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. As always, you may want some tea.
At this point we’ve learned about the 5 basic categories with Kibbe’s Dramatic, Romantic, Classic, Gamine, and Natural. As we delve into the subtypes, I think it is important to remember that these fall into the main type, but with a little bit “extra” yin or yang. For the “soft” categories, I think the bone structure is what determines the main type, and the fleshy features of a person that make them a bit soft. So with this week’s look at Soft Dramatic remember that this is someone who would fit into the Dramatic category (long vertical line and angular), but now with softer yin curves on top of it all. It is about opulence, sweeping drama, and large, ornate shapes. Kibbe’s Soft Dramatic is described as a “Diva Chic.” You can read more about Kibbe’s Soft Dramatic here.
Body Type Characteristics
The following are Kibbe’s descriptions of a Soft Dramatic Body Type:
SOFT DRAMATIC PHYSICAL PROFILE
NOTE: The following information should be taken as a broad outline of what makes a Soft Dramatic. It is the overall combination of bold Yang with a pronounced Yin undercurrent 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 of a bold, exotic physicality that is combined with a powerful sensual essence. Height: Moderate to tall, usually 5 feet 5 inches and over. Body type: Fleshy (unless ultra-thin), particularly through the bust and hip area. Usually have long legs and arms, which can become fleshy in the upper arm and thigh areas without exercise. Usually have moderate-sized waist, which can become thick. Bone structure: Large and angular. Long limbs, and large hands and feet (may be long or narrow, or wide). Facial bones are prominent or sharp (nose, cheekbones, jawline). If your bone structure is narrow (particularly the shoulders, hands, feet, wrists, or angles), you may think of yourself as delicate. This is not true, for the extreme length offsets the narrowness. Facial features: Full, lush, sensual, and exotic. Large eyes, full lips, fleshy cheeks. Hair: Extreme textures. Coarse and wavy, or fine and silky (wispy). Coloring: Any coloring is possible (warm or cool, high-contrast or blended), but a Soft Dramatic is usually distinct, either fair, rich or vivid. If overweight: Heaviness is seen at the fleshiest parts of the body; the bust, hips, waist, thighs, upper arms, and especially in the face. A Soft Dramatic will not:
Have a boyish figure.
Have small hands and feet, or a delicate bone structure.
Be overly petite, or small in stature, with short limbs.
Have delicate or small facial features.
Be symmetrical in body type or facial characteristics.
The following are Kibbe’s recommendations regarding the clothing and style choices that best suit his Soft Dramatic image ID. The following recommendations will be taken into consideration for each garment type listed below:
SHAPE: Bold geometrics with soft edges. Oversized ornate shapes.
FABRIC: Lightweight fabrics that drape easily and flow gracefully (silks, crepe, challis, handkerchief linen, jersey). Soft and plush textures with a deep pile. Shiny fabrics.
Avoid: Heavy fabrics that create a stiff shape. Rough textures.
DETAIL: Bold, oversized, and ornate. Broad shoulders (pads with soft edges are best). Soft, draped necklines (may be high or plunging). Lavish trim (beading, appliqué, oversized bows and jabots, deep and soft pleats of folds, etc.)
Avoid: Small, delicate detail. Sharp, severe, or crisp detail. Minimal, simple, or plain detail. Symmetrical detail.
SEPARATES: Your separates should artfully blend lush textures, rich colors, and luxurious prints, so your elongated line will not be disrupted. You are always striving for a head-to-toe “ensemble” effect, never a mix-and-match look!
COLOR: Your use of color should always be bold and dramatic, never dull. You shine in original color combinations that emphasize bright/dark mixtures. Pastels can be extremely elegant if you execute them in head-to-toe sweeps. Monochromatic schemes will generally require some vivid accenting in the accessory department. Strive for a very polished, ensemble approach to your use of a palette.
Avoid: Multicolor splashes and mix ‘n match approach.
PRINTS: Bold, wild, and ornate shapes. Splashy watercolors. Oversized and abstract florals. Animal prints. Irregular shapes with soft or rounded edges.
Shoes: Tailored and angular with tapered toe and heel. High, narrow heels are best. Bare styles also excellent.
Avoid: Chunky styles. Overly delicate styles with excess trim.
Bags: Softly rounded shapes in over-sized styles. Exquisite leather or fabric. Very slim briefcases. Ultra-ornate evening styles.
Avoid: Plain, symmetrical bags and small, delicate styles.
Belts: Should be bold and wide, of supple leather or special fabric, with large and ornate buckles.
