Non-Kibbe Style Systems

A few weeks back I wrote a post about modifications to the Kibbe system, but today I thought we could look at alternatives to the Kibbe Image IDs.

There are several other style systems out there, not the least of which include Dressing Your Truth, Truth is Beauty, David Zyla, and Fantastical Beauty. All of these have some aspects that relate to the ideas of Kibbe’s work, though many also have a completely different starting basis. Interestingly, it seems that many people find one system works for them better than another, which Style Syntax wrote about recently. While I can’t say I recommend attempting to “mix” these systems (they are all created to be complete and independent of each other), I do think it is interesting to note what similarities they may or may not share. 

Dressing Your Truth

Dressing Your Truth seems to be the most popular system at the moment; it focuses more on your clothes displaying your energy rather than discerning body lines and shapes. To be blunt, I’ve never had much luck completely understanding it myself. I’m aware there are a lot of tutorials and videos available, and while I think I’m some sort of a 2/4 or 4/2 mix, I always tend to lose interest before completely doing a deep dive and end up returning to the Kibbe recommendations for myself. Perhaps it is just because Kibbe’s more general recommendations allow me to imagine a more personalized wardrobe, or maybe I just prefer his positive and encouraging tone to Carol Tuttle’s which I tend to find a bit off-putting for some reason, but either way I feel more comfortable in Kibbe’s system and a bit stifled by DYT. Probably just a personal preference, as I’ve had several blog commenters indicating how DYT really helped them, but I just can’t get too excited by this system, so I’m unlikely to do too much of a deep dive of it here on the blog.

David Zyla

Zyla’s system is probably the hardest to understand or DIY. Essentially he looks at your coloring and body and comes up with a Style ID for you. Much like Kibbe, he is a trained professional stylist, and his system makes sense to him. While people tend to try and guess their type based on the information on the internet, there doesn’t seem to be a great way to understand this without paying for a consultation. He does have a few books on color, styles, and shopping though. Regardless, his system does seem to produce interesting results, and his credentials are definitely up to snuff, so he’s worth checking out.

Truth is Beauty

Truth is Beauty is a system that Kibbe fans tend to bash on a bit. Because she uses the same terminology as Kibbe (Dramatic, Natural, Classic, Gamine, and Romantic), there is a clear lineage there. However, she also adds an “Ethereal” ID, and says that a person can be a combination of up to 3 of these types, with different percentage values. This system comes directly from the clothes, but is focused on how they interact with the face. I think this helps take the essences discussed earlier (ethereal and ingenue) into account in a stronger way than some of the other systems, but also very much breaks from Kibbe’s original idea that you find your starring role and run with it. Additionally, whereas Kibbe’s subtypes really all feel distinct or unique, here the mixed types are able to use direct elements from each of the base types. While I do read and enjoy the content of her blog, and even got a few of her guides early on in my research, I have to say I’ve fallen away from using this style system and have been much more focused on Kibbe’s recommendations. I was much more interested in this system when I thought I was a Soft Classic, but really couldn’t find a comfortable fit in the Soft Classic recommendations. Now that I’ve been using the Soft Natural suggestions from Kibbe I find I don’t need to look elsewhere to make things “fit” me anymore.

Fantastical Beauty

Finally, Fantastical Beauty is a system developed by Kati L. Moore. She uses an interesting combination of a grid of body shapes (straighter, medium, or curvy) and facial features (angular, medium, and soft). You can have any combination of the body or face, leading to 9 main fantasy types. Each of these has several subtypes, and, added to that, there are animal familiars that can further modify the style. While it is possible that many of these types can have an overlap with Kibbe’s types (and the basis of straight vs. curved lines is similar), there isn’t a direct correlation. I find this system interesting, but a bit complex once all of the subtypes and familiars are added in. Perhaps it’s similar to the way that Olga’s Ethereals are applied on top of the Kibbe IDs; modifications to the base style to really individualize it. It’s also a bit tricky to DIY, as the majority of information is available in several for-purchase guidebooks. Which is great if you already know your type, but a bit cost-prohibitive if you are trying to explore/understand the whole system. Often the subtypes are listed, but it isn’t really clear how or why someone might be a subtype, or how they might know what their familiar might be. Her blog offers some clues, but this Pinterest Page seems quite helpful in discerning the types and subtypes. I’m definitely curious to see how this system develops over time, and I love the fantasy theme, but as yet it’s a bit hard to explain it in its entirety. 

