The Kibbe Update

I’m about a season into my Kibbe styling experiment and you know what? I’m having a good time.

Shocking shit, I know. Me, having fun with clothes. But with my new understanding of fabric, flow, fit, and silhouette, I’ve added some pieces to my wardrobe that almost have me back to “everything goes with everything, throw it on and go” levels of efficiency.

A brief refresher for the uninitiated, in the Kibbe styling system — one of many Yin/Yang styling theories that uses a scale of angularity (yang) and roundness (yin), — my body is described as “soft dramatic.”

“Dramatic” meaning my bones (angular shoulders, long legs, arms, feet, and hands) and facial features (sharp nose, cheekbones, and jawline). “Soft” being my shape and, specifically, where I’m fleshy (breasts, waist, hips, upper arms, and thighs).

According to theory, I look best in long, clean lines that follow my body’s vertical (i.e. length), while accommodating my shape with soft fabrics and waist emphasis.

At first, I struggled mightily with my type. While the body description was spot on, many of the “diva chic,” feminine glam style recommendations were not me. I may have the body for them, but I prefer a wardrobe of comfortable, interchangeable basics. And when I do dress up, I’m more sharp than glamorous.

Two things helped fill in the blanks:

  • I focused specifically on silhouette and fabric recommendations (opposed to the “diva chic” style interpretations)(1)
  • I looked into other yin/yang style theories (namely John Kitchener’s Seven Style Essences), which helped me pull in the Classic vibe I prefer.

A thing you’ll notice upon entering the online style community: people are looking for their Lord and Savior in every single thing they consume these days.(2) Cutting through the panic, fanaticism, and hand-wringing about body types and one theory being the end all, be all was key to getting to the heart of the matter: finding clothes I like that look good on me.

In doing so, I’ve managed to marry Kibbe’s theory on lines and silhouette with Kitchener’s theory on style essence (which is more intuitive and describes overall vibe) to create classic, minimalist looks that work for my body with the following tweaks to my day-to-day style:

  • Embracing high-waist, wide-legged slacks as a signature part of my work and casual looks
  • Subbing stiffly tailored button ups and T-shirts for blouses and wrap shirts
  • Narrowing down my jeans collection to a SINGLE pair of high-waist, “curvy fit” soft denim
  • Creating waist emphasis with belts
  • Paying attention to how my shoes shorten or elongate my vertical line
  • Swapping out my zirconia and pearl studs for simple, dangling earrings for day-to-day wear

I haven’t nailed it. Accommodating length in the summer when I’d rather be naked is a pain in the ass. And I haven’t quite figured out shorts (I may skip them altogether in favor of casual dresses and rompers).

But I’m getting there. Here are some of my fav recent looks:

Work wear has been pretty easy to figure out. Especially since the AC is on “Siberian” all summer in my office, so I can get away with blazers during the week.

The middle look is probably the most “soft dramatic.” Also, get into the black slip skirt, an item I never would have considered pre-Kibbe but am quite fond of.

Casual looks have been a little more experimental, but I find slightly elevated casual is my sweet spot.

Now, dressing up is when I lean in on the drapey, feminine look.

Resources & Learning

Okay. So you want to trade the hours you waste doom-scrolling your Internet heroin of choice for hours spent learning about clothes. I provided a list of resources at the end of my original Kibbe post.

I’ll throw in a couple here with some caveats:

I am not saying these are perfect, fool-proof systems that will tell you everything you ever needed to know about clothes without you having to experiment by you know… TRYING ON CLOTHES. These are ideas you learn, play with, and adapt — not a calculator or an algebra equation with one true answer.

Also, I don’t have a hard time inserting myself where I don’t “see” myself. If that’s a hang up for you, I’ll warn you that these are white, cis female content creators. The two I recommend below make an effort to diversify their examples, but If you need a For Us, By Us approach, you’ll have to do your own research.

Again, these are just ideas. About clothes. I’m not inviting you to join my church. Or suggesting you tattoo yin/yang theory on your forehead. Or making you memorize every body type and repeat them backwards while squatting against a wall. Lol.

Now that I’ve gone out of my way to make sure you approach this with openness and levity, if you’ve already clicked the links in my previous post, the following videos are pretty good follow-ups.

Body & Style Archetype History l Northrop, McJimsey, Kitchener, Kibbe

The 7 Style Essences


(1) Fuck that. I’m not wearing ruffles or puffy shoulders.

(2) I thought watching Twitter erupt into semi-monthly race wars over A Song of Ice and Fire characters was wild. They’ve got nothing on the “RIHANNA IS A THEATRICAL ROMANTIC AND I’LL GUT YOU TO PROVE IT” vibe of Kibbe Reddit.

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a girl named rob

I used to be "skinny black girl." I'm now a slender woman on the other side of 35 with no new moniker who is not quite interested in writing under her given name. Still writing my life, a day (or some months) at a time. Also, still black.

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