Hats: Should always be theatrical and glamorous, emphasizing rounded shapes and ornate trim. Should be large and oversized.
Hosiery: Keep you stockings ultra-sheer. Your strong vertical line is best emphasized by blending with both your hemline and your shoe. Always blend with the shoe. Very lacy or ornate textures are wonderful for evening.
Jewelry: Should always be large, bold and ornate. Bold geometric shapes with soft edges. Oversized, ornate shapes. All sparkly, glittery, and shiny finishes are excellent. Wild costume jewelry that is obviously faux.
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: Broad shoulders, long lines (mid-thigh area). Lightweight, draped fabrics. Lightly structured or unconstructed. Soft draped detail (lapels, pockets, etc.)
Avoid: Stiffly tailored jackets with sharp edges. Traditional blazer jackets. Short, cropped jackets. Delicate, fitted, or fussy jackets.
Coats – Level 1: The Level 1 coats use the unconstructed/lightly structured recommendation quite liberally.
Coats – Level 2: For level 2 there is slightly more tailoring/construction, but many of the same features as in Level 1.
Coats – Level 3: Soft Dramatics get really fabulous Level 3 looks; they are one of the style IDs that is really hard to dress down, but they get to have a lot of fun when it comes time to dress up!
Jackets – Level 1: Level 1 is a bit hard for the Soft Dramatic, but I think by focusing on oversized, ornate detail, even in casual clothes, it is possible.
Jackets – Level 2: Trying to avoid blazers is a bit tricky at this level, but I think I found a few that skirt the “traditional” line and should work for a Soft Dramatic.
Jackets – Level 3: There are a lot of fun styles for Soft Dramatics.
Skirts: Skirts should be straight, long (mid calf) and draped. Short skirts (knee length) may be paired with a long jacket, sweater or top. Detail should be elongated (shirring, soft folds and slits).
Avoid: Full skirts except on certain dresses (see dress category). Wide, unconstructed skirts. A-lines and sharp pleats. Overly fussy and fitted skirts with delicate detail (gathers, tucks, etc.; plackets, etc.)
Level 1: Kibbe’s recommendations work well for Level 1 skirts; it’s easy to find a lot of knit patterns that work within these specifications but still give a very casual feel.
Level 2: The Level 2 skirts have a bit more structure, but display many of the same features as the Level 1 options.
Level 3:Soft Dramatics have a lot of fabulous Level 3 options. You get to play with fun, ornate, and largely rounded details and shapes.
Pants: Pants should be straight, long and draped. Detail should be soft and elongated (deep pleats, shirring, softly draped).
Avoid stiffly tailored pants. Wide, unconstructed or baggy shapes. Overly delicate detail (pegged legs, fussy gathers, small trim, etc.).
Level 1: As with the skirts, the Level 1 trousers for Soft Dramatics are a bit less tailored and would be easy to make in a nice knit or soft woven.
Level 2: The Level 2 styles are bit more structured, with more traditional tailoring details, but still have a relatively soft silhouette.
Level 3: I did not pick a lot of Level 3 trousers because I think Soft Dramatics just look so great in ornate gowns and dresses, but I do think a lot of the recent jumpsuit styles would look very Level 3 appropriate on a Soft Dramatic because it creates that long vertical line automatically.
Blouses: Blouses should be soft and draped with broad shoulders and draped necklines and sleeves. Detail should be elongated and soft. Ornate detail should be very oversized and lush (large bows, or jabots, sheer lacy trim or sparkly appliqué) Fabrics should be lightweight, very soft, or very shiny.
Level 1: There are a lot of options for Soft Dramatic tops, especially in the current trend of oversized knits and chiffon styles. For the tops, fabric choice will be key to designate the level, and it is important to remember that Kibbe recommends blouses look part of the whole outfit, because Soft Dramatics still need to think about maintaining a vertical line.
Level 2: These styles tend to have a bit more office appropriate/traditional blouse type features, but there are a few fun date night looks thrown in as well.
Level 3: For Level 3 we get even more enlarged, ornate shapes and fancy fabrics.
Sweaters: Soft and clingy knits with draped necklines. Plush knits. Draped knits. Broad shoulders and an elongated waist. Oversized patterns or trim, especially ornate or sparkly.
Avoid: Rough and heavy knits. Skinny, ribbed knits. Short styles, including crew-necked, shetlands, cardigans, and cropped sweaters. Wide, unconstructed styles. Overly delicate, fussy trim. Overly fitted styles.