And that’s it! Let me know if you’ve tried any of these systems, or if you know of any other alternative style systems, and if you found them helpful, either in addition to, or in place of the Kibbe system. Feel free to leave any of your other thoughts in the comments!


36 thoughts on “Non-Kibbe Style Systems

  1. Went to the blog to see if you have reviewed the latest Burda (I am still waiting for my august issue, translating to swedish seems to take some time), but this is interesting too! Never heard of the fantastical beauty system before, but I really want to be a fantastical beauty when I look at the pinterest boards. Mainly do to the names 🙈

    I have been following your kibbe-adventure but reading your thoughts about truth-is-beauty it might be time for me to re-evaluate as I am mostly D answers and kibbe ignores us 😓 but at least I know that my mother is flamboyant natural, and thats something I guess!

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      1. Read different things, sometimes it is just ”soft” and my second is A, so I have been looking at soft dramatic and theatrical romantic 🤷‍♀️ Mostly I wish to be gamine, but at 175 cm it looks quite silly when I try. At the moment I live in wide legged linen pants and shirts, pretending I am as sophisticated as Marlene Dietrich (soft dramatic).

        I just love that white vest 😍 and the red plus coat..

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      2. I think it is my face that collects a lot of D, baby-faced. Now, close to 30 (gasp!) and with a child of my own is the first time I am not asked if I would like to ride on the childs-ticket… But long limbs and some curves.

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  2. All these systems are very interesting, but I can’t help feeling that we can pay too much attention to them. I think they can be useful but personally I know what I like, what suits me and I also hate being pigeonholed into a box with a label on. If I chose to wear completely unflattering clothes and colours that didn’t suit me because I liked them then there’s nothing wrong in that.

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      1. Not OP, but I found that it was very focused on achieving some sort of platonic ideal of ‘woman shape’. Imagine if Kibbe’s goal was to make every woman as close to a Natural as possible.

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  3. I’m so fascinated by these systems and I love to read about them and then end up rejecting them based on the impossibility of categorizing everyone into a limited number of types. I think it’s true that the systems with more types are MUCH easier to deal with than the ones that limit us to 4 or 6.

    DYT was utterly impossible for me, at least when I looked at several years ago. My energy is completely still (Type 4) which would mean I should wear winterish and contrasty colors, at least according to DYT’s color cards at the time, and I am a very low contrast warm person who usually avoids cool colors. So nope. As a side note, Jane Segerstrom’s “Look Like Yourself and Love It” is a much older version of the T1, T2, etc concept and although much of the book can’t be taken too seriously today, there are some interesting ideas if you’re already obsessing about this stuff. For instance, there’s a whole chapter about measuring your face.😂

    I thought I liked Zyla because it started out looking smart and intuitive – wear things that are harmonious with your skin, eyes, hair – but then it went off into these personality types within each coloring type, and then that personality would determine your style. That seemed backwards to me.

    Truth is Beauty has been helpful not so much in defining my type but in explaining why I look completely lost in anything that veers toward the Dramatic side of Dramatic Classic. I have a small head and my facial features are Classic, so even though my body in general has the Dramatic features, I need to wear mostly Classic or I end up looking like David Byrne in the Big Suit. (Oh I think I just dated myself.) (Actually I bet he is a Dramatic.)

    I think the other systems I’ve investigated are all for finding your colors and they are mostly still stuck in the 12-season range although some of them are flirting with 16 seasons. I haven’t done a deep dive into any other style systems since I worked through Kibbe and felt pretty comfortable with Dramatic Classic as a sort of starting point. But that doesn’t stop me from looking at ALL the blogs and videos about all these other systems. Fun!

