Style Identities: The CLASSIC
Classics are so interesting to me.
If you're like me, you are accustomed to thinking about beautification as a process of adding things.
Add accessories, add makeup, add costume, add scenery, add hairstyle.
But Classics become more beautiful the more you remove.
Diane Kruger. The less detail she has near her face, the more beauty we see.
Classic beauty exists in the seemingly perfect balance and symmetry of the form and features. In a Classic face, no one feature jumps out. The nose, eyes, mouth, chin, and forehead aren't remarkably large, or remarkably small, or noticeably close together, or noticeably far apart.
Imagine you're a schoolyard bully: what nickname could you make up for that face? If you can't think of anything, you're likely looking at a Classic.
That impression of perfection can only be created when the form and features are all we see.
Add details to the image, and the perfection becomes harder to discern. The Classic fades into the background. She becomes merely pretty, or even boring-looking.
Classics can become visually forgettable if the chiseled perfection of their features is not highlighted by simple, carefully sculpted hair and the removal of all extraneous details.
Classic clothes are boring on everyone but a Classic. And attire that would be interesting on someone else overwhelms a Classic.
When people ask "Am I pulling this off?", they may be asking, "Are my features as complicated as this item I'm wearing?"
The answer to a Classic is usually "No."
If you're a Classic, you may have grown up hearing you were "pretty" - as opposed to cute, adorable, stunning, gorgeous or handsome.
In your self-critical moments, you may have seen yourself as plain or boring.
But would you call this ring boring?
A solitaire diamond engagement ring is a good metaphor for a Classic. The jewel's perfection is front and center when the setting is simple.
As a Classic, your seeming perfection will blow people away, if you allow it to be seen by keeping all of your lines simple and controlled.
All of the strategy of dressing faithfully to your Style Identity boils down to one idea: creating context for yourself.
The clothes and hair that you put on are your portable context.
When you choose clothing and hair that are congruent with your physical self, your physical self makes visual sense.
That's our goal here: to present ourselves in a way that says "I am real. My existence makes sense."
When we surround our physical selves with incompatible context, our physical selves don't make sense.
And we're signaling to anyone who looks, "I deny the reality of me."
If you compress soft, bountiful flesh into hard, unyielding fabric forms, you deny the reality of that soft flesh. (So, Romantics, no tailored suits in stiff fabrics.)
If you bind wide, muscular frames with constricting styles, you deny the reality of those big muscles and bones. (So, Naturals, no pencil skirts.)
If you surround a face and form that's perfect in its balance and simplicity with extravagant and outsize detail, you deny the reality of the simple perfection. (So, Classics, don't gild the lily.)
10/29/2014 08:24:34 pm
Are you going to do separate posts for combinations?
10/30/2014 08:32:09 am
Imo Anne Hathaway is not Classic at all to me, although her personal style is classic. She has large features on a small face, and would be very easy to draw a caricature of. Liv Tyer is too luscious to be a Classic, more like a Romantic and Ethereal hybrid. Natalie Portman seems Classic, but in real life she has a very large head on a very petite frame, so she also has a lot of Gamine.
10/30/2014 07:15:49 pm
I don't see anything "luscious" about Liv Tyler. Definitely not Romantic, she doesn't have the body type for those curvy, soft clothes. Most people type her as Dramatic, like the majority of Ethereals. She has a similar vibe to Cate Blanchett, they both played elves in Lord of the Rings. What I notice is that more simple lines look better on Liv. In the post where the style identities were explained, Cate was pictured in this peach dress with the flowery ruffle. Liv would never look good a ruffle like that, but any of Cate's other looks would have fit her in her colors. Liv's face is also very balanced despite the face that it's quite long, but I don't think she's a true classic, I think she's an Ethereal Classic. Classic blends are not going to look as balanced as true Classics.
