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Dramatic Style Essence: What is It and Do I Have It?

Non

Non

I think of great style as a marriage between body lines, as can be determined by the Kibbe Body Types Test as well as style essence. I’ve done a great deal of writing on the different body types because I think it’s important to get that part done first. Knowing your body type is like the sponge of the cake, it’s the structure.

Now, I’m focusing on style essences, which for me is like the icing on top. These two parts can be enjoyed separately, but the real magic happens when both are present. In style, this is the person who has perfected their unique authentic style. Their clothes fit and accommodate their body perfectly (body type lines) and they communicate who they are as a person (essence).

 

In this post, I will be discussing the Dramatic Essence- what it is, how it can be expressed, and how to tell if you have it. First, however, I think it’s important to fully understand just what a style essence is in the first place.

 

Note: In body types analysis, I used the Kibbe system of body typing. For essence analysis, I will be using both the Kibbe and the Kitchener systems. I am adding the Kitchener system as I think it’s both more comprehensive and intuitive, and I have had no issues with using the two systems together. In fact, I think they complement each other.

 

A style essence is different from a body type.

 

The body type is based on a person’s body geometry and identifying it helps a person to know their best clothing lines and styles so that they always look their best.

An essence is less tangible. It’s based on a person’s embodiment and personal expression and identifying it helps a person know their inner stylistic character so that they always look like themselves, or harmonious.

 

Essence, by virtue of how intangible it is, is difficult to describe. Like class and grace, it’s difficult to pinpoint, but you know it when you see it and it’s glaringly obvious when it’s missing.

A person dressed in a way that captures their essence looks wonderfully complete and they animate their look- they bring it to life. Conversely, even in lines that perfectly match their body type, a person who doesn’t dress for their essence will look dull and incomplete.

 

Let’s look at an example to illustrate this:

Bella Hadid is rumored Soft Dramatic, a rumor I believe because that’s what my analysis of her also found. I also think she has a strong Dramatic essence and a lesser Romantic essence.

Bella Hadid: Kibbe Soft Dramatic

While Bella has both a Dramatic and Romantic essence, one is fundamental (Dramatic) and the other is secondary (Romantic). Because she has a dominant Dramatic essence it is imperative that she dresses to honor it, otherwise she just looks off- even if she honors her lesser Romantic essence.

In the images above, Bella looks lost. The fabric is too soft and unconstructed for her strong and dominant bone structure. The dresses look flimsy on her and overall these overtly sexy dresses take away from her sexiness. Bella leads with fiercely sexy energy. That power behind her sex appeal comes from her strong Dramatic structure and essence, without which she loses herself.

In these pictures, she leans not only into Romantic lines (which don’t work for her because although she has a Romantic essence, she has a Dramatic body type) but also the Romantic essence. The red lip, glamorous jewelry, and ornate hair all create a Romantic essence. In each of these, she doesn’t quite look like herself and something is off.

 

Bella Hadid: Kibbe Soft Dramatic

In these looks, Bella looks magnificent. Here, I better see the Dramatic + Romantic composition that makes her a Soft Dramatic.

The fabrics are heavier and sharply constructed, which honors her structure. The edges are sharp which flatters her infinitely more than the dresses above where the soft fabric pools on the floor.

 

Her hair is sleek and sharply pulled back (first two images) and her makeup emphasizes her chiseled bone structure, all of which honor her dominant Dramatic essence. Her jewelry is luxurious and bold, and her hair is soft and curved (third image), all of which honor her less dominant Romantic essence.

By honoring her Dramatic lines and essence first, Bella ensured that these looks had the solid foundation they needed to compliment her structure and the power of her presence. Then, by adding the Romantic essence touches, she elevated the look to bring all of her life. She looks stunning.

 

What Things Communicate Essence?

Essence is elusive, so it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what individual elements create it. In truth, it’s probably a combination of all of them; the style of clothing, the color palette, the hair and makeup, and the choice of accessories.

However, some of these are more fixed than others. For example, the style of clothing is likely dictated by a person’s body type and the color palette is likely dictated by their color season. So the elements that are left to play with to create or highlight the desired essence are hair, makeup, and the choice of accessories.

 

Packaging (tangibles)

These tangible elements are the things that anyone can manipulate to recreate a representation of a particular essence. On the right person, it will come to life and look beautifully natural. On the wrong person, even if it looks beautiful, it will look like a costume.

 

Hair

Hair is communicative. Whether it’s tied or loose, sleek or voluminous, polished or unkempt, all of these variations create a different vibe for the person wearing them. Some styles will be more ‘them’ than others, meaning that some styles will capture their essence better than others.