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    1. That’s how I feel! It should be fun. The only one I really want to understand more (aside from Kibbe) is Fantastical Beauty; it is really interesting because it considers the face and the body in equal weight. I thought I was a Magic Queen in that system but maybe I’d be in the Angel category? I sort of rejected Angel just because of all the things on the list I was least excited by it in a categorical sense, but I think it’d probably actually fit in more with my style than the Magic Queen recommendations? I don’t know. I find that one a bit harder to DIY because so much of the info is still being written on it.

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  4. I’ve had a bit of a play with DYT the last week or so, and seem to be some sort of 3/2 or 2/3 combination. I’m not going to explore it any further as I believe Imogen Lamport’s system is highly superior, particularly in terms of colour nuance.
    I do like the 5 categories they have in DYT and would use these for a personal system.
    Design Line – which is about the shapes or garments, hemlines, details etc.
    Texture – soft and plush, nubby etc
    Fabrication – which is about the drape and weight of the fabrics.
    Pattern – they have some pattern cards which show what patterns work for each type. I liked these and will develop my own, of what does/doesn’t work as I liked the visual nature of it.
    Colour – I’ll use my Imogen Lamport Sophisticated Palette which is the best I’ve found out of many many systems.
    Each type also has keywords – Animated, Subtle, Determined. And I plan to have another go at finding my version of these, perhaps from Kibbe.
    (I’m in Menopause now and having physical body changes, how does Kibbe deal with that? My shoulders are the same but the fat distribution is changing.)

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    1. For Kibbe the ID doesn’t change even when the body goes through physical changes; your skeletal structure stays the same and even if things redistribute as you say, in Kibbe’s system that doesn’t change the ID. He does even indicate where most types accumulate excess weight, though I find people tend to fixate on that in a negative way so I don’t like to refer to it much.

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  5. I agree that Carol Tuttle is too dictatorial for my taste – there were some early videos where she was not kind to people who disagreed. A system for people who are looking to be approved of by a strong parent.

    David Zyla – I couldn’t understand why I did not fit in to his system, then realised he has won awards for dressing characters in soaps. I can’t find myself in his system because my quietly thinking analytic personality is far from a type that is featured in a soap ! According to his rules, soft pale aqua is my dramatic colour ??

    It’s fun to explore these systems, but just take what works. Take them as a source of things to try out. But the crucial factor is your personal reaction, how you feel about the suggestions – what helps you feel at your best, most confident, most true to yourself.

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    1. Have had a look at why I have no comments on Truth in Beauty, and her style ID calculator does not work on a Mac !
      No comments on Fantastical Beauty, as although I love ‘heirloom’ embellishment, which some count as ‘gamine’, I’m far from ‘ethereal’.

      Reinforces the point that we go further with systems which, based on our feelings in response to what they say, give us something which suits our individual needs.

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  6. I did look into DYT, but honestly, none of the types in there really spoke to me. I don’t even remember what my type was, because the recommended styles didn’t feel like me at all!

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  7. I read Zylas book after getting my colors with the Cagill-Method. The colors were called “Granat Summer”, and they suit me really well. And so my mis-purchases dercreased. I got the Colours in peaces od fabric and was told, that the strucrures of the fabrics are those to fit my body-sructure – again suiting me very well.
    Zyla has an archetype “Jeweltone Summer”, and a few of his recomendations are the same I was told. But I think, “mellow aurumn” – “Sexy Librarian” – fits me much better though I am not an autumn. IMHO ist there a limitaion at Zyla, because he connects colour-types with archetypes…

    DYT does not work for me, I tried the films you need not pay for.

    From the descriptions of the Kibbe-types I know, that I am kind of natural, and I thought, SN would fit. But then I watched a video about the naturals from Merriam Style and saw, that thats not me – I am not soft enough for this type. There are a lot of classic cfatures, but they don’t make me DC.

    So I went on searching und made several questionaires, where I can not say what their resources are. But they said the same: natural with classic parts. also called “Preppy” etc. So i bought the texts for this type from TIB – and this fits the bill for me. She had a questionaire on her homepage following McJimsey, but it doesn’t work any more.

