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 covered the five main types (Dramatic, Romantic, Classic, Gamine, and Natural), and first two subtypes (Soft Dramatic and Theatrical Romantic) in Kibbe’s system. All of our remaining main types have two subtypes each – one that has more yin overtones and another that has more yang overtones. When we looked at the Classic ID, we had a type that was a total blend of yin and yang. This week we will look at Kibbe’s Dramatic Classic – a blended type that has slightly more yang to add a bit of extra drama to the features. Kibbe’s Dramatic Classic is described as a “Tailored Chic.” You can read more about Kibbe’s Dramatic Classic here.
Body Type Characteristics
The following are Kibbe’s descriptions of a Dramatic Classic Body Type:
DRAMATIC CLASSIC PHYSICAL PROFILE
NOTE: The following information should be taken as a broad outline of what makes a Dramatic Classic. It is the overall combination of the balance between Yin and Yang leaning (slightly angular physicality with a coolly sophisticated 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, up to 5 feet 7 inches. Bone Structure: Symmetrical, with slightly angular edges. Straight and slightly wide. Shoulders are tapered or slightly square, usually narrow. Slightly squarish hands and feet. Slightly sharp, angular or squarish facial contours (jawline, nose, cheekbones). Body Type: Fairly trim and compact when at an ideal weight. Slightly muscular when at ideal weight. Bustline, waist and hips are somewhat straight and in even proportion when at ideal weight. On occasion slightly short-waisted. Legs and arms tend to be average or slightly long. Your body type will seem to radically change when you gain even a little weight. This is actually an illusion because your bone structure remains the same. Facial Features: Usually moderate to large eyes, moderate lips. Hair: May be thick and straight or fine and silky but rarely coarse. Possibly wavy/curly. Coloring: Any coloring is possible(warm or cool, high-contrast or blended). If overweight: Excess weight shows up right away and collects from the waist down. You seem to gain weight in the hips and thighs. You rarely gain weight around the bustline. The heavier you get, the more pear-shaped you become. A Dramatic Classic will not:
Have extremely long limbs.
Have extremely exotic or overly lush facial features.
Have extremely large bones or extremely large hands and feet.
Have delicate bones or extremely small hands and feet.
Have an hourglass figure.
Have a boyishly straight figure.
The following are Kibbe’s recommendations regarding the clothing and style choices that best suit his Dramatic Classic image ID. The following recommendations will be taken into consideration for each garment type listed below:
SHAPE: Triangular, with the widest line at the shoulders, narrow at the hemline. Symmetrical geometrics, which can be sharp or sculpted. Trim, tailored, taut and crisp and slightly chunky.
AVOID: Ornate, intricate, or delicate shapes. Irregular shapes. Unconstructed or extremely boxy shapes. Simple symmetrical shapes without sharp edges or an elongated line.
LINE AND SILHOUETTE: Your silhouette is always trim and tailored with sharp edges. Clean, sleek lines. Straight lines. Elongated draping. Strong, defined shoulder line with crisp edges. Strong vertical and diagonal lines.
AVOID: Clingy, ornate, intricate, or flouncy lines. Unconstructed, wide, boxy, or horizontal lines. Extremely severe lines without tapering. Plain, symmetrical lines without sharp or sculpted edges.
FABRIC: High-quality fabrics in moderate weights. Matte-finished fabrics form the basis of your wardrobe, although you may certainly use shiny silks and the like as blouses or accents and may go ultra-shiny (to the point of lames and metallics) for evening. Moderate piles. Pliable knits and wovens (heavy jersey, cashmere, gabardine, etc.).
AVOID: Lightweight fabrics that cling or are ultra-sheer. Heavyweight fabrics that are stiff and bulky. Rough textures that are thick.
DETAIL: Detail should be crisp, tailored and geometric with sharp edges. Sharp or sculpted shoulder pads are a must in everything you own!
Cleanly tailored necklines: notched collars, crisp Mandarins, simple jabots or ascots, cleanly slashed necklines, geometric V’s, asymmetric angulars, turtlenecks, and narrow cowls.
Sharp details: pleats, crisp cuffs, peaked and notched or cleanly streamlined lapels, double-breasted jackets, contrasting trim, epaulets, piping, or clean braiding.
The waist may be crisply defined with a moderate to wide belt with a geometric buckle or may be dropped or eliminated altogether in a narrow chemise-effect.
Detail that includes sharp color contrast is excellent (for example: spectator pumps, contrasting buttons, lapel outlining).
Sophisticated nautical-type detail is also striking when it is crisp and tailored.
AVOID: Ornate, intricate, or fussy detail, including frills. Animated, “perky” detail. Plain and symmetrical detail without sharp edges. Wide, unconstructed, or bulky detail. Minimal detail.
SEPARATES: Use carefully. Separates can be extremely effective for you when well-planned in matched sets. An “ensemble approach” to your head-to-toe appearance is always necessary.
