Hopefully you’re familiar enough with the Kibbe styling test to understand the following, if not, visit my post explaining kibbe in terms that may clarify why I’m a big fan and spend so much time breaking it down for you, even as a serious practicing mutahajjaba. There you’ll also find links to Youtube videos that contain the test, tons of pictures that give you some visual representation of the words in the test (although there’s plenty of room for interpretation). Both Aly Art and Merriem Style go quite deeply into details for each category, so I highly recommend you go back to visit that old post of mine to find the links. I’ve also covered Dramatics, Romantics, Naturals, and Classics in previous posts, so if you happen to fall in one of those categories, I invite you to click on these individual links to read up on each one of these styles, which break down your hijabi options if you’re curious.
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with all this, or if you’ve already done the test and you KNOW you’re a gamine, or are pretty sure you are one, then keep reading below.
Gamines have this aura of eternal youth about them, they always look younger than they are (which can sometimes be a bit annoying, especially if you’re in a profession that requires you to be taken seriously… if this is a concern for you, keep reading). They’re often petites, but don’t have to be, if you visit Merriam Style’s Youtube channel, she gives a few examples of tall gamines (Zendaya is a very recent example she examined, and she’s a lofty 5′ 10” tall).
Gamines are literally an even combination of Yin and Yang features. If you’re a visual artist, or appreciate paintings, you may think of Gamine lines as a Picasso, cubism in particular might best exemplify what it means to be a Gamine. Or, if you’re into Islamic geometrics, then bright mosaics might be a more apt simile. There’s lots of feeling packed into a stunning juxtaposition of contrasts and opposing forces. But this doesn’t make the art any less beautiful, intriguing, or meaningful, … au contraire! It means you have a body that invites clear expression, and where all sorts of combinations of tastes and lines can coexist without clashing. It’s quite wonderful, if you think about it! But it can also be a challenge.
Effectively, Gamines have evenly split answers between A and E. A perfect example would be Kelly Osborne. If you have many B answers as well, this makes you a Flamboyant Gamine, Zendaya and Tina Turner are an example of this, what this Gamine carries is a bit more sharpness and bluntness than softness. FGs have borrowed a Dramatic undercurrent, if you will. If you’ve found several D answers with your As and Es, then you’re a Soft Gamine, or a more rounded version of the mosaic. A SG has a slight Romantic undercurrent and is therefore sometimes confused with Theatrical Romantics, because they both have a combination of softness and sharpness. The trick in finding out which one suits you best is to decide the proportions. Theatrical Romantics will have predominantly E answers and some As, whereas Gamines will have a pretty even split between As and Es, and a few extra Ds thrown in. Normally, Gamines have larger, rounder heads, and even if they’re tall they look shorter than they actually are because of this. Merriam Style suggested we change the first Kibbe question precisely to address this issue, as it’s a matter of proportions, rather than measurements. I tend to agree with her on this point.
You’ll find many TV personalities (actresses in particular) who are Gamines, precisely because they have larger heads and comparatively smaller bodies. TV being a primarily facial media, it tends to look more favorably towards these types. It’s no accident, for example, that both Aly Art and Merriam Style are Gamines, both successful Youtubers who work on camera, showing almost exclusively their faces. By contrast, many models are either Dramatics or Naturals (especially in the 80’s and 90’s), and you’d be hard-pressed to find any Romantics at all among them, because fashion houses require bodies that are projecting vertically enough to be able to showcase the clothing, without distracting from them. Romantics and Classics often fall among the romantic icons, though thankfully haven’t been exclusively relegated to this type-casting (think Drew Barrymore).
But moving onto Gamines more specifically. Gamines are the only body type who actually look great in boxy cuts. All those avant-garde pieces you see on Pinterest that you wish you had the guts to wear? Gamines can, and they look fabulous in them! Gamines often have proportionately longer legs and tend to be short-waisted. If you’ve read my previous post on Dramatics, you’ll know that I’m a Theatrical Romantic and my aunt is a Soft Gamine, she’s a good 3-4 inches shorter than me, but we wear a similar length in pants! I’m long waisted, she’s long-legged, her bigger head makes up for my longer neck, and there you have it, a whole 15 cm difference that throws us in two different Kibbe categories. Again, this goes to show you that it’s all about proportions, not measurements.
