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.
After last week’s post about Kibbe’s Soft Dramatic, I thought the next logical step would be the Theatrical Romantic. I feel that these two style ID’s are often confusing for people. as they are both made of a combination of Dramatic and Romantic elements, though not in the same way that a Gamine is. As we saw last week, a Soft Dramatic is a Dramatic with softness on top of an angular bone structure, whereas Kibbe’s Theatrical Romantic is much more delicate and rounded, like a Romantic, but with some angularity to the features. Although some pattern picks will work well for both types, there are a lot of Soft Dramatic looks that would overwhelm a Theatrical Romantic, and a lot of Theatrical Romantic looks that would be too delicately intricate for a Soft Dramatic. Kibbe’s Theatrical Romantic is described as “Femme Fatal Chic.” You can read more about Kibbe’s Theatrical Romantic here.
Body Type Characteristics
The following are Kibbe’s descriptions of a Theatrical Romantic Body Type:
THEATRICAL ROMANTIC PHYSICAL PROFILE
NOTE: The following information should be taken as a broad outline of what makes a Theatrical Romantic. It is the overall combination of extreme Yin with a slight Yang 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 delicately radiant physicality that is combined with a powerfully magnetic essence. HEIGHT: Moderate to petite, usually 5 feet 5 inches and under. BODY TYPE: Soft and voluptuous, although trim and smallish (as opposed to wide and bulky). Hourglass figure; curvy bust-line and hips with a waspish waist. Soft or fleshy arms and legs. BONE STRUCTURE: Small and delicate. Slightly sharp edges (shoulders, jawline, cheekbones, or nose). Small hands and feet (in proportion to height). Facial bones are small, delicate, and slightly sharp. FACIAL FEATURES: Soft and lush. Large, luminous eyes (sometimes slightly upturned; sometimes slightly “bedroom”). Full, luscious lips. Soft cheeks. HAIR: Soft and luxurious to the touch. May be very silky and wispy, or thick and wavy/curly. COLORING: Any coloring is possible (warm or cool, high-contrast or blended), but a Theatrical Romantic usually is quite vivid, with a delicate complexion that is luminous or translucent. IF OVERWEIGHT: The figure will remain hourglass, with a defined waist. Upper arms, thighs, and face will become quite fleshy. A THEATRICAL ROMANTIC WILL NOT:
be extremely tall
have large or wide bones
have large hands and feet
have extremely prominent facial bones or features
have small, narrow eyes, and thin or straight lips
have a boyishly straight figure devoid of a defined waist
The following are Kibbe’s recommendations regarding the clothing and style choices that best suit his Theatrical Romantic image ID. The following recommendations will be taken into consideration for each garment type listed below:
SHAPE: Shapes should be rounded, intricate, and ornate. A slight sharpness at the edge or a tendency to the slightly oversized is good.
Avoid: Geometrics and symmetrical shapes. Chunky or bulky shapes. Sharp, severe shapes.
LINE AND SILHOUETTE: Silhouettes should be hourglass, emphasizing the curves and showcasing the waist. The waist should be sharply defined and the shoulders should be crisply padded. Tapering at the wrists, hemline, and knee areas.
Lines should be soft, draped, flowing, clingy, ornate, and intricate.
Avoid: All severe silhouettes. All over-sized or unconstructed silhouettes. All tailored silhouettes. All straight lines. All sharp lines. All wide or horizontal lines. All long vertical lines that hide the waist.
FABRIC: Fabric should be lightweight and drapable for soft fluidity (silks, jersey, challis, crepe, handkerchief linen, etc.). Soft textures, a plush pile (suede, velvet, shantung, etc.), sheer fabrics and shiny fabrics are all excellent. Fluffy knits (angora, boucle, etc.) are extremely effective.
