Hello and welcome ❤️ Today I’ve finally collected enough evidence to talk about one of the most curious topics when it comes to the Kibbe system – waist! Waistline has a considerable role in the 1987 book Metamorphosis and the test included in it, but we all know that David Kibbe has trimmed his system into a more agile and effective one over the years, so what about waist? Can Yin-dominated image identities, like Soft Dramatic or Romantic, not have a prominent waist? Let’s see.
Before I begin, let me say that I’m not a Kibbe system expert. I am a passionate researcher and the goal of my posts about Metamorphosis is to share my understanding of the system with those who is interested about learning and using it. Since David Kibbe doesn’t certify or officially approves anyone to practice his system and/or offer typings (determining image identities), it goes without saying that the only expert is he himself when it comes to typing other people and theory behind his system. Besides, everyone interested in his system can become their own personal experts and use this system. You are free to study his system any way you prefer, but it’s my duty as a Kibbe’s system researcher to let you know that there’s a Facebook group called ‘Strictly Kibbe’ where David Kibbe himself explains his system. I’m simply informing you about it and if you choose to join it, there’s no way of knowing if your expectations will be met. In my posts about Kibbe’s image identities (aka Metamorphosis) I follow the theory David Kibbe highlighs in his book Metamorphosis (1987) the way I understand it. My goal is to share my own findings with everyone who wants to learn and use this system. I don’t offer typings (goes without saying – the reason is mentioned above) and always make sure that whatever I post goes in line with how David Kibbe himself presents his system. David Kibbe Official Website.
Title image L-R: Lauren Bacall (Dramatic), Sophia Loren (Soft Dramatic), Bette Davis (Soft Gamine), Carole Lombard (Soft Natural)
I find the question of waist especially interesting because often it seems to really influence the image identity definition process. In other words, prominent waist can seem like a ‘must’ for such Yin-dominated image identities as Soft Dramatic, Romantic, Theatrical Romantic, etc, but is it really so?
Well, in my opinion, waist isn’t nearly as important as it may seem for image identity evaluation because it comes along with the major characteristics of the body shape rather than defines them. The key characteristics to focus on are width, length, and curves (curves≠slim waist! and I’ll explain it with examples a bit later).
What I mean is: there’s no need to focus on the waistline while determining image identity, but it has to be taken into account while building head-to-toe looks.
When I analyze whether it’s possible to describe every image identity without referencing waist, it turns out to be 100% possible (keep in mind, this is my own understanding of the image identities that I developed from reading the book & studying examples and physical profiles of each image ID – it’s up to you to make your own conclusions):
Flamboyant Natural – wide (width through the upper back and shoulders), long vertical
Soft Natural – moderate to slightly petite, width and angularity for the Yang, slightly curvy
Soft Dramatic – long vertical, sharp angularity, curvy
Dramatic – straight, narrow, and long vertical line (not curvy), sharp angularity, sleek rather than delicate (because of elongation – to be truly delicate features have to be both short and narrow)
Romantic – curvy, but not wide, moderate to petite in terms of the vertical line
Theatrical Romantic – narrow curves, petite, with an addition of a very delicate sharp Yang (e.g. tapered shoulders or small, slightly sharp facial features)
Soft Gamine – petite, curvy, delicate angularity and/or width
Flamboyant Gamine – petite, not curvy vertical, delicate angularity and/or width
Soft Classic – moderate & balanced, additional Yin elements, such as slight fleshiness and roundness, moderate to short limbs, curves are softly defined and even, but not lush or obviously pronounced (they are NEVER dominant in Classics!!)
Dramatic Classic – moderate & balanced, additional Yang elements, such as slight angularity, can have slightly sharp, angular, or square features ( (balance ALWAYS has to be dominant in Classics – additional features come second and in relatively small amounts)
As you can see, I didn’t need to refer to the waistline even once because the waist always naturally falls into place. The shape of the waistline is the outcome of the body shape features – not the other way around.
The Ever-Changing Waistline = Unreliable Information
I know for a fact that anyone – any age and size – can use Kibbe system with equal success. This is because Kibbe relies on defining dominant features that are easy to evaluate, such as vertical line and its characteristics (width and curves). These features depend much more on the bone structure than features that change over time, e.g. weight.
Besides the fact that waistline can simply change its appearance due to weight loss/gain or pregnancy, it’s also difficult to evaluate which is ‘waspish’ waist and which is ‘boyishly tapered’ and this adds another layer of unnecessary complexity. It’s difficult to evaluate one’s waist because its appearance can change during the day and depending on the clothing we’re wearing. For instance, a bikini that sits precisely on the natural waistline will give an appearance of a slimmer waist, more so than a one piece swimsuit or low rise bikini. Even the width of the belt a person is wearing can sway the perception of waist width.
