Classic First, Dramatic Second
A Dramatic Classic is the combination of a balanced skeleton with added Yang in their face or frame. Kibbe describes Dramatic Classics as the "Tailored Chic" woman. This is characterized by a slightly angular physicality with a cooly sophisticated essence. Note that any two Dramatic Classics are unlikely to display their Yang in exactly the same way. Just because you are DC, it does not mean you will look exactly like any other DC.
Kibbe's Key Recommendations for dressing your frame:
Let's start with Kibbe's key recommendations for dressing your frame:
Honor your balance and symmetry first, then add sharpness/angularity. Going to either extreme of Yin softness or Yang sharpness will look like you are trying too hard.
A good approach is to wear an overall tailored silhouette but with sharp edges. Sharp collars, angular accessories, pointed toe shoes, square or v neckline etc.
You can - and should - pull off shoulder pads
Use prints to honor your yang undercurrent - stripes, zig-zags, geometrics. Avoid soft, flowy, or ornate yin elements.
Accessories are a perfect way to insert a Yang element. Look for purses, earrings, and shoes that are elegant and clean with sharp angles.
Crisp and geometric detail (pleats, crisp cuffs) is essential for your overall look.
Shoes should be clean and elegant with sharp angles (think Chanel “spectator” flats or sleek sling-backs).
And here are the key things to avoid:
Ornate, intricate, or delicate shapes.
Simple symmetrical shapes without sharp edges or an elongated line.
Unconstructed or extremely boxy shapes.
Clingy, ornate, intricate, or flouncy lines.
Flowery, ornate, or “cute” prints
Multi-color or mix-and-match color
Monochromatics with a bold accent color
Chunky heels, plain pumps, or delicate strappy styles
Unconstructed “boho” bags
Now, let's do a deep-dive into clothing items and combinations that work especially well for Soft Classics and that honor Kibbe’s recommendations. A note on clothing items: pieces of clothing DO NOT have a Kibbe type, HOWEVER, Kibbe does offer very specific recommendations in his book and in his FB groups on what to look for in your clothing items, and that is what we're going to be considering today.
Understanding the Clothing Levels
This level is best for casual, generally daytime, wear. There is a little more leeway at this level to play around with the recommendations and experiment within your style. At this level, you are more likely to let comfort take precedence over your "lines".
This level corresponds most closely with the traditional idea of businesswear - although what is now considered "business attire" is changing rapidly. Nevertheless, these items are most appropriate for any occasion in which you need to appear professional or simply "put your best foot forward".
Look to your level 3 items for formal occasions - parties, weddings, or just anytime you want to look your absolute, drop-dead best! This level is less about being comfortable and more about incorporating more drama and elegance into your look.
Remember, many of the items within these levels are highly interchangeable depending on how you style them, the formality of your workplace, and your own personal style.
Dramatic Classic Coats and Jackets
Jackets look amazing on Dramatic Classics and you should have one (or two!) for every occasion. Your jackets should not be any shorter than the top of the hipbone. Shorter jackets should remain very sleek and streamlined; more unconstructed jackets should hit at mid-thigh or below.
Avoid peplums and overly flouncy shapes, and anything too wide, boxy, or short-cropped.
Levels 1 and 2 Coats and Jackets
Beautifully tailored wool coats are not hard to find (if you can afford them!)
The first leather jacket is a tad short for Dramatic Classics, but that shoulder detail makes up for it. Equestrian inspired styles, like the quilted coat in the middle, can make for beautiful casual outdoor coats for Dramatic Classics.
Level 3 Coats and Jackets
Try a long coat in cashmere, which is a Kibbe-recommended fabric for Dramatic Classics.
Dramatic Classic Blazers
I love sleeveless blazers as a more casual blazer option for Dramatic Classics!
Dramatic Classic Skirts
Skirts should be straight and narrow, with perhaps a few crisp gathers to accommodate your hips. Skirts must lie flat from the hip through the upper thigh area (stitch down pleats at the top, so as not to upset this vertical line). Hemlines start one inch below the knee to top of the calf for day. Longer, gently-flaring hemlines work well.
Avoid: Long, straight, or wide styles. Overly voluminous skirts. Anything extremely tight or clingy, or with details that are overdone.
Level 1 Skirts
Dramatic Classics can definitely rock above-the-knee skirts.
Level 2 Skirts
It is easier to find Level 2 skirts that fit within Kibbe's Dramatic Classic recommendations than more casual Level 1 skirts.
A good leather skirt is a great key wardrobe piece for Dramatic Classics.
Level 3 Skirts
Stick with your key shapes but in upgraded fabrics for more formal looks. Long, bias-cut skirts provide elegance for evening.
Dramatic Classic Pants
Simple, tailored, and sleek. Some pleating and man-tailoring works, but overall keep the look clean and elegant. Steer clear of wide, baggy, or unconstructed styles.
Avoid: Man-tailored, wide, or unconstructed styles. Any styles with excess trim or detail.
Level 1 Pants
Don't think you can't be casual and comfortable as a Classic - just choose jeans in a solid wash with a good fit.
Leather leggings aren't strictly within Kibbe's recommendations, but I had to throw them in here because I see many Dramatic Classics really pulling these off.
Level 2 Pants
Leather adds a touch of yang to any of your clothing options.
Level 3 Pants
Dramatic Classic Tops and Blouses
Tailored and elegant, with sharp edges and crisp details. Go for more dramatic styles when you're not pairing it with a jacket. Fabric can be crisp and smooth (luscious cottons), elegantly shiny (charmeuse), or softly woven (challis).
