In this post, I explore and discuss the Soft Classic style identity and essence, focusing on a selection of outfits by American actress, Kirsten Dunst.
The basis of this analysis is primarily the Kibbe system of body typing, and secondarily the Kitchener system for understanding Essence. These systems are unique and independent, but I like to use them together.
Please keep in mind that I’m no expert and these are just my thoughts. They could very well be wrong. Anyway, let’s begin.
What Is The Soft Classic Body Type?
According to Kibbe, the Soft Classic body type is defined by a perfect (blended) balance between yin (feminine) and yang (masculine) with a yin influence. This extra yin or softness can come across in the bone structure, flesh, and or facial features. The overall look created is smooth and symmetrical with slightly rounded edges.
Soft Classic Body Type:
- Symmetrical bone structure, but with slightly soft or rounded edges
- Their legs and arms tend to be moderate in length compared to other proportions but can also be slightly shorter
- They are evenly proportioned through the bust, waist, hip
- Soft Classics tend to be slightly rounded and may appear slightly fleshy
- Slightly small and slightly wide facial contours (especially in the jawline, nose, and cheekbones)
Following their lines, Soft Classics are best complemented by soft, flowing lines, smooth and draped silhouettes and slightly rounded edges. Fabrics should be high-quality and light to medium-weight. All finishes should be sophisticated and the overall look should be symmetrical, rounded, tailored, and clean.
What Is The Soft Classic Essence?
David Kibbe describes the Soft Classic body type style identity as ‘Graceful Lady’.
The Classic essence is timeless, reserved, sophisticated, and polished. Classics give off a traditional and elegant vibe. More than anything, they need to always give the sense of being put together.
Kirsten’s Body Structure:
When I look at Kirsten’s body, I see moderation. Nothing stands out. She is not too big or small, sharp or blunt, curvy or straight. While small, she’s not sinewy. She has healthy flesh to her but she’s also not too fleshy. Overall, Kirsten is just average or rather, moderate- both and neither all at once.
Kirsten carries a lot of flesh on her face (cheeks, chin). I think this is the most obvious manifestation of her additional softness in an otherwise well-blended structure, which makes her a Soft Classic.
Elongation/ Vertical Line
The vertical line is observed in the silhouette between the shoulders and knees and has to do with how fabric falls on the body. Soft Classics have a moderate vertical line.
Again, I see moderation. Kirsten looks moderate in height, not short or tall. Her limbs do look elongated, but not extremely so.
In these images, while I think she looks the best in the short and midi lengths, I think she also looks good in the long-length dress. It doesn’t swallow her up.
Soft Classic Hits
These looks embody Classic principles in the cuts, colors, patterns, trim, and styling. As such, we would expect them to look right at home on Kirsten and to suit her perfectly.
Kirsten looks great in these outfits. The midi length is perfect for her moderate vertical line. In each case, the fit is well-tailored and just right- not too loose or too tight.
The first look (left) is accentuated by classic elements like the buttons running down the center (symmetry), the waist and wrist cuffs made from matching (but not identical) fabric, and the collar all make the dress definitively Classic and it looks great on her. The nude shoes are simple, classy, and understated.
Similarly in the last look (right), the pattern on the black and white (classic color combination) dress is understated and the repeated elements are moderate in size which makes it suitable for her. The accessories are simple in design and neutral in color.
The middle look has a simple cut and the navy and white polka-dot pattern is textbook classic. The simple yet elegant black shoes and bag- matching bag and shoes is a classic element- and lowkey sunglasses complete the look and she looks beautiful.
In all these looks, nothing stands out. Every element blends in with the rest and the complete looks are polished and put-together, but no single element is striking.
Again, in the separates, Kirsten leans into her Classic essence. Here, the blue denim, crisp white shirt, black and white color combination (striped cardigan, pumps), and the symmetrical A-line mini- all these are simple, classic pieces and on her, the results are effortlessly stylish.
I want to look a little further at some key elements of these looks and her style in general:
I admire Kirsten’s use of color. It shows her understanding of her personal style- her palette is composed of simple, solid, and classic colors. Black, white, blue, red, and beige. She could easily have a wardrobe of just these colors and it would be complete.
I also admire how she chooses her accessories. Outside of the choice of color, she also understands the importance of their size and detail.
