More style chat! I’m still doing a deep dive into the Four Essence System as developed by Rita (of Style Thoughts by Rita).
The video I’m referencing for this post describes four tools within the system. These tools are used to clarify where individuals fall within the system, by interpreting who they are, how they look and their style process. The third tool of the system (tool 1 and tool 2 have their own posts) is style logic, which examines the style process itself. The logic portion of the video starts around 5:10.
Rita mentions style logic, specifically, how you think about style. So I decided to personalize this, and ask myself how I think about style.
This touches on my, “process for shopping, putting outfits together, and getting dressed”. This is all about how the effort involved with shopping and styling myself show up in the real world. If I enjoy complicated, almost ritualistic approaches to shopping and styling myself, then laid-back clothing is a fundamental mismatch. Likewise, if I prefer quick, uncomplicated, casual shopping and styling, then formal, effort-ful ensembles won’t match my energy.
According to Rita, Right Essence has “Inspiration from outside; a conceptual approach”. Meanwhile, the Up Essence highlights “Emphasis on external impact, and deliberate, lookbook approach”. The result of combining Right and Up is “Situation-focused, Conceptual, Deliberate”. As someone who has a Right-Up Essence, my style logic needs to have a good bit of effort, some ritual, and an intentional effect when completed. I’m fortunate: my style logic matches my clothing and styling approach (for the most part). Even my casual clothing tends to look like I’ve put a good deal of effort into it (because I have!) I select my clothing, makeup and hairstyle with care, and it shows, even when I’m dressed down a bit.
Alternatively, understanding my style logic can help me determine when I’m choosing clothing and styling options that do not match my essence. I’ve actually found myself hurriedly getting dressed, and realizing that my ensemble falls flat because it needs a little extra effort. So I’ll reach for an accessory or two, a more elegant pair of shoes, or even a striking coat, to give my outfit the polish it needs to look like I put more effort into it. If it looks like it took me only a few minutes to get ready, then that’s my cue that I need to do MORE, if I want to look like my Right Up self. When I do less, I noticed that no one comments on how good my casual-chic outfit looks (even if I took 45 minutes to tousle my hair or to look less formal and more chill), but when I look like put in just a bit more effort (even if it only took me 15 minutes, it should LOOK like it took me an hour or two), everyone I see will mention how great I look (go figure!)
Understanding your style logic goes a long way in determining whether you’re in harmony with your essence. I’m thankful for this great explanation of style logic – and the other tools – as used within the Four Essence System!
We’re discussing Style Thoughts by Rita’s Four Essence System again, because I’m fascinated by how this system explains the energy and soul behind personal style. There are four tools within the Four Essence System (I’ve already discussed tool # 1 here). Today, I’m on to Tool # 2 – Archetypes. The section of the video that broadly talks bout archetypes is found at minute 3:33.
Anyway, I’m exploring archetypes that fit my Right-Up essence. This quadrant contains women that tend to have a regal energy, that can run the gamut from intimidating to adorable. The keywords for Right-Up women that resonated most with me were Luminous, Refined, The Sun, Effort, Persona and (in my mind) Glamorous. Building upon those keywords, I took a look at the archetypes to see where I fit in. Fortunately for me, Rita has already posted a video explaining the five archetypes within the Right-Up quadrant.
The archetypes for this quadrant are the Role Model, the Icon, the Priestess, the Power, and the Playful Dame/Princess. I knew, immediately, that the Playful Dame/Princess did not suit me: I don’t have the girlish energy needed to pull off this archetype. The next archetype I struck off of my list is the Power: while I do feel energetically powerful, I don’t think this is an energy that I project well out into the world. My friendly Southern nature makes it hard to have the intimidation needed to embody this archetype well.
The process of elimination left me between two archetypes: the Icon and the Priestess. I most resonate with Icon, because there is a level of mystery and ceremony with the Priestess that doesn’t suit my personality and energy. When describing the Icon, Rita says, “Her style is an extension of her mission in the world”, and, “the main thing […] is this willingness to be seen and have this comfort with your power”. As someone who has studied personal style and is constantly implementing strategies to refine and perfect the image I want to communicate to others, I can confirm that I use my style as a calling card for my mission, and I also use it as a support when communicating who I am to others.