COLOR: our use of color should be bold and sophisticated. Neutrals and deep colors are quite effective for you as they provide a background of simplicity to showcase your elegant use of line. Pastels can be equally effective if the fabric is very special, and you utilize them in head-to-toe sweeps. Generally, thick of blending intensities of your outfits to retain your strong vertical lines. Contrasting trim is very striking on you, particularly in two-color combinations. They key is to pick up the accent color in several places, not just one. In this way you don’t break up your sleek silhouette, you merely accent it.
AVOID: Multicolor splashes. A mix ‘n match approach to color. All neutrals or monochromatics with bold accents.
PRINTS: Prints should be geometric, slightly oversized, and bold in color contrast. Stripes, zigzags, slashes, and sleek asymmetrics also work.
AVOID: Overly delicate or strappy styles. Heavy, chunky styles. Plain pumps or simple symmetrical styles.
BAGS: Crisply tailored bags. Envelopes, clutches, box-shaped bags. Metallic evening clutches. Narrow to medium briefcases, constructed, with a frame.
AVOID: Overly delicate or ornate styles. Large, unconstructed styles.
BELTS: Moderate to wide styles with large geometric buckles. Wide self-belts. Contrasting-color belts (to match shoes and jewelry or hat).
AVOID: Waist-cinchers. Overly ornate styles. Delicate or narrow styles.
HATS: Crisply tailored styles. Sharp edges and contrasting trim. Moderate to small size. Geometric and clean shapes.
AVOID: Fussy hats with ornate trim. Oversized styles. Severe styles. Unconstructed or floppy styles.
HOSIERY: Sheer, silky stockings are best. In terms of color, blend in one tone between hemline, stocking, and shoe to keep your dominant vertical line sleep. The exception to this is when you are working with sharp color contrast, head-to-toe, and your shoe or stocking color is in contrast to each other or to your hemline. Just be sure this color is picked up in several other places to avoid chopping your look.
Textured stockings are elegant in geometrics (herringbone, etc.) when kept translucent.
JEWELRY: Should be sleek, elegant, and slightly chunky. Geometric shapes with sharp edges. Smooth circles that are crisp and oversized are possible. Earrings should be on the ear or spray up (not down or dangly). Necklaces should be crisply tailored and slightly chunky, and rest around the collarbone area. Moderate wrist cuffs are also possible. Remember: One elegant piece is quite effective on you!
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 are a mainstay of your wardrobe, and you should have them for every occasion, from daytime to glamour to casual. They should be crisp and tailored, with sharp shoulders and elongated line. If unconstructed, they should be very narrow and fall below the break of the hip. The shortest jacket that is sophisticated enough for you is cropped to rest at the top of the hipbone and has a very sleek, streamlined effect. Double-breasted jackets are also quite effective on you.
AVOID: Flouncy jackets that are nipped and tucked with gathers and trim. Peplums. Wide, boxy jackets. Ultra-cropped jackets (boleros, waistcoats, etc.)
Coats – Level 1: Since the Dramatic Classic look is so tailored, even their casual looks will be a bit more constructed than most of the other style IDs. As we saw with the straight Classic type, many of these styles would work at any level, and will heavily depend on fabric choice. Though Kibbe does say you should have a jacket for every occasion, so that does mean you get to indulge a bit in this clothing category!
Coats – Level 2: The Level 2 options are typically more tailored and less detailed than those in Level 1. Many of the looks are quite similar between the two levels; on a Classic type even small changes in detail will have big changes in the overall effect.
Coats – Level 3: I couldn’t find many Level 3 coat options, but I think many of the Level 1 or Level 2 options could be made for a formal even with different fabric choices.
Jackets – Level 1: As with the longer coats, the casual Dramatic Classic looks have more details that really make the looks read as casual.
Jackets – Level 2: The level 2 jackets have some more formal tailoring details and would look great as part of a business suit or for a fancier night out.
Jackets – Level 3: These are some really lovely jacket options; the details are impactful, but not too over the top, and the result is a really fantastic formal look.
Skirts: Skirts should be straight and narrow. A few crisp gathers at the waist are usually needed to accommodate your hips. It is very important that your skirts are always flat from the hip to the upper thigh area. Pleats should thus be stitched down at the top, so as not to upset your sleekly vertical line. Small slits are excellent, as is any tailored detail such as pocket flaps, contrasting stitching, waistbands, etc. Hemlines can range from one inch below the knee to the top of the calf. The latter will need a slit. Longer is, of course, perfect for evening.
A bias-cut skirt is possible, as is a straight skirt that has a bias-cut piece added to the bottom, gently flaring out. These hemlines are uneven and must be longer, in the mid-calf range.
AVOID: Full, flouncy skirts. Skirts with fussy detail (draping, shirring, and gathers). A-lines. Wide, unconstructed skirts.
Level 1: For Level 1 skirts, the overall effect is that of being casual because of the combination of details and fabric choice.
Level 2: For Level 2 we see even sleeker, more fitted examples.
Level 3: We get to see a few more examples of the bias-cut options for evening.
Pants: Simple tailored styles with pleats and man-tailored detail are best. The pants should be clean, sleek, and elegant.
