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 Natural, a style type that has the unconstructed Natural lines, but with an added bit of yang emphasis. This week we will look at the other Natural subtype, Soft Natural. If you take the Natural type and add a bit of extra yin, you end up with Soft Natural. Kibbe’s Soft Natural is described as a “Fresh and Sensual Lady.” You can read more about Kibbe’s Soft Natural here.
Body Type Characteristics
The following are Kibbe’s descriptions of a Soft Natural Body Type:
SOFT NATURAL PHYSICAL PROFILE
NOTE: The following information should be taken as a broad outline of what makes a Soft Natural. It is the overall combination of the very soft Yang with a Yin undercurrent (slightly soft and fleshy body type on an angular frame combined with an appealing innocent 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 to slightly small, up to 5 feet 7 inches. Bone structure: Slightly angular bones. Slightly square or broad shoulders. Moderate to slightly short limbs (slightly leggy look also possible). Slightly blunt, or small and irregular facial contours (nose, cheekbones, and jawline). Hands and feet are moderate and fleshy, or slightly small and wide. Body type: Slightly soft, tends towards fleshiness. Slightly small waist that’s in proportion to bust and hips. Slightly curvy, tends to an hourglass shape, but not extremely so. Slightly fleshy upper arms and thighs. Facial features: Full and rounded. Round eyes, full lips, soft cheeks. Nose tends to be small and wide, or slightly irregular (blunt or wide). Hair: Any texture is possible, but it tends toward softness. If the hair is straight, it is usually fine and wispy. If wavy/curly it is usually silky, as opposed to coarse. Coloring: Any coloring is possible (warm or cool), but a Soft Natural usually has a somewhat blended coloring (although occasionally high-contrast coloring is also found). Skin tone tends to be somewhat delicate and luminous, and freckles in the sun or gently tans after an initial slight burn. If overweight: Body tends to become extremely soft and fleshy, with the waist thickening. The upper arms, thighs, and hips tend to collect excess weight and cellulite most rapidly. A Soft Natural will not:
Have an extremely straight body type
Have extremely sharp features
Have extremely sharp bone structure
Be extremely tall
Have an extremely large and broad bone structure
Be symmetrical in body type and facial features
The following are Kibbe’s recommendations regarding the clothing and style choices that best suit his Soft Natural image ID. The following recommendations will be taken into consideration for each garment type listed below:
SHAPE: Asymmetric and irregular curves (elongated ovals, wide circles, ellipticals, etc.). Relaxed geometrics with rounded edges. Easy swirls.
DETAIL: Detail should be loose, relaxed, delicate, slightly intricate and very creative. Any detail that suggest either a bit of the antique or the earth is excellent. Shoulders may be extended and padded, but should not be sharp or stiff. Necklines should be loose and soft, not closed, restricted, or fussy (simple draped necklines; soft cowls, soft, notched collars; clean lapels, shawl collars, etc.) Waist should be defined, although loosely. There can be a slightly blousy effect at the waist, with the top draped over the waistline, or a slightly dropped waist as long as the silhouette is fluid. Gathers and folds should be deep, full and soft. Sleeves can be full and flowing or gently tapered at the wrist with a minimum of detail. Trim should be delicate and antique (shirring, appliqué, etc.).
Avoid: Sharply tailored detail. No detail. Overly fitted and fussy detail. Animated “perky” detail.
FABRIC: Soft textures with a plush or slightly rough finish. A tactile feeling is very stunning and evocative of your freshly feminine and artistic essence. Weights should be light to moderate so fluid movement is possible. Anything wrinkly, nubby, slubbed, or loosely woven is excellent, particularly in a daytime, suited look. Shiny fabrics may be worn with ease in the evening, but should be left aside for day, except for slight sheen of texture (such as shantung). Deep pile (velour, suede, boucle knits, etc.) is excellent, as is buttery-soft leather
SEPARATES: An obvious use of separates is excellent for you. Be sure to keep an artful blend of textures, colors and patterns.
COLOR: Your use of color should be vibrant and rich. Brights and pastels form the basis of your wardrobe, but soft neutrals with a little vivid accenting can be very elegant and exciting in beautiful textures. Dark colors will be too stark if your don’t break them up. Use them primarily for accents or for color combinations. Bright and soft color combinations work best, as opposed to starkly contrasting ones. For example light/bright or bright/dark combos are softer on you than light/dark ones. Wild color combinations (bright/bright) of opposing intensities are fun, particularly for your casual clothes.