In short, the Icon is ME! I love this archetype and I enjoyed how Rita emphasizes that the celebrity examples she uses in her videos aren’t there to show anyone “what to wear” for their archetype, but to determine the role that personal style plays in their lives. It’s this desire to understand how style supports us that drives the need to uncover our archetypes, and I’m thankful that Rita has created such great content that explains these things in depth.
That’s all for today. Take care, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!
The first tool Rita mentions is keywords. Keywords allow us to laser focus on the elements of the essence, without getting lost in minutia. These also function as a compass of sorts, constantly guiding users to the heart of the effect they are trying to create through style. The keywords for my essence are as follows:
For Right women: Dreamy, Radiant, Inspiring, Luminous, Refined, The Sun, The Ice Queen
For Up women: Intimidating, Effort, Extravagant, Persona, Glamorous, Mysterious
The words that resonate with me were Luminous, Refined, The Sun, Effort, Persona and (in my mind) Glamorous. I started comparing these words against some of the things that I own, and whatever doesn’t make the cut, was placed into a giveaway (charity) bag. It was a simple metric for seeing which items suited me, and which ones are not harmonious with my style vision.
There are a lot of great keywords mentioned in the video that can help calibrate your style approach, so you can make choices that resonate with your core style ID. I loved experimenting with the many ways that keywords show up in my style. It also exposed ways that I’m falling short of my style vision, too.
That’s all my friends! What keywords from the video suit your style?
Happy Monday, friends! Tomorrow, I’ll start discussing the highlights of my trip, beginning with my first stop (Lisbon, Portugal, and the surrounding towns). But today, we talk travel fashion.
When I prepared for my trip, I began by adopting a capsule wardrobe approach. I knew I wanted to function with one piece of luggage, and one wardrobe that had everything I needed to mix and match my ensembles. By the time I packed for my trip, I had the following wardrobe list:
If you want to see the ensembles in motion, here’s the video I posted, showing some of the outfit combinations and accessories:
Now, I’m overall pleased with the items I selected. But, looking back a bit, I realized there were a few things that could have created a better capsule wardrobe:
Instead of my taupe flats, I really needed flat shoes with better grips on the soles. I had to walk very carefully when we toured, because my flats were slick on the bottom and I could have used the extra grip for touring on those well-worn stone surfaces.
Denim shorts would have been a fantastic addition to this wardrobe, especially if they were tapered and knee-length.
Another button-down top would have given me a little extra polish: it would have been even better if it was a sleeveless button-down so I could stay cool while I tooled around.
Because Lisbon was unseasonably cool, I needed more long-sleeved tops. Having few long-sleeved options was a problem for me.
Also, a jacket or cardigan would have been great and given me some additional wardrobe options.
I really wish I’d thrown one other color into the mix, aside from yellow, white and royal/navy blue.
As a Kibbe Soft Classic (SC), I would have benefited from a few pieces that had a bit more structure and symmetry. Less structured items = more comfort, easier maintenance, but opting for structured pieces would have ensured that I felt more like myself as I toured, and more put together.
I am glad that I had a capsule wardrobe that worked for my travels but, like anything else, there was room for improvement. I’ll do it even better next time!
Here’s the post that went up prematurely a few weeks ago: it’s all fleshed out and full of pics. Enjoy!
A couple of months ago, I discussed Grace Kelly’s impeccably elegant style, and I found it extremely helpful for my own style journey to apply an analytical lens to her style choices. It’s been a while since I did a Kibbe style chat, and this particular star’s style has been a favorite of mine for years. I figure that there is no time like the present to discuss another Soft Classic (SC) beauty, Marion Cotillard.
The effect: Old Hollywood Revisited
Marion is an established actress, winning numerous awards for her portrayals. I find her fascinating, as she is often on what I consider the “outskirts” of pop culture. She is undoubtedly talented and popular, but she doesn’t appear on the gossip sites or other media outlets focusing on the shenanigans involving some A-listers. She’s “in the world [of Hollywood] but not of it”, for lack of better expressions. Marion has all of the perks of the A list but none of the embarrassing trappings. Clearly, she prefers remaining as discreet as her level of fame will allow. I admire her for this!
