Like many of you, I've spent a lot of time studying these systems.
David Kibbe describes five basic essences.
I've discussed Kibbe's very helpful system before, so I won't go on about it at length here. If you believe you are some combination of these five essences, Kibbe's extremely detailed book is a must-read for you. No other articulation of these five essences is as specific or as complete.
And Kibbephiles who know their seasons now have an excellent new resource: Christine Scaman and Rachel Nachmias have adapted Kibbe's types into a system called Signature/STYLE, which combines body type with personal coloring. Ds, Rs, Cs, Ns and Gs will find Signature/STYLE incredibly helpful.
John Kitchener correctly includes two important essences.
Because he omits two essences that I now believe are essential in style analysis: Youthful/Ingenue and Angelic.
I believe Kitchener's is the system that correctly identifies all of the basic style essences found in human beings.
McJimsey's Ingenue style essence has a look that is girlish, innocent and sweet. Ingenue is distinguished from Romantic in that it's feminine but not overtly sexy. It's distinguished from Gamine in that it's youthful but innocent, not mischievous. McJimsey gives Shirley Jones as a celebrity example of the Ingenue type.
Consider Marilyn Monroe. In a system without the Ingenue essence, she would be considered primarily Romantic - womanly, sexy, passionate.
And she certainly has those qualities.
But does the Romantic essence alone capture what made Monroe so appealing? Asked another way, do these pictures capture what we love about her?
I don't believe so.
She's not an icon because she was merely sexy. She's an icon because of images like these:
What we love about Marilyn Monroe isn't her sexy Romantic essence...
It's the unexpected blend of both Romantic and Ingenue essences: sexy and innocent.
Without the Youthful/Ingenue essence, there's no Marilyn. Kitchener makes this point in his wonderful video on the Youthful essence.
There are many other style systems (such as this one, this one, this one, this one, and this one) that include the Ingenue type.
But only Kitchener's system identifies the Angelic type. This great article by Andrea Pflaumer explains how Kitchener came to identify this essence.
To see the necessity for an Angelic essence, consider Cate Blanchett.
In David Kibbe's system, she is a Dramatic. No other essence in his system describes her better.
Yet are these her best looks?
Severe lines and bold design do not capture her beauty.
She has a quality that these ensembles do not allow for: she is ethereal.
In these images, she seems more like herself:
but not a sexy, Romantic feeling. Not Elizabeth Taylor.
And not Emma Stone; no Ingenue cuteness here.
It is this Cate Blanchett quality - an energy that's identifiably feminine, but otherworldly instead of overtly sexy or sweetly innocent - that the Angelic essence encompasses. Angelic is a thing.
What's still needed...
David Kibbe allows for combinations of two types. That's more accurate - but since he omits the Ingenue and Angelic essences, many people are unrepresented.
John Kitchener personally assigns each individual client a proportional mix of several essences. That's highly accurate for people who consult him, but difficult to adapt to do-it-yourself style typing.
What's needed is a system that includes all seven basic essences and allows people to type themselves without difficulty.
In my next post, I'll introduce such a system.