The 7 Style Essences: Unveiling Your Unique Fashion Identity

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In an era where fast fashion and fleeting trends often dominate, knowing your style essence helps you break the cycle of buying and discarding unflattering clothes that don’t make you look like your best self.

But, wait, what are style essences? How are they classified? How can your style essence influence your clothing, accessory, and hairstyle choices? We’re here to answer all these questions and more!

Two fashionable women in nice clothes a fashion spring summer photo

In this article, we’ll give you a thorough guide to the seven style essences and their characteristics to help you determine which one you have.

Continue reading to discover the key to expressing yourself and creating a wardrobe that truly reflects the beautiful, unique you!

What Are Style Essences?

Conceptualized by style consultant John Kitchener, style essences can be described as unique types of beauty, each with its own distinctive characteristics. 

There are seven distinct style essences, namely the following:

  • Dramatic
  • Gamine
  • Natural
  • Classic
  • Romantic
  • Ingenue
  • Angelic or Ethereal

The system of style essences classifies individuals according to their facial features, their body’s natural lines and silhouette, their natural movement, and their vibe or aura. In short, it’s all about how people perceive you and how you express yourself. 

Based on these traits, the system offers style recommendations for each essence, allowing you to build a wardrobe and dress yourself in a way that honors your sense of beauty. 

Fashionable clothes in a boutique store in London.

Yin/Yang Spectrum

All these style essences listed above are identified according to where they lie on the yin/yang scale or spectrum.

To the left of the scale is yang, the bold side. Yang is characterized by angularity and sharpness, featuring straight lines and square shapes. 

Style essences that have more yang are defined by their strong presence and striking appearance.

And to the other end of the scale is the yin, the soft side. Yin is distinguished by a sense of gentleness with small, rounded shapes and flowing silhouettes. 

Style essences that lean more toward yin have a delicate grace and radiant charm.  

Here’s a chart of where the style essences fall on the yin/yang spectrum:

Two young beautiful smiling hipster female in trendy summer hipster clothes.

The 7 Style Essences: A Comprehensive Guide

Let’s now take a closer look at these seven style essences by Kitchener:

Dramatic Style Essence

Where it falls on the yin/yang spectrumYang
Type of beautyStriking and intimidating
Celebrity examplesNaomi Campbell, Cher, Anjelica Huston

The dramatic essence is the most intense of all style essences, known for its bold and striking character.

Sharp features and an air of natural confidence are some of the defining characteristics of those with this essence. Also, their tall, straight physique and strong facial expressions (especially around the eyes) add to their commanding presence.

This style essence favors statement jewelry and clothing with sharp angles, straight lines, and stiff, well-defined silhouettes, which create a powerful and square-like appearance.

Here are some recommended styles for the dramatic style essence:

  • Asymmetrical tops
  • Structured pieces with sharp tailoring (like men’s suits)
  • Geometric patterns
  • Animal prints
Pretty blonde woman in a leopard print dress

Gamine Style Essence

Where it falls on the yin/yang spectrumYang
Type of beautyCute and boyish
Celebrity examplesWinona Ryder, Liza Minelli, Cara Delevingne

The gamine essence is all about playfulness and boldness. 

Most people with this essence are often small in stature, with compact bodies and youthful wide eyes that give them a slightly boyish appearance. 

And they’re known for their originality and quirkiness, and they may be described as lively and daring. 

When it comes to clothing, gamines prefer rectangular shapes with a playful, whimsical twist. A compact, square shape still best suits them, but these should be broken up by a staccato silhouette for a more dynamic look.

Gamines also love experimenting with fashion, often adding fun accessories or mixing and matching different patterns. They also like clothes that make them look youthful and a bit rebellious.

Here are some recommended styles for the gamine style essence:

Full-length studio fashion portrait of elegant woman wearing yellow color sunglasses, beret, silk blouse, houndstooth printed trousers, pointed toe shoes, posing on chair, holding stylish leather bag

Natural Style Essence

Where it falls on the yin/yang spectrum:Yang
Type of beauty:Relaxed and easygoing
Celebrity examplesJennifer Lawrence, Chloë Sevigny, Gigi Hadid

Being comfortable and looking good effortlessly is what makes those with a natural style essence stand out.

People who have this style essence typically have strong shoulders and broader features. But even with these yang traits, they maintain a laid-back vibe; others usually find them approachable.

For this style, practical and comfy clothes should be prioritized over flashy or showy ones. 

Loose and flowy pieces that are not too tight or rigid are recommended, creating relaxed lines and large, irregular shapes.

Here are some recommended styles for the natural style essence:

  • Natural textures
  • Comfy fabrics
  • Large bohemian patterns
  • Easy, loose buns
Boho mom with daughter in maxi skirt walking on the city street.

Classic Style Essence

Where it falls on the yin/yang spectrumBalanced
Type of beautySophisticated and ladylike
Celebrity examplesGrace Kelly, Emily Blunt, Princess Diana

The classic essence represents a perfect blend of yin and yang, creating a timeless and balanced look.

There’s an inherently poised quality to individuals with this style essence. They look elegant without trying too hard, and they make any outfit look stylish.

Classics look impeccable with straightforward, balanced styles that show off clean lines and embody timeless sophistication. Their clothes should fit just right — not too loose or too tight, not too soft or too sharp. 

Solid colors like black, white, brown, gray, beige, or cream are also perfect for them.

Here are some recommended styles for the classic style essence:

  • Simple or conventional designs
  • Formal wear like pencil skirts and blazers
  • Minimal details
  • Sleek hair
Young business woman one hand in pocket dressed black jacket standing studio isolated on color background.

Romantic Style Essence

Where it falls on the yin/yang spectrumYin
Type of beautySensual and feminine
Celebrity examplesAngelina Jolie, Beyonce, Sofia Vergara

The romantic essence exudes an alluring, sensual charm with rounded shapes and soft curves. 