DETAIL: Detail should be intricate, ornate, delicate, and quite lavish. An excess of detail and trim is important to help frame and focus the face. Bows, sheer lace, jabots, soft ruffles, and sparkly appliqué are excellent. Necklines should be soft and draped or shirred and gathered. Shoulders should be padded but curved. Shoulder tucks, gathers, and bouffant shapes are perfect. Sleeves should be tapered at the wrist; delicate and ornate buttons and trim are advisable. Waistline should always be emphasized. Gathers, shirring, and draping at the waist are necessary for softness and intricacy.
Avoid: Plain or minimal detail. Sharp or severe detail. Extremely oversized, bulky detail. Symmetrical, subdued detail. Crisp, “perky” detail.
SEPARATES: Your separates should always include an artful blending of plush textures, draped fabrics, and luxurious colors so you never disrupt the soft fluidity of line.
Always avoid any kind of harsh contrast between top and bottom.
COLOR: Your use of color should be bright and lush, emphasizing a watercolor blend or bright/light motif. Some sharp contrast is exciting; however, you will always want some vivid color in your outfits. Pastels can also be quite elegant if you mix them with light accessories. Dark colors can be too stark for you unless you break them up with vivid accents, or use them in the evening in very glamorous fabrics with sheen or plushness (charmeuse, satin, lace or velvet).
PRINTS: Prints should be vivid and luscious, with the emphasis on an abstract or watercolor blend. Swirls of color, intricate and ornate shapes, and wild florals are best. Rounded or feathered edges are lovely, as are vivid color combinations. Size should be moderate to large.
Avoid: Geometrics. Animated, “perky” styles. Small symmetrical styles. Stripes and plaids.
ACCESSORIES: Should always be feminine, intricate, and ornate. Invest in high quality here, for these are crucial details in polishing your look and providing elegance and sophistication.
Shoes: Delicate, feminine styles. Strappy pumps with open backs and toes. Ornate trim. Feminine flats.
Bags: Small, rounded shapes. Ornate, intricate trim (gathers, tucks, beads, etc.). Lightweight, supple leather. Fabric bags. Delicate shoulder straps. Elegantly narrow briefcase or unusual material such as ostrich and suede.
Belts: Belts should be worn whenever possible to showcase the waist. Soft, supple belts, moderate to wide (crushy). Ornate and intricate buckles. Bejeweled and beaded styles.
Hosiery: Should always be ultra-sheer. Lacy textures are excellent. A “light leg” with the stocking and shoe blending together several shades lighter than your hemline is elegant and sophisticated, and very effective when you are wearing your luscious bright colors or soft pastels. Darker hemlines will require a darker stocking, but keep it as translucent as possible. Silk stockings and a touch of sparkly trim can be stunning for evening fun.
Jewelry: Jewelry is your most important accessory. You simply can’t wear too much of it (when it’s the right kind), and you simply can’t do without it! It provides elegance, glamour, and sophistication.
Shapes are intricate, ornate, rounded, swirling, baroque, and rococo.
Sparkly materials are essential (crystal, gems, glass, polished metal, etc.) even for daytime, although you can suggest, rather than pour it on here. In the evening, go for broke-and trail your jewels behind you!
Just remember to keep the combination of delicate/lavish working together-delicate in workmanship, lavish in effect!
Avoid: Geometrics. Sharp, severe, or avant-garde pieces. Chunky pieces. Rough, heavy, or ethnic pieces. Small, symmetrical pieces. 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: Jackets should be short and nipped at the waist. Flouncy peplums that flair out or hang down in the back are best. Lapels can be very ornate, with scalloped edges, braiding, or bejeweled trim-or slightly pointed and peaked. Shawl lapels are also effective. Trim should always be ornate.
Avoid: Severely tailored jackets. Unconstructed, boxy jackets. Traditional blazer styles. Long jackets that hide the waist.
Coats – Level 1: Since Theatrical Romantics can handle a lot of ornate detail, I think the Level 1 looks will have the described silhouette (nipped in waist and peplums), but with considerably less detail.
