Can Knowing Your Favorite Style Decade Help Determine Your Kibbe Type?

I was watching Aly Art’s recent YouTube video (which is an interesting look at fashion trends through the 1900s), and really started to think about how most people (at least most sewing people) tend to have certain decades of style that they really respond to. I think most of us are innately drawn to styles from the past (even if we may not necessarily agree with the social ideals those styles represent), and I began to think that, in hindsight, the decades I find myself most excited by also tend to be the styles that would best suit my Kibbe type. I thought this would be a fun idea to explore, so here is my take on which decades best suits which Kibbe types.

First, a few caveats. One, I’m aware that distilling a “common dress style” into a decade bin drives costume historians absolutely nuts. Obviously fashion is a continuum, and decades and styles bleed into each other as new fashions become acceptable, old styles fade out, and innovations in techniques and fabrics change. However, it does give a handy way to break up this post, and most people will recognize a style as being stereotypical of an era, so I’m rolling with it. Secondly, I didn’t do intensive research into the images I’m using as a means of illustration; they are simply Google’s best efforts at finding me sewing patterns from the various decades. Since this is really more about getting a general impression than about detailed and accurate research, I’m ok with that too. Thirdly, I’m aware that there will be styles from all decades that will suit the Kibbe types more or less well. We’ve seen that through the Sew Your Kibbe Series; using patterns from the past decade I was able to find hundreds of examples that would work well for each Kibbe type. However, when we really consider what the stereotypical silhouette from a decade of style is, I think that, especially in the past, some Kibbe IDs ruled supreme. The reasons for this are explored more fully in Aly Art’s video, which I highly recommend checking out. Finally, I’m aware that this is a very American-centric look at fashion over the past century, but since most sewing patterns that go back that far come from American brands (that I’m aware of), I felt that was ok for this discussion. And with that out of the way, let’s jump into the post!

1900s – Romantic

The styles from the early 1900s all focused on that narrow waist and hourglass shape that is associates with Romantics styles. Many of the details are also very soft and rounded to emphasize the narrowness of the waist. While some details (like the vertical pintucks on the style in the lower right) might be able to add a hint of yang to the look, the overall impression is one of dominant yin, and thus would best suit Kibbe’s Romantic.

1910s – Romantic, Natural

In the 1910s the silhouettes become a little more unconstructed and draped. The waist emphasis shifts, and so the styles range from being a bit more on the Romantic side to being more suitable for Naturals. This silhouette allows for more freedom of movement but also emphasizes a longer vertical line.

1920s – Gamine, Dramatic

In the 1920s the hem lines got shorter, and the art deco movement also crossed over into clothing styles. Kibbe has already made it quite clear that he feels this era is most suited to the Gamines, but I think the art deco elements also work well for Dramatics. It is a stiffer vertical shape than in the 1910s, which was a bit more soft. Though there are some yin elements to some of these designs (again, there is something that can be suitable for all the types in each era), the overall impression is either one of strong yang or a random mix of yin and yang elements, which does best work for Gamines.

1930s – Natural

The 1930s is an interesting era because it was during the Great Depression, but also when movies tried to take people away from the hardships of daily life, so the fashion is both streamlined and extremely glamorous. These softly draped vertical lines once again best suit Kibbe’s Natural, though I do think it leans perhaps a bit towards Soft Natural. The emergence of trousers as a more acceptable wardrobe item is also a nod towards the Natural’s core look.

1940s – Classic

The 1940s was another era that was dominated by practical designs. Everything was very clean, precise, and closely fitted; all of these styles would be perfect for a Kibbe Classic. Again, subtle details could shift the balance towards being a bit more on the Dramatic Classic or Soft Classic side of the spectrum, but the overall impression is definitely a clean, subtle mix of design elements that is very appropriate for a Classic.

1950s – Romantic

I’m sure we are all aware of how Dior’s New Look pushed fashion towards one of excess and extravagance in the 1950s. The tiny waist and poofy skirts are perfect for Kibbe’s Romantic types. This is probably the stereotypical era people think about when they think of “Romantic” styles and silhouettes.

