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 Natural?
Kibbe described the Natural type as yang-predominant, but, in comparison to Dramatics, Naturals are broader and more balanced. Naturals look fresh and tend to be athletic, and are characterized by their straight and slightly muscular body type, their slightly wide facial features that tend to be blunt-edged, and their fresh, open, outdoorsy look. Kibbe Naturals are the “girl next door” types, favouring a down-to-earth style that is casual, comfortable and effortless.
If you’re a petite Natural, you’re in luck: Your type is in right now. Actually, Naturals have been the preferred style type for much of the past couple of decades, at least. Nearly all models, actors, and celebrities are Naturals — it’s by far the most common type in Hollywood. Furthermore, most of the styles on the runways and in stores today are made for you.
With your broad shoulders, relatively long torso compared to your legs, and narrow hips, you can get away with what most petites can’t, namely, shopping in the regulars section for most of your clothes. You’re the only petite type who can wear loose, unstructured, flowing clothing without a defined waist. And you can rock the oversized trend in a way that the rest of us only wish we could pull off — as long as you take a few simple steps to adapt it to your frame.
Your petite style twin is Kristen Bell
Kristen Bell is only 5’1″ tall — the same height as I am, in fact — and yet she’s a Natural or possibly a Soft Natural. Really, I hear you asking? Well yes, take a look:
As you can see, Kristen Bell doesn’t need a defined wasitline as much as most petites do. She looks great in loose, flowing styles, BoHo tops, and oversized jackets and blazers — all styles that would swallow most petites whole. And she looks effortlessly chic without ever looking deliberately put together — her style is all about casual elegance.
Kristen has figured out a few style tricks that petite Naturals should pay attention to — namely, the importance of scaling everything to fit. Note how she can get away with loose t-shirts as long as she tucks or half-tucks them in to draw the visual line up? Furthermore, she wears long loose tops or coats over tight pants or leggings, and she favours pointed toe shoes to elongate the legline. For eveningwear, Kristen favours flowy or draped styles that still have some shape to them, rather than shift dresses. And she works a keyhole or cutout top to perfection, drawing the eye up towards her shoulders.
If you need another style inspiration, check out Kelly from Alterations Needed — her style is all Petite Natural and she looks terrific in it.
Petite Natural Style
To help petite Naturals assemble looks that would work for them, I’ve put together a style board entirely from petite pieces currently found in stores:
Top row: Michael Kors Printed Ruffled Dress, Harper Sleeveless Tunic, JM Collection Lace-Up-Sleeve Cardigan, Queen Graphic Tee, Cadence Tiered Midi Dress, Adrianna Papell Halter Beaded Gown
Bottom row: Felicity Wool Sweater Coat, INC Faux-Leather Leggings, Calvin Klein Tabby Booties, Alex Evenings Cold-Shoulder Gown, Camille Double-Breasted Plaid Coat
Petite Naturals have the built-in advantage of an inverse-triangle shape that is so rare among women and yet so common among fashion models: Broad blunt shoulders, tapered waist and hips, and a naturally athletic figure. But, as a petite, you still have to work with your shorter visual length, particularly when it comes to your typically shorter bottom half. Here are some tips to make the Natural look work for you without getting swallowed whole:
- Pick one oversized piece. Tall Naturals might be able to get away with having multiple oversized pieces in the same outfit, but this will quickly overwhelm most petites. Pair an oversized top layer like a coat, jacket or top with slim-fitting layers underneath.
- Pair long loose tops with leggings to create a contrast between your top and bottom half.
- Long chunky sweaters and cardigans should be signature pieces in your wardrobe. Wear them over more fitted bottoms, like skinny jeans or leggings.
- Elongate the legline with pointed-toe shoes or boots to further make your legs look longer.
- Wear loose, deconstructed styles that are nevertheless scaled to fit. Hem or shorten them if necessary.
- If you find that oversized styles are still overwhelming your frame, add a chunky belt to give your waist some definition.
- Your shoulders are your best feature! Draw attention there with keyhole, halter, or cutout necklines. The cold shoulder trend was made for you.
- Wear oversized jackets that cover your hips to draw the eye upward. A great statement coat worn over a tucked tee and skinny jeans or leggings is a fabulous look for you.
- Speaking of t-shirts, you’re one of the only petite types who can wear regular or even men’s tees. Try tucking them in under a long loose cardigan.
- Mix textures and patterns. Have fun with it! But keep prints small to be in proportion to your frame.
Petite Naturals can rock fresh, unstructured trends with ease. As long as you do it with an eye towards visual proportion, you should be the luckiest of all the petite Kibbe types. Happy shopping. And don’t mind me if I’m a little bit jealous.
Other Kibbe types
Not a Natural? 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.)