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.
In last week’s post we learned about about Kibbe’s Flamboyant Gamine, which mixes the perkiness of a Gamine with the added sharpness of a Dramatic. This week we will look at the other Gamine subtype, Soft Gamine. Soft Gamine is the result when you have a mix of yin and yang features, but with a bit extra yin. Kibbe’s Soft Gamine is described as “Spitfire Chic.” You can read more about Kibbe’s Soft Gamine here.
Body Type Characteristics
The following are Kibbe’s descriptions of a Soft GamineBody Type:
SOFT GAMINE PHYSICAL PROFILE
NOTE: The following information should be taken as a broad outline of what makes a Soft Gamine. It is the overall balance of a combination of opposites/extra Yin on the Yin/Yang scale (very rounded body type and features on a delicately angular frame, along with a a playful and spirited 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: Under 5 feet 5 inches (usually very petite). Bone Structure: Delicate and small, yet slightly broad and angular. Angular edges, particularly through the shoulders (square or tapered) Small hands and feet (may be slightly wide or fleshy). Delicately broad facial contours (nose, cheekbones, and jawline–which may have extra bits of angularity) Arms and legs tend to be shortish (in proportion to height). Body type: Soft, curvy body tends toward fleshiness. Curved bustline and hips with some natural waist definition. Arms and legs tend to be soft and fleshy, particularly through the hip and thigh areas. Facial features: Doll-like facial features (saucer-eyes, round and fleshy cheeks, full lips) Facial shape may be very rounded, and it can have a slightly sharp or slightly strong jawline. Hair: Any type is possible, but texture is usually soft–silky if fine, wispy if thick and curly/wavy. If overweight: Body tends to get very rounded, as the weight collects mainly in the bust and hip areas. Arms and thighs may get very soft, and face tends to become quite fleshy. It is common for Soft Gamines to feel overweight, even when they aren’t because of the extreme round shape of the body paired with the short limbs. A Soft Gamine will not:
have a rail-thin or extremely straight body type
have a large or broad bone structure
have large hands and feet or exotic facial characteristics
be symmetrical in body type, bone structure, or facial features
have sharp bone structure
The following are Kibbe’s recommendations regarding the clothing and style choices that best suit his Soft Gamine image ID. The following recommendations will be taken into consideration for each garment type listed below:
SHAPE: Crisp curves with sharp edges. Rounded shapes that are smoothly formed, including bouffants. Ovals, circles, elliptical shapes, chunky swirls, teardrops, crisp clusters.
LINE AND SILHOUETTE: Animated, staccato silhouette. Broken curved lines. Sharply tapered outline (especially at waist, collar, cuff). Small, bouffant lines with crisp edges. Small, draped lines with tapered edges.
Avoid: Geometric silhouettes. Wide, unconstructed silhouettes. Soft and flowing silhouettes. Symmetrical silhouettes. All elongated lines. All strong horizontal lines. All smooth lines. Severe straight lines.
FABRIC: Fabric should be lightweight and crisp so it can hold a defined shape that is tailored into the garment as well as be supple enough to have a slight drape and movement. Matte-finished fabric is best because it looks fresher on you, although slight sheens are fine too. Textures should be light, not heavy or bulky, and fairly crisp. Drapeable woven fabrics (jersey, cashmere, challis, etc.) can be used very effectively when there is extra construction in the garment to provide a very defined outline. Knits should be soft and fluffy (angora, mohair, boucle, etc.), although flat, clingy knits are effective when tailored into curvy shapes with rounded outlines. Metallics are excellent for evening, but should be avoided during the day. Avoid: Heavyweight, thick, or bulky fabrics. Overly flimsy, sheer, and clingy fabrics. Rough, thick textures. Bulky knits.
DETAIL: Detail should always be animated, lively, and energetic. An excess of detail, particularly in the area of trim, is one of the important ways you express vivacity in your appearance. Shoulders should be crisp and slightly padded. The pads should always add streamlined curves. Shoulder gathers, tucks, and shirring are excellent, as is any intricate trim or applique in this area. Necklines should be clean and crisp, preferably curved. They are best when they are either high or closed, although lower scoops and plunges are acceptable. Crisp collars are excellent and should be used profusely. They should be small and very tailored. Or shaped, with contrasting fabric, trim, color, etc., the perfect choice. Curved or rounded shapes are best. Small sharp pleats, ornate trim, applique, top-stitching, epaulets, pocket plackets, etc., are all good touches for the bodice area. Crisp cuffs with contrasting buttons, bands, trim, etc., are always chic. Waist should always be sharply defined with wasitbands, contrasting trim, applique, etc. A tapered and cinched waist is a mainstay of your look. Gathers at the waist are excellent if they are small and crisp (as opposed to deep and soft). The hemline should be tapered at the knee area. If it is long, it will then flare out gently. If it is short, it will be tuliped-shaped. Contrasting trim at the hemline is excellent. Contrasting and colorful trim is everywhere!