Coats – Level 2: In this level, the amount of detail is a bit higher, and the waist emphasis is a bit more pronounced.
Coats – Level 3: Level 3 coats are a bit more ornate; it would be hard to argue that any of these styles would work well as a casual look.
Jackets – Level 1: As with the heavier coats, lack of detail can make a big difference between the levels of dress for a Theatrical Romantic. The Level 1 jackets also tend to be made of a plainer fabric.
Jackets – Level 2: For Level 2, the details are a bit more intricate, and the fabric choices are a bit more luxe.
Jackets – Level 3: The Level 3 jackets have very ornate details and really create that full Theatrical Romantic look.
Skirts: Skirts should be soft and shapely. Your version of a “straight” skirt is actually tulip-shaped, with some gathering at the waist and a narrow taper at the hem. This type of hemline should be short, no longer than just below the knee. The other type of skirt that you wear equally well is a softly flowing skirt with an uneven hem. This will be longer, at least mid calf. Skirts should have intricate detail, such as draping, shirring, gathers, or bias-cut pieces. Trumpets, sarongs, and circles are all good shapes.
Avoid: Severe or straight skirts. Traditional tailored styles (A-lines, pencil-slim styles, etc). Wide, shapeless styles. Long hemlines (except on uneven hems that drape or flow). Sharp pleats.
Level 1: As with most of the categories on this post, the intricacy and scale of the details has a lot to do with the level of dress. Fabric choice will also have quite a bit to do with the feel of these skirt options as well.
Level 2: For Level 2 there is a bit more detail, and a bit more traditional detail, and the option for more elevated fabric options.
Level 3: The Level 3 skirts are a bit more opulent and ornate for a more formal look.
Pants: Pants should always be soft and draped, showcasing your curvy figure. Gathers, draping, or shirring at the waist, and a narrow or tapered ankle. Pants should be short (ending at the ankle).
Level 1: The Level 1 pants are either a little plain or a little too detailed for a Theatrical Romantic. Keeping the overall silhouette in mind helps take Femme Fatal Chic to a more casual level though.
Level 2: Level 2 looks are a bit easier to incorporate into an office appropriate look.
Level 3: There aren’t many Level 3 options, but Theatrical Romantics can pull off evening tuxedo looks because of their added sharpness.
Blouses: Soft, silky and draped styles with draped or ornate detail and lavish, intricate trim.
Avoid: Stiffly tailored styles with sharp detail. Unconstructed, shapeless styles.
Level 1: The Level 1 styles are all featuring some level of casual detail, but I think many of the blouse styles could also work at Level 2.
Level 2: These styles have a bit more formality to them, and would work well as part of an office ensemble.
Level 3: The Level 3 tops all have intricate details and elements that work well with the general recommendations for a Theatrical Romantic.
Sweaters: Plush, fluffy knits with soft necklines, ornate trim, and lavish patterns. Short, shaped styles that are fitted at the waist and wrists.
Avoid: Heavy, bulky knits. Skinny ribbed knits. Plain styles, such as cardigans, crew-necked Shetlands, etc. Shapeless, baggy styles.
Level 1: These looks would be appropriate for more casual events, but still have enough detail for a Theatrical Romantic.
Level 2: These styles are much more in line with Kibbe’s stated recommendations.
Level 3: Sweaters are a bit too casual in general for a Theatrical Romantic look, but this Vogue pattern could go nicely over a fancy dress:
Dresses: Dresses should always be feminine and shapely. Defined shoulders, waist emphasis, and intricate detail (shirring, gathers, sparkles, appliqué, etc.). Soft and draped necklines; tapered wrists; and a tapered hemline if short, flared hemline if long. Lightweight fabrics with sheen or plush-ness and luscious colors complete the picture.
Level 1: The Level 1 dresses would work in a more casual fabric, though in something fancier many of these could also work well for Level 2 looks.
