As promised in a previous post, I want to start exploring some of deeper aspects of the concepts that interest me, and that I’ve previously discussed on the blog. In particular, I’m very interested in understanding the intersection between art, design and life, as well as the ways we can use the arts to support us in living our best lives.
To start these discussions, I want to begin with one of my favorite topics: the Kibbe Style ID system. The Kibbe system has been updated by David Kibbe in recent years but the overall concept is the same: there are certain style “IDs” that people fit in, and these style IDs can give us insight into the kind of clothing, accessories and hairstyling we can utilize to best present our physical selves. The style ID category that I fall into is Soft Classic (SC).
I’m in good company with the SC category: quite a few famous beauties share this ID (if you are interested in some of the women that are in other Kibbe categories, check out this post). The most famous of the SCs is probably Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco.
Kibbe previously classified Grace as a Classic, but, after further consideration, he decided that a pure Classic category was too rare in nature to warrant its own group. Thus, Grace was reclassified as a SC. I won’t go into all of the features that make her a SC (you can undoubtedly find this information on numerous websites and YouTube). But I will discuss how her style and energy influenced her persona, and how she used fashion to mold her public perception.
The effect: The Eternal Princess
Even before she official became a princess, Grace had a royal look. This was, in part, due to her incredible bone structure and slim physique, but her styling played a heavy role in looking the part of a princess. The clothing she wore onscreen often featured fitted bodices in flattering colors, and these were often short sleeved or sleeveless (a perfect way to display perfectly toned arms). She didn’t often wear shorts or skirts with calves or knees exposed. This was partly due to the fashion trends of the time, but these also perpetuated the reserved image that is often seen in royal families.
SCs often look better in the structured and symmetrical garments favored during the 1950s/early 1960s (think Dior’s New Look era). Generally speaking, these items are feminine in silhouette but not overly embellished. Considering that Grace’s Hollywood career occurred during the New Look period, she was literally the right woman at the right time to wear these clothes. She has the perfect look for the clothing that was most popular during this time.
In addition to the clothes she wore, Grace also wore perfect SC hair and makeup. Her blond coiffure was always immaculately styled, with hair having rounded shapes but remaining sleek overall. She wore defined lips, flawless foundation, and gently enhanced eyes, allowing her facial balance to shine. This period was perfect for her look, as it occurred after the dramatically tweezed and redrawn brows and beestung lips of the 1920s and 30s, but before the heavily enhanced eye makeup and exaggerated hair of the 1960s.
The look of this period – reserved, elegant, structured but soft where it counts – are all traits that are often associated with elite women, specifically, royals. So Grace’s leveraging of these trends helped form the public opinion of her being queenly (indeed, she was considered an “ice princess” or “ice queen”, though her costars all agreed that she was quite the opposite [warm and friendly, by all accounts]). In many ways, Grace “dressed the part” of royal before she and Prince Rainier III ever crossed paths. Her sartorial assimilation into royal life in Monaco must have been fairly easy for her.
My takeaways from Grace’s style aren’t new information, but I’ll still state them briefly: dress for the life that you want, and wear the designs that work for your unique style ID. We’ve heard that we have to “dress for success”, and success can be whatever you define it as. So, if you want the life of a royal, dress like one (within reason and your budget, of course). And if you know your style ID, experiment with the recommended silhouettes to find a look that works for you. After all, this whole journey is about figuring out what works, and discarding what doesn’t.
That’s it for this style ID/SC chat. I hope you all are having a fabulous February! I’ll talk to you all tomorrow.
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