SEPARATES: Separates are effective when used with a very head-to-toe “ensemble approach.” Mix them together artfully, always picking up their specific theme, (whether it be color, print, or fabric) elsewhere in your outfit.
COLOR: Your use of color should be bright and sparkling, with a multicolor palette of vivid, rich and intense shades played against each other or on top of either a pale or deep background. Sharp color contrast is excellent on you. Color schemes can be as wild and unusual as you dare; the more shades you use, the more sophisticated the effect!
Avoid: Monochromatic color schemes (too dull and matronly on you!) Neutrals, except as accents. Dark colors that aren’t broken by vivid accents.
PRINTS: You should use lots and lots of prints that are lively and animated! Bright colors, high color contrast, and outlined colors are all good choices. Shapes should be curved and intricate, but keep them crisp and animated instead of watercolor-blended. Size should be small to moderate.
Avoid: Sharp geometrics. Symmetrical prints. Oversized and abstract prints. Watercolor-soft blends without a crisp outline.
ACCESSORIES: Accessories should be small and crisp with a bit of intricate trim for animation. Colorful accessories are always a good choice.
Shoes: Lightweight and delicate with tapered toe and heel. Touches of intricate trim. Bare and strappy are good, as are open toes and sling-backs. Flats should be very feminine. Light and bright shades are excellent choices.
Belts: Belts should be narrow to moderate and crisp. Contrasting colors are excellent. Buckles should be curved, swirled, or slightly intricate. Material should be very elegant leather, reptile, or exquisite fabric.
Avoid: Wide, stiff belts.
Hats: Should be small and crisp in rounded shapes with minimal trim (veils, feathers, etc.) Crisp caps are also good, but keep the shapes small and rounded.
Hosiery: Hosiery should contrast with the hemline at all times, except for a very dressy evening look (when they will be very sheer and silky). General, a “light leg” is the most chic look for you, and you can either blend it with the shoe, which is very elegant, or contrast it with both the hemline and the shoe, which is most charming. An opaque stocking is best for the funky, contrast look, while a sheer stocking is better with a light leg bland. Flesh-toned stockings are best when the hemline and shoe are of matching, vibrant colors, or with bare, summertime outfits. Lacy textures and sparkly trim are fun for evening.
Avoid: One long line of dark color.
Jewelry: Jewelry is one of your most important accessories, for it adds the sophistication and touch of wit to your look. Shapes should be rounded and crisp, whether circles, swirls, ovals, clusters, teardrops, etc. Irregular and animated pieces are excellent as long as you keep the curves highlighted. Brightly colored pieces capture both your vivacity and your animation to perfection. Big, bright beads are always excellent. Keep earrings crisp and on the ear (or spraying up) as opposed to dangles. Wristbands and bracelets should be bangles. Unusual pins and brooches are also wonderful touches to spice up your appearance. Don’t be afraid to be a little outrageous with your jewelry; let your sense of humor show. It can be the area in which your saucy elegance comes across most clearly.
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 shapely with lots of detail and trim. They should always show the waist; they may be cropped above it or flare out into a crisp peplum. Keep them very fitted. Contrasting trim, tapered cuffs, and shoulder detail are all excellent.
Avoid: Long jackets that hide the waist. Severely straight and tailored jackets. Unconstructed jackets. Boxy jackets. Symmetrically tailored jackets. Standard blazers.
Coats – Level 1: It was really difficult to find coats for the Soft Gamine type; short and very shapely coats are not too common, and I was only able to find one example that could work for a casual look.
Coats – Level 2: There are more options for Level 2 styles; fitted coats tend to have a more formal feel.
Coats – Level 3: Many of the Level 2 coats would also work well for Level 3, but I did find one more style that could work for a Soft Gamine.
Jackets – Level 1: Soft Gamines have far more options in the jacket selection than that coat section. Details like topstitching and more relaxed shapes work well for casual looks for Soft Gamine.
Jackets – Level 2: These styles all feel slightly more formal because of the cleaner detail, more fitted shapes, and fancier fabrics.
Jackets – Level 3: These would all look great with a glitzy evening dress or formal outfit.