Level 1: I think there are a lot of great sweater options for Soft Dramatics in recent years.
Level 2: The Level 2 sweaters have a bit more detail and a bit more shape.
Level 3: I found some rather Diva appropriate cover ups. The may not fall in line with the sweater suggestions exactly, but I thought they should be included.
Dresses: Dresses should be elongated and draped, with broad shoulders. Detail should be oversized and ornate (shirring, trim, etc.) A dropped waist is best on dresses, but an exaggerated waist is also effective when combined with very broad shoulders and a full, sweeping skirt. Narrow, clingy shapes are basic.
Avoid: Sharply tailored dresses. Shapeless, unconstructed or wide styles. Flouncy styles with delicate or fussy detail. Overly fitted and nipped styles.
Level 1: Dresses are the easiest patterns to find for Soft Dramatic. I had to cut out over half of my options because otherwise this post would have been waaaaaaay too long, but that does mean we are looking at the best of the best! Level 1 styles for a Soft Dramatic will look a bit fancier than for some other style IDs, but on a Soft Dramatic they will read as casual. We will definitely ramp up the glamor as we move into the higher levels.
Level 2: Level 2 is interesting, because I think the styling will be important to designate these as being more elevated looks. It is a bit tricky to find styles that seem office appropriate and still have all the details necessary, but there are some good options out there.
Level 3: Now we are really getting into it! There are so many fabulous Level 3 dress styles for Soft Dramatics!
Evening Wear: Clingy shapes. Shoulder emphasis (which you already have). Cleavage emphasis. Soft, draped fabric. Glitzy fabric. Ornate and oversized trim.
Draped gowns. Form-fitting gowns with shoulder emphasis and cleavage. Shirred cocktail dresses with big shoulders. Oversized dinner suits with elaborate trim.
Because we didn’t have enough pretty dresses in the Level 3 styles, I found even more opulent options for our Diva Chic style ID.
And that’s it! Another Style ID down. I hope that this first look at the subtypes is helpful for understanding why they need to exist in Kibbe’s system. The soft draping in these styles would not work well on a Dramatic – it isn’t angular enough – but the scale of these details is far too large for a more delicate Romantic type. I think we will also start to understand a bit more how the system is a spectrum; many of these looks will reappear in the Flamboyant Natural category, or already showed up in the Natural post. Kibbe has said clothes don’t have a Style ID, and I think that is true to some extent. There were certainly looks here that would be hard pressed to fit into another category (like that yellow Burda Plus dress with the fabulous oversized ruffle detail), but there are others that could work well for many different style IDs.
I mentioned in my post on the Natural type that I felt Burda really designed preferentially in that aesthetic, and I have to say I feel the same about Vogue and Soft Dramatic. It makes sense; Vogue really is supposed to be that high fashion style that lends itself well to large scale drama and opulence. Burda also has a lot to offer Soft Dramatic types, but I think the percentage of styles that will work for Soft Dramatic is actually higher from Vogue. Of course, there are looks that work from all of the Big 4, but if you are a Soft Dramatic, you really should take a good look through Vogue’s catalog to see if there is anything you might want for your pattern stash.
On a personal side note, I think this is probably my aspirational Kibbe type. I think we all have one – that style ID you wish you had. I don’t think I’m much of a Diva, in appearance or personality wise, and I certainly lack any sort of angularity in my bone structure to even entertain the idea of being Soft Dramatic, but I love these oversized, organic, softly draped shapes. In hindsight, I’ve actually made quite a few styles from both my pattern picks for the Natural recommendations and the Soft Dramatic recommendations (how I ever thought I was a Soft Classic I may never know), and while I have to say I think the Natural styles are my more successful, I also think it is interesting how I’ve sort of intuitively been sewing styles that can bleed into my own style ID (Soft Natural) so easily. I can also say that the pieces from this post that I’ve made have worked much better for me when I styled them in a “Natural” way (by utilizing mix and match separates) rather than in a Soft Dramatic way (creating a harmonious look from top to bottom). So I think that’s one way in which I can still utilize pieces from my “aspirational ID” in making looks for my “real ID.” Of course, my goal is really to focus on patterns that should have a higher success rate for me, and these Soft Dramatic looks can sometimes feel too much, but I think pulling some frosting pieces from this list might not be the worst idea to keep my sewing inspired.
Coming Next Week: This week we examined what happened when we applied yin softness on top of a yang bone structure to get Soft Dramatic. Next week we will reverse things and see what happens when yang features appear on a yin structure as we examine Kibbe’s Theatrical Romantic!