itself (not blend into the lines of your garments). It should be very crisp, staccato, broken-up, and multicolored. Lots of crisp trim. Lots of outlining (collars, cuffs, waist-bands, lapels) with piping of contrasting colors or fabric, braiding, beads, etc. Small, crisp pleats. Sharp, angular necklines-also small (Mandarin, Nehru, band, small man-tailored styles, small V’s, wing-tipped). Small, tailored lapels or crisp lapel-less with piping. Sharp shoulder pads. Small crisp cuffs. Sharp and narrow waist definition.
Avoid: Minimal, clean detail. Simplicity. Oversized or unconstructed detail. Elongated detail. Ornate or frill detail.
SEPARATES: A use of well-coordinated separates with lots of animated and colorful detail can be very exciting to your look.
COLOR: Your use of color should be bold and sassy; break all the rules here! Multicolored splashes are perfect. Bright and shockingly colored accessories played against a dark or light background. High, sharp contrast and wild color combinations are all very chic on you. Break your line with color!
Avoid: Monochromatic color schemes (death to your personality–nothing is worse for you). Neutrals, unless they are merely accessories or they are extremely dark or light.
PRINTS: Prints should be sharp, colorful, and animated. Small geometrics and angular asymmetrics are excellent. Most of your prints should be very contemporary in feeling (“Picasso-ish”) although humorous styles that are outlined and caricatured can be quite stunning on you as well.
ACCESSORIES All accessories should be small, crisp, geometric, and colorful. They should serve to further break the silhouette into a staccato outline and call attention to themselves as detail. Contrast is being strived for with your use of accessories, as well as bringing out your wit and a sense of fun.
Shoes: Should be tailored and angular, in lightweight leather. Unusual shapes in toes and heels are excellent (asymmetrics, toes and heels are excellent (asymmetrics, wedges, sharp points, etc) as are bold colors and printed fabric. Flats of all kinds should always be funky and fun (patent leather, trimmed, etc.).
Avoid: Plain pumps. Overly delicate or strappy shoes.
Avoid: Oversized, unconstructed, and floppy styles. Ornate styles.
Hosiery: Break your line by contrasting your stocking/hemline/shoe shades. You can use a two-color combination where the shoe and hemline match but the stocking is lighter; or a three-color contrast. Brightly colored stockings; light, opaque stockings; and geometric textures (ribbed and herringbones) are equally good. Flesh toned stockings are fine for daytime wear. Dark stockings should be extremely sheer.
Avoid: One long line of solid color, especially if dark.
Jewelry: Should be small and sharp and in geometric, asymmetrical, or irregular shapes. Brightly colored enamel, stone, or glass are best. Very contemporary avant-garde pieces are excellent on you, as are trendy pieces that accentuate your wit.
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: Short, cropped, very fitted with sharp edges and extreme tailoring and construction. Short blouson jackets are excellent. Collar, cuff, lapel, and waistband detail (outlining, trim, piping, ribbing) are essential.
Avoid: Long jackets. Unconstructed jackets. Flouncy jackets.
Coats – Level 1: Coat options are a bit tough for Gamine – the idea of a cropped style isn’t super conducive with the idea of warmth in extreme weather, but I think by focusing on coats with lots of detail or extreme tailoring it can still for a Gamine.
Coats – Level 2: This is quite a mixed bag; there are options that would not be out of place in a corporate office, and others that that would only make sense at a fun dinner party. Gamine recommendations are a bit all over the place (because Gamine is a combination of opposites), and these examples reflect that.
Coats – Level 3: I didn’t find many examples, but I think formal coats are a bit tricky for Gamine due to the cropped nature and staccato lines Kibbe recommends. Having a simple coat style just means having more opportunity to add embellishment though (either with trim or jewelry).
Jackets – Level 1: I think the type of detail can really help place a Gamine pattern into a Level – most of my Level 1 choices have some sort of exaggerated detail that makes the style feel more casual, whereas later patterns have more sophisticated embellishments. As with many of Kibbe’s Gamine recommendations, they tend towards opposites (“extreme tailoring” vs. “blouson” jackets for example), and this is reflected in my choices. It makes sense though; as Gamines are a combination of opposites, so are their clothing recommendations.
Jackets – Level 2: The second level of dress is for items that could be worn to the office or or an event that requires some dressing up. Gamines can control this to some extent with fabric choice, but more so with the way details are utilized.
Jackets – Level 3: Any sort of bolero style in a fancy, crisp fabric works well for evening, and pairs great with a dress. You can read more about evening jackets in the “Evening” section near the end of the post.
Skirts: Straight, sharp, and short with a narrow and tapered hemline.. A slightly flare skirt is fine if it is kept very straight through the hips and thighs. This could either be bias-cut or stitched-down pleats. Skirts must be very fitted at the waistband. Crisp gathers will work, but not deep ones. Straight skirts should have a short hemline (mid kneecap to minis). A slightly flared hemline may be slightly longer (top of the calf). Anything extremely long is very tricky, and must have a slit and be pencil slim.
