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Elements of Fashion Design

Four Basic Elements of Fashion Design


Four basic elements of fashion design are important in the design of any garment or fashion accessory. Recognizing what the various elements may mean as far as their importance in making up a flattering garment can sometimes help to women when they are choosing clothing or accessories.

1. Color

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Color is very important in fashion design, and there are many different color schemes that work well. A quilter's color wheel shows compatible color combinations and can be useful when a woman is trying to determine if certain separates or accessories will go with others in her wardrobe. In fashion, neutral colors play a big role because they can be worn with anything, making them good wardrobe-building colors. Dark colors can make a woman look thinner and thus look taller, a desirable effect for petite women. Because of differences in complexion and hair color, some colors will flatter certain women and not others. To make this design element work hard, a woman should know and wear her most flattering colors, and avoid colors that don't look good on her.

Pictured: Rainbow Color Selector (Compare Prices)

2. Silhouette

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In other types of design, shape and form are considered elements; in fashion design, shape and form amount to the silhouette of a garment and/or a fashion accessory item. Popular silhouettes in fashion change over time. For example, in the early 1900s, the ideal silhouette consisted of a pigeon-breasted figure with the bust jutting forward and the hips thrust backward. In the 1920s, a boyish, flat-chested shape was favored. A garment's shape or cut has a great deal to do with whether or not a particular clothing item flatters the person who is wearing it. Today's most desirable silhouette is an hourglass shape.

Pictured: Woman wearing a little black dress with an hourglass shape

3. Line

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There are many instances of lines in fashion design. The creation of a garment means that there will be seam lines to hold fabric sections together, the outline of a garment's silhouette is another line, and lines in the fabric, which make up various patterns, must also be considered. Lines in any of these cases can be straight or curved. Seam lines and lines in patterns that run vertically will flatter a petite woman more than horizontal lines. Asymmetrical lines, such as chevron-striped fabric in a garment can also be flattering to a short woman, depending on their placement.

Pictured: Petite star Shakira wearing a gown with vertical sequin spangles

4. Texture

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Texture is another element of fashion design. Fabric or other materials, such as trims and findings for clothing and accessories, can have a variety of textures, all of which can affect the look of a garment or fashion accessory. The weave and texture of a fabric have an impact on the way it drapes, which, in turn, affects the way a garment looks when it is worn.

Pictured: Satin fabric, which has a smooth and silky texture

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