Petite Body Types

Kibbe for petites: Romantic

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 Romantic?

So you’re a Romantic, then. This final Kibbe type is the most commonly found among petite women, especially petites with curves.

Your style harks back to an earlier era of film star glam — think Marilyn Monroe — and your hourglass or pear-shaped figure, small waist, and soft curves make you hands-down the sexiest Kibbe type. Romantics are usually delicate in stature and have yin or traditionally feminine facial features. Kibbe describes Romantics as “enchanting, sweet, and radiant”.

But, as an hourglass or pear shaped woman who needs a defined waistline, it can sometimes be frustrating to shop for clothes when it seems like everything in stores is loose, flowy and made for inverse-triangle Naturals. This is especially true for us petites, who might find that even clothing made to fit curves is proportionally too long, and therefore doesn’t fit our curves where it’s supposed to.

Don’t despair, though: There are plenty of options if you know where to look. And when you play up your curves just right, you’re unstoppable!

Your petite style twin is Salma Hayek

Exuding sexy confidence, the Mexican-American 5’2″ bombshell is a Romantic — probably a Theatrical Romantic, actually. Salma Hayek is petite and curvy and knows how to dress her voluptuous hourglass figure to maximum effect:

Note how Salma leans into her curves and plays them up to perfection, rather than trying to mask them. She favours defined waistlines, fit-and-flare styles, ruffles, lace, and sexy feminine details on all her outfits. Her lines are soft and flowing, never harsh or geometric. She wears her hair curly or softly wavy.  Her outfits have patterns that are gently rounded rather than angular. Her favourite hemline is knee-length or just above the knee, which shows off her legs to maximum effect and balances out her shorter upper half.

She wears sweetheart necklines, deep v-necks, and other tops designed to draw the eye upward. Her casual looks pair basic denim in a straight cut with tops that have romantic details, like lace, ruffles, or low necklines. Her eveningwear style is sexy, romantic and chic; she exudes old-world Hollywood star appeal with her red carpet looks. Her style is undeniably feminine but never little-girlish — she’s all womanly sex appeal.

Petite Romantic Style

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

Top row: MSK Floral Pleated Dress, Boohoo Tie-Waist Blazer, LOFT Floral Tiered Midi Skirt
Middle row: WHBM Sleeveless White Ruffle Top, New Look Lace Bodysuit,
Eliza J Lace Fit & Flare Dress, Tommy Hilfiger Ruffle-Sleeve Fit & Flare Dress
Bottom row: Charter Club Pleated Top, XScape Fit & Flare Dress, INC Skirted Walker Coat, Nine West Alison Sandals, Michael Kors Lace-Print Faux-Wrap Top

Romantics who are petite might struggle to find clothing in the regular section that will work for you. Because you are both curvy and short-torsoed, most tops will be cut too long for you, and the waist, shoulders and necklines will sit in all the wrong places. You should instead opt to shop in the petites section for tops, tees, jackets, dresses and sweaters — basically anything that touches your top half. If you have a longer legline and curvier hips, you may have some success shopping in regulars for pants or skirts — just keep that sewing machine handy for hemming.

Some general guidelines for petite Romantics:

  • Always, always, always define your waistline. This is rule #1. If something has an unstructured or undefined waist, put it back. You need a cinched-in waistline, period.
  • Fit-and-flare and a-line are your favourite silhouettes. Look for dresses and skirts that flare gently out at the waist, skimming over your hips. Avoid sheath or shift dresses.
  • Look for hemlines that are knee-length or just slightly above the knee. This is by far the most flattering length on you.
  • Show some cleavage if you dare. Draw the eye upward with sweetheart or deep-V necklines. Open, low necklines will emphasize your hourglass shape and broaden your shoulder line.
  • Similarly, avoid necklines that narrow your shoulders even further, such as halters, cold shoulders, keyholes, or high necks, or turtlenecks.
  • Wear gentle, swirling, delicate fabrics and styles — nothing too boxy, structured or tailored.
  • Coats and jackets should cinch in the waist and flare or pleat out at the hips. Avoid oversized coats.
  • Add feminine details like lace, bows, pleats and ruffles — but keep them small, in proportion to your stature.
  • Accessorize with strappy heels, delicate chains, soft draped chiffon scarves, and small belts. Avoid accessories that are too chunky or overwhelming for your frame.

For petite Romantics, it’s all about adding some feminine glamour to your look. Regardless of what the fashion industry thinks, your curvy petite shape is perfect exactly as it is. Now go play it up!

Other Kibbe types

Not a Romantic? 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.)

3 thoughts on “Kibbe for petites: Romantic

  1. What a great post – really helpful! Thank you so much for writing this. I am 5’2″, like Ms Hayek, and struggle to find clothes that suit my Romantic shape. I will definitely be keeping this guide and taking it with me when the shops open again. Meanwhile, it will be very useful when I go through my wardrobe later, to give it an overhaul. Kibbe is wonderful, but the photos in his book are of very old-fashioned clothes and makeup, so seeing this style on a modern celeb is extremely useful.

  2. I’m just now new to Kibbe, trying to tweak the Dressing Your Truth system to suit my body type even more. Very rarely in my life have I felt or looked sexy. I always tried to look like people I just wasn’t. To find out I’m actually like Marilyn Monroe!!! Looking back, I remember that the times I did look sexy, it was in lower necklines (though I do prefer not to show cleavage) and cinched in waists. I always thought pencil skirts were a no-no, but apparently not. Now, there was another kibbe site that said a-lines were a no-no for romantics, but I always thought they were good. And I am curious about what Kibbe said in his book that he later retracted. Can you clarify?

  3. I am one of those people who doesn’t neatly fit into any of the categories. Maybe I am a soft classic or a soft romantic combination? I am too tall to be petite, but my hands and feet are small for my height. My body shape is the poire. I have curves. My bone structure is small, but my weight is not.

    Most of the rules for silhouette apply, but my personality tends to overwhelm lace and ruffles. I pick and choose for both my silhouette and personality. Maybe the 1940s were my style era: the shapes that suit me, pared down to minimalism in fabrics, trim and adornment. That’s me to a T.

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