Skirts: Skirts should be short, trim, and shapely. They should have a defined waistband, usually with small, crisp gathers. Your version of a “straight skirt” should be tulip-shaped and tapered at the knee. This hemline is even and ends mid knee or very slightly below (never longer). Long skirts are tapered at the knee (or just below), and then flare out gently into a modified trumpet shape. If this is a very slight flare, a slit is possible. This hemline is uneven and will end mid calf. Asymmetrical hemlines are also excellent. An evening-gown length will be short, showing the ankle. Bouffant skirts are also very exciting on your. Low or dropped flounce are elegant touches on skits.
Avoid: Long, straight skirts. Traditional symmetrical styles (A-lines). Wide, unconstructed styles. Voluminously full, circle skirts. Sharp pleated skirts.
Level 1: I think it is a bit easier to envision these recommendations in a fancier look, but there are plenty of ways for a Soft Gamine to wear a casual skirt look.
Level 2: More formal styles have a bit softer details, though the same silhouettes.
Level 3: For level 3 I focused on finding longer styles that could work as part of an evening look.
Pants: Pants should be very shapely, showcasing the ankle. Cropped styles are excellent, as are skin-tight styles, such as toreadors for fun.
Level 1: Lots of fitted capri and skinny jeans styles work for the Soft Gamine.
Level 2: We get some more traditional tailoring, a few less skin-tight styles, and some more fun details.
Level 3: I think it is pretty easy for Soft Gamines to incorporate trousers into evening looks if they pick fancy fabrics.
Blouses: Blouses should be soft and draped, but ultrafitted at the neck and cuff, with bodice detail. You may go for very crisp touches of ruffles or lace, which will be very chic, or you may opt for a streamlined look, with animated outlining. Silky blouses are best, although sheer cottons, voiles, batiste, and handkerchief linen may also be used.
Level 1: I think it can be a bit tricky to make blouses that are “ultrafitted” anywhere look casual, so I think fabric choice and styling will be key to Level 1 blouse looks.
Level 2: As always, Level 2 looks often work better as part of a work ensemble or more formal style, though fabric choice and styling are very important for this impression in Soft Gamine outfits.
Level 3: Fancier styles either have more extreme detailing or more austere streamlined shapes, and would work well as part of an overall evening look.
Sweaters: These should be very fitted at the waist and cuff areas with small and crisp collar additions excellent. Ribbed trim and intricate detail (such as applique, beading, sparkles, jewels, etc.) are very sophisticated, as are extremely animated patterns when kept small and swirling or crisp and curvy. Sweaters are best when they are fluffy or have a deep pile (angora, boucle, etc.). Skinny knits must be very shaped into blouson styles that are ultra-fitted at the neck, waist, cuff, and shoulder areas.
Avoid: Long oversized sweaters. Rough, bulky knits. Standard symmetrical styles (i.e., cardigans). Clingy knits.
Level 1: The Level 1 styles are a bit boxier and a bit too symmetric, but I think they have nice options for adding Soft Gamine sass.
Level 2: This level has styles that are a bit more fitted and work with a more formal outfit.
Level 3: Not a lot of optins, but I think Soft Gamines can more easily incorporate sweater cover ups than other style IDs that have more yang influence.
Dresses: Dresses should be very shaped at the waist with crisp necklines, cuffs, and intricate or animated detail. Flounces added to skirts are very sophisticated if used sparingly. Sharp shoulder definition is important, and gathers, shirring, etc., are excellent. Skirts may be tapered or flared but should not be voluminous. Bouffant dresses are extremely chic and sexy on you. Asymmetrical hemlines and tea-length gowns are also extremely striking on you, as are all blouson styles with extra tapering.
Level 1: The styles for Level 1 have a lot of the Soft Gamine details, but would work better in a more casual fabric choice.
Level 2: These styles have slightly cleaner lines, or would coordinate better with some of the jackets for a work or an event where you woud want to be slightly dressed up.
Level 3: Level 3 styles focus a bit more on the “exception” styles – bouffant dresses and tea length gowns.
Evening Wear: Fitted shapes with crisply ornate trim. Smooth fabric with glitzy trim. Beading, sparkles, bows, netting and playfully sexy accessories. Bouffant ball gowns. Pouffy cocktail dresses with crisp flounces (taffeta skirts, crinoline, etc.). Evening knit dresses (flat knits with glitzy trim). Bustier dresses. Fitted dinner suits with flounces (peplums, ornate jackets, etc.). Draped evening pants with glitzy tops or fitted jackets.
Soft Gamines have a really wide variety of formal options available to them. Some of these styles were in Level 3, but I think there are lots of other fun options here.
