Have you ever put on an outfit that didn't look or feel right on you? Fashion is a form of art that people can tap into daily to explore and express themselves. Many people find it challenging to discover their personal style, struggling to extend an expression of their identity through their clothes. Over time many fashion intellectuals created various theories and methods to help people style their clothes in a way that best suited them. Along with dressing for your body type, you can also dress according to your personality and essence.
In the 1930s, Belle Northrop created a holistic style guide that attuned to peoples' Yin and Yang energies, but this concept was complex for many to grasp. In the 1980s, David Kibbe created a less spiritualized system, categorizing thirteen different identities into five main fashion categories. Later in the timeline, Kibbe's system expanded to seven types, as Harriet McJimsey merged Northrop's Yin and Yang scale into the mix, and John Kitchener added a form. More recently, people have brought back style essences, finding it a better match for them than simply styling clothes solely around their body structure. To help you fully express yourself through clothes, here is a guide on discovering your style essence and how to dress for it.
Yin and Yang
The seven essences are ranked on a scale of Yin and Yang. Dramatic, gamine, and natural essences fall under Yang, featuring more striking looks. Yang essences take on styles based on the square shape. Their outfits consist of straighter and sharper edges and are often paired with vivid or dark colors for a bold appearance. Romantic, ingenue, and angelic essences match Yin energies on the other end of the scale. Yin styles derive from circles, offering softer and rounder-edged looks and combining loose and flowing apparel with lighter colors. In the middle of the scale is the balanced essence—the classic. This style includes characteristics from both Yin and Yang energies without heavily skewing to one over the other.
Dramatic essences tap into the most Yang energy. As the name suggests, this style features many theatrical looks. People categorized as dramatic have very sharp and angular facial or body features, like prominent jawlines and intense bone structures. Dramatic people exude extroverted, passionate, expressive, bold, and powerful personalities. Famous people that possess dramatic essences include Cher, Lady Gaga, Tati Gabrielle, and Benedict Cumberbatch. Must-haves in every dramatic essence wardrobe include bold patterns, lots of textures, vivid colors, dark clothing, and blazers.
Gamine ranks next on the Yang tier. This identity is a merge of youthfulness and masculinity. You might have gamine essence if you are playful, adventurous, creative, rebellious, and courageous. Gamine outfits feature a lot of straight-cut clothing items, creating lots of squared shapes on the body. They also include style pieces showcasing a diverse range of details and patterns. Pantsuits look the best on those with gamine energy, contrasting with their youthful feature and rebelling with a power staple. Plus, stripes play a crucial role in a gamine's closet.
Naturals emanate chilled and relaxed vibes but are still very collected and executive. They are the figures of fashionable athleisure and tend to be sporty. Their color palette consists of earthy tones and bohemian patterns. A natural's wardrobe features pieces that create unstructured shapes, like oversized coats, sweaters, and bulky pants. People who fit the natural description are often approachable, down-to-earth leaders. To math their outfits, naturals also wear dewy, minimalistic makeup looks that only accentuate facial features rather than add on to them.
Balancing Yin and Yang energies, classics radiate elegance, timelessness, and formality. They stick to solid neutral colors and simplicity. Most of their outfits tend to fall under the more conservative side incorporating items that cover most of the skin, like longer dresses and pants, petticoats, and tights. They tap into Yang energies' executive-like commandness and powerfulness but pair it with a gentle and nurturing ambiance. Kate Middleton, Jennifer Anniston, and Karry Washington are the most popular classics.
Sensual and alluring people match the romantic essence. Their body types tend to lean more toward the curvier side, or they dress in items that accentuate their curves. In their wardrobes, you can find floral items, lace, ruffles, solid and warm colors, and plenty of high heels. Romantic essences also incorporate a lot of dresses and skirts into their looks. Compared to classic essences, romantics prefer more tight-fitting attire. Marilyn Monroe and Beyonce are top examples of people embodying their romantic identity. Plus, in addition to their outfits, romantics often wear a staple, bold lip color.
Like the gamine essence, ingenue energies manifest youthfulness, but they also carry a lot of innocence. In an ode to their Yin, ingenue people feature rounder faces. Their color palette includes pastels and softer pigments. They dress more whimsically, featuring frills, flowy items of clothing, dainty accessories, bows, headbands, and a couple of vintage staples. Some people describe ingenue essences as an identity style with doll-like characteristics.
Channeling the most Yin energy, angelic essences give off an ethereal ambiance. They were Kitchener's contribution to the Kibbe scale. Common physical features that appear in angelic people include distinctive attributes. In some ways, they are akin to dramatic essences in facial characteristics but with a softer touch. They also embody a mysterious, divine, dainty, and dream-like personality and look. Their style encompasses glitter, iridescence, solid colors, gold tones, and loose clothing items.
Although you can express more than one of the essences, most people identify with one primary style as their foundational identity. The essence scale isn't meant to put you into a specific box. Instead, it strengthens your self-connection and provides you with a guide to expressing yourself fully. Discovering your style essence and how to dress for it allows you to explore fashion concepts that best showcase and extend your aura. If you are looking for a women's clothing boutique in Charleston, SC, to help you design a wardrobe that suits your energy and personality, check out Two Cumberland. They offer a range of clothing items and accessories, matching most of the style essences. Explore their range of fashionable must-haves and start feeling confident in your clothes by embracing your style identity.