SOFT CLASSIC CELEBRITIES

The following list is meant to help give you a clearer picture of what a Soft Classic can be when she is visually defined. It is not meant to suggest that the ladies included always dress to their best advantage, so please be careful when you view pictures of them. Because each human being is truly an individual, all Soft Classics have unique qualities that set them apart from everyone else. Therefore, concentrate on discovering the continuity that ties these celebrities together. I think you’ll find that they each share a radiantly elegant beauty, along with a graciously refined essence.

Olivia de Havilland, Merle Oberon, Joan Fontaine, Norma Shearer, Barbara Walters, Blythe Danner, Meredith Baxter Birney, Catherine Oxenberg, Caroline Herrara, Meryl Streep.

SOFT CLASSIC CHECKLIST

YIN/YANG BALANCE

Balanced, with a Yin influence.

SHAPE

Soft, curved shapes with rounded edges. Smooth, symmetrical shapes that flow gently. Circles, ovals, subdued swirls.

LINE AND SILHOUETTE

Smooth, soft, symmetrical silhouettes with slight shaping. Gently flowing lines that flare or swirl. Clean lines that are unbroken. Smooth, horizontal, or diagonal draping.

AVOID: Hard-edged geometric silhouettes. Overly ornate or intricate lines. Wide, unconstructed silhouettes. Sharp, severely straight lines. Straight lines without flow or shaping. Overly crisp and fitted silhouettes with staccato lines.

FABRIC

Fabrics should be those of light to moderate weight that will drape softly and flow easily without being clingy. Finish should be slight matte or slight sheen, with a soft or plush surface (silks, cashmere, challis, crepe, suede, velvet, handkerchief linen, raw silk, shantung, etc.). Textures should be very light and soft. Fabrics that have a high-quality, imported look are excellent. Knits and wovens should be supple, light, and drapable without being clingy.

AVOID: Heavy, stiff fabrics. Rough, thick textures. Bulky knits. Overly sheer fabrics. Overly clingy fabrics, Extremely shiny fabrics (except for evening). Extremely dull-finished fabrics.

DETAIL

Detail should be smooth and symmetrical, composed of rounded shapes with slightly intricate edges. Detail provides that extra tough of Yin, so it is meant to further soften and feminize your look. It is used as an afterthought, and should only suggest a Romantic streak. Be careful  not to overdo it!

Slight definition through the shoulders: small, crisp pads; shoulder tucks; gathers; beading; slightly ornate trim; etc.

Clean, soft necklines. Draped necklines, soft cowls, jewel or scooped necks, subdued intricacy (gathers, shirring, soft pleats or folds, etc.).

Tapered sleeves and a defined waist. Subdued trim is possible (beautiful and unusual buttons, or small, elegant belts, soft gathers, etc.).

AVOID: Sharply tailored detail. Wide, unconstructed detail. Overly ornate or fussy detail. Animated, “perky” detail. Minimal, “no detail” looks.

SEPARATES

Use carefully and sparingly. Separates are effective only if they are part of a well-matched, “ensemble approach” to your head-to-toe appearance. Keep the colors, textures, and fabrics elegantly blended and avoid a staccato look.

Jackets: Jackets should be softly tailored with curvy shaping (subdued, not fussy) that gently shows the waist. Short to moderate lengths are best, although a longer length is possible in a belted jacket or one that has a very understated peplum. They can have slight shoulder definition with crisp pads, and are best with such added details as shoulder tucks or gathers and tapered sleeves. Again, such detail should be subdued and understated, not fussy or overdone.

AVOID: Overly tailored, sharp-edged, stiff jackets. Wide, boxy jackets that are unconstructed. Long, straight jackets that hide the waist. Extremely cropped jackets that are crisp and “perky.” Overly fussy or flouncy jackets with excess trim.