Level 2: The Level 2 styles have a more serious Femme Fatale look to them; these are much closer to the stereotypical Theatrical Romantic looks.
Level 3: Level 3 dresses really allow Theatrical Romantics to utilize lots of intricate details.
Evening Wear: Fitted shapes with ornate trim and waist emphasis. Cleavage emphasis. Draped fabrics. Sparkly fabrics. Plush fabrics. Theatrical ensembles.
Form-fitting gowns with cleavage emphasis. Shirred and draped cocktail dresses. Fitted dinner suits with peplum jackets and ornate trim. Bustier dresses.
Theatrical Romantic is another style ID that looks great in fancy evening gowns and formal styles.
And that’s it! There were a lot of suitable dress and gown designs for the Theatrical Romantic style ID, as with Soft Dramatic I had to cut down my choices quite a bit. I hope that by comparing these two image IDs in back-to-back weeks it is a bit more clear what the differences and similarities are. Both style IDs need a softly draped silhouette and a cohesive look of unified color and style; not a mix-and-match of separates. However, whereas Soft Dramatic was full of largely rounded ornate curves, Theatrical Romantic is all about intricate, small-scale detail. While this may have resulted in some overlap of style recommendations (especially in the evening gown category), there are also clearly styles from last week that would be too overpowering for a Theatrical Romantic, just as there are styles from this week that would be too subtly intricate in scale to work well on a Soft Dramatic. The softly draping that is consistent in both styles often leads people to question which category they belong to, but I think it is quite simple to tell them apart if you consider scale. A Soft Dramatic will be very large in scale, with an angular bone structure and soft features, whereas a Theatrical Romantic will be smaller in scale, with a delicate bone structure, but some sharpness to their features.
For those who have taken the deep dive, you may have come across the internet’s assessment that Theatrical Romantic is Kibbe’s favorite style ID. To be fair, both he and his wife are Theatrical Romantics, and they both dress in a way that absolutely fits the style ID’s recommendations. I don’t think this makes Theatrical Romantics “better” than the other categories, though I do think there is a certain truth to the idea that Theatrical Romantics showcase to some extent a more “stereotypical” sort of beauty than we might see in another style ID. Kibbe’s language is definitely a bit more flowery for the Theatrical Romantics, but I think this is somewhat fitting for the type. I don’t think this makes the Theatrical Romantic style ID any better or worse than any other style ID, just distinct in its own way.
This is, I suppose, the appropriate time to go into the “sexiness” rant. Not really a rant, I guess, but this is a topic that always comes up when discussing Theatrical Romantics. The style ID is, stereotypically, “the sexy one.” (Perhaps we should call it Harriet style? Ignore me if you don’t get the reference… It’s coming up to the holidays so my brain is full of thoughts about drummers drumming alongside the likes of lobsters and octopi.) It makes sense; there is the softness of the Romantic essence mixed with the sharpness of the yang undercurrent to create a mix of very striking features. While I think that it can be much easier to dress sexy in this type than, say, pure Dramatic or pure Classic, I don’t think sexiness is mandatory for a Theatrical Romantic, just and I don’t think it is unattainable for, say, a Flamboyant Gamine. Hopefully there have been enough options presented here to see that style is what you want it to be. There are definitely ways to create looks from the above that could read as “cute,” “classic,” “elegant,” or “edgy” if you wanted. Certainly there are also lots of looks that can come off as “sexy,” but being Theatrical Romantic doesn’t trap you into portraying that one impression if you don’t want to. It all comes back to the idea that Kibbe’s recommendations are a tool, and it is how you want to utilize that tool that will help you create an individual, unique style.
Coming Next Week: With the Dramatic and Romantic subtypes done, it’s time to compare and contrast the IDs that have two subtypes each. We’ll start looking at what happens when you add a dash of yang to Kibbe’s perfectly blended Classic to get a touch more sharpness and angularity in Kibbe’s Dramatic Classic!