 

Makeup

Similarly to hair, makeup is a very communicative element of any ensemble. Whether bold or subtle, sharp or blurred, bright or subdued can create a harmonious look that highlights someone’s beauty and essence or one that clashes with it.

 

Accessories

Accessories are fun and dynamic and they allow for the ultimate expression of a person’s essence because of all the options that are available. Not only do they complete a look by stylistically tying it all together, but the shapes, colors, textures, edges, and details of each piece can be used to communicate the essence of the wearer.

 

Embodiment (intangibles)

These intangible elements are the crux of an essence. These pieces come together to animate the packaging (as listed above) of a person’s embodiment- which is really what we’re judging when we talk about their essence.

 

Movement

One way that a person’s embodiment of their essence can manifest is in how they generally move. How they pick up and put down things, how they hold them, how they walk, etc. Certain people can be described as gentle, graceful, and poised- this is a particular embodiment. Other people can be described as fun, energetic, and even strong- this is a completely different embodiment.

 

Speech

How a person talks can reveal a lot about them, and particular ways of speaking lend themselves to certain essences. For example, a person can be bold and direct in how they communicate- this is a powerful and perhaps even dominant essence. Or, a person can be lighthearted and almost frivolous in how they communicate- this is a soft and perhaps even flirty essence.

 

Demeanor

A demeanor is all-encompassing but it can also be clearly worn on a person’s face and it’s how that person is perceived by most people. This is how a person generally outwardly presents. Some people are intimidating and intense, while others are warm and welcoming. Some are mischievous and some are pure and innocent.

 

That Indescribable Magic

I’m purposefully putting this here so that we can all remember that an essence can’t be boiled down to a formula. The truly animating part, that thing that brings a person’s essence to life is not something that I can pinpoint and describe. It’s the ever-elusive muse- it just is. Some people are just a certain way and other people aren’t. You either have a particular essence or you don’t.

 

If you do, then embodying that essence and allowing it to shine through will make you your most beautiful because it will make you your most natural, truest self. If you don’t have a particular essence, pretending to have it and trying to embody it will make you your least beautiful because it will be a cheap imitation of someone else.

There are no good essences or bad essences, there’s just what’s yours and what isn’t. Beauty is simply being true to yourself.

 

What is the Dramatic Essence?

Kibbe Dramatic Essence

The Dramatic essence can be described as the most powerful representation of feminine energy. This kind of sensuality may come off as intense, intimidating, and domineering.

 

In the Kibbe world, this is the type made up of pure yang and manifests as long, narrow lines. There is no softness to the structure, everything is taut and angular. The bone structure is long, narrow, and sharp and the flesh that sits atop it is taut and sinewy.

It follows that the essence associated with this type builds on that idea of narrow sharpness. The Dramatic essence leads with power and precision. Power captures that part of it that is intense, dominant, and bold. Precision captures the packaging of this essence, everything that touches and frames them has to be sleek, sculpted, and elongated.

 

Using the criteria set above, the Dramatic essence can be distilled as follows:

 

Hair

Dramatic hair is full of, well, drama. It can be edgy and sharp with asymmetric edges, or it can be pulled back and sleek, it can be super long or buzz cut short- really anything that is bold and that creates a sense of structure.

Elongation is fundamental to the Dramatic body type, so a person with both a Dramatic body type and essence (like Tilda Swinton who also has an Angelic essence) can pull off a high-volume and shaved sides look that adds elongation and edge (Dramatic) and weightlessness (Angelic) to her look, making it harmonious.

 

Someone like Zoe Kravitz who doesn’t have the Dramatic body type (she is a Flamboyant Gamine) could not pull off that kind of volume because she lacks the elongation.

However, she does have a strong Dramatic essence as well as a Gamine essence, so notice how amazing the sharp bangs and pulled-back hair look on her. The chiseled look is harmonious with her sharp, chiseled bone structure and she looks great.

Dramatic Essence hair

 

Makeup

Dramatic makeup is bold and precise. The eyeliner is sharp and crisp and so is the lip liner. Everything has to stay within its lines, creating a sharp contrast between the features. Again, the key thing to go for here is power, which can be achieved through a power eye or a power lip, or both.

For most people with a Dramatic essence, the cheekbones tend to be a prominent facial focal point. So, the best makeup accentuates this by effectively highlighting and contouring the chiseled cheekbones and the hollow spaces beneath them.

 

Accessories

Dramatic accessories are big, bold, and structurally sound. The boldness may be achieved by patterns (think of high-contrast black and white stripes) and textures (think metallic).

Structure is very important for this essence, as it communicates power. Think of a bag, here the fabric and construction will determine the structure. So, the fabric should be stiff and the bag should hold its shape on its own (no hobo bags, for example). All the edges should be sharp and crisp.