Because Gamines have very distinct features, makeup and clothing are best when they are clearly defined. So color blocks, boxy cuts, cropped cuts, bright lips, blunt haircuts, and a mix and match of fitted vs boxy, light vs dark, and just about any contrast of opposites are tailormade for Gamines. If you visit my Gamine board on Pinterest you’ll notice hundreds of examples of Gamine outfits, makeup and hairstyles that can inspire you to look your very best. You’ll notice, for example, that short, geometric cuts look particularly beautiful on Gamines, as does a simple makeup of well defined lips and eyelashes, or eyebrows. It’s a good idea for Gamines to always have at least some makeup on, preferably in matte color, and well defined. But don’t overdo it, too much makeup will make you look too made up and out of your element. You just need clearly defined lips and/or eyes, let the cheeks be as natural as possible. This goes for evenings out as well. If you love your eye shadow, go for smoky eyes, with well delineated eye-liner and extra mascara (false eye-lashes work too). Avoid sparkle on your cheeks, avoid neutral colors, go for reds and other strong colors (not necessarily dark) for your lips, and even if you wear lipgloss, use a lip liner to make the lip edges well defined.
Gamines have the tremendous advantage of being able to be playful with their look, be it in clothing, makeup, or hairstyle. A luxury that Classics would struggle to pull off. The greatest challenge comes when a Gamine wants to look like something other than an eternal teen, and that’s where you’d choose more classic colors, while maintaining the contrast. For example, you could pair a tucked in top with horizontal lines (they don’t have to be printed, they can just be in the form of geometric pleats, sharp and oversized bows or collars, large pockets, or simply a very crisp, thick fabric) and cigarette-legged pants. If you require a more conservative look, you can go for a classically cut blouse in medium weight fabric, tucked in, with a ribbon or tie, and a cropped, tailored blazer, and contrasting colored pants, which don’t have to be pencil-cut, they can be culottes, paired with a short boot. Whatever you do, keep in mind that you want to create a mosaic, you want to steer clear of monochromatic looks, long lines, wide and flowy fabrics, and other pieces that will make you look like you’re wearing your mother’s clothes (even if you’re a grandma… that’s the beauty of Gamines!). All cartoonish clothing were made for Gamines, so have fun with them! You’re pretty much the only ones who can actually look pretty fab in them, so go for it! High necks are a signature Gamine trait, and they underline the idea of wanting to pack as much into your look as possible, covering each area with some well thought out detail.
Gamines tend to gather weight around the hips and waist, so when they’re overweight they tend to look boxy rather than rounded, they usually don’t have an hourglass shape, nor are they large-chested, and by contrast, they often have longer limbs. However, keep in mind that this is a generalization. You may be a Gamine with a small waist, in which case you’re probably a Soft Gamine, though not necessarily. As long as your Yin Yang balance is as mentioned above, just go with that. These descriptors are mainly for people who haven’t done the test yet, or aren’t really sure of their results.
Soft Gamines look great in slightly more tailored looks than other Gamines, with more waist emphasis, because they’d normally have a more defined waist and more curvatious top and bottom. Bouffants, crisp curves with sharp edges, rounded shapes that are smoothly formed, ovals, circles, elliptical shapes, chunky swirls, teardrops, and crisp clusters are all great shapes to look for. SGs should avoid sharp geometrics, which would look better on FGs. Overly intricate or delicate shapes aren’t a strong enough statement for you, opt for more chunky and sturdy looks. But don’t go for oversized geometrics, as they’re too overpowering. SGs are the softest of the Gamines, and your delicate features need to be respected, though not overly emphasized. Remember you’re a beautiful combination of opposites, so you need to balance these. Unlike Romantics, soft, light, flowy, sheer fabrics are just too much for you, to look more delicate and romantic, you most definitely can go for lighter fabrics, but stop short of very light, delicate and breezy fabrics that move with you. The above skirt is an example of how to do this: a crepe skirt heavily layered is breezy, but doesn’t move and isn’t sheer, paired with dark leggings, maybe a chunky boot, a print T and a leather jacket is the epitome of Gamine pairing. The other outfit would be Romantic if not for its thick stiffness. Your version of fresh and delicate has a hint of sharpness, so instead of shiny silk, go for organza, instead of soft jersey cotton, go for crisp cotton twill, instead of peplum gathers go for bouffant and sharp pleats, instead of delicate lace and sheen/sheer fabrics, opt for lacy trims, appliques, and top-stitching. Contrasting buttons, crisp rounded collars, sharp cuffs are perfect details to add to your mosaic. Waistbands, belts, saches, and other waist definition are a good idea for SGs, though not for other Gamines. Another way to add interest to a simple outfit is with rolled hemlines, and slight widening under the knee, or tulip-shaped hems.
