Petite Body Types

Kibbe for petites: Dramatic

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 Dramatic?

Dramatics are described as “extreme yang” — sleek, angular, tall, and distinct. Two words to describe Dramatics at their best are chiseled and majestic.

With your strong features, long torso, broad shoulders, and long visual lines, you’re one of the few petites who’s lucky enough to be able to shop in the regulars section, at least for tops and jackets. You might need to hem your pants, but that’s easy enough. You can also get away with styles that most petites only dream of wearing, like floor-length gowns, power suits, wide-legged trousers, big coats and jackets, and bold prints.

Your petite style twin is Lucy Liu

Basically a personification of the Shakespeare quote “though she be but little, she is fierce”, Lucy Liu’s 5’3″ stature doesn’t stop her from pulling off Dramatic looks. Her beauty is all bold angles, long lines, and cool regal elegance — a very yang combination:

Take a look at how Liu makes Dramatic looks work for her petite frame by taking advantage of asymmetrical styles, geometric shapes, and long lines. She can pull off a floor length gown magnificently. When she wears shorter hemlines, she pairs them with Dramatic pieces like bold jackets, long cardigans, and geometric details. Also, note how fierce she looks in a power suit and tie — a very traditionally masculine (yang) look that Liu turns into a fashion statement.

Petite Dramatic Style

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

Top row: Anne Klein Maxi Coat, Connected Colorblocked Gown, Tahari ASL Suit, Michael Kors Leather Moto Jacket, Adrianna Papell Metallic Jumpsuit
Bottom row:
Alfani Open-Front Cardigan, INC Wide-Leg Pants, INC Classic Blazer, Betsy & Adam Velvet Gown

Most of the style advice for Dramatics is, unfortunately, written under the assumption that you’re probably tall, because David Kibbe didn’t really consider that Dramatics could be petite. So you’ll need to do some adapting to make it work for your body, though not as much as you might think:

  • Look for bold geometric prints, but keep them smaller — narrower stripes, smaller animal prints, everything scaled back so that the overall effect doesn’t overwhelm your frame.
  • Maxi and floor-length dresses and skirts will work for you, and give you the drama you seek. Wear them with heels for a bit of an extra lift.
  • Asymmetrical styles like one-shoulder dresses or angled belts will give the illusion of height.
  • An awesome power suit will let you rock the room and make you feel ten feet tall.
  • If you’re rocking the wide-legged pant or jumpsuit trend, look for versions that are high waisted and where the crops at least go to the ankle, to avoid shortening the leg. Wear them with heels.
  • You can get away with leggings and oversized sweaters for casual wear, but look for ones with geometric details or more structure to the top.
  • Jackets are your friend. You’re one of the few petite body types that can get away with really long jackets or coats, and they tend to look sleek on you.

Ultimately, if you’re a petite Dramatic, you may not even be reading this, as you may not consider yourself truly petite. If you are long-torsoed and broad-shouldered and have an easy time shopping for clothes in regular sizes off the rack, it may not have occurred to you to seek out a petite style blog. Lucky you.

But if you are here and wondering how you can make your bold, yang looks work for you, then remember that the Dramatic look is all about regal elegance… and that’s something that women can pull off at any height.

Other Kibbe types

Not a Dramatic? 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.)

7 thoughts on “Kibbe for petites: Dramatic

  1. I think I am dramatic petite! Could I send my photos to you? I just need some advice.
    P.S Thank you very much for your work, it is not easy to find such articles about dramatic at the same time petite women.

    1. I’m no kind of expert on Kibbe typing and would never claim to be! But if you post a couple of photos here, I’m sure the reader community could weigh in. In any case, what’s most important is whether you feel like the tips for petite dramatics work for you and make you feel awesome and confident. If so, then I say, rock those looks, girl!

  2. Hi! Could you make a similar post about Soft Dramatic? I’m 5’3 and I’m pretty sure that I’m some combination of dramatic yang with romantic yin, but I don’t feel dainty as Theatrical Romantic and identify rather with Soft Dramatic. But the type has many differences from pure yang Dramatic and so not all of the recommendations for the pure version work for the soft one.

    1. Hi Erika, thanks for reading. I don’t really have any specific plans to do posts for each subtype right now — if you read the main post, you’ll know that Kibbe has made a lot of changes to his system since he originally published his book in the 80s. There are a lot of forums and groups online that discuss it, but I don’t really plan to make this blog one of them, especially given that I have a lot of reservations and issues with his typing in the first place. I just meant to provide some inspiration to petites looking to incorporate these lines into their fashion. I hope that some of this advice would be useful to you. There are some Facebook and Reddit resources that are quite good if you’re more interested in pursuing Kibbe further.

  3. I’m a 5’2” dramatic and struggle with adding dimension and detail to my usual tailored and structured style. Lucy Liu looks like a great example. Thanks for this post!

  4. I went through the Kibbe types and Soft Dramatic felt like I was coming home. I watched a you tube video by Merriam Style and that’s when it became accessible to me as she said check your vertical lines according to proportion of head to body not in terms of height. What also helped me was her videos in which she shares a diversity of women from various cultures so I am able to see someone more representative of me.

    I am 5, 3″ and have a smaller head as compared to my body, and longer arms and legs, and thus seem and feel taller than I am. As you mentioned I have not needed to shop much in the Petite section as many regular sizes fit me, especially for tops and even for bottoms in some places. I used to dressed more for my pear shaped hips in fit and flare clothing (which are more a flesh issue not a bone structure thing as when I lose weight I lose the larger hips and they become a soft curve). Now I see that a lot of styles I like are actually great for me. I used to wear them and then stopped when I put on some weight.

    I look forward to rediscovering my own style and owning some of the soft dramatic aspects of myself which had become muted. Once the height confusion was sorted, I have found it, as you said, body positive and freeing. It has untangled many things. Thank you for your helpful suggestions on sizing down what he recommends for someone very tall.

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