 

Movement

Women who embody this essence have a strong sense of power and dominance to them. So, their movements mirror this. Their movements are big- they take up a lot of space, and powerful- there is a lot of force behind them. These women and thus their movements are not dainty and delicate. They move with power and in a way that isn’t afraid to break things.

This is not to say that they physically articulate in what we may consider a masculine way, rather, it’s to say that the power of their movement makes it more deliberate and hypnotic, which is still feminine- think of a large, sexy feline. You can see this demonstrated in the next section where I discuss Dramatic Essence icons.

 

Speech

Dramatic speech is direct. It doesn’t mince any words and it’s not afraid of anything. It’s not afraid of offending, it’s not afraid of standing out. This makes sense when you consider that it comes from a strong voice that knows its power. These women speak with authority and they very naturally tend to be the leaders within groups of people.

Dramatic speech doesn’t lend itself to small talk. These women say what they mean and mean what they say- they aren’t the ones to fill a conversation with pleasantries. For them, words should be used purposefully. As such, there is a natural weight and authority to what they say.

 

Demeanor

The Dramatic demeanor is intense. It’s powerful and often perceived as intimidating. These girls naturally ‘serve face’, that’s why they make incredible models. The popularized term ‘resting bitch face’ refers to women whose neutral ‘resting face’ is not smiley and doesn’t project warmth- which can describe the Dramatic demeanor. So, they may come off as cold or ‘ice queens’.

On the negative side, the Dramatic essence can very easily be misunderstood as ‘mean girl’ energy. Because people are naturally intimated by this essence, it’s easy to create a boogieman of the people who lead with it. This has nothing to do with their personality, it’s just the vibe they project.

 

What Sort of Woman Does This Create?

These are the type of women who dominate any room they walk into. They are deeply magnetic but in a powerful and almost intimidating way. Their sexiness is not girly or flirty, it’s much more intense.

These are the women that men and women are afraid to approach- there is something innately intimidating about them and it’s their embodied power. When she is correctly wrapped in structured and bold packaging, it becomes clear that this is a woman who is meant to be in power.

 

Dramatic Essence Icons

The high-fashion runway is a great example of the outward representation of the Dramatic essence woman. The supermodels who stand out and are memorable decades after their prime are often the ones who embody this Dramatic essence. They walk with power and they seduce you with their intensity.

Two modern examples of women who embody the Dramatic essence are iconic 90s model, Naomi Campbell, and a darling of the 2010s, Karlie Kloss.

 

Naomi Campbell

It’s difficult to think of a model who dominated the industry more during her prime than Naomi Campbell. Supermodel is correct. That walk is iconic and her entire attitude is the epitome of the seductive intensity of the Dramatic essence.

When I think of power and dominance on the runway, I think of Naomi Campbell. Her general attitude on the runway seemed to be, ‘I own this and nobody else exists while I’m here’. And she was right.

The key component of that attitude is confidence- she knows she’s all that and a bag of chips. It’s clear in the way she moves; how she looks at the camera, how she poses, and of course, how she walks. She is strong and powerful and magnetic. Everything she does pulls your attention toward her and seduces you.

 

In all three of these GIFs, I am deeply aware of Naomi’s physicality. She is a physically powerful and striking woman- she is a verified Flamboyant Natural type (height + width + athletic build) but her essence is all Dramatic. For me, this physical power marries perfectly with the power of her essence- it makes her lethal.

It gives her that ‘cooler than you’ vibe that she has always had. When Naomi walks, I want to see her be better than everyone. She was made for it. She was made to slay the competition. This is part of the Dramatic essence, it doesn’t share the spotlight- it owns it. It boldly stands out and dominates the atmosphere. It is intensely powerful.

 

Karlie Kloss

By the time Karlie Kloss came into her prime, the era of the supermodel had passed. However, she had the kind of presence and power that marked the supermodels who came before her. Her ‘panther walk’ is mesmerizing and in every way captures the sleek, sexy power of a panther. I can’t think of a better way to describe the Dramatic essence.

In these GIFs, we’re able to study Karlie’s movement. I see sharpness, angularity, and intensity.

In the first GIF especially, we see how there is no delicacy in her movements. They are clear and precise. I get that sense that she knows what she wants to see happen, she’s in control of the situation, and she’s directing the show. Even in this random short video (she’s literally smelling her armpit), I get her essence. I clearly get the idea that she’s no delicate flower and that there’s power behind that face.

 

The second and third GIFs both communicate the same thing to me- intense sensuality. She is definitely sexy, it’s unmissable, but the sexiness is incredibly fierce. You may even argue that the power precedes the sexy. This would make sense because the intensity and power of the Dramatic essence are its driving force. Their sex appeal derives from this intensity.

