Some Text Skip to main content

Have you ever wondered why two people can wear the same item of clothing, but it can look so different on them? Enter the Kibbe body type system.

The Kibbe body types are a collection of archetypes designed to help you choose and wear clothes most harmonious with your body’s ‘essence’. In other words, the overall vibe of your body determined by physical characteristics such as bone structure, body flesh and facial features, as well as your body’s unique combination of yin and yang – or feminine and masculine energy.

Kibbe’s theory has roots in cognitive psychology and the psychology of perception. Particularly Gestalt principles, that state we perceive things as a whole, rather than the sum of their parts. 

How does the system work?

The Kibbe body type spectrum has 5 essences (dramatic, natural, classic, gamine, romantic), further split up into 13 style types, influenced by the yin- or yang-dominance in your body.

Each body type has lots of pop-culture examples to see the theory at work. Think Marilyn Monroe or Beyoncé for extreme yin characterised by curves, rounded features and a ‘lush’ feel, or Bella Hadid and Keira Knightley for yang-dominant, angular, prominent features and an essence of sharpness.

How do I find my Kibbe body type?

The most accessible way to get an idea of your type is to DIY, with the help of handy online guides. There are also great online communities to help you out, like the r/Kibbe subreddit or the ‘Freely Kibbe, body types and image ID’ Facebook page. Just beware of anyone claiming to help you find your type for $$$.

Kibbe body types and fashion choices

Kibbe body types correspond to all forms of fashion, from items of clothing to prints, colours and fabrics, and even hair and makeup! 

It’s generally suggested that yang-dominant types like Dramatics are most harmonious in outfits that complement their sharp lines, like long, straight trousers and trench coats. Additionally, bold, solid colours, geometric patterns, and stiff fabrics that hold shape work well.

Conversely, yin-dominant types like Romantics are proposed to look/feel their best in softer, lightweight fabrics (e.g. satin) that drape well. Dresses with cinched waists, or tops with rounded necklines highlight the natural curvature of the body. 

Don’t worry – there’s no need to memorise it all. You can look here and here for overviews of the most harmonious style choices for each Kibbe body type.

Hint: find Instagram accounts dedicated to your type for easy access to outfit inspo.

So… what does it mean for me?

The negative mental health effects of body types as trends are well documented. These can include dissatisfaction, body image concerns and disordered eating. But as illustrated by this book by Clinical Psychologist Dr Baumgarter, dressing in a way that aligns with your own body type (rather than trying to change yourself to fit what’s in vogue) is an easy form of self-care. 

The psychological theory of enclothed cognition states we can influence our thoughts through what we wear. When your wardrobe is cultivated based on your personal style, you can let go of that nagging feeling of your outfit not feeling ‘right’ – because you know it works for you. Think personal stylist and tailor without the hefty price tag!

Another benefit is sustainability – when you find a wardrobe that aligns with your personal style, you can make more informed buying choices and no longer have to chase after the never-ending fashion trends that lead to overconsumption (we see you, fast fashion). So you’re not only benefitting you, but the world too!

The take-home message

Although trying to identify your body type can seem overwhelming (don’t worry, I’ve been there), it’s important to remember that the aim of the game is to help you wear what makes you feel good. 

The process of finding your style is a journey. But by aligning your fashion choices with your individuality, you can empower yourself with a style that is unapologetically and beautifully YOU. And what could be more worth it than that?!

Isabella Wesson

Author Isabella Wesson

Isabella Wesson is a Clinical Associate Psychologist working in NHS mental health services. She holds a BSc and MSc in psychology and has a keen interest in psychology applied to fashion, especially empowering people to look and feel their best. She’s also interested in forensic and transpersonal psychology with a focus on promoting wellbeing through spirituality.

More posts by Isabella Wesson
Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.