Avoid: Full skirts. Flouncy skirts. Over-sized or unconstructed skirts. A-lines and symmetrical skirts. Long hemlines (dowdy on you).
Level 1: For skirts we will see that they type of embellishment really informs the level of dress.
Level 2: In Level 2 we will see styles that more closely follow the primary recommendations, which are to be straight, sharp, short, narrow, and tapered.
Level 3: My choices for Level 3 tend to be more plain in style, but still follow the Gamine guidelines for silhouette and line. This really allows for playing with fun fabrics and mixing separates to create an formal Gamine look.
Pants: Should always be very sharply tailored with outlined or animated detail at the edges (waistbands, pleats, crisp cuffs). Short lengths, anywhere from cropped at the calf to the top of the ankle. Skin tight stretchy pants are excellent.
Avoid: Plain-front, symmetrical shapes. Unconstructed or baggy styles. Draped styles with tapered legs.
Level 1: In which we look at all of the capri styles since the dawn of time. Ok, not really, but I really focused on Kibbe’s recommendation of short lengths, tight fit, and animated detail.
Level 2: While cropped, Level 2 styles don’t read as much “beachy capri” and more “cropped suit trouser.” This level also seems to add additional perky detail to Gamine-ify the styles.
Level 3: Not a lot of Level 3 styles; honestly, most of the Level 2 styles could work at a more elevated level in the right fabric choice and paired with the right jacket.
Blouses: Very tailored with sharp edges and crisp detail (collars, cuffs, pleats, etc.). Smooth, stiff fabrics (crisp cottons, oriental silks, etc.).
Level 1: To make Gamine more casual, the types of details and can really help a garment give a certain impression.
Level 2: The Level 2 Gamine styles are an interesting mix of fun going out looks and more office appropriate styles. Because the Gamine look consists so much of separates, I would argue that it may be more important for a Gamine to focus on appropriate jackets, skirts, and trousers because they will dominate the look, whereas a blouse is really more of a layered coordinating piece, so I really tried to focus on stand-out tops here, rather than pulling out every tailored button down from the stash. We’ve already seen many tailored blouses in the Dramatic and Classic categories, and Gamines can probably borrow quite easily from some of those patterns for Level 2 tops. As long as the tailoring is quite close and crisp and the pattern is made in a smooth fabric it should work. Gamines can also likely take a Classic styles that could be a bit too simple on them and utilize a bold print to satisfy that need for detail and interest.
Level 3: Not a lot of options for Level 3 tops, but I think most Level 3 Gamine looks will utilize jackets to create the formal look, so many of the Level 2 styles (or even snagging a supporting piece from our Classic friends) might not be such a bad idea should the Gamine choose to wear separates.
Sweaters: Skinny knits, ribbed knits. “Poor-boy” styles. Thick knits that are extremely fitted at the waist. Collar, cuff and waistband ribbing and cropping. Short, cropped cardigans. You may wish to add sharp shoulder pads to your sweaters.
Avoid: Oversized sweaters, heavy textures. Fluffy knits.
Level 1: Sweaters were a bit tricks for the Gamine, especially since the trend has been very oversized and slouchy lately. I rounded up what I could, but I’m sad to say these recommendations are a bit sparse.
Level 2: I found a few sweaters that could work at Level 2, but, honestly, it is going to be so much easier for a Gamine to find a jacket because of the need for the crisp, clean tailoring.
Level 3: I wasn’t able to find any Level 3 Sweaters. As with Dramatics, I think the need for extreme tailoring restricts evening choices to jackets, though Gamines can play much more with boleros and other styles that were not part of the Dramatic recommendations.
Dresses: Very tailored, slim dresses with sharp edges and lots of small crisp detail. Drop[ed waists and chemise-style are good if they are kept very skinny. Short cropped jackets, vests, and boleros work well with dresses for you. Asymmetrical hemlines are fun, especially for the evening, and anything reminiscent of the 1920s is an absolute knockout on you! Narrow, clingy knit dresses are excellent.
Avoid: Flouncy styles. Ornate styles (with shirring or draping.) Plain styles with no detail. Unconstructed or wide silhouette.
Level 1: Reading Kibbe’s recommendations, I find the Gamine dress styles to be a bit all over the map! Somehow when I picture “tailored and slim” the “1920s” doesn’t immediately pop into my mind, so there are lots of options here.
Level 2: Many of the Level 1 styles could arguably work in Level 2 as well, so I tried to focus on more traditionally tailored looks for this round.
Level 3: There are some fun looks for Gamines at Level 3, though I veered more towards Kibbe’s skinny chemise-styles here than I did with levels 1 or 2.