Flamboyant Gamines’ most important accessory is jewelry. You may go for avant-garde pieces of interest for an elegant look, or funky for a more fun and informal look. As long as shapes are kept chunky, asymmetrical and irregular, you’re good to go. Art deco, Victorian and Art Nouveau styles are right down your isle. Lots of contrasting color and polished metal will add just the right amount of glam for you to look your best. If you insist on wearing belts, then ensure they’re wide and chunky, possibly with interesting buckles, avoid fine, thin, understated belts, which will do absolutely nothing for you. Same goes for purses and bags, go for angular, stiff, and flat. Wild patterns and bright fabrics are a definite yes, but small rounded bags with delicate straps or ornate trims are a clear no. For shoes… ditto: avoid fussy styles, and overly plain ones (so no strappy shiny stilettoes, and not plain Jane pumps). Like comfort and durability? Go for Doc Martins, platform sandals, or ubber-soled sneakers. You look best in contrasting primary or bold colors. If you must wear neutrals because of your job or personality, then at least use contrasting accessories (shoes, bags, belts, scarves, jewelry). Give your Gamine side a chance to shine, and allow yourself to get out of your comfort zone with a less monochromatic look and overwhelming amounts of neutral colors: you’ll be positively surprised! Dresses are normally recommended to be short, but as a mutahajjaba that is obviously not an option, so consider color-blocking and layering. Here are a few examples of color-block dresses and abayas that might look great on you, as well as a few ideas on how to layer standard mall pieces if you live in an area where you have limited choice. As I often do, I highly recommend looking at what Shukr has to offer, because on top of giving you top quality garments, often in sustainable fabrics, they are ethically made, and although I do realize that price can sometimes be an impediment, if you’ll consider a Capsule Wardrobe of clothes you are actually proud to own and will really be able to wear for years to come, then the price doesn’t quite seem so steep after all, quite the opposite, in fact. If you like skirts, you can get away with slightly shorter skirts, which aren’t exactly hijab, but with a boot or leg-warmers (if you’re into that) you may get away with it. Alternatively, stick with straight skirts, without too many gathers, not too flowy nor A lined. Keep in mind that you want a crisp, clean, unmoving look, you’re steering away from fabrics that move too much when you do.
Gamines are all about the details, something they share with Romantics and TR, the difference lies in the fabrics you use, choose stiffer rather than flowy textiles, and matte rather than shiny or sheer. An aspect they share with Dramatics is the use of lines, only that Gamines will need to combine horizontal with vertical, to form a Picasso-esque cubist image, rather than sticking with vertical lines. Another contrasting feature of Gamines vs Dramatics is the size factor, Dramatics look their best in slightly oversized clothing, whereas Gamines’ best look is in exact fits. Indian saris are a perfect example of this, as are traditional Indonesian outfits. Some modern Japanese fashion designers such as Chisato Tsumori ( who is well known for his unusual combinations of apparently incongruent themes and media), have produced some of the best Gamine looks you’ll find online, if you’re looking for artsy contemporary pieces. I personally love this juxtaposition of opposites, because there’s just so much versatility to it.
Gamines need to pack as much contrast as they can to fully express their multifaceted lines, and this is an artist’s dream come true! No wonder that some of the most eclectic looks and most avant-garde fashion statements specifically cater to the Gamine body type! One of my favorite fashion icons growing up was The Huxtable’s daughter, Denise, played by Lisa Bonet (currently Lilakoi Moon), former wife of another brilliant artist: Lenny Kravitz, and presently married to none other than The Aquaman. You don’t need to look any further than her for examples of how you can truly have fun with this look. Although she didn’t always respect Kibbe rules, she always did make full use of contrasts and details. Intricately tailored and asymmetrically constructed pieces really became a staple with her, and all this is part and parcel of the Gamine essence. But if you’re on the more conservative side, then Audrey Hepburn is a fabulous icon to emulate.
Hope this was helpful, and that you’ve found enough food for thought to give it a try. I invite you once more to visit my Pinterest Gamine board for my growing pin collection to inspire you. If you do attempt any of the tips I recommend, do comment below, or tag me @cafecaterpillar email me firstname.lastname@example.org or tag me on your IG pictures @caterpillarsister . If you’d like me to go into further detail about anything I’ve written so far on Kibbe Hijabi style, just drop me a comment, an email, or an IG message.
This is it for now, hope you enjoy your summer, and that you’ll be back to read more on the blog.
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