Skirts: Skirts should be soft, smooth, and gently flowing. A straight skirt should be lightweight and slightly tapered at the hemline to avoid stiffness. Flared skirts are best, with an uneven hemline that softly flows. Waist detail should be soft and subdued with slight gathers or soft pleats that are stitched down through the hip. Bias-cut pieces that are added to the bottom of the skirt are also possible. Hemlines on a straight skirt should be short—never longer than one inch below the knee. Uneven hemlines will always be longer, gracefully grazing the mid-calf area. Slits should be small and elegant, suggested rather than overstated.

AVOID: Long, straight skirts. Sharply tailored skirts. Wide, unconstructed styles. Voluminous circles. Extra flouncy  skirts—except for smoothly flared styles. Extremely tight or clingy skirts. Excess detail that is overdone (draping, shirring, full gathers, ultra deep folds, etc.).

Pants: Pants should be of softly tailored styles in lightweight fabric. Soft pleats, slight gathers, and a slightly tapered leg are nice details.

Hemline should be just below the top of the ankle so as to show a touch of the foot or shoe.

AVOID: Man-tailored styles with sharp edges. Wide, unconstructed or baggy styles. Overly fussy pants with excess trim or detail.

Blouses: Blouses should be soft and elegant with soft edges or a suggestion of intricate detail. Soft bows, slight lacy edges, jabots, and draped necklines are excellent. Subdued trim—applique’, shirring, gathers, beading, etc.—is also good as long as it’s not overdone. Fabric should be lightweight—with slight sheen of silk best. Very soft and sheer linens, batiste, voile, etc., are also  elegant.

AVOID: Sharply tailored styles. Wide, unconstructed styles. Animated, “perky” styles.

Sweaters: Sweaters should be soft and smooth, Lightweight knits are best, particularly when the finish is luxuriously soft to the touch. Cashmere, boucle’, angora, and silky weaves are all excellent. Lengths should be short to moderate. Subdued, intricate detail (applique’, beading, shirring) is good.

AVOID: Oversized, bulky sweaters. Rough or thick knits. Skinny-ribbed knits. “Perky” patterns.

DRESSES

Dresses should be graceful, flowing, and elegant. Flared shapes are best, and waist definition is essential (although it may be slightly dropped in very clingy fabric). Soft detail with a suggestion of intricacy is excellent. Draping is always perfect!

AVOID: Severely tailored styles. Wide, unconstructed styles. Overly fussy or flouncy styles.

COLOR

Your use of color should be soft and luscious. Pastels and moderately bright tones are best while light neutrals are quite elegant in luxurious fabrics. Color combinations should be softly monochromatic, with intensities blending together rather than sharply contrasting.

NOTE: This does not mean “all one color,” but rather that tones should softly harmonize. Light/bright color combinations are especially effective on you. Dark colors will need softening and brightening; either use them in accents or add a touch of soft texture or sheen to the fabric to dampen their starkness.

AVOID: Multicolored splashes. Head-to-toe dark color schemes. Sharply contrasting.

PRINTS

Prints should be soft, flowing, and watercolor. Abstract rounded  shapes that swirl into each other are excellent.

AVOID: Sharp geometrics. Small symmetrical prints. Animated, “cute” prints.

ACCESSORIES

Should be clean, elegant, tapered in shape with a slightly ornate or intricate trim. (Be careful not to overdo!)

Shoes: Delicate, tapered shoes. Narrow heels and toes. Slightly bare (sling back, open toe, etc.). Delicate, feminine flats.

AVOID: Angular styles. Chunky styles. Plain pumps.

Belts: Narrow to moderate width. Elegant, slightly ornate buckles. Exquisite leather, skin, or fabric.

AVOID: Wide, stiff styles. Overly ornate styles. Waist-cinchers.

Bags: Small to moderate size. Rounded shapes with slight trim (gathers, shirring, etc.). Clutches or moderate straps. Supple leather.

AVOID: Overly large styles. Angular shapes.