Avoid: Dull, monochromatic schemes. Head-to-toe dark schemes.
Prints should be softly rounded shapes, abstract and flowing. They may be either watercolor-blended or very electric and vibrant, as long as they are slightly irregular and have soft edges. Size should be moderate to slightly large.
Avoid: Small, symmetrical prints. Severe geometrics. Overly intricate prints. Animated, “cute” or “perky” prints. Because there is an earthiness that comes from your soft Yang basis, anything tactile is excellent on you. Soft textures–such as slubbed fabrics, handkerchief linens, raw silk, fuzzy knits–are very good choices when kept to the lightweight side and used in an unstructured silhouette.
ACCESSORIES: Accessories should be on the lightweight and delicate side, without being overly ornate or trimmed. Yet at the same time your creativity will cry out for special touches here and there. The trick is not to overdo it! You are a Natural, after all, so a little goes a long way on you. One special piece, perhaps a beautiful supple belt of suede with an ornate Navajo Indian buckle, will be just the right accent to express your inner creativity without overpowering the fresh and simple appeal that is the centerpiece of your Image Identity.
Shoes: Should be tapered in shape and slightly delicate in style with little or no trim. an open-toe, sling-back, or “bare” look is best. The shape may also be angular if the heel is very high and narrow and the toe is very tapered. Feminine flats with little trim.
Avoid: Extremely angular, heavy styles.
Bags: Should be moderate in size. Shape may be slightly rounded with little or not trim, or softly geometric with slight gathers or intricacy to soften. Antique bags are excellent for evening (small and beaded). Moderate sized, unconstructed “pouchy” styles are also good.
Avoid: Crisply structured bags.
Belts (if worn): Should be wide and supple, either soft leather or suede, or exquisite fabric. Buckles should be intricate and slightly antique, with sparkles or beading for evening especially lovely.
Avoid: Stiff belts.
Hats: Should be soft and floppy (i.e., picture frame) or rounded and clean (i.e., crisp-brimmed straw). Detail should be soft (antique, ribbons, lace, or flowers). Fur hats are soft and fluffy.
Avoid: Severe, man-tailored styles. Small, symmetrical styles. Small crisp caps.
Hosiery: Flesh-toned stockings are best for an elegant daytime work look if you wear a suit. Opaque stockings in light shades are soft, and you may definitely contrast the stocking with the hemline, if you wish. Bright and textured stockings are excellent for fun. Dark stockings are for evening only and should be very sexy and sheer, with lacy textures or exciting sparkles. (Sexy!)
Avoid: One long line of dark color (too dull and matronly on you).
Jewelry: Likewise your jewelry is most effective when it has some texture to it, as well as the feeling of having been hand-designed and created. The look that suggests the spirit of an artist is embedded in your necklace, earrings, or ornate wrist cuffs is simply a fabulous way of evoking your wild passion and warmth. Again, just remember to keep a touch of the delicate and the ornate evident in shape, detail, and finish. Your Jewelry should be delicate in workmanship but highly creative in effect. Unusual materials, particularly crystal, hand-wrought copper or silver, leather, intricately carved leather or stone, faceted glass, and any piece that looks as though it was designed by an artist is wonderful for you. “Wearable art” suits you best, ranging from wild and funky pieces with feathers, faux jewels, and sparkles to ornate Navajo Indian turquoise to elegant mixtures of opals, diamonds, and platinum! It must be both highly original and slightly intricate at the same time. Very simple antique pieces are also quite appropriate, especially for very dressy evenings, but always make sure there is at least a touch of sparkle and a bit of dangle!
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 unconstructed, soft, and always showing the waist (but not necessarily emphasizing it). This can be a jacket that is shaped through the waist, or it can be a jacket that is unstructured and very lightweight or flimsy, so that it drapes around the body but still reveals the waist. Shoulders can be extended and padded, without being crisp, and the length can be shortish if the jacket is shaped through the waist, or longer (top of the thigh area) if it is belted or unconstructed / boxy. Jackets that are not shaped or belted must be very draped and fluid, and should be left unfastened.
Avoid: Severely tailored jackets. Long, heavy jackets, whether constructed or not. Cropped bolero jackets. Flouncy jackets that are overly fitted and trim.
Coats – Level 1: For the the casual coats I found styles that have the easy shape/drape Kibbe suggests, but would look good with jeans or other casual pieces to create an overall casual look.
Coats – Level 2: The Level 2 styles are a bit more tailored, but still utilizing soft, asymmetric shapes to create the Soft Natural feel.