Evening Wear: Sleek slinky shapes with geometric outlines and crisp trim. Smooth fabric. Tailored edges. Beading. Hard metallics. Angular necklines with lots of crisp and colorful trimmings (collars, cuffs, jackets, etc.) Asymmetrical hemlines.
Slinky sheaths (very bare). Short-jacketed gowns with beading and crisp shoulders. Close-fitting, dropped-waisted dresses. Tailored dinner suits (with cropped jackets and crisp trim). Tailored evening pants outfits.
Evening is typically an extension of the Level 3 Dresses, but Gamines also have options with dinner suits. I included options that would meet that recommendation in the Level 3 jackets and Level 3 trousers/skirts, so I’m basically focusing on formal event gowns here.
And with that we have our fourth Style ID done! According to Style Syntax, Gamines most easily fit into Level 1 clothes because their look is “fun,” yet I felt I had a much better selection of Level 2 options. I also found that because the Gamine recommendations are so varied, especially in the dress category, that certain styles definitely came across as more or less fancy, and that fabric choice wouldn’t change that feeling as much as it would for a Classic for example. I also think it is interesting to note the ways in which Gamines share traits with Dramatics and/or Romantics. Because they are a mix of opposites, so are their clothes. They get a sharpness from the Dramatic, and a delicate petiteness from the Romantic. Like Classics, there is a fair bit of tailoring and structure involved, though with Gamines we see much more detail and a broken visual line. In contrast, Classics get the continuous vertical like from their Dramatic component, and a less severe shape from the Romantic. Because the tailoring aspect is quite important for Dramatic, Classic, and Gamine, it actually means there could be a fair bit of overlap of pattern options in some categories, like blouses. I think the distinctions are more clear in the other categories, especially with regards to hem length, which is quite distinct between the three categories.
One thing I often see with “Gamine style” on the internet is the very stereotypical presentation of it being boldly quirky or very twee. While I think these are styles that suit Gamine quite well (and are somewhat overused in film media to highlight the true uniqueness of the manic pixie dream girl), I don’t think it is the only look a Gamine can pull off. From these examples, I think it should be pretty clear that Gamines have a lot of room to play. While Kibbe is definitely against any sort of flowing ruffle that may have been seen with the Romantics, I think a Gamine who is drawn to those styles can play around with the 1920s style dresses to create a softer look. Similarly, the sharp tailoring recommendations make the prospect of creating a “Classic impression” quite achievable while staying well within the actual Gamine guidelines.
I also want to mention the relative difficulty I had in finding Plus patterns to fit in with some of these categories. Trousers and skirts were quite simple to find great examples, but dresses and jackets were much more difficult. As with Classic, I found I skipped over a lot of patterns I found to be “too Soft Gamine” or “too Flamboyant Gamine.” I think it will be quite interesting to see how the recommendations change when we get to the Gamine subtypes especially; with a slight change to the yin/yang balance Gamine looks can be pretty radically different. I also thought it was interesting how randomly Gamine styles would crop up – it’s always some 60s throwback segment of a random Burda that has great patterns, but it isn’t like Dramatic or Romantic that seem to be popular in cycles, or like Classic that has a steady stream of options throughout the years. (Tangentially, if you are a Gamine, the 2014 Fall/Winter Burda Easy magazine really should be in your collection, because I pulled so many great looks from there.)
As a side note, I feel like this is the category that most often gets misclassified, as the combinations of the yin and yang elements can be very random in a person, but I think being able to wear a cropped style is a big hint that Gamine could work for you. For myself, I know that Gamine is my worst Kibbe style – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to wear any of these recommendations in the past, yet there wasn’t a single instance where I didn’t end up feeling entirely self-conscious by the time I’d left the house. Even as a child I felt naked in a mini skirt, and I’ve never been able to convincingly wear a capri pant. This doesn’t mean I don’t like Gamine style (I had so much fun putting together this post and playing with these styles!), it just means I’m self aware enough to know that as a style ID, Gamine really wouldn’t work for me.
But I would like to hear from any Gamines in the audience. How do you feel about these styles? Do you often go for cropped lengths and play with the combinations of contrasting lines and sharp tailoring? Or do you think you will find more things to love when we get to the subtypes? Do we have anyone who isn’t a Gamine but really wants to be? What draws you to the style? What about anyone who is like me, and absolutely knows that Gamine is not their ID, but can still appreciate it in an intellectual way? I’ve been loving everyone’s comments, and I feel like there is a lot to discuss with the Gamine style this week.
Coming Next Week: At this point we’ve seen the pure yang Dramatics, pure yin Romantics, blended yin/yang Classics, and mixed yin/yang Gamines. Next week we will see what happens when, rather than mixing or blending, the addition of yin blunts the sharp yang edges of the Dramatic with the final main type, Kibbe’s Natural!