Finding your Kibbe body type can be confusing and even distressing. I’ve found that it helps to have a person who embodies the body type and essence perfectly (with lots of great, analyzable images) to use as a reference.
In this post, I explore and discuss the Kibbe ‘Dramatic’ body type, using a selection of outfits from style icon Tilda Swinton.
What Is The Dramatic Body Type?
According to Kibbe, Dramatics are pure yang. Their bodies are made of sharp, narrow lines so that they come off as angular and dry. There is no softness to their structure, and even when they are overweight, they still appear sharp. They have a long vertical line so they are tall, and tend to look even taller than they are. They are best represented by a long, thin line.
Dramatic clothing lines are long and sharp and fabrics are stiff, creating an altogether sleek, sculpted, and elongated look. Following these lines, pure Dramatics look great in a tailored men’s suit, in a long tailored coat, and a head-to-toe monochromatic look.
What Is The Dramatic Essence?
The Dramatic essence is powerful. They may come off as masculine, intimidating, and domineering. They give off a ‘straight to business’ and ‘I’m in control‘ vibe.
Tilda’s Body Composition
Normally, I use a picture of the person I’m discussing in a swimsuit so we can clearly see their bone structure and flesh. I could not find one such image of Tilda Swinton, so I will have to just describe her body as fitting the Dramatic profile- long and sharp bones with lean, taut flesh.
Dramatic – Hits
These are outfits that encompass all the best aspects of the Dramatic body type, and so naturally look amazing on Tilda.
Monochromatic – Long Vertical Line
Dramatics are long and lean, so they look amazing in a head-to-toe, single-color ensemble. These looks highlight their long vertical line which is their most prominent feature. This monochromatic look can be created by a single garment, or it can be created by separates in one color.
I love this look on Tilda Swinton. This bold, long, and straight dress highlights her tall, lean frame. It’s perfectly harmonious with her bone structure. The weighted fabric and the sharp, asymmetrical split are also decidedly Dramatic. In this dress, she looks powerful- her Dramatic essence is on full display.
In these looks, Tilda has some elements of stiffness and sharpness, which matches her bone structure, to further elevate these outfits. The white outfit (right) has crisp corners and while the blush tone outfit is gentler (the skirt flows and the jacket fabric isn’t too stiff) it still has sharp corners.
Long and Lean
I love this look. The long skirt honors her long vertical line and the bold colors bring out her striking Dramatic essence. The outfit is full of geometric shapes in the form of long rectangles, the skirt, the top, and the bag. The sharpness in the shoe completes the look and the lines.
Long Tailored Coat
Sharp tailoring and a long vertical line are typical aspects of a Dramatic silhouette.
Tilda looks amazing in these coats. She looks complete, I perceive her and the outfit together. In each case, the coat isn’t an afterthought, it’s a critical and natural part of the outfit. In the second outfit (right) the menswear elements (the shoes and pants) add more Dramatic elements and further elevate this look on her.
With their long, lean and sharp bone structure, Dramatics are the ideal models for menswear.
Tilda is at home in the sharp tailoring and medium to heavy fabrics of these suits. In each of these looks, Tilda looks great and not at all like she was wearing a man’s clothes’. The first look (left) is a straight-up men’s suit and it is my favorite of the three looks. I like all the others but, at least for me, I think this proves just how well menswear captures the Dramatic lines and essence.
The other two looks have stylistic elements that are feminine in nature- the gold detailing in the middle suit and the shoes in the third (right) outfit. These make the looks less masculine, which seems to take something away.
Dramatic – Misses
These are a few looks that go against the natural bone structure and body contours of a Dramatic, and as a result, don’t flatter Tilda at all.
Dramatics look better in monochromatic looks and tend to look busy in multi-colored ensembles.
I don’t know where to look in this outfit because there are so many parts that are all competing for attention. At first glance, the purple sash catches my eye, then the gloves. Then I see the sleeve detail and only then am I able to actually see Tilda’s face, which looks severe next to the rounded edges of the shoulders and neckline.
There’s just too much going on and it all takes away from her.
In this outfit, Tilda looks slightly offish. I want to stretch out her pants so they ‘fit’ her better. This cut also makes her look wide at the hips. She is a very tall and thin woman, so that speaks to how unflattering it is when her long vertical line is not respected (and cropped).
Where her jumper hits on her hips also aids her to appear wider. The pattern on the jumper is geometric so it doesn’t clash too much, I just think the colors are not the best. Lastly, the shoes are not the best for her.
Dramatics are best suited by sharply tailored silhouettes that honor their narrow, sharp bone structure.
Both these outfits lack structure, and since the Dramatic body type is frame dominant, this is inharmonious with Tilda. To me, it looks like her body is jelly underneath her clothes, as if she literally had no skeletal structure.
These looks do nothing for her, and in fact, they take away from her strong frame.
Lightweight, Excess Fabrics
Dramatics are best suited by heavy fabrics that visually support their frame-dominant build.
These dresses have too much fabric and it’s too lightweight for Tilda’s bone structure. Her visual weight and that of the dress don’t match, so it just looks off. I get the feeling that she is swimming in fabric.
The pattern (right) itself is not terrible for a Dramatic, remember they can pull off bold colors and patterns. I think in a stiffer, heavier fabric that was tailored well, this pattern would pop and this look would be everything. As is, it’s lacking something.
Cropped Items, Staccato Effect
Dramatics are best suited by looks with long, unbroken (vertical) lines that honor and highlight their most prominent feature- a long vertical line.
Tilda Swinton’s outfit makes me frown, involuntarily. There are a few things that work against this look for her, but none worse than the crop, so that’s all I’ll focus on here.