Size– in each case her accessories (bags, glasses) are moderate in size, not too big or small. For her shoes, the length of her heel is also typically moderate in height and size. This suits her best.
Detail– Classics, and thus Kirsten, are best suited to moderate detailing. Another way to say this is ‘simple’ detailing- nothing too flashy, bulky, finicky, or glamorous. Also, particularly in her bags and sunglasses, all the edges are softly rounded. Kirsten sticks to these ‘rules’ really well and all her choices in the above images suit her beautifully.
Again, Kirsten looks great in these Classic elements: crisp white shirt (dress), black and white color combination, polka dots, clean cuts, simple jewelry, and red pops of color- elegant and understated.
While the separate pieces are simple, the actual look is not. On a different type, these outfits might look underwhelming or boring but, on her and Classics in general, they look elegant and complete. I can easily focus on her face and she shines. She looks great.
I mean! Kirsten was born to wear a tailored blazer. This classic and traditional piece looks perfect on her. In each case, I can’t imagine the look without the blazer.
A blazer is a formal piece of clothing, and for some body types and essences, it can only be correctly worn in a formal setting otherwise it looks off. Classics can wear a blazer in the most casual of settings and look perfectly normal.
As we’ll see later, they can’t pull off overly casual looks without looking undone. Conversely, they can pull off very formal looks without looking formal or stiff. In the looks above (bar the first one which is clearly evening attire), Kirsten could be going anywhere- an afternoon meeting, a dinner date, or picking up her kid from daycare.
Just a few more images of Kirsten in her correct lines looking her best. Of all the people I’ve analyzed so far, I think Kirsten has the best grasp of her best lines- particularly in her street style.
I think in her case, the clothes she loves and gravitates to just so happen to be within her body type lines and her styling naturally accentuate her essence. That or her stylist is very clued up, lol. Either way, she tends to just always look good (simple and elegant) and it makes me happy.
I love these coats on Kirsten. They are fitted and the length is moderate (and not too long) which respects her moderate vertical line. The button detailing is contrasted, which adds some gentle visual interest, and symmetrical which reemphasizes the ever-important sense of balance.
The colors are either neutral or classic; red, beige, or navy blue. The navy blue coat with the gold buttons (right) is reminiscent of the nautical aesthetic, which is itself very Classic in nature. The beige trench coat (middle) is a quintessential classic piece that should form part of any Classic capsule wardrobe.
Kirsten looks beautiful in these drop waist styles. I don’t think drop waists can be considered ‘Classic’ in nature per se (they are more Natural), but I think they suit her so well because of how they fit and the youthful essence it pulls out of her.
Particularly in the two midi-length looks (middle, right), the dresses are loosely fitted but not overly so. They are fitted up top and get slightly loose as you move down. This creates a sense of freedom, ease, and fun. For me, this is a girlish (Ingenue) essence that Kirsten has quite a lot of, so this style works very well for her.
I think the first look (left), is the least flattering because of the long vertical line- the long length changes the dress from being fun to drowning her and the asymmetry (from how the dress is blowing to the side) throws off her balance.
A Pattern Study
As mentioned, the ‘Classic’ aesthetic is all about moderation. By definition, bold patterns are not moderate, they stand out. Because of that, they clash against and overpower the Classic essence.
In these looks, Kirsten is overpowered by the patterns. I see them first before I see her. The first checkered pattern (left) is too busy, and the last pattern (right) is too large and bright for her. I think if the color was more subdued, the size of the tomatoes wouldn’t matter, but in this color it does.
While not her best, the middle pattern is the most ‘okay’. The florals are too large, but the pattern itself is rather subdued and the colors blend well. The pink chiffon and large florals are clear Ingenue elements, which is an essence Kirsten has, so altogether the look works on her.
I think these patterns are beautiful on Kirsten. When compared to the boldness of the above patterns, these are moderate and subtle- which makes them more suited for Classics.
The repeating elements are small to medium size and the colors aren’t too busy. They function as delicate and subtle additions to the fabric and outfit, they don’t overpower it.
On the first and last dresses (yellow-left, blue-right), the patterns are gentle artistic touches that make the look slightly whimsical (because of their design and positioning). The effect is beautiful on her.
