Your Guide To The 7 Style Essences & How They Can Impact Your Sartorial Choices

Do you know which of the seven style essences fits you best? The seven style essences make up a system that was designed to help people find their signature style. In the 1930s, visionary Belle Northrup created a system that was based on the energies known as yin and yang; in her appropriation of the terms, yin represents darker, mysterious, softer energy, while yang is associated with light, straightforward, more angular energy. Over the decades since, the spiritual nature of Northrup's essence theory has been combined with the work of several comparatively modern-day fashion professionals — including that of author Harriet McJimsey, designer John Kitchener, and fashion guru David Kibbe — to create a system with a more practical approach.  


Today, the style theory operates as one cohesive system that centers around seven key essences that exist on a scale of pure yang to pure yin. Each essence represents a combination of a person's yin or yang energy, their personality, and their Kibbe body type. If you've been struggling to define your signature style, follow along as we detail each essence to find out which one resonates with you.


The dramatic style essence represents pure yang energy. People who gravitate toward this style essence tend to be rather angular in appearance. They may present with very prominent noses, cheekbones, chins, or jawlines. Many are of a long and lanky body type with sharp angles at the shoulders, elbows, and hips. Their personalities tend to be loud, bold, expressive, and theatrical — and so are their ideal fashion choices.


Dramatic essences can pull off fashion statements that others would never even dream of attempting. This is the type of person who rocks giant shoulder pads — or even shoulder spikes, fur, feathers, structured silhouettes, stark or vivid hair colors, and chaotic mixed geometric patterns that somehow work together on them. These are the trendsetters who often lead the way for fashion to trickle down to the everyday person. Bold and in-control fashion envelope-pushers like Joan Crawford and Lady Gaga are excellent examples of what this style essence can look like in the real world.


The gamine style essence represents a yang energy that is more relaxed than that of the dramatic essence. Rather than sharp and angular, the shape of the gamine essence is more square or rectangular. People who fall under this style essence often possess youthful wide eyes, a smaller stature, a square face or jaw, and a straight-lined body shape. Their personalities are known to feature a rebellious streak that should be reflected in their signature fashion style.


Gamine essences tend to embrace styles that disrupt the status quo, which makes them perfect for gender-bending and androgynous looks. Pantsuits, straight-leg pants, and any other outfit that creates a set of straight, even lines suit the people with a gamine essence best. They can also rock a pixie or buzz cut like nobody's business. In the public eye, celebs like Michelle Williams, Halle Berry, and Winona Ryder perfectly embody the cute, mischievous rebel spirit of the gamine style essence. 


The third of the style essences that represent yang energy is known as the natural essence. Natural essences tend to be of a wider-boned, more athletic build than average and exude a very laid-back, friendly personality. While they embody more angular energy than soft or rounded, their vibe is still significantly warmer and more relaxed than that of dramatic and gamine essences. They thrive in loose, oversized, casual outfits that are comfortable but high-quality.


Bulky, oversized sweaters or hoodies, wide-leg pants, and comfy athleisure attire in natural earth tones feel like home for those who fit into the natural style essence category. These are the masters of the no-makeup makeup look, natural hair colors, and street clothes that can double as workout wear. These are the coveted girls next door who make you want to be their friend. For natural style essence inspiration, look to fresh-faced, down-to-earth beauties like Sandra Oh, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Chloë Sevigny.


The equal balance between yin and yang makes up the classic style essence. Classic essences show the same exceptional symmetry that they possess energetically in the appearance of their faces and bodies. These folks tend to inhabit trim, moderately sized bodies that are fit but sturdy with faces that display incredibly balanced features. They exude timeless, effortless beauty and sophistication — even without makeup, a perfectly executed outfit, or styled hair. They literally woke up like this.


Classic essences tend to gravitate toward wardrobe staples that are — well — classics. Their closets are filled with solid neutrals like white, gray, beige, khaki, brown, black, and olive. Though they might have conventionally attractive bodies, they are likely to choose pieces with conservative cuts that cover a significant portion of their skin in all seasons. Their beauty shines the most when their hair is left natural or pulled into a simple bun or ponytail. Famous examples of people who can work the classic style essence include Jennifer Aniston, Naomie Harris, and Grace Kelly.


The first style essence to dip more into yin energy is the romantic essence. People who fall into this category often have strikingly sensual features like plump lips, curvy hips, and larger busts, or they feel a strong desire to emphasize these features. They gravitate toward long, voluminous hairstyles and sultry makeup looks like smoky eyes or classic red lips. The pieces that make up their wardrobes tend to be form-fitting or slightly flowy to emphasize their curves, and they aren't at all afraid to show some skin.


Romantic essences are likely to feel drawn to vintage pinup era dresses, high heels, stockings, lingerie, and floral patterns. They may become attached to a particular lip color or hairstyle that they feel flatters their features and allow it to become their daily go-to signature style. World-renowned versions of the romantic essence can be seen in stars like Kat Dennings, Eva Mendes, and Marilyn Monroe.


The ingenue style essence is the yin version of the yang's gamine essence; they are two sides of the same coin. The ingenue essence shares the same youthful vibe, often manifesting in people who possess child-like large eyes and soft, dewy skin. The ingenue essence's face, however, tends to be more rounded and gives a stronger impression of innocence rather than mischievousness. Like the romantic essence, the ingenue style essence embodies softened, rounded shapes but with a more delicate flair.


Ingenue essences will be drawn to flowing articles of clothing like kaftans, long vintage dresses, and breezy linen pants. Intricate patterns like beading, lace, and tiny bows immediately catch their eye and spark their joy. Pastels or light colors are likely to dominate this style essence's closet along with sheer fabrics and dainty jewelry. Public figures like Zooey Deschanel, Lupita Nyong'o, and Emma Stone often exhibit the ingenue style essence.


The ethereal or angelic style essence embodies pure yin energy. Ethereal folks tend to have facial structures that go beyond child- or doll-like and take on almost an otherworldly elven or fairy-like quality. Glowing skin, exaggerated eyes, and slightly pointed ears aren't uncommon for this style type. They are typically small, thin, and dainty with a mild, gentle, positive, and daydreamy personality to match their stature. Loose, free-flowing fabrics in gauzy iridescent, metallic, or glitter finishes are the name of the game for this essence.


Ethereal essences' fashion choices tend to lack structure and drape softly over the body, like robes and tunics. They are particularly drawn to gold, silver, crystals, gemstones, and any material that naturally sparkles. Natural hair paired with makeup that features a dewy foundation and heavy highlighter embodies this type perfectly. For ethereal inspiration, check out the famous styles of Cate Blanchett, Fan Bingbing, Stevie Nicks, and Halle Bailey. But remember — if just one essence doesn't quite fit your style, don't be afraid to create your own fusion of two or more for an aesthetic that's uniquely you.