10/31/2014 03:13:41 am
Liv Tyler has no Ethereal in her. She is a mixture of Youthful, Classic, and Romantic. People commonly mistake her for Ethereal, though. Youthful has its own otherworldly quality.
1/15/2016 11:34:10 pm
Liv Tyler appears to be a mix but I'd say natural first and foremost. Her coloring (winter) and loooong face would suggest some dramatic, but her face is best with fresh, natural makeup and her body suits relaxed, minimalist lines. No frills. I'd say natural predominantly. Then some ethereal thrown in. Her face looks soft (yin natural/ethereal), and her body looks yang natural (broad shoulders, large hands, tall and blunt)
2/7/2016 03:18:42 am
Kibbe has Liv Tyler down as a Natural. I find it quite a surprising category in terms of who ends up in it, I don't think it's as "lumpen proletariat" as it sometimes seems.
2/28/2016 11:06:17 am
IMO Liv is a natural first, too - because of her posture - everything that Meg wrote was what crossed my mind while thinking of her.
2/1/2017 09:15:32 am
Anne Hathaway could be a Dramatic Classic or Flamboyant Gamine in the Kibbe system. Natalie Portman could be either Classic or Gamine in his system, but its hard to say as she seems to fit both equally. Perhaps the Kitchener system fits her best, where she could be a mix of Classic and Gamine.
2/20/2018 06:49:37 pm
11/29/2019 04:07:14 pm
Anne seems more like a Gamine to me. At least in the face.
11/10/2020 06:07:27 am
Anne would not be gamine at all with those legs on her. Gamines cannot be taller than 5”5, she’s 5”8 with very large, chiseled and muscular features. She had a pixie cut once but that doesn’t make a gamine.
10/30/2014 05:20:30 am
Is this why Gwyneth Paltrow looked so smashing in her 1996 movie Emma? To my eye, she has very regular, even features and she pulls off the no jewelry/minimal makeup and simple dress necklines of that period movie. Her hairstyles from the movie were very controlled as well, even though her hair was always curled.
10/30/2014 08:35:42 am
Not sure I agree about Marion Cotillard. To me, she's never looked more beautiful than when she won the Oscar, with wavy hair, and an intricate dress. She also wasn't overwhelmed by curls and an even more elaborate dress at the 2008 Baftas.
2/1/2017 08:59:30 am
I think Marion Cotillard is a Kibbe Soft Classic. Look at her next to his original SC celebrities and she fits right in. Classic, but with the secondary Romantic that allows her to pull off those softer and more intricate details.
10/31/2014 04:26:37 am
Thank you for posting this! I love this way of thinking about Classics. I keep coming back to Classic types for myself but the idea that they are perfectly balanced has seemed out of reach. However, I can relate to the fact that adornment quickly looks like too much on me and actually detracts. Thanks for this insight.
10/31/2014 06:28:54 am
Katie, I'm considering it.
11/7/2014 07:59:42 am
I would like to see articles about combinations. Some are hard to visualize because it seems like the two types are opposites. Like would an Ethereal Gamine want to combine contrasting angular and flowing items or meet somewhere in the middle? (This is a selfish example because I think that's what I am, but it would probably apply to other combos like Dramatic Ingenue as well)
11/13/2014 07:42:10 am
11/2/2014 07:38:40 pm
Hi Rachel. I'd just like to share what I observed when I began pinning natural and classic celebrities on pinterest. By doing so I hope to figure out in which category I belong. I noticed that classic faces don't look as good smiling and/or showing teeth as they do with a 'poker' face which is the inverse of the naturals who don't look so good with 'resting' faces as they do smiling and showing teeth. Naturals have the most compelling smiles imo, which correlates and contributes to the idea that Naturals are the friendliest looking. Example: Zhang Ziyi poker face vs ZZ smile with teeth vs Cameron Diaz wide grin vs poker face CD. Do you see what I'm seeing?
11/3/2014 12:50:59 am
I've totally noticed this too!