What About Curves?
Let’s take a look at Lauren Bacall, a verified Kibbe Dramatic – Yang-dominated image identity. Gorgeous long vertical, no particular curves or width, her shoulders are narrow, and even on the right where the dress has soft draping, but we can see that the outline of her bustline and hips is leaning towards straight. Her waist is very pronounced and slim on the picture on the right, but the outline of her bustline and hips clearly shows that there are no prominent curves. She is sublime in looks that showcase her dominant feature – long vertical line, which is exactly the feature that she needs to accomodate:
Let’s now take a look at Soft Dramatics:
We can see that the bustline and hipline of Soft Dramatics are much curvier, even though their shoulders aren’t wide. Even without seeing their waistline you’d be able to tell that they all have long vertical line, are narrow, and curvy, which are the core features of the Soft Dramatic image identity.
However, a closer look at verified examples suggests that pronounced waistline isn’t a ‘must’ for Yin-dominated image identities at all. For instance:
Jane Seymour is a Theatrical Romantic, but she has a rather straight waistline (it’s not ‘waspish’ looking at all). What makes her a TR is petiteness (5ft 3 ½ or 161.3 cm tall), narrow curves, delicate features (browse her pictures alongside other celebrities – she’s obviously very petite), and delicate sharpness (seen in cheekbones, shoulders). She simply can’t fit any other image identity and her not-so-pronounced waistline doesn’t influence her Yin-Yang balance and the characteristics of her vertical line.
Bernadette Peters is 5ft 2 (157.5 cm) tall and her short vertical is where she gets most of her Yin from. Her curves are lush – they are prominent, but her waist is naturally shaped rather than very pronounced. Her features (I mean all of them – not just facial features) are rounded, delicately wide.
Emma Samms is 5ft 3 ½ (161.3 cm) tall and I intentionally include a picture of her when she was slender and very young – to provide evidence that the waistline isn’t as important to the image identity evaluation as it may seem, independently on weight and age. Her shape is curvy, but her waist looks softly defined instead of ‘waspish’ and her curves are also obvious.
Curves are the ‘ins and outs’ of the body and are defined by how muscle and fat tissue is located on the skeleton.
Overall, I think it’s important to look at the curves first, waist later. If there are curves, they’ll naturally ‘stand out’ on the vertical line, creating a visible waistline. Straight, narrow shapes will naturally result in a straighter waistline. Women with a long vertical line will naturally have more elongated waistline, same as petite women will have shorter, more compact features. The shape of the waistline seems to matter much less – it can be softly or very pronounced.
Vertical line, width, curves come first. Waist follows the key features of the body naturally.
Waistline in Head-To-Toe Looks
I love putting theory into practice and in this case it’s quite simple. Since David Kibbe always refers to head-to-toe looks rather than specific garments, I think it’s easier to understand the role of the waistline. In Kibbe system, outfits need to be built in such a way that accomodates the natural shape of the body. As a petite and curvy Soft Gamine I need to accommodate my curves, delicate angularity, and short petiteness – these are my characteristics. The thing is, clothing needs to be designed and cut in a way that accommodates my curves – not just be elastic. I have a prominent waist, so I have to accommodate it too – otherwise my shape becomes a potato sack. Accommodating, showcasing my key features – curves – would be impossible without defined waist.
Important! Putting a belt on everything doesn’t make the item of clothing automatically suitable for a curvy shape. Clothing has to be designed with the belt in mind. Wearing a bulky cardigan or straight dress with a belt won’t make it less bulky and suitable for someone curvy or petite – the belt looks out of place and prevents the garment from draping as intended. The long vertical of the cardigan (or any long garment) ‘wins’ in the look, even if it’s interrupted by the belt:
All in all, garments need to be already designed, intended to accomodate curves if that’s what you need. The cuts for curvy shapes will have all kinds of tapers, draping, etc, to accomodate curves.
In my opinion, waistline evaluation isn’t something to struggle with because waist will always be a team player and go along with the overall body shape – vertical line, width, curves, etc.
Waistline goes along with the body shape same as elongated limbs go along with tallness (like I’ve already discussed in my post Height in Kibbe: why Taylor Swift, Lily Cole, and Zendaya AREN’T Gamines).
And let me leave you with a David Kibbe quote from his 1987 book Metamorphosis:
Do you realize that Nature created you perfectly? It’s true! There’s not one thing about your natural physical appearance that isn’t absolutely perfect for the totally unique individual you areMetamorphosis by David Kibbe, 1987
Have fun with Kibbe system, explore it and enjoy it! And of course feel free to comment below if you feel so inclined.
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