    I bought the book “Shopping for the Real You” from Andres Pflaumer. She has several good ideas that helped me go on with my style. And there is a chapter about yin and yang in the book:
    In the 1920s Belle Northrup was the first who used the concept of yin and yang to describe style and persnality of people. Grace Morton identified features belonging to yin or to Yang, 1963 from this work Harriet McJimsey developed a detailed system of 6 archetypes in her book “Art in clothing selection”.

    John Kitchener, David Kibbe and others made some modifications to this system and – as we see in this blog – Kibbe made a quite elaborated system of it. But it is just a system, and so you have people fitting less ore more well into it

    I have got one more book, recommend from the Caygill-Lady: “The Triumph of individual style” from Carla Mathis – or the UK-Edition “Timeless Beauty”, the same text, only with UK-spelling and sometimes cheaper….
    She doesn’t use the terms of yin and yang, but obviously has them in her head when she writes her recommendations

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  8. Since I still find Kibbe to be rather confusing, I kind of prefer Trinny & Susannah’s system. At least there, I can easily find my own type (though not as easily everyone elses), and their style reccomendations seem to be what I like to see myself in on photographs… But they do try to make everyone in to an hourglass, so might not work for everyone.

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  9. I have the Triumph of Individual Style by Carla Mathis. A friend of mine was a relative. It’s very detailed and quite interesting. Probably as close to a personal style consultant as you can get on your own. It uses fine art especially nudes to highlight all variations of body lines starting with overall whole body curved and straight lines , scale proportions and specific parts of the body. These are very detailed. For instance hollow chest and protruding breastbone, dowager’s curve, high hip shelf are just some examples.Face, color including chips to match to skin hair and eye and texture + creativity are other sections. One of the most interesting parts is you are given options to both camouflage or highlight different shapes and features. Highlight your tummy or thick ankles anyone? Neither i ‘wrong’. She shows how playing up a percieved flaw can be attractive too. The eye, skin and hair chips are very thorough and remind me a bit of Zyla’s system where you use the color in your veins, whites of eyes etc. All clothing examples while very early 90s are line drawings reminiscent of a pattern envelope making it easier to compare to modern styles and their are tons of them. It is a real workbook and you do have to be willing to put the work into it to learn your own style. Just reading it though gives a new perspective on individual beauty.
    Another system popular in the late 90s is Secrets of Style by Doris Pooser. She has more updated versions too including international ones. Her body lines take into account face and body separately so if you have an angular face but rounded body lines you would be atraight soft. The clothing examples are very useful. She had her own color system but changed later to merge with Color Me Beautiful. One nice thing waa she had separate color recommendations for caucasian, african american and asian. She also had capsule wardrobe recommendations for each body type before capsules were a thing.
    A newer book is Staging Your Comeback by Christofer Hopkins speciffically for women over 45. It does use apple, pear etc. but so much of the book covers things like makeup and things like sagging bustline or crepey skin for older galls you could use it with any system. And the makeovers are WOW. He also has a youtube channel. People pay big bucks to go have makeover by him and his team.
    As you may have guessed I’ve been a bit of a geek when it comes to style systems. I’ve always found them fascinating. They make me see things in new ways. At the end of the day I just end up doing what I want, but when I do wear ‘ my lines’ I find I do look a whole lot better in pictures I’ve seen of myself. The nice thing about sewing is your not at the mercy of what’s in in fashion.

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  10. Wrote a long post about Carla Mathis The Triumph of Individual Style, Dori Pooser’s Secrets of style, and Staging Your Comeback by Christopher Hopkins, but it didn’t post. Oh, well. Each one has some good stuff…

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  11. I was catching up on your posts and I found the mention of Fantastical Beauty intriguing. Once I did some searching, I remembered that I had come across this system a while back but there’s a good bit more information out there now. Thanks for the Pinterest link! From just reading the descriptions of the base nine types, there cannot be any doubt that I am a Nymph. It describes me exactly and even mentions my favorite color of green.

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