AVOID: Fussy or ornate styles. Tapered or pegged style. Wide, baggy, or unconstructed styles.
Level 1: Since the trouser styles all need to be clean and sleek, fabric choice is really going to be the determining factor for level of dress in this category.
Level 2: The level 2 looks are a bit sharper, more tailored, and less detailed.
Level 3: As previously stated, most of the trouser styles could work at any level, but I did find some Burda Plus trousers that would look great as part of a Level 3 outfit.
Blouses: Blouses should be elegant and tailored, with sharp edges and crisp detail. Stock-tie blouses are acceptable with a very tailored suit, but a more dramatic style is best when the jacket is not covering it. Fabric can be crisp and smooth (luscious cottons), elegantly shiny (charmeuse), or softly woven (challis).
AVOID: Frilly, ornate, flouncy styles with excess detail. Unconstructed styles with no detail.
Level 1: I tried to find a variety of styles that could work in more casual fabrics but still had elegant, sharply tailored edges to them.
Level 2: The Level 2 options have more traditional tailoring elements and would work well in an office/work look.
Level 3: Some extra tailoring details can elevate the button up style to Level 3.
Sweaters: Sweaters should be lightweight and elegant; silky and skinny-ribbed styles are excellent choices. Sweaters should be slightly elongated, with shoulder pads. Long cardigans with pads and jacket styles are very good for the dressy-casual look. Sleek and elegant beading is also stunning.
AVOID: Fluffy knits with ornate trim. Thick, rough, or heavy knits that are bulky. Shapeless sweaters. Cropped sweaters and vests. Symmetrical styles with plain detail such as crew-necked shetlands.
Level 1: With structure and tailoring being so key to the overall look of a Dramatic Classic, there aren’t a lot of sewing pattern styles that fit this description, so I went a bit outside of the recommendations to keep in the overall feeling of Dramatic Classic rather than sticking to the exact recommendations.
Level 2: These are more in fitting with the “dressy-casual” look Kibbe mentions.
Level 3: None. As with many of our other yang-influenced types, a soft sweater is just too casual to wear to a formal event when structured jackets can be a much better option.
Dresses: Dresses should be tailored, sleek, and narrow, with sharp edges and crisp detail. Coat dresses, chemises, and slinky sheaths are all excellent. Waists may be defined with a wide, geometric belt (usually in a contrasting color to match accessories), or may be dropped low, or even eliminated. Elongated draping or sleek bias-cuts are also soft and elegant. Sharp or sculpted shoulders (with pads) are a must!
AVOID: Flouncy dresses with ornate and intricate trim. Fussy detail such as shirring, gathers, silk flowers, bows, ribbons, etc. Wide unconstructed shapes.
Level 1: Lots of tailored shirt dresses in this level. As with most of the categories here, fabric choice and amount of detail will really change how the pattern reads in terms of formality.
Level 2: The Level 2 looks are even more sleek and streamlined.
Level 3: The Level 3 designs really focus on simple styles with clean, sharp details.
Evening Wear: Symmetrical shapes with clean, geometric detail Shoulder emphasis. Angular necklines. Smooth fabric. Beaded fabric. Understated trim.
Slinky sheaths. Jacketed gowns. Tailored dinner suits. Long gowns with sharp shoulder emphasis. Tailored cocktail dresses. Evening pants with jacket.
The evening looks are really just an extension of the Level 3 looks, but I’ve tried to look for more elegant, elongated gowns with fancy fabrics.
Another ID down! I think the comparison between Classic and Dramatic Classic is a great way to really understand how the subtypes can require just very slight modifications to be distinct from the main type. While some of these recommendations overlap, a lot of the looks from Dramatic Classic are too strongly yang to work for a pure Classic. There was actually a fair amount of overlap with the pure Dramatic styles, though the amount of detail still needs to be a bit more subdued for a Classic subtype. As I noted in the main Classic post, finding a variety of styles within my set of sewing patterns was a bit tricky, and I found that to be true this week as well, since the recommendations for Dramatic Classics are quite precise. I think the resulting options are quite comprehensive, though perhaps not so numerous as I’ve had for other style IDs.
Also, I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that Soft Dramatic was my aspirational Kibbe ID, but I’m pretty sure Dramatic Classic is a close second. I love the clean lines and extremely tailored styles. I know this style would be far too severe and fitted on me, but any style ID where “jackets are a mainstay of [the] wardrobe” is definitely high on my list of inspirational styles. It’s interesting how different this is from Soft Dramatic; one is all about large sweeping shapes and Dramatic Classic is all about streamlined, tailored looks. This possibly speaks to why, in hindsight, many of my sewing projects are all over the map, style wise. It also, hopefully, gives me the insight to make more strategic choices in the future and avoid making a bunch of closet orphans, as I have in the past. If nothing else, I’m at least starting to crystalize what I like and why, and that should be really helpful in planning sewing projects in the future.
Coming Next Week: This week we looked at what happens when you add a bit of yang to a Classic with the Dramatic Classic. Next week we’ll see what happens when you go the other way and add a little extra yin with Kibbe’s Soft Classic!