11/3/2014 02:41:13 am
Ooh, I like these observations!! I bet HS looks best with an impish grin--not quite a full smile. What about Youthful and Romantic?
11/3/2014 04:07:00 am
Oh cool! I wonder what facial expressions are the best for all the others.
9/7/2016 08:27:36 am
"Semi-smile, with eyes focused on a point in the distance, is best for Ethereals" - oh my, that's totally me! That's always been my best look in photos, and definitely not an actual smile... (And that may also explain why I always look so bad in passport photos, where you need to look straight into camera and have a poker-face ;)) I haven't so far been able to put myself into any definite style identity category, but have thuoght Romantic and Ingenue to be the closest ones, with maybe some Ethereal thrown in, but this makes it look like the Ethereal might be a stronger part of it that that... The only trouble is my face is not elongated ;)
3/27/2019 02:26:46 pm
Yes, YES about the ethereal thing! I have figured out I have quite a bit of ethereal in me, and what you describe is it. I really think I look the best with a slight smile, just not so much that I have 'laugh wrinkles' at my mouth corners. Showing my teeth just looks weird, and with my eyes, I smize a tiny bit and just...Stare. Everyone always tells me to laugh 'properly', with teeth showing, but I just don't feel comfortable doing it. It doesn't feel 'me', even a big closed mouth laugh simply doesn't. The stoic look is okay too, because I have a lot of classic in me.
2/15/2015 10:31:02 am
OMG, thank you SO much! I've always felt bad because most of the time I just look awful when I smile showing teeth, and I can never get a decent smile in photos, for examples. Now that I know why I feel enlightened!
11/3/2014 01:08:17 pm
Re impish grin: you took the words right out of my mouth.
11/4/2014 02:35:54 am
I didn't take it that way. It's a cool way to see the different types. I also find it interesting, though--for most of my youth I tried to do the beaming grin with lousy success. I think our society (American) is very much weighted toward the N sort of smile. Since I have no N, it makes sense.
11/5/2014 01:45:35 am
11/6/2014 11:45:53 pm
11/5/2014 03:43:26 am
I am reading this with great interest. And I am curious which in your opinion is more important, correct style identity of correct colors? I have heard that one should have their colors analyzed first and then proceed with having their style identity analyzed. This would lead me to believe that correct color is more important. Where do you stand on this? Thanks.
11/13/2014 07:51:57 am
10/29/2017 02:55:54 pm
I agree with this although I also think it's because celebrities are so heavily made up, photo shopped and well lit etc that they can be made to fit any colour they are wearing within reason. Or at least not look really bad in it. But I have definitely noticed that when I try to talk colour with people they really don't have much clue about it's properties, including warmth and coolness and most people think in terms of what hue they believe they look good in, as in 'I look good in pink' and 'I can't wear green' without ever realising they may only be good or bad in certain pinks or greens. Sorry to comment on an old post but I know I'm not the only one who does this and Thanks for this post btw because it really hit home for me. I have been trying for years to not look 'boring' and it hasn't helped that I sort of fell in with a group of women who are all big believers in more is better and pile on the stuff.
11/17/2014 12:45:23 pm
I'm enjoying your blogs on style very much. As for color v. line, I think it's apples v. oranges--or chicken v. egg? I learned which colors are right for me partly by receiving compliments from graphic designers (who do know something about color) when I wore cheerful pastel T-shirts to work. On the other hand, even if my entire outfit was sky blue, I would disappear in it if it was a dramatic get-up like Cher can wear!
11/24/2014 07:01:33 am
This is the most brilliant thing I've ever read on visualizing or analyzing a Kibbe type! Well done! Please do them all!
2/14/2015 08:09:52 am
I was never convinced I was a classic *something* until I saw this page. That's exactly how my face is!