Coats – Level 3: As with all of the Natural types, it is a bit tricky to find coats that read as formal while still fitting into the “unconstructed” silhouette, but I think there are some nice options for Soft Naturals.
Jackets – Level 1: For the jackets, I paid more attention to the length requirements in addition to the need for soft, draping shapes.
Jackets – Level 2: It’s tricky to fit blazers into this style ID; the super large, unconstructed shapes of the Flamboyant Natural and the Natural IDs don’t work as well here because of the need for waist shaping. I may have been a little liberal with my interpretations in this section, but I did want to include a wide range of styles that would work for professional events as well as formal parties or dinners.
Jackets – Level 3: Level 3 jackets have some interesting options because they can be softly unconstructed or more fitted.
Skirts: Skirts should have a soft outline. Full or flared skirts that are flat in the hip area are excellent. Straight skirts that are lightweight, draped, or slightly tapered are also good. Straight skirts that have an even hem and are worn short, no longer than the bottom of the kneecap. Full skirts have an uneven hem and are worn long, mid calf and below. Slits, kick pleats, button fronts, plackets, etc., are all fine, as are bits of intricate detail (shirring, draping, etc.), as long as they are not restrictive.
Level 1: The level 1 skirts all tend to be of the longer, full variety.
Level 2: The Level 2 styles have a bit more of the straight, shorter styles, though there are plenty of softly flowing styles here too.
Level 3: The level 3 styles are sort of more of the same, but showcased in fancier fabrics.
Pants: Pants should be lightweight and slightly draped, with a bit of soft detail or ornate trim (gathers, shirring, soft pleats). Legs may be softly straight, draping about the ankle, or slightly tapered and pegged.
Level 1: The level 1 looks tend to be a bit more unconstructed, and have draping details that read as being more casual.
Level 2: The Level 2 looks have a touch more tailoring, though the shape is still more subtle and softer than in other style IDs.
Level 3: The Level 3 pants are all jumpsuits because I think the Level 2 trousers could all work as part of an evening look and I wanted to find something uniquely fancy for Level 3.
Blouses: Blouses should be soft, draped, and slightly loose and billowy or clingy. Detail should be slightly antique and intricate, but should not be fussy and overdone. Open necks are best, particularly if draped, and camisoles are also good. The more detail there is, the more unconstructed the blouses should be. Sheer fabrics are excellent (voiles, batiste, etc.). The shiner the fabric, the less detail there should be.
Avoid: Stiffly tailored blouses. Severe blouses. Fussy necklines. Shapeless blouses.
Level 1: Level 1 styles have more relaxed fits and more simple details. These styles also work best for more casual fabrics like knits.
Level 2: As with all Level 2 styles, the details are slightly more traditional, resulting in more work appropriate options.
Level 3: The Level 3 styles add a touch more intricate detailing, or would work best in shiny fabrics, which Kibbe reserves for eveing looks.
Sweaters: Soft knits that are luxurious to the touch. They can be either lightweight and silky or thick and deep, just as long as they don’t ever seem rough. Slightly long sweaters are nice, if they are somewhat clingy and reveal the body (particularly the waist) underneath. Cropped or fitted sweaters should be thicker (boucle, cable-stitched, etc.) and any detail (shirring, draping, etc.) should be low on the body and loose. Trim such as appliqué, jewels, beading, etc., should be slightly antique or softly abstract in shape. Skinny, ribbed knits can be fun, especially in dresses that your belt.
Avoid: Heavy sweaters that hide the body.
Level 1: Level 1 styles have the flow and drape, but lack details to make them feel fancy, or they would work best in thicker knits which seem a bit more casul.
Level 2: The Level 2 options have a bit more detail, with more opportunities to add trim, beading, or antique detail.
Level 3: I don’t have a lot of Level 3 options, but I think it is possible for a Soft Natural to wear a sweater as part of a formal look because of the need for softness.
Dresses: Dresses should be soft and flowing, but at the same time loose and unconstructed. They should either loosely define the waist in full, flared silhouettes, or be very draped and clingy in a straighter silhouette. Detail should be low on the body (shirring, gathers, appliqué, sparkly trim, etc.) as opposed to high or framing the face. A slightly antique approach to dresses is also possible, but keep them loose and billowy instead of fussy and overly fitted.
Level 1: Kibbe offers a variety of silhouette options, but I think the loose, flared styles work best for the more casual looks.
Level 2: The Level 2 dresses aren’t quite as billowy, but they do have a lot more intricate detailing.