Karlie Kloss was made to walk down a runway. If you’ve never seen her do it, I recommend a quick YouTube search. However, I do not recommend her Victoria’s Secret compilations. This is not an ethical stance (although it very well could be), I just feel strongly that those are not her best. Karlie is a high-fashion model. That is where she and her essence truly shine.

 

Victoria’s Secret is a highly feminine lingerie line. All that frilly lace and chiffon and girly sets are the direct opposite of her best Dramatic recommendations. She’s not overtly sexy in a feminine way like women who embody a Romantic essence are. For this reason, I’ve always found her Victoria’s Secret walks to be rather awkward because of how that Romantic setting juxtaposes against her and her essence.

Karlie is more (as I’ve been droning on about) intensely sexy. She commands the runway and projects such power into every step. Her high-fashion work lends itself better to showcasing her at her best. And at her best, you can’t take your eyes off her.

 

Sensuality ≠ Femininity

Past the packaging, an important part of femininity is about openness, receptiveness, kindness, and a general approachability. If a little child was in trouble, the woman she might approach for help is one who outwardly embodied this kind of openness/ approachability. This is femininity.

This is great news for all of us. I think we have incorrectly come to associate femininity with a particular look because of how it’s often portrayed and sold to us. I think this is why so often women shy away from the more ‘masculine’ body types in Kibbe and certainly from the associated essences. There is this belief that falling into one of these categories takes away your femininity, but this is simply not true.

 

Femininity doesn’t have a body type or favorite essence.

 

Femininity is simply the way of being for any woman in her true power. This is true in body types- Dramatic women look their most feminine when they honor their lines and lean into their ‘masculine’ recommendations.

As far as essences, I want to make clear that what I discuss here is a very superficial representation of what it means to be feminine. I can talk about movements, clothing, demeanors and general ways of being that are more or less feminine as compared to others, but that is not femininity.

Femininity as I understand it transcends these classifications. It exists for all of us and it is visibly embodied by incredible women who fall into every category of body type and essence as I hope to showcase.

 

What Does the Dramatic Essence Look Like? Celebrity Examples

Dramatic essence celebrities

While each of these women has a different Kibbe body type, what they have in common is a Dramatic essence. Essence doesn’t have a body type, so even though Bella Hadid is a Soft Dramatic, Hailey Bieber is a Flamboyant Natural, and Zoe Kravitz is a Flamboyant Gamine- they all have a Dramatic essence.

They have in common that they look their best when their hair is sleek and sharply styled, when their makeup is crisp and intense, and when their accessories are structured and bold. In short, they look their best when they look sculpted because this honors their Dramatic essence.

 

True Essence > Body Type Essence

It’s important to identify your essence(s) because honoring them matters just as much if not more than honoring your body type lines. A huge mistake would be to assume that your body type dictates your essence, meaning that if you’re a Natural body type, then you must have a Natural essence.

 

Case and point: Hailey Bieber. I believe Hailey is a Flamboyant Natural (you can read my analysis of her here). However, she has a strong Dramatic essence. I think this is why she is often typed as a Dramatic, but Dramatic lines aren’t her best (again, read the analysis).

If she assumed that she had a Natural essence and did her makeup in a Natural way (‘no makeup’ makeup with ‘I woke up like this’ beach wave hair for example), she would look less like herself.

In the first two images to the left, the loose wavy hair takes something away from Hailey and she looks a bit unkempt. When she sleeks her hair back (right), her bone structure suddenly comes to focus and she comes to life.

Hailey Bieber: Kibbe Dramatic essence

So, make sure you know your essence(s) so you can style your hair, makeup, and accessories to honor them. This will bring out your best ‘you’. If you don’t honor them, even if you nail the body type lines, you’ll look incomplete and somewhat dull.

 

Conclusion

Essence can be difficult to define because it is so intangible. I hope this post has helped decipher what the Dramatic essence is and how it manifests in people who have it.

 

Do you have a Dramatic essence? Do you agree with my assessment? I’d love to hear from you.

Talk soon,

Non

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4 thoughts on “Dramatic Style Essence: What is It and Do I Have It?”

  1. Hi, love your post. I was hoping to read your analysis of Haliey Beiber as I am a flamboyant natural with a dramatic essence and I am looking for styling inspiration. The link and it work and said that there is an issue with the site and wanted to let you know. Did this post move and if so can you send me a link so that I can take a look? Thank you!

    1. Hi Kat,

      Please excuse the late response. Thank you for letting me know the site had issues, I appreciate it. Use this link to the Hailey Bieber post. It should work now. Let me know if you have any more issues. Thanks 🙂

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