You’ll find that a lot of individuals with this style essence have an hourglass body shape or at least a few of its distinguishable features, such as round hips. 

Many describe people with the romantic style essence as having an air of confidence and glamor, which can sometimes come off as intimidating. 

The best colors for a romantic style essence are often in the red and pink range, although gold and black go well with their luxurious vibe too. Their outfits should also be body-hugging but still soft and flowing, honoring their natural curves.

Here are some recommended styles for the romantic style essence:

  • Open necklines
  • Silky fabrics
  • Floral prints
  • Fancy jewelry
Pretty beautiful woman brunette hair natural makeup wear fashion clothes sexy black silk dress midi style date party walk sandals interior studio stairs art chair flowerpot summer journey romantic.

Ingenue Style Essence

Where it falls on the yin/yang spectrumYin
Type of beautyYouthful and adorable
Celebrity samplesMarilyn Monroe, Selena Gomez, Zooey Deschanel

The ingenue style essence embodies a delicate and youthful charm.

Ingenues often have round faces, wide-apart eyes, and bow-shaped lips. As such, they’re perceived as cute and innocent, often looking younger than their age. 

They can rock pieces or decorative elements like short, puffy dresses and Peter Pan collars effortlessly without seeming childish. 

Small and compact shapes are ideal for this style essence, along with pretty and whimsical designs; anything too mature goes against their natural aura. 

Here are some recommended styles for the ingenue style essence:

  • Vintage-inspired designs like polka dots
  • Small details and delicate trimmings
  • Lace clothing
  • Dainty accessories
Pretty modern lady with silver accessories, cute smile and bright bandana in black polka dot clothes holding cocktail glass..

Ethereal Style Essence

Where it falls on the yin/yang spectrumYin
Type of beautyOtherworldly and mysterious
Celebrity examplesAnya Taylor-Joy, Liv Tyler, Tilda Swinton

Also known as the angelic essence, the ethereal style essence goes beyond the ordinary with an otherworldly quality.

Beauties with this style essence have an oval face, soft, less defined features, and a tall stature. These characteristics make them look like they belong to a different era or world altogether.

To create harmony with their appearance, those with this style essence shouldn’t stick to clear, sharp silhouettes. Instead, they should go with long, flowing designs with delicate draping and intricate patterns. 

Fine, see-through fabrics that shine and change with movement also go with this style essence’s beauty.

  • Flared clothing
  • Elaborate details
  • Loose draping
  • Mystical designs
Soft and dreamy image of a young woman with blowing dress in grassy field at sunset

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Have Multiple Style Essences?

Yes, you can have a combination of style essences! 

Some people strongly resonate with only one style essence, but most have a mix of two or more. For instance, an individual’s style essence may be 60% natural, 30% ingenue, and 10% romantic.

John Kitchener offers online analysis services where your body type and other features are thoroughly assessed to give you these percentages.

Once you have the figures, you can use Kitchener’s guide to help you build your outfits:

  • 10 to 15% for accessories
  • 20 to 40% for a single clothing item 
  • 50% for a whole outfit

To show you how to apply this, let’s go with the percentages in our example above. 

With a style essence that’s 60% natural, the majority of your outfit should honor this, while your finishing touches can be influenced by the lower percentages of ingenue and romantic. 

For instance, you can go for a loose-fitting, boho-style dress (natural), ballet flats (ingenue), and lavish statement earrings (romantic). 

Are Kibbe Body Types and Style Essences the Same?

No, but they do have some similarities. 

Both classify individuals into specific categories based on the yin and yang in their features.   

The Kibbe body typing system — which was created by David Kibbe — also includes these five style essences (although it refers to them as “body types” or “style identities”): 

  • Dramatic
  • Natural
  • Classic
  • Gamine
  • Romantic 

This is because both Kitchener and Kibbe borrowed these style essences or style archetypes from Harriet McJimsey’s “Art and Fashion in Clothing Selection,” a book that aimed to introduce readers to the essentials of styling and fashion design. 

However, Kibbe’s system excludes the ingenue essence from McJimsey’s book because Kibbe felt that it only applied to individuals of a certain age group. Meanwhile, Kitchener’s system retains it. 

John Kitchener also discovered the angelic or ethereal essence outside of McJimsey’s archetypes, which Kibbe’s system does not include. 

Are Style Essences the Same as Fashion Trends?

No. Fashion trends represent the latest styles and designs that have gained popularity in the fashion industry.

On the other hand, style essences are rooted in your unique personality and physical attributes, guiding you toward making style choices that are uniquely suited to you.

That said, you can incorporate current fashion trends into your wardrobe or put together outfits to achieve a fashion aesthetic if it aligns with your essence. 

For instance, menswear for women has become very popular in recent years, and this is something that beauties with a dramatic style essence can confidently embrace. 

Two young beautiful smiling brunette hipster female in trendy summer clothes.

Honor Your Style Essence With the Right Styling Choices!

Your style essence is like your personal style signature. 

Learning all about it and discovering how to follow your natural lines and features when selecting pieces and accessories helps you embrace outfits that celebrate your beauty. 

So let your style essence reflect your inner self with confidence and authenticity!

Find the Best Styles for Your Essence!

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  • Felice Albay

    Felice, has a Bachelor of Science graduate in Food Science and Technology. Since 2017, she has honed her skills as a content writer and editor, with a special interest in the ever-evolving worlds of skincare, makeup, and fashion. Juggling her role as a devoted mother, Felice finds inspiration in the dynamic landscape of TikTok, where she keeps a keen eye on the latest trends. Her expertise lies in transforming these discoveries into engaging content, connecting readers with the pulse of the beauty and fashion industries.

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