Level 3: The Level 3 dresses all have slightly more intricate detailing than the Level 2 looks, and many of them would work well in fancier fabrics.
Evening Wear: Simple shapes with an easy flow. Drapable fabrics. Plush fabrics. Sightly sheer fabrics. Glitzy trim. Loose waist detail. Soft necklines. Flowing gowns with flared skirts. Pouffy cocktail dressed with fitted tops and flouncy skirts (long or short). Evening sarongs. Evening separates (blouses, sweaters, etc.). Draped pants. Antique lace dresses.
More fabulous fun dresses for the Soft Natural. The evening separates can be seen in the Level 3 sections for the other garment types.
And that’s it! If you still have questions about the Soft Natural type I suggest you check out Merriam Style’s excellent YouTube video. As for the Sew Your Kibbe blog post series, we’ve officially finished out pattern round up of the Kibbe types, though I do have a few concluding thoughts about the Natural subtypes…
Of the three Natural types, Soft Natural feels the most separate from the other recommendations, whereas Flamboyant Natural and Natural tended to have a bit more overlap I think. Soft Naturals can’t handle the super wide, heavy, and boxy unconstructed shapes that the other two IDs can. I think this might be a major reason that a lot of people who are Soft Natural think they are some other soft type instead. This is what happened to me; I’ve never looked good in large, shapeless styles, so I assumed all of the Natural types were off the table. Plus, Soft Natural has a very specific type of softness; it is soft flesh on top of a Natural’s blunt bone structure, which I think can often be disguised because of that softness. I think a lot of people often debate between Soft Natural and Soft Classic for this reason. I don’t think debating between Soft Natural and Soft Gamine is as common; I feel like a Gamine’s mix of yin and yang is easier to discern than comparing a Natural’s bluntness to a Classic’s blended-ness. Ultimately, though, I think it comes down to the clothes; if you feel right is clothes that are more tailored with a hint of soft detail you would be Soft Classic, but if you need more freedom of motion and slightly more unconstructed styles then you fall into the Soft Natural camp. I definitely noticed that myself, which is how I first came to realize I might be a Soft Natural. I took a risk making a few unconstructed garments in my first Sew Geeky capsule this past year, but those “risky” styles ended up being some of my favorite pieces. In hindsight, I really do need more movement in my clothes, and Soft Natural provides that, without forcing me to be swallowed in the more encompassing Flamboyant Natural or Natural styles. I’ll save the intellectualization for another post, but, suffice to say, when you find the right ID, you’ll know.
On a personal note, since this is my style ID, I have to admit that this was the most difficult post for me to write. By this point I feel like I’ve looked through patterns so much I’m a bit fatigued at discerning lines, and I was constantly worried I was picking styles I liked and not necessarily the best styles to represent Kibbe’s recommendations. The other thing that’s a bit tricky with this style ID is that the suggestions on what to wear and what to avoid are usually skirting a close line. Kibbe wants “antique” detail, but it can’t be too fussy. He wants soft, flowing shapes, but they can’t be too wide or boxy. He wants things to be unconstructed, but also having waist definition. Finding patterns that fit all of these recommendations is tricky! On the one hand, I feel like this gives me a lot of room to play with my personal style, but on the other hand, I feel like I keep second guessing my pattern choices. Regardless, I’m more confident than ever that Soft Natural is my Kibbe ID. Writing this post almost felt like a rundown of my “sewing list greatest hits!” The patterns I’ve made that I put in this post are some of my favorites, and I really do think a lot of these other styles that I haven’t made (yet) would look good on me. (I also think there are a lot of new styles I assumed would not look good that I’m sort of tempted to try now.) They may not all be my personal taste, but I think narrowing down my patterns in this way has really helped me focus on styles that I could include in a core wardrobe, which really was my ultimate goal from the beginning of the series.
Aaaaaaand….. We’ve made it! While I’m far from being done writing about Kibbe related sewing topics, I’m really excited that we’ve finally made it through our main tour of the Kibbe style IDs. Stay tuned for more Kibbe related sewing rambles, though perhaps not quite as regularly as this posts in this main series. I expect I’ll be needing to take a bit of a break during most of January due to real life things, but hopefully I’ll be able to get a few rambling sewing posts up around the end of next month. Plus, after all of this research, I’ve definitely got some exciting Kibbe related sewing plans in the works, so if you fear the Kibbe withdrawal, feel free to come back tomorrow to check out my new year’s sewing plans!