A Silhouette Study
Of these two dresses, Kirsten is clearly less suited by the one to the left. The two dresses are similar in length and color, but radically different in style and fit. So, this is a perfect opportunity to compare and contrast why that is.
Loose Dress- Left
The biggest problem with this dress is the cut and thus fit. The lines are too straight for her. Kirsten is a Soft Classic, and the ‘soft’ part becomes important here. The fabric is too stiff and doesn’t have enough softness and rounded edges to match her lines.
The fit around the bodice is puffy which is not ideal for her. The light-to-medium weight of the fabric is fine. So, altogether, this dress has a sack effect on her.
Fitted Dress- Right
This dress is beautiful on Kirsten. The narrow silhouette is flattering, and while the dress has a lot of fabric on account of its length and drapey skirt, it doesn’t have excess fabric- it’s just right.
The fabric is also medium weight and it drapes, which is great for her softness. The fit around her chest and waist accentuates her femininity. The centered button detail creates symmetry and highlights her Classic balance.
Dramatic Classic vs. Soft Classic- A Quick Study
Much of the outfits up to this point have been generally ‘Classic’ and so they suited Kirsten beautifully. However, Kirsten Dunst is a Soft Classic, so while she looks good in general Classic ensembles, she looks her best in Soft Classic looks, and she is less flattered by Dramatic Classic styles.
The differences here will feel minimal because they are, but I think it’s interesting to see how far we can sharpen our eye for what looks more harmonious compared to something else. Let’s consider the following:
The two looks I’m comparing are a black tuxedo and a short blue and white dress with a gently cinched waist
I think Kirsten is better suited and more harmonious and natural in the looks to the right as they are softer in the fabric and detailing which makes them lean more Soft Classic. The looks on the left are more Dramatic Classic and they look a bit restrictive on her.
Left– The tux on the left is too stiff and restrictive on Kirsten. The fit, particularly of the pants, is too narrow (which does make it slightly Dramatic) and her shirt is buttoned up too high. That, combined with her tight, sleek bun creates an altogether restrictive look. I have the desire to loosen her shirt and jacket buttons and let down her hair.
Right– I love the suit to the right. It’s fitted yet relaxed, and the legs of her pants are moderate (not too tight or loose). She looks comfortable and elegant.
Blue/ White Dress
Left– The fabric of the dress on the left is too stiff. It has very little movement if any and all the edges (collar, pleats) are sharp. It’s stiff on her and doesn’t provide her with enough movement and softness.
Right– This dress suits her much better. The fabric is lighter and softer, the edges are rounded, and it has movement. This dress is a bit on the Soft Natural side, but the key component is the softness- either way, it better captures her femininity and looks more harmonious on her.
Soft Classic Misses
These sporty and overly casual styles are underwhelming on Kirsten. She looks undone. I get a sense that we caught her at an ‘off’ moment. You may think that everyone looks rather underwhelming in gym clothes, but that’s not true.
Unconstructed/ Loose Silhouettes
A fitted silhouette is vitally important for Classics. So, loose or unconstructed silhouettes are the furthest from this and the Classic gets lost within it.
In the first two looks (left, middle), I lose Kirsten’s body. I know it’s under there somewhere, I’m just not sure where. The fabric of the middle look is too slinky and completely devoid of structure. There is no construction to speak of and since ‘well-constructed’ is a vital element for Classics, it looks unflattering on Kirsten. The outfit is more suited to a Natural type.
The last image (right) is the best of these. It’s fitted, the fabric is medium weight, and it’s designed in such a way that there is both structure and movement. The flare of the skirt (that brings the movement) is moderate so it doesn’t overwhelm her. It’s simple, well-constructed, and beautiful.
The first dress (left) has a great structure and the top is fitted, which suits her. However, the skirt is simply too large for her. The flare is too exaggerated and she gets lost beneath it. This much excess fabric (especially at this fabric weight) gives me the impression that she’s struggling beneath it and she’s struggling to drag it along.
The second dress (right) is again devoid of any structure and is better suited to a (Soft) Natural type. Also, because of the long length, the dress drags her down. The waist definition helps to fit the dress to her, but this style of dress is just not for her.
In all these three looks, the black color, stiff and heavy fabrics, and sharp lines all create a Dramatic essence that is very separate from Kirsten. These outfits, particularly the first (left) and middle looks are too harsh for her.
