Well-made clothing will highlight the physical assets of the wearer, while simultaneously camouflaging any trouble areas. While traditional wisdom holds that horizontal lines or stripes make virtually everyone look shorter and wider than they actually are, the use of curved lines on clothing can actually be flattering when positioned correctly. Those who want to wear garments with curved lines should consider how their body proportions and personal style correspond with available looks and styles.
One way in which curved lines can create a flattering look is by adding emphasis to the feminine form. When positioned on the bodice seam, they highlight the natural shape of the body. They can also have this effect when included on the center seam, neckline or waistline. Curved lines can even appear alongside straight lines without minimizing these flattering effects. The key to incorporating different line types in a garment is to choose lines that are harmonious, or that create a sense of completeness or flow. It is also essential that curved lines stand out as the most dominant lines on a garment. Because the eye will naturally be drawn to these lines, they will have the most influence.
In addition to adding softness, curved lines can also contribute to the overall slimming look of an outfit. When positioned differently, curved lines can also be worn by those who prefer making certain areas look larger to create the illusion of curves. For example, curved lines that converge at the waist make it look smaller, while lines that diverge at the chest can make it look larger. In both cases, the human eye will follow the line to its end. When curved lines meet at a focal point, the slimming effect is created. When the lines move outward, the focal area is larger.
While thick lines are said to give the visual image of shortened height, curved lines will have the opposite effect. Depending on the line’s curve, it can mimic the same upward focus created by thin vertical lines. To give the illusion of height, curved lines that move the focus across the body like horizontal lines should be avoided. Instead, curved lines with an upward pointing “U” shape are ideal. For a look that stands out, look for asymmetrical curved lines that are located on one side of a garment rather than centered.
In fashion, there are four main clothing shapes: natural, bell, full and tubular. The natural shape sits close to the body and highlights the natural waistline. The bell shape minimizes height with its cutting diagonal and horizontal lines. The tubular shape, on the other hand, has vertical lines that emphasize height. Finally, the full shape highlights curves. While each shape has its advantages and disadvantages, certain shapes correspond best with certain body types. For example, those who are looking to create feminine curves would be well advised to avoid the tubular shape. Because curved lines contribute to the full or natural shape of a garment, their presence serves as a helpful indication of garment type for shoppers.
References and ResourcesJoy of Clothes: Information on Design Lines
"A Girl's Problems in Home Economics"; Mabel B. Trilling; 1926