Petite Body Types

Kibbe for petites: Gamine

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 Gamine?

If you’re a petite Gamine, you’re in good company. Gamine and petite kind of go hand in hand, to the point where tall gamines like Audrey Hepburn are considered the exception, not the rule. Gamines often have shorter torsos and longer legs, making it difficult to shop for tops or dresses in the regulars section. If this is you, you’ll want to opt for petite-cut items that are scaled to fit your body.

Kibbe described Gamines as having a high-contrast balance of yin and yang features. Gamines are described as “vibrant” or “playful”. Often they are Yin in size (petite), Yin in facial features (full and rounded), but Yang in body type (straight and narrow) and in bone structure (sharp and narrow).

Your petite style twin is Audrey Tautou

French actress Audrey Tautou was only 25 when her role as Amélie Poulin made her famous. Today she’s 43 and a mom, but she hasn’t lost the playful essence of what makes her Gamine style work. At 5’3″, Tautou is petite, like many Kibbe Gamines. She rocks a pixie haircut, primary colours, high necklines, blocks of colour, and fun details like stripes or polka-dots. But she does it in a way that still makes her look casually elegant and joyful — proof that true Gamine style is ageless:

As you can see from Tautou’s various looks, she implements the Gamine style book to a T — short hemlines, high defined waistlines, high necks, playful detailing. She uses pops of colour to maximum effect, like when she adds a red shoe or a pink belt to dress up an otherwise neutral outfit. While her hair does look pretty a bit longer, a shorter haircut really brings out her large eyes and the sharp, high-contrast features that Gamines are known for. Everything she wears fits perfectly and is tailored to a T; Gamines are never sloppy or oversized. And while her look is definitely youthful and playful, she never looks childish or silly.

Petite Gamine Style

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

Top row: Vince Camuto Bow-Tie Dress, Charter Club Polka-Dot Skirt, Kasper Colorblocked Dress
Middle row:
Anne Klein Bow-Tie Top, Monteau Rhinestone Collar Top, Tahari ASL Tie-Neck Blouse
Bottom row: Tommy Hilfiger Colorblock Dress, Modcloth Knit A Line Dress, NY Collection Plaid Belted Dress, Ralph Lauren Silk Scarf, Monteau Ruffled Top, INC Denim Skirt

If you fit the Gamine type, it may seem perfectly obvious to you how to play up your petite daintiness and unique mix of yin and yang to emphasize your features. However, petite Gamines may face some style challenges in trying to look cute without looking like a child. Whether in the workplace or in your personal life, petite Gamines can dress to type while still commanding respect:

  • Play up your strengths. Your narrow hips and angular body type mean that you can look visually lean in sheath silhouettes and fitted styles.
  • Short skirts and hemlines will make your legs will look a million miles long.
  • High necklines are a Gamine’s best friend. While most of us look for v- and u-necks to lengthen the line, you’re the type who can most get away with high collars.
  • Opt for details at the neck, like scarves, bows, fun necklaces, and contrasting collars.
  • Use colourblocking with a clear separation between your top and bottom halfs. The “single column of colour” advice so often given to petites doesn’t apply to you.
  • Play with prints — fun details like polka-dots, checks, and geometric prints will work wonders for you, as long as you keep them small enough to be scaled to your frame.
  • Use fun pops of colour — shoes, belt, shirt — to make a neutral outfit more playful.
  • Make sure all your clothes are fitted to precision. Gamines are never oversized or sloppy. This is particular important for us petites; you’ll want to find a great tailor.
  • If you’re feeling daring, a short haircut will probably suit you really well. You’re one of the few types who tends to look best with cute pixie cuts.

Ultimately, Gamines are a study in contrasts, and your style is all about playing up those contrasts in a fun and sassy way.

Other Kibbe types

Not a Gamine? 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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