Related: Kibbe Dramatic Analysis- Bella Hadid
Left– While this look is inharmonious with her, the contrast works to highlight her softness. Her face and her hair look very soft and delicate, which suits her. The dress itself is well structured and constructed and not too stiff, so it sits well on her. So, when done purposefully, this sort of styling can work wonderfully for soft types.
Middle– This is the least flattering of the three looks. The silhouette is too narrow and is further streamlined by the black tights and shoes. Her eye makeup is also very dramatic and sharply contrasted- all of which makes this a Dramatic look. It’s harsh and very separate from her.
Right– The last look is beautiful on Kirsten because of all the elements that work for her that it brings together- the fitted top and silhouette, great construction, soft feather bottom, and the color gradations which soften the harshness of the black color.
However, this dress is not her best because one element works against her and stands out for me- the fabric of the top part of the dress is too stiff and rigid. If that fabric was just a little softer and malleable, this look would be perfectly harmonious. Still, she looks good.
Kirsten Dunst has a clear Ingénue essence that I think is most evident on her face. She looks young and innocent, certainly when she was younger, but even now is a grown woman in her 40s.
In these images, Kirsten looks at home in the overly girly elements of flowers, pigtails, tulle, and an overall soft and whimsical vibe.
Bows are another cute girly element that looks great on Kirsten, proving her Ingenue essence yet again. On a person without this essence, these bows would look childish. I think the two last images (middle, right) depict Kirsten at her best, where her Classic and Ingénue essence combine.
The dresses are structured and well-tailored and the bow detail makes them sweet and innocent. In the last look, the black acts as a color block element that ties the look together and creates that ‘complete set’ or ‘matchy-matchy’ look that’s ideal for Classics.
Nothing is perhaps more girlish than pink tulle, and Kirsten Dunst wears a lot of it. More importantly, she wears it well. I could never wear these dresses and be taken seriously because I do not have an Ingénue essence.
In the last dress (right), the tulle is rainbow-colored, which makes it even more girly. Still, on Kirsten. it doesn’t look childish, it looks playful.
Here, the girly leans more to the whimsical side with the baby’s breath scarf (left), the white beading (middle), and the delicate floral design (right). Again, she looks great, and in no way childish. She is within her element.
As a Classic, Kirsten’s best looks are those that center on simplicity and moderation. This manifests as clean lines (not overly blended) and colors that are clear and bright but not overpowering.
This is Kirsten at her best. Her makeup is clean and clear. Her eye makeup is minimal and her eyeliner is sharp and concise. Her lip colors are beautiful and bright, but none of them are too intense for her. She looks beautiful.
These are not Kirsten’s best looks. In the first two looks (far-left, middle-left), her eye makeup is too dark and intense. This style of makeup is better suited for a Dramatic essence type and it overpowers Kirsten’s softer facial contours. In these images, her eyes are all I see which means that it’s inharmonious with her.
In the last two images (middle-right, far-right), her, makeup is too light for her and it washes her out. This is easiest to see in the first image with the blue eye shadow. Not only is the shade too light, but it’s also too blended for her. Add to that, her lip color is also ultra-light and so is her hair so that the entire look has very little contrast and her face has no definition.
In the last look, Kirsten looks good, I like her eye makeup. However, I think her lip color would look better if it was a shade or two darker. She doesn’t look bad, she just looks fine, like a blank canvas. For this reason, I think a subtle eye and a visible lip color are her best makeup combination.
Kirsten looks great in all the styles above.
I found Kirsten’s hair to be very interesting because I thought as a Classic type, her hair would need to be polished at all times. However, this isn’t the case. As can be seen in the images above, she looks great in many types of hairstyles, lengths, precision, and even colors (so long as they are natural and of the same intensity as her natural color).
Blonde is Kirsten’s natural hair color, so it’s her best. Her natural coloring is very light and so are her eyes, which gives her a very low-contrast look. So, she can change her hair color, but the contrast level (if you make the image black and white) must remain the same. That’s why she looks great as a redhead, it doesn’t upset her color composition.
Related: How To Find Your Color Season
I think this is Kirsten at her most natural. These short lengths (and bangs) are great for her as they highlight her youthful essence, and the blonde color, whether bleach or sandy, works beautifully with her skin.
