Petite Body Types

Kibbe for petites: Classic

This is part of a series on Kibbe style types and how they apply to Petites. Not sure what your Kibbe type is? Check out the intro post here.

What is a Kibbe Classic?

The Classic is one of the hardest Kibbe types to define, because it’s generally talked about by what it’s not rather than what it is.

Classics are neither yin nor yang, but are balanced between the two without any features being overly one or the other. They are generally defined as being neither tall nor petite, though that can be less about your actual height and more about your lines — you appear balanced throughout. They are described as low-contrast, symmetrical, elegant and refined.

Your petite style twin is Isla Fisher

I had to search far and wide for a style example for a Petite Classic. British actress Isla Fisher, at 5’3″, isn’t a pure Classic, but she comes pretty close to fitting the type. Her style is crisply tailored, sleek, understated, and classy. She has worn all sorts of styles, but tends to look best in Classic ones — understated, neutral, and timeless:

Isla Fisher’s looks here are perfectly adapted to a petite Classic. She prefers structured pieces to long, oversized ones. She keeps her proportions even and balanced, making sure that nothing is too long at the waist or too oversized. Isla looks terrific in a cropped blazer and wears them often. Her eveningwear is softly elegant. She wears neutrals a lot, but can rock a bright colour as long as she doesn’t have too much going on — note that she keeps the shoes and accessories minimal with her red dress.

She prefers straight looks, skinny jeans, sheath or softly a-line styles. While she will occasionally accessorize with a scarf, she generally sticks to subtle v-necklines. Her hair is sleek and straight, or perfectly coiffed a la Veronica Lake. She has adapted the Classic look to her petite stature and to modern styles, and she pulls it off with casual elegance, while always looking contemporary and youthful.

Unlike a Gamine, however, Isla’s beauty is low-contrast and all about prettiness, not cuteness. She’d look silly in flouncy Romantic styles, and downright comic in most Gamine playful clothes. Oversized BoHo Natural clothing would drown her frame — note how she’s careful to keep waist definition on all her styles. And her look is too soft for the harsh angular lines of a Dramatic.

Petite Classic Style

To help petite Classics assemble looks that would work for them, I’ve put together a style board entirely from petite pieces currently found in stores:

Top row: Charter Club Button-Down Shirt, Ralph Lauren Jacquard Dress, Style & Co. Denim Jacket, Ralph Lauren Lace-Sleeve Dress, Tahari ASL Plaid Pencil Skirt, Michael Kors Belted Coat,
Bottom row: Tahari ASL Three-Piece Suit, Calvin Klein Twill Jacket, C
harter Club V-Neck Cashmere Sweater, Lucky Lolita Skinny Jeans, Calvin Klein Split-Neck Sheath Dress

Adapting the style advice for Classics is not that difficult for petites, since so much of it is just about avoiding extremes and achieving balance. The key for petites, I think, is to mix in a tiny bit of playfulness into a Classic style to avoid looking matronly or dowdy:

  • Symmetry is great. Avoid asymmetrical hemlines or details that draw the attention too far from one place to another.
  • The list of things to avoid is long: Frills, excessive details, overly geometric shapes, or oversized anything. Don’t worry, though, these are general principles, not hard-fast rules.
  • Find your neutrals and wear them as much as possible. Mine are white, charcoal, purple, or navy; some women may prefer black, cream or camel. The key is to find the ones that work for your skin tone, and build your wardrobe around those.
  • Your best necklines are subtle classic V, U or softly rounded ones. Avoid high necklines or any excessive details, though a softly draped scarf is fine.
  • A tailored blazer is a Classic woman’s best friend. Keep the length moderate, above the hip.
  • Pencil skirts and sheath dresses are Classic favourites. But for petites — especially if you’re a bit pear-shaped, you may want to look for subtle a-lines, too.
  • Mid-length hemlines — to the knee, or an inch or two above — work best for Petite Classics. Avoid maxi or midi skirts as they’ll just make you look dowdy.
  • Stick to fabrics with structure, even in your casual clothes. Some draping is okay, but everything should look tailored. Opt for Luxurious fabrics like tweed, cashmere and silk.
  • For an easy go-to casual look, pair dark blue skinny jeans with a simple white tee and a black cardigan.

Ultimately, being Classic is about shop for quality over quantity — your look is timeless, not trendy, so buy investment pieces that will last you many seasons.

On a similar note, my usual advice to petites applies even more so to petite Classics — find a good tailor! Classic style is all about being perfectly put together.

Other Kibbe types

Not a Classic? Visit the posts for the other Kibbe style types:

(General disclaimer: I’m definitely not an expert in Kibbe and don’t claim to speak for anyone but myself in this post. I’m aware that David Kibbe has gone back on a lot of what he said in his book since it was published, anyway. This post is intended to just offer some general guidance for petites, inspired by Kibbe’s approach. All tips and advice are my own.)

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