Another style ID down! I hope that after last week the difference between Soft Gamine and Flamboyant Gamine is more clear, and why each is a separate category from the pure Gamine. I think the most important differentiation is that the Soft Gamine needs waist definition, whereas Flamboyant Gamines do a bit better without it. In some sense Soft Gamine is actually a bit closer to a cross between Soft Classic and Romantic; there needs to be a certain cleanliness to the edges, but also way more detail than a Soft Classic could handle (from the Romantic influence). However, the silhouettes that a Soft Gamine can wear are far more varied than those we see with the Romantic types. The overlap with Romantics shows up a bit more in the evening dresses and fancy gowns; I see more Soft Classic influence is simpler day looks. Of course, Soft Gamine is clearly distinct form both of those categories, and the main recommendations of cropped styles and precise fit comes from the main Gamine category itself, but I think there is actually more commonality with these separate IDs than with the Flamboyant Gamine style ID, which is all about boxy, oversized shapes and straighter silhouettes. I think the disparity between subtypes is probably the strongest in the Gamine category; we certainly didn’t see as drastic a difference between Dramatic Classic and Soft Classic. I think we will see this same disparity to an extent in the Natural subtypes (the only two IDs we have left!), but not quite to the extent we saw it in the Gamine style IDs.
If Flamboyant Gamines are stereotyped as having a wild, fun, “mod” look, then I think Soft Gamines often have the same difficulty, but with being perceived as having a “cute little girl” or “manic pixie dream girl” look. It’s probably hard to overcome this because the Soft Gamine stature is supposed to be pretty visibly petite, and so many styles with cuff and collar detail have a “school girl uniform” feel. I hope I pulled a few options that show this doesn’t have to be the case, though I must admit it was easier to stick to the recommendations when I did use patterns with these design features. As with all of the Gamine style IDs, I don’t think I had a lot of great non-Burda examples because this is very much not my personal style, but I do think I still had plenty of different patterns to illustrate the design features Kibbe recommends.
And, since I seem to be adding personal notes to all of the subtype posts, I guess I have to say that, while I could see myself wearing some of these styles more easily than I could the Flamboyant Gamine designs I pulled, the whole Gamine aesthetic is just not my personal style. Which is ok. I can appreciate it in an intellectual way, but I don’t have to make myself try to wear it. And, I must admit, I do think that Gamines style IDs can create wardrobes that are both cohesive and interesting with a wider variety of pieces than perhaps a Classic or Romantic type could. When I look at the post as a whole, I see a lot of things that would look so good when worn together as part of an outfit. And I see a lot of styles that could mix and match in unusual ways to create really cool, cute Soft Gamine looks. The mix-n-match ability of the Soft Gamine recommendations is really fantastic and I think there are so many ways they could be used to create a really unique personal style.
Coming Next Week: We’ve finally made it to our last set of subtypes, the two subtypes for Natural! Naturals are known for soft, unconstructed shapes, but the rules get tweaked a bit when you add extra yin or yang influences to the base type. We’ll start off by seeing what happens when we add a touch of the Dramatic to Kibbe’s Natural when we take a look at Kibbe’s Flamboyant Natural!
18 thoughts on “Sew Your Kibbe: Soft Gamine”
This is another big eye opener for me. So many pretty things I’ve just skimmed over in past issues. I can definitely see what you’re saying about gamines esp. soft gamines feeling that they’re perceived as having a little girl look. I felt many of these styles were beautifully delicate and sweet, which on a petite person might read as girlish or might not. It always surprises me when I see a gamine wearing gamine clothes vs. a Natural or Dramatic wearing same. As a DC I would look like a cartoon if I tried to wear many of these.
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That’s how I feel too, as a non-Gamine type.
Thank you for this in depth look at the different style types. I love that you have paired patterns with the recommendations. I think this may be my style type. As I have aged (and gotten out of shape) I have lost my tiny waist although I do still have waist definition. I am simply too small to wear dramatic or natural type styles–I look like a little kid playing dress up with mommy’s clothes. And I feel totally silly in ruffles.
It is quite an undertaking to examine Kibbe types that are so far from your own with such care and attention to details when you won’t be wearing these styles. Thank you for putting in all this effort.
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You are welcome! It’s been a lot of work but it’s been fun.
I’m most definitely not this type, but there are so many really nice patterns. Some of them could probably be adapted to other types too. Thanks once again! I really look forward to these posts!
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Thanks for all the work you’ve put into this. Last week I was leaning towards flamboyant gamine as my style ID and this has pretty much solidified it for me. I am so not into the ruffles and frou-frou of the soft gamine–it’s just way too girly for my taste. it is really interesting how different flamboyant and soft gamines are.
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I think the Gamine subtypes are pretty different and I think the Natural subtypes are also quite different. Just goes to show why Kibbe needed a 13 type system and not just a 5 type system.