Hats: Small and elegant with rounded shapes and clean, crisp brims. Picture frame or garden party styles with soft detail (silk flowers, etc.).

AVOID: Severe, man-tailored hats. Large, unconstructed hats. Small, “perky” caps.

Hosiery: Moderately sheer styles are best. (Slightly opaque styles in light shades are also good.) A “light leg” that blends the stockings and shoe one or two shades lighter than the hemline is your most elegant and sophisticated look. You can also match the shoe and hemline while wearing a lighter stocking for a more casual or fun look. As for going for the “one long line” effect or matching the hemline, stocking, and shoe, use it with caution or it can be very dowdy on you! You can use it when your colors are light or medium tones. It is terrible on you when the colors are dark. The only exception is in the evening, when the dark stocking is ultra sheer; then it is a good choice, if you wish.

AVOID: Extremely opaque stockings. One long line of dark color. Three-color looks (stocking/shoe/hemline contrasts). Heavily textured stockings.

Jewelry: Jewelry should be clean, elegant, and softly feminine. It adds a touch of sophistication and delicacy to your look. It doesn’t need to be overdone; simply suggesting your glamour with a hint of intricacy is quite effective.

Shapes are round, ornate, and flowing while always remaining symmetrical. Circles, slight dangles, swirls, and clusters are all excellent.

A slightly antique approach to your jewelry is best.

AVOID: Sharp geometrics. Heavy, chunky pieces. Rough, ethnic styles. Overly flashy jewelry. Too much jewelry. No jewelry.

EVENING WEAR

Symmetrical, flowing shapes. Slightly ornate detail. Lightweight, draped, and sheer fabric. Slightly sparkly fabric. Smooth fabric. Slightly ornate trim (but not fussy).

Chiffon ball gowns.

Long gowns with flowing skirts.

Beaded bodices and jackets.

Ornate and fitted jackets over gowns (shoulder tucks, shirring, etc.)

Silk dresses

Elegant dinner suits with fitted jackets

HAIR

Hair should be controlled, smooth, and soft; an elegantly clean outline with curved edges. Curls and waves are lovely as long as they aren’t overly teased or cascading. A well-kept and meticulously groomed style is essential. Blunt-cuts are best; a very subtle layering to frame the face is important. Lengths should be moderate to long, but the longer your hair the more likely it will require a set to retain the stylization necessary for your sophisticated look. Likewise, if you opt for perms or processing, you will have to do some extra styling—with hot rollers or a curling iron, for example—to maintain a controlled style. An unkempt or uncared-for hairstyle will spoil your total look more quickly than any other element of your appearance!

AVOID: Severe, geometric styles. Overly layered, “wild” or “mane-like” styles. Overly ornate, teased styles. Wash n’ wear styles. Boyishly cropped styles.

HAIRCOLOR

Hair color should be soft and luxurious. Realistic and natural colors are best. Don’t stray far from your natural hair-color. Lightening your hair a shade or brightening it a shade is possible if your original color is blonde, red, or medium brown. You might also choose subtle low-lights if your hair is in these color ranges. Brunettes should always avoid lightening or highlights because the result is very aging and tiring, particularly after you’ve begun to gray.

AVOID: Unrealistic or theatrical hair colors (blue-black, fiery red, platinum blond, etc.). Over streaked hair.

MAKEUP

A well-polished makeup is a vital touch! Soft to bright shades, beautifully blended in a watercolor effect, create your most elegant, slightly feminine face. A hint of sparkle around the eyes, rosy cheeks, and slightly glossy lips complement your Image Identity to perfection!

AVOID: Heavy contouring with sharp edges (too stark). Smoky colors (too cold). Neutrals (too aging). Overly sparkly makeup (unsophisticated). Minimal, “no makeup” looks (too harsh). 

 

From David Kibbe’s Metamorphosis. Can visit David Kibbe’s web page at Facebook.