This horizontal cut across her body looks so random, haphazard, and unnecessary. A typical Dramatic body (like Tilda’s) is a straight line, so there are no natural breaks (like at her waist) where this crop would look at home or natural. As a result, all my attention is drawn to this line that shouldn’t be there. It’s very disharmonious on her.
Dramatics are best suited by sharply tailored silhouettes that fit close to the body.
These looks are doing nothing for Tilda’s body composition. Most noticeably, the lack of structure of each outfit works to create an overall frumpy look on her. The only positive is that the fabrics are weighted.
The first look has poor tailoring, everything is ill-fitted, particularly the jacket and pants, and the shirt is loose, silky, and drapey. The clothes give the impression of sliding off her. Then there’s the poor color choice. It’s not flattering at all. The second look has such a poor silhouette and color, the fringe detail is odd and unflattering.
Unconstructed Feminine Draping
While these dresses have the long vertical line Dramatics need, they are missing the structure and sharpness.
The draping, excess fabric, and the waist definition of the left and middle dresses all work to create an ultra-feminine or yin dress. This means it doesn’t create space for her dominant yang structure and essence. As a result, the dresses appear to just awkwardly hang off her body, where they were meant to hug it.
In the third dress (right), the lightweight fabric, polka dot pattern, and the cinching of the waist further add to the yin elements and she actually looks wide (for Tilda Swinton) as a result.
Now compare this to this look:
This look has all the same issues as the one above, except it is saved by the long structured coat. Suddenly, my focus is drawn to the large, sharp lapels of the coat as well as its sweeping length and bold, electric blue color- elements that complement a Dramatic beautifully.
These overpower the ultra-feminine elements of the ensemble like the paisley pattern and glossy sheen of the dress, as well as the gathered neckline. This works.
Tilda’s best hair looks are clean, sharp, and bold. The three top looks are her best as the sharp cuts and bold colors bring out her bone structure and complement her essence.
The top right image showcases wispy and slightly messy hair, which evokes the idea of flying or floating away. This works on Tilda because she has a combination of a Dramatic essence and that otherworldly or Ethereal essence. On a pure Dramatic, this hairstyle might feel messy.
She is aged and not complimented by soft hairstyles and undefined lengths. Anything too ornate, such as seen in the bottom left and middle images, looks ‘too much’ and even matronly on her. She needs sharpness and edge.
Long hair takes away from Tilda and it makes her look ordinary. She no longer has that boldness, and I think it ages her. Interestingly, I think here she looks her best with the platinum blonde hair with the very blunt cut because it is the boldest and most severe hairstyle, which complements Dramatics.
Tilda needs some definition in her face otherwise her features all disappear. As her eyes are dark and highly contrasted against her face, she seems to be best suited by defining her lips as this brings balance to her face.
I think all the looks on the top row are her best. She comes alive with a bold, sharp lip.
Contrarily, the looks on the bottom where her lips are nude/ neutral are less flattering. Or rather, they play up her ‘alien’ quality.
Constructed Feminine Draping
I live for these looks. Tilda is perfection here. While a clear Dramatic, Tilda also has an ‘Ethereal’ essence. There is something about her that is otherworldly/ alien.
These looks work so beautifully because they honor both her Dramatic lines (the tailoring and fabric of both the yellow dress and the blue jacket) and her Ethereal Essence (the skirt and hair of both looks give the impression of floating away).
The long vertical line created by the monochromatic color scheme also ties these two essences together. I have no notes.
Tilda looks amazing here. It’s so elegant and complete on her. The lines of her clothes and body blend into each other and almost move into the background to highlight her feminine features (of which some are on her face). In this suit, Tilda actually looks more feminine.
Both these looks showcase a long vertical line through a monochromatic color scheme, sharp tailoring, and geometric shapes. They are also both creative and fun, with a leaning toward androgyny. Amazing.
This dress is beautiful on Tilda. The long vertical line that’s further extended by the same color shoe; the narrow, fitted silhouette that highlights her slender frame; and the weighted but flowy fabric choice are all perfect.
I love the use of color in this look as well. The violet suits her beautifully and the yellow streaks in her hair add a dramatic flair that makes the look interesting. The wispy styling gives volume and honors her Ethereal essence. She looks amazing.
‘Rules’ Be Damned- An Ode To A Fashion Icon
I’m not sure who else could wear this black and white ensemble convincingly. I think this look and its design play wonderfully with construction and lack there off. Tilda’s body (structure) acts as the perfect model to display this. I love this look.
The second look is showing up for the second time in this post because while I think the structural criticism of the lightweight fabric being inharmonious with her is valid, I do love the daring of this look.
It is a moment. I mean, the boots! The gloves! I wish she had on a red or black turtleneck underneath to balance the weightlessness of the dress fabric and also introduce a narrow, streamlined element. But I’ll take this.
This first look (left) is daring, fun, and dramatic. From the hot pink balloon pants and shoes to the hand gesture buttons. I love it.
However, with respect to her lines and her essence as a Dramatic, she is best suited to monochromatic looks. Some of her elegance is lost when she breaks her vertical line with color blocks. But I don’t care.
On the right, she looks like a tall glass of alien champagne. I mean that as the highest compliment I can think of in this moment. It’s perfect.
The Kibbe Body Type system can be very confusing. I know it took me a while to train my eye to see the lines of the different body types, and one of the things that really helped me was studying the lines and outfits of ‘verified’ celebrities who embody their body type and essence.
It helped me to have something to refer to and compare how I looked in a similar outfit. My hope is that this breakdown does the same for you. If you’re a Dramatic, it might even spark some outfit ideas.
Please share your thoughts- do you agree with my analysis of Tilda Swinton’s iconic style?