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I was amused to see you’d listed two patterns I’d made up in the past and which were complete failures for me (a definite Dramatic).
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Yeah, I’ve put patterns I’ve sewn in the past in a lot of types that aren’t mine and they’ve all been style fails for me as well…
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I really love the patterns you picked. It’s great to see the details shown in different styles than just oeyer pan collars. I’ve worn so many of these styles over the years. I practically lived in Gunne Saxe and Laura Ashley which seems very soft gamine in high school. I didn’t seriously ever consider soft gamine before partly because I don’t wear sleeveless or skirts above the knee and my coloring is soft summer coloring, but I feel at home in lots of detail, ruffles and edwardian blouses like some you showed. My fave celebrity that I identify with is Debbie Reynolds and I love doing theater and performing. My favorite roles having been Millie in Seven Brides and doing Mother Ginger. So maybe strong possibility. I love understanding how the short IDs need fit at the wrist, waist, neckline, knee. Explains why I feel like I’m drowning in all the lovely oversized stuff. Bracelet and 3/4 length sleeves are favorites. I really like soft natural( too drapey) soft dramatic( so oversized I need to scale it back), soft classic ( but feels too plain and I am not close to being symmetrical), romantic is probably my secret favorite* Oh, the ruffles!, but I am NOT sexy looking! I tend to look cute or feminine. (tried sexy faces in the mirror and it looked like drag 😉 Not a good look! I can totally do cute, quirky, mischievous and dreamy. LOL. ) soooo? Sorry for the ramble. Love your series & all the work you’ve done.
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Rambles are never a problem! Glad you found a lot of things that work for you here.
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“Oh, the ruffles!, but I am NOT sexy looking! I tend to look cute or feminine. (tried sexy faces in the mirror and it looked like drag Not a good look! I can totally do cute, quirky, mischievous and dreamy. LOL. )”
I relate to this so much! 🙂 I actually thought I was a Romantic first, but I have a baby face and I’m rather angular. Sometimes I feel I’m not as womanly as my peers as a 21 year old because I can’t be typically sexy, despite being curvy. However, since coming across Kibbe I’m becoming more confident in my looks.
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That’s awesome! I think one of the best things about this system is that once you find and embrace something that works for you, you really stop worrying about all the things you aren’t. It doesn’t matter once you feel more confident because you are happy with yourself.
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OMG I’m a Soft Gamine and LOVE Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Petite, sweet and tough fits us SG’s to a T!
Thanks for these great posts! I’ve just read through all of them, and seeing the different styles is an eye-opener. I’m all about dresses, so I only compared the dresses for each type and wow! Patterns (not sewing, but conceptual) are easy to identify when the themes are all side-by-side.
I’ve recently discovered Kibbe, and I’m pretty sure I’m a soft natural (like, 99%). I did get the most out of your natural post (waiting for SN!). I have worn styles for every Kibbe ID and the natural styles survive my regular closet purges. I’m definitely not a gamine, though I’ve worn gamine styles a lot and it’s the go-to style rec for women in their 20s (because all girls up to 30 are spritely, but age in classics xD). We’re also influenced by those around us: my mom loved me in super dramatic clothes, and men loved me in super romantic clothes — but neither suit me! On the other hand, the early 90s were my jam and all of my fav stylo inspos are natural variants.
Style question: the one catch is that I love to wear miniskirts, but it seems that miniskirts are best suited to gamine types? I get why, but I like to show off my legs 😛 Would that also explain why I feel “sawed off” wearing a miniskirt? From a Kibbe perspective, how can I avoid short skirts shortening my frame? I have long legs at 5’5″.
I’m tired of looking at clothing racks (used or new) and not finding anything that suits me in fabrics I like, so I’m looking to make 2019 my DIY clothing year.
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Kibbe does say that short skirts can work well for the plain Natural and Flamboyant Natural types, but not so much with Soft Naturals. I might suggest adding monochromatic tights under the skirt to avoid that chopped off feeling.
This is an awesome post full of a just incredible amount of resource! I am so in awe right now! Couldn’t thank you enough!
There is nothing about this on most of the internet, or Pinterest. Pinterest has this listed as only a style type and not a body type. Romantic ingenue is what that is. Which does not help me in the slightest! I am short. Although not quite petite. I am athletic. Although i have curves. I do not have beautiful facial angles, which would help lean things style wise. And i am no where near a classic! So you see without this kibbe soft gamine i would be lost.
It means so much to see all you have found. Thus is surely more than i could’ve done. Thank you !! Sunshine forever
Oh, i should say by petite i meant delicate. I am definitely small. Just not dainty