Marion’s philosophy of discretion over being outrageous for the public’s consumption is seen in her sartorial selections. She often keeps a simple silhouette with her hair, makeup, and clothing, though she occasionally takes chances with her appearances. Starting with her hair, it’s clear to see that Marion enjoys wearing her natural dark hair color. Her brunette locks perfectly complement her coloring, so she looks tremendously harmonious when wearing dark hair. Her hair is always quite glossy (which makes the color appear even more luscious) and is usually in a medium- to slightly-long length bob with a bit of curve. Her hair usually doesn’t have stiff curls, just a lovely curvature of the ends.
Sometimes she’ll do much longer lengths, which can give her an even more glamorous appearance. Her best looks are always very tidy, or, if slightly tousled, it’s a very calculated effortless look that doesn’t appear messy at all. What’s really fascinating is how “older” (more vintage inspired) hairstyles look tremendously modern on Marion. As a SC, she has a very balanced face that looks quite timeless, and the same hairstyles that looked marvelous on the SCs of yesteryear (like Grace Kelly, Merle Oberon and Donna Reed) look just as fresh and beautiful on Marion. In my humble opinion, the prettiest looks worn by Marion are the hairstyles that look like they are right off of the pages of a 1940s styling guide.
Marion’s makeup tends to be quite soft and simple. She will occasionally experiment with more intense looks, but she looks effortlessly and polished when she works within the makeup recommendations as outlined by Kibbe. Marion’s most incredible looks use gently defined features, with eyes and lips matching in intensity. The “watercolor” makeup approach (as advised by Kibbe) looks marvelous on her, giving her features some distinction but doesn’t overwhelm her balanced overall effect.
Finally, let’s discuss clothing. Marion looks heavenly in symmetrical ensembles with soft touches here adn there (the best look for SC). What’s really cool is that she will experiment with looks that are better suited for other style IDs, presumably because SC clothing is often “boring” to the SCs that wear them. (Sidebar: as a SC, I understand how “boring” it can be to stay within the style recs for this ID. The trick is to add one element of different IDs while keeping the rest true to our ID.)
While regularly wearing SC clothing can feel “boring”, it is really the best canvas for seeing the naturally balanced features within the face and body. When Marion sticks to her ID, she looks heavenly. She looks incredible when she wears clothing that looks like they are directly from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Symmetrical silhouettes that fall anywhere from the knee to the ankles are smashing on her, though she occasionally plays with a mini-skirt ensemble (these look cute on her when the mini-skirt is a bubble style). Sheaths, shirtwaist dresses, and A-line ensembles are perfect on her, so long as there are soft touches that honor the yin in her frame. High quality fabrics that are neither too heavy or too flimsy suit her well, and wearing colors that are consistent (no fading) and an appropriate level of saturation (she can handle a bit of color intensity) are best.
For Marion, she would do well to ask WWGW: What Would Grace Wear? The most flattering looks I’ve seen on Marion look like they were plucked from the Princess of Monaco’s wardrobe. However, she should avoid using the same color palette of Princess Grace: Marion’s coloring looks divine with Soft/Cool Winter colors, while Grace is a Summer, which, funny enough, is the lighter side of Winter colors. Marion could literally replicate most of Grace’s ensembles, make sure the clothing is in the Winter coloring range, and it would look fresh and modern, while still giving a nod to classic roots.
The difficulty of modern celebrity wardrobes is that there are many stylists that don’t “curate” signature looks like the old Hollywood machine used to do for its stars. For that reason, I think Marion does a great job of creating a style profile that has way more “hits” than “misses”. I also appreciate that she enjoys having fun with her appearance and doesn’t stick strictly to the silhouettes that are recommended to SCs. Even if her style risks are occasional “misses” to the public eye, so long as she’s having fun, it really doesn’t matter if others disagree with her choices.
That’s all for my style analysis of Marion Cotillard. Do you like her ensembles? Let me know what you think!
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.
You all already know that I have studied and applied the style principles as explained by David Kibbe (my latest Kibbe-related posts include some more recent realizations as regards my style ID). I don’t limit myself to Kibbe’s philosophy, but I use it as the basis for understanding the technical aspects of dressing my body. However, I’m excited to share that I found another style system that works harmoniously with the Kibbe system but takes into account your personal energy, or essence, and how this impacts your presentation.