2/1/2017 09:27:53 am
Arianna, yes of course you can be Classic and Dark Autumn. Natalie Portman (Classic, with Gamine) and Emma Watson (Classic, with Ingenue?) are both, I believe, Dark Autumns. Perhaps look to them for inspiration? Because of your Classic lines you may need to use the softer colors of your palette, but you can still dress DA. I also have a coworker who is nothing if she isn't a Classic, and a DA. Kibbe has suggestions for all seasons under each of his types in his book.
8/25/2017 11:14:39 pm
This is a fascinating conversation! I always feel like my wide, Natural nose doesn't go with the rest of my face, which is more Classic. I have to smile in pictures, though. Maybe the Natural influence? There's also a Romantic side, too, but "sexy" doesn't work on me at all.
5/6/2019 05:46:28 am
Want to add that although I have to smile in photos, my mouth is small, so my smile isn't as big as a Natural's.
2/27/2015 07:01:25 am
What a great site!
8/29/2015 09:35:51 am
I'd never even heard of style analysis before - but it makes so much sense. I'd thought for awhile that people seem to gravitate toward styles that suit their physical appearance - and even adopt certain mannerisms to accompany them. I felt arrogant thinking myself something of a classic but reading through it fits. I have always noticed that minimal jewelry looks best on me and awhile ago I got into the habit of not wearing earrings, and when I started wearing them more again I realized unless they were small or subtle they actually were taking away from my face rather than adding to it. The smiling thing - YES I always thought I look off when smiling in photos.
6/2/2017 04:54:34 pm
Height is only one out of many considerations for determining your style. It's not even a very important one. If most aspects of you are Classic, then you are mostly classic, height be d**ned. My mom is Classic with a bit of Dramatic and Ethereal in her, despite her 5'1" frame.
6/7/2017 10:10:58 am
It's true! Look at Gwendoline Christie. She's 6'3, yet she's diminished by the Dramatic styles most stylists put her in. She's most beautiful in very feminine lines.
2/7/2016 03:31:02 am
I would love to bludge some free information out of you, Rachel....who has a funny face, out of the style types? I definitely have a funny face, as in, when I smile I look like a cross between John Goodman - who I adore - and Jennifer Grey pre-nose job - who I also admire the art of, so it's not a "problem", but I'm just wondering if there's a type that's more likely to look kind of comical facially.
4/14/2017 02:41:57 pm
I have read this over several times now, and I find this useful and inspiring each time. What I really appreciate about how you've broken down the style identities is to explain what they ARE (describe) rather than tell folks 'if you've got X quality like Y celebrity, then do Z' (prescribe). It's a very helpful way to do this.
8/11/2017 06:14:04 am
I've been reading this with great interest as I just recently discovered I have Classic in my style ID blend (instead of the N I had mistakenly thought) - which explains so many things for me that previously didn't make sense. :)
10/3/2017 11:33:57 am
I think Liv tyler is a dramatic ethereal. She seems to be more of herself in those looks in the 90s photos of her.
10/19/2017 06:08:37 am
2/12/2018 01:12:19 pm
Liv Tyler.....first and foremost dramatic with strong classic and touches of feminine. Looks amazing in a one colour tight dress with very slight ruching in the front.
3/21/2020 08:16:54 pm
I have those exact same spiral curls as Diane Kruger as Helen of Troy and I'm a (dramatic) classic as well. And indeed, it always feels a bit overwhelming for my face! I like my curls, but I like my face more when I heat style my hair. Can't do that all the time unfortunately
5/2/2021 09:01:45 pm
Hello Rachel. I'm a classic with some dramatic and romantic in the mix (and a kibbe soft dramatic body that doesn't quite match the face or personal style). I have a naturally voluminous wavy hair. My face really stand out when my hair is carefully styled, but it's hard to maintain this everyday without heat styling. So what I usually do, when my hair is wild, is make a hairdo that pulls my hair out off the face. It's really useful. Thanks for your blog, it's very inspiring! Greeting from Brazil :)
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