Kirsten is also suited by longer lengths (middle images). I do think they make her look more mature, so depending on what she’s going for, she can play into or away from that, but she looks great in both the red and blonde long hair. That said, I think this length is as long as she can go without it dragging her down.
On the far left and far right images, we see Kirsten in slightly tousled hair with a lot of flyaway strands and unprecise styling. As I said before, I would expect this to look disheveled on a Classic type, but I think she looks great. It actually brings out that playful, whimsical essence she has.
Her many essences make her hair very versatile.
Kirsten is so cute and sweet in essence that it’s difficult to say she looks bad in anything, but I think these are some of her least flattering hairstyles.
In the first image (left), her hair is too stiff. It looks rigid and completely devoid of movement which clashes with her softness and youthfulness. In the middle image, the hair is very youthful and free, but the color combination is too childish for her (I know!).
I think if her hair was either blonde or red, it would be great but the choice to combine the colors is a bit extreme for her. While her Ingenue essence is strong, she is primarily a Classic. So this sort of experimental styling becomes harsh against her.
I think she looks great and so joyous in the last image, and the style works on her, especially within the context of the outfit (see below). However, as a general opinion, it is a bit too childish and unpolished for her. I think slightly shorter framing bangs and a more brushed-out look would more harmonious.
I mean- this is 90’s Barbiecore goals. Kirsten looks fun, cute, cool, and edgy- all at the same time! The hair, the butterfly clips, the barbie bag, the pink- every piece is right where it should be to create this vibe of a look and she looks like a sweet dream.
This is such a beautiful dress on Kirsten. It’s simple and elegant, well-made and fitted, and the length is perfect. The color is beautiful on her and she shines.
This dress is beautifully fitted and constructed. The seams and piping highlight this, and such details always look great on Classics. That swallow detail on the bottom of the dress adds a touch of interest without disrupting the overall elegance of the look. I love her red hair and how it plays with the pale blue color of the dress. She looks beautiful.
Drop waist? Check. High-quality fabric? Check. Midi length? Check. Delicate feminine trim and detail? Check. Simple and elegant? Check.
Kirsten looks beautiful in this ensemble. Yes, it does lack the structure generally required by Classics, but her softness allows her to lean into the more yin elements and still thrive.
My only gripe is with the shoes, they are fun and quirky, but that boxy, toe-like design is better suited to a Gamine type. On a Soft Classic like Kirsten, they do take away some elegance from her.
This is how Kirsten pulls off edgy. This is how she can invoke a Dramatic essence without having it overwhelm her. The fully black ensemble makes this Dramatic, but the fabric choice (namely the tulle), flare skirt, and ribbon detail soften it and align it with her softer Ingenue essence.
Her hair and makeup are beautiful and she looks cool, well-balanced, and beautiful.
I love this look. It’s traditionally classic in design and tailoring (look at those pleats!) and it fits her beautifully. I love the feminine touches added by the cinched waist and gently ballooning sleeves. The color of the dress is clear and bright and the floral pattern is somewhat whimsical.
The dress is rather long, but I love how it cuts at her ankle. That ankle visibility stops it from being too long and completely swallowing her. Her hair and makeup are perfect and she looks lovely.
This is fun. The black collar, cuffs, trim, bag, and shoes create an ensemble/ matching-set effect. Everything matches. While I like the pattern on the skirt, it’s a tad risky for her- it’s quite bold and draws attention- but it’s a risk she pulls off which makes this look exciting on her. The complete look still feels somewhat balanced as the shirt is clear of any design. She looks great.
This leans a bit into Soft Natural territory with the long vertical line, cinched waist, and draping fabric. I also find the belt to be a bit showy for her- yet, she pulls it off. This shade of blue is lovely on her and she looks so beautiful and angelic here.
If I had to make some adjustments, I would change her earrings for something simpler and more elegant, white pearls perhaps, and likewise I would change the gold chain to a string of white pearls. This would elevate the elegance of the look and create that ‘matching set’ effect, both of which are so beautiful and important for Classics.
Pinpointing your Kibbe body type can be challenging because grasping the nuances of each body type can be confusing. I hope this Soft Classic body type and style analysis of Kirsten Dunst was helpful.
If you think you could be a Soft Classic, try some of the same outfits and see if they suit you as they do her.
Please let me know if this helped you and if you agree with my analysis.