I determined that my essence is Right-Up, and I found quite a few confirmed and unofficial Soft Classics in this quadrant. I used their presence in the quadrant to confirm what I suspected. Rita created a video that explains the hallmarks of each essence, and each essence has its own “deep-dive” video. Here’s the explanation of the Four Essence System for women (the system also addresses men’s style essence in a separate video).
Seh goes further, and discusses the logic behind dressing using the Four Essence System. I found this video tremendously helpful, too.
Are any of you familiar with the system? I’d love to hear your thoughts on Rita’s ideas below!
Happy Monday, friends! I trust that your weekend was beautiful, relaxing, and enjoyable.
I wanted to start this week off with a topic that I’ve discussed before, that is sorely needs updating. I mentioned in a post a couple of years ago that I’m a Soft Classic in David Kibbe’s style ID system. While Mr. Kibbe has evolved in his approach to style ID-ing (he has created some new exercises to help aspiring style stars to learn their best lines), the fact remains that his previous style ID system works well for me and has led me on a path to having better understanding of what works for me and what doesn’t.
Here’s what I realize about Kibbe typing: the more you work with it, the more intuitive it becomes. Your intuition won’t always scream at you, “Buy it!” or “Don’t you dare buy it!” Something, the intuition comes as simple suggestions, like, “Hmm, this looks a little . . . off”, or “This would be perfect if . . . “. Repeat after me: life is too short to buy and wear clothes that only make you 80% happy. Yes, there may be some ordinary items (like that t-shirt you use when dyeing your hair or the skirt you wear when you’re practicing with your oil pastels) that don’t make you feel over the moon. But the vast (I mean, 90% of our wardrobe) should delight us. Kibbe’s system allows us to train our eyes for what truly works for us. Even if there isn’t much money for fashion in your budget, you can still spend some time training your eye, so when the perfect piece shows up at the perfect price, you’ll be ready. You’ll also save money by not buying any old thing, just so that you’ll feel like you have a “proper” wardrobe.
Another thing I realize about the Kibbe system is how much money and time I save by implementing this philosophy. Instead of mindlessly shopping because I don’t know what my wardrobe is “missing”, I’m very clear on what gaps exist in my wardrobe and which retailers can fill said gaps. Among the clothes I’ve kept, I have an adequate wardrobe that allows me to easily assemble a stylish ensembles that suits me perfectly. No more endless hours hunting for something that looks “just right’ on me; almost everything I own looks “perfect” on me. That could also be credited to the fact that I still, on a lesser level, embrace the Madame Chic capsule wardrobe approach, but it’s important to note that Kibbe’s philosophy and capsule dressing work well together.
I feel that most of the frustration over the Kibbe system comes from people not having an accurate view of themselves their bodies. A lot of people conflate their personality with their style ID, and that’s an approach that can lead you down the wrong style path. It can be hard to accept that your carefree personality doesn’t necessarily translate into being one of the Naturals, or your larger-than-life persona doesn’t automatically make you one of the Dramatics. But, by being honest about your bone structure and facial (and other) features, you can figure out a way to allow your style to be a perfect enhancement for your personality.
And don’t get me started on the “Classic” types: being any of the other types doesn’t mean that you possess less-than-classic beauty. In fact, some of the greatest beauties throughout the ages were Dramatics (Lena Horne), Soft Dramatics (Diahann Carroll), Theatrical Romantics (Dorothy Dandridge) and Romantics (Beyonce), Soft Gamine (Halle Berry AND Eartha Kitt), Flamboyant Gamines (Tina Turner) . . . You get the picture. But, in case the Naturals are feeling left out of the discussion, let me assure you: the vast majority of high-fashion models are Flamboyant Naturals. Janet Jackson, a woman that is objectively beautiful, is a Soft Natural. And these are only a few of the Black entertainers that have been classified by Kibbe: there are TONS of women, of all ethnicities, that are clearly beautiful and have a timelessness to their beauty that can be considered “classic”. However, just remember there is a difference between “classic” (anything that has remained high quality and outstanding over a period of time) and “Classic” (a term assigned to any person that has a moderate frame, fairly symmetrical features and a blend of curves and angles). There are classic (little “c”) beauties in all of the style IDs.
I have some tips for figuring out your Kibbe type without making things too complicated. I’ll share those in a future post, but until then, I hope you found some value in my random Kibbe-related thoughts. Talk to you all tomorrow!