For most of her life, Rita Chudnovskaya felt like she didn’t know how to dress. She read style blogs, watched fashion videos, and followed the latest trends, but the clothes she purchased rarely seemed to fit her body, at least not in the way she imagined they would. Chudnovskaya, 31, is curvy with, as she puts it, “a full bust and big butt.” The general fashion advice she received throughout her 20s, from friends and fashion forums alike, was to accentuate her curves through fitted garments. Still, she couldn’t shake how those slinky outfits felt — and looked — wrong.
In 2019, Chudnovskaya was introduced to the Kibbe (pronounced “kibbie”) system in a YouTube video. It was the first time, she said, that she encountered online styling advice that was detailed, specific, and applicable to a range of bodies and sizes. This intrigue was enough for her to venture further “down the Kibbe internet rabbit hole.”
The Kibbe “image identity” system is the brainchild of Manhattan-based stylist David Kibbe, who established the concept in his 1987 book David Kibbe’s Metamorphosis: Discover Your Image Identity and Dazzle as Only You Can. There are 13 body, or “image identity,” types in Kibbe’s 1987 system, grouped into five broad families: dramatics, classics, naturals, gamines, and romantics. While the book has long been out of print (a used copy sells for hundreds of dollars today), the internet has brought renewed attention to Kibbe’s theories and expanded his reach.
Entire YouTube channels, TikTok accounts, Facebook groups, blogs, and subreddits are devoted to analyzing the technicalities of the Kibbe system. Fans congregate to share outfits, styling tips, and mood boards, and they help newcomers determine their type, or “image identity.” If you spend enough time on Kibbe forums, certain phrases like “dressing for your lines,” “creating a harmonious look,” and “yin and yang balance” start to become familiar.
These Kibbe-isms lend a pseudoscientific credence to the method, even though Kibbe’s styling process is fluid and, depending on whom you ask, imperfect. Styling is a subjective art, and Kibbe’s methodology — and its emphasis on geometric