Avoid frilly styles with too much detail, or unconstructed styles.
Level 1 Tops
A row of buttons or a small zipper provide fun but subtle shoulder detail.
A longer tee in a deep v-neck is an easy choice, and these dramatic necklines are stunning on Dramatic Classics.
Level 2 Tops and Blouses
These styles would be best worn with a jacket...
...while these styles work better on their own.
Level 3 Tops and Blouses
If you love florals, this dark moody print above is a great way to incorporate them.
Dramatic Classic Sweaters
Skinny ribs and high-end knits are elegant choices for sweaters. Sweaters should be slightly elongated, so try a long cardigan or longer sweater-jacket. Beading can be a great choice for evening.
Avoid anything too bulky, cropped, or shapeless.
Level 1 and 2 Sweaters
Shoulder pads in sweaters and sweatshirts is a great trend for Dramatic Classics!
Level 3 Sweaters
Beading details can be incorporated to draw the eye to the shoulder line.
Dramatic Classic Dresses
Dresses should be tailored and sleek with sharp, crisp details (think coat dresses or sheath dresses). No waist or drop waist styles are appropriate, or the waist can be defined with a moderate to wide belt. Bias cuts and draping are especially fitting for more formal occasions.
Avoid anything flouncy or fussy.
Levels 1 and 2 Dresses
Have fun with prints and patterns to liven up the silhouette.
Contrast piping adds that subtle yang element to an otherwise balanced dress shape and style.
Level 3 Dresses
Dramatic Classic Accessories
All accessories should be clean and elegant, with sharp angles. Avoid anything overly delicate and ornate, or large and unconstructed. A single, elegant piece of jewelry is very effective.
Shoes for Dramatic Classic
Look for tailored, narrow pumps or flats. Kibbe specifically recommends two-tone "spectator" styles like the ones shown above for Dramatic Classics.
Bags and Belts
The geometric buckles and moderate width of these belts makes them perfect for Dramatic Classics. Belts should match your outfit, or contrast belts should match shoes/hat/etc. Constructed and crisply tailored bags are best.
Dramatic Classic Jewelry
Look for slightly chunky and oversized jewelry.
Other Accessories for Dramatic Classic
Long scarves highlight your vertical line
A Step Further: Understanding Your Lines
Kibbe associates Dramatic Classics with a “tailored chic” essence, which is certainly in keeping with the polished, sophisticated essence of Kibbe-verified DC celebrities. Dramatic Classics are said to exude a quiet confidence, a magnetic and powerful energy. Your shape equally represents both the yin and the yang spectrum - neither curves nor frame are dominant - with a slight leaning towards extra yang. This yang might show up in an elongated vertical, or a strong shoulder line, or something else.
It is interesting that many of our verified and unverified Dramatic Classics are not actors but political or public figures. One can certainly see the DC aesthetic influence in the traditional political aesthetic: buttoned up, classic, tailored lines, classic colors. While it is true that Dramatic Classics can really own this style, you should not feel limited to it. A closet full of blazers will serve you well, but if that’s not your style, don’t spend your hard-earned money on items you don’t like. That said, if you have never tried out a more classic, tailored aesthetic before, it can’t hurt to give it a try!
The fact that you’re slightly yang dominant does not mean that you can’t have curves. The idea of “yin” and “curves” gets conflated all the time, but they are not one and the same. Don’t feel that you need to fight against your yang structure in order to look and feel feminine - too many yin details will only read as “fussy” on you, while your natural DC lines will highlight your shape and allow your beautiful, feminine features to shine.
Your clothing should exemplify the effortless sophistication of the Classic, with a touch of the striking energy of the Dramatic. While this guide includes specific guidelines for how to do this, please remember that so much of dressing has to do with overall impressions and associations. You can achieve Dramatic Classic lines within any style aesthetic, and I have done my best to include clothing examples from many different styles to help give you some inspiration.
Your aim should be to create an overall triangular silhouette that is widest at the shoulder. Shoulder emphasis is key for any type with Drama in their frame, but it doesn’t need to be over-the-top (although it can be!). Any detail that brings attention to your shoulders will do the trick, such as gathers, shoulder pads, open necklines, lapels, and geometric accents. Make sure that there is some crisp, sharp, or well-defined element to every outfit - this could be in the form of a structured collar, contrast piping or braiding, or color contrast.
Keep the overall look tapered - moderate weight fabrics look best on you, as anything too lightweight or flowy can quickly give you an unfinished or messy quality. Shiny or silky fabrics add elegance to your look and are appropriate for evening.
When putting together your ensemble, it is best to stick within the same color family unless accent colors are used deliberately to create a desired effect. As a Dramatic Classic, you more than most should not think about your outfits in terms of separates; you wear “ensembles”. Separates should be paired intentionally and should be well-matched. Colors and prints work best in classic, neutral tones (ivory, tan, olive, navy, black, etc.) with classic accent colors (bright red, royal blue, violet purple, etc.). Prints should lean more on the yang side with oversized geometrics, stripes, and zig-zags, while floral, ornate, or “cute” prints should be avoided.
I really hope you have enjoyed this Dramatic Classic shopping guide! Don't forget the most important rule of dressing: ultimately, if you feel good in an item, then WEAR IT! You should use this system as a guide, not as a limitation.
Pin this for later!