1960s – Gamine, Classic

As Aly Art pointed out in her video, when one style or trend becomes popular, there will then be a trend that swings the other way. Comparing the 1960s looks to those from the 1950s, it is clear to see that the silhouette has gone more straight, with much less waist emphasis. These looks are amazing for Gamines, though I would argue that many of these looks would also be great for Classics (especially Dramatic Classics). The heavy emphasis on color blocks or mixing pieces are also really favorable for Flamboyant Gamine styles.

1970s – Natural

Style shifts from being more fitted and tailored to more free flowing and loose as Hippie culture takes over. The 1970s is probably the stereotypical era for Natural fashions, as everything is unconstructed and loose.

1980s – Dramatic, Gamine

The 1980s goes against the free flowing nature of the 1970s fashions and everything becomes extremely sharp, tailored, and over the top. This is really the era for Dramatics, as so many of the styles are well suited to a body type that can handle the strong shoulders, strong makeup, and sharp clean lines. Gamines (especially Flamboyant Gamines) also had a lot of great options in this time because of all the wild combinations of bright colors and shapes that could be easily achieved.

1990s – Gamine, Natural (esp. Flamboyant Natural)

The 1990s was all about the era of the supermodel, which really meant a lot of fashion catered to Flamboyant Naturals. However, I would argue that the counter-fashion that ran contrary to the mainstream in the 1990s really favored Gamines. I think this is also when we really see the rate of change in fashion trends take off; whereas before I would say that it might take years for trends to shift is now starts accelerating and we start seeing more options for the different IDs become widely available simultaneously.

2000 – Classic

I think I have to agree with Aly Art’s assessment that the early 2000s really don’t belong to any type as far as fashion trends go. Celebrity style from this era is very confused, and there isn’t really any one “trend” that defines this period of time. I would say that the “you can wear jeans anywhere” trend is probably the main result of the 2000s, but there isn’t really a defining silhouette. Therefore I’m giving the 2000s to Classics, because they can get through most trends more easily than other IDs simply because of their balanced features.

2010 – Romantic, Natural

Looking back over the past decade of pattern releases (hard to believe I’ve been sewing that long!), it is really obvious that we are living in a golden age as far as style options are concerned. Because fashion trends are changing so fast, it is fairly easy to find/make clothing that will suit any Kibbe ID. However, when I really look at a lot of the trends, I think I’d have to say this decade is really leaning towards Naturals and Romantics. The waist emphasis was very strong at the start of the 2010s, though it has become much less so by the end of the decade. Similarly, the details from early 2010s patterns are much more yin than those from later in the decade. Recently the trend has been unconstructed shapes and ruffles, which all suit the Natural type a bit more. However, I believe we are starting to see a silhouette shift again as we head into the 2020s. Of course, only time will tell how fashion moves into the future.

Personal Thoughts and Conclusion

Personally, I’ve always had an appreciation for 1950s and 1970s clothing styles, and after I really started learning more about fashion history the 1930s actually became my favorite era of past fashions. I could never really understand why anyone would enjoy the styles from the 1960s or 1920s. Of course, I’ve come to appreciate them from an aesthetic perspective, but I will still say that styles from the 1960s might be my least favorite of the previous century. In hindsight, this is really interesting because when I look at the eras I respond to (1930s, 50s, and 70s), they all have a strong bias towards Natural and Romantic styles, which makes perfect sense for a Soft Natural. When I look at the styles I least respond to (1960s), they have a much stronger bias towards Gamine looks, which is absolutely not my Kibbe ID. Although this is a really unscientific approach to finding a Kibbe ID, I do think it is interesting how we can soft of innately be drawn to styles that would best suit us, regardless of whether or not those styles are current.

So what do you all think? Do you have a favorite decade of fashion? Does it in any way correspond to your Kibbe type? Or do you love an era you know wouldn’t suit you at all? I’m so curious to know what everyone else’s perspective is on this topic, so please leave your thoughts in the comments!