To be able to combine the basic elements of the design namely colour, line, texture, shape and form so as to produce charming, interesting and graceful effects, one must necessarily have a knowledge of the principles of art or design classified commonly as harmony, proportion, balance, rhythm and emphasis. These principles will help to create designs of good taste (if applied with imagination) and to evaluate designs critically).
How can you develop taste, imagination and ability to create your own designs. First of all you must collect design ideas by going through fashion magazines, books with historic costume plates, books with pictures of national and peasant costumes, tribal costumes etc., you can also observe costumes displayed in museums, dresses of people in famous portraits and current styles displayed at readymade and worn by well dressed people whom you see at movies, parties, shops, functions etc. Close observation trains the eye to distinguish distinctive designs from commonplace designs and good designs from bad ones.
Secondly you must learn to sketch designs. to start with, using a tracing paper you can trace carefully and exactly few designs from current fashion magazines or pattern books. Later practice free hand drawing first by looking and copying the designs on hand and next by observing each design carefully and then sketching it from memory. After you have trained yourself to do this, you will be able to put down on paper designs of dresses you may have observed while doing window shopping when attending social functions.
Next develop the ability to evaluate or judge designs by critically analysing their design details, decorative details and style lines in relation to the design of the dress and the personality of the wearer keeping in mind the art principles.
Fourthly, train yourself to observe a design and modify it or adapt it to suit current fashions, different types of personalities, different age groups, sex, occasions, and purposes. From one design idea, try to sketch about ten designs with slight variations.
Finally, make an attempt to create your own designs by putting on paper sketches from your imagination which should have been enriched by now by the practice you have been observing and sketching a variety of designs.
Chemise or A line style (Fig. a). This type of dress is cut in one piece without a waistline seam. This style is also referred to as sacque, shift etc. and is suitable for pre school children's dresses, duster coats, nighties etc. To bring the effect of the waist line, a belt can be used. More fullness can be introduced in to the waist line or skirt area of this style by dart manipulation and slash and spread method. Princess style (Fig. b). This type of dress has no waistline seam but has a vertical seam as shown in the figure. Middy or long torso style (Fig. c). This is a low waisted dress with the skirt attached to the extended waistline. One piece style with waist line seam at the natural waist line (Fig. d). The skirt for this style may be gored, gathered, pleated flared or circular. The bodice section of this style ends at the natural waistline. The two piece dress (Fig. e) eg skirt and blouse. The front of the dress may have a waist line seam but the back may be of the 'A' line type.
The dictionary meaning of silhouette is a dart image outlined against a lighter background'. The silhouette of a garment design refers to the outline shape that it gives to the wearer. Silhouette is determined by the texture of the fabric and the cut of the garment, the length and width of the garment, position of the waist line, length of the shoulder seam etc. Silhouettes may be classified as tubular, normal, a line, bell, clinging bouffant etc. The basic feature of the tubular silhouette is a narrow skirt (Fig. 1a). A line silhouette is produced by a skirt with a slight flare (Fig.1b). The bell silhouette is full skirted. Fullness may be in the form of gathers, pleats or flare. Fig. 1c shows a medium bell silhouette and (Fig. 1d) an extreme bell silhouette which is sometimes referred to as bouffant silhouette. Stiff fabrics like organdie and taffeta produce bouffant effect, while clinging fabrics like full voile creates a clinging silhouettes. Thin figures and stout figures should avoid extremely tubular or clinging styles as well as extreme bouffant styles.
a) Face shapes: Fashion magazines show a variety of interesting faces, each reflecting its own type of beauty. Fred Feucht design group studied the popularity of various face shapes among consumers and found the most preferred shape for men was the diamond and for women, the heart.
Face shapes are difficult to determine exactly. Reference books often define faces by eight geometric shapes shown below. (Oblong, Oval, Round, Rectangular, Square, Triangular, Diamond, Heart). The shape of the face is examined with particular attention to the division of space, the proportion of the forehead, cheek width and jawline. Also of interest are the lines formed by the facial features. Some people do not have definite face shape but may be a combination of several shapes.
b) Neckline: Necklines including collars and lapels are face-framing details of clothing. The shape of the neckline is determined by the lines of the garment design. Square faces are emphasized by square necklines, round necklines by round neck lines as well as by square necklines and so on. A triangular face will be complimented by a short V-neckline which will give length to the square jawline.
Neckline can also visually change the neck width and length by using lines to manipulate the neck space. Eg. a long neck can be visually shortened by using a horizontal line high on the neck line to divide the space. A short can be made visually longer by wearing a v-neckline.
The neckline is often the most eye-arresting area of the garment. This effect can be erected by either color or base skin. Bright or contrasting colours used at the neckline area attract attention.
c) Hair styles: The lines of a hairstyle can be analysed by considering the head features and body conformation. To minimize a very round face, select a hair style that is neither completely round not straight. To minimize a triangular face, avoid fullness at the widest and narrowest points of the face.
The process of design uses the inter related plastic elements of space, shape, form and line. Line can be either straight or curved. A straight line will have a different effect on the body depending on whether it is vertical (lengthens) horizontal (widens) diagonal (distracts) or zigzag (gives energy). Using curved lines soften that area. An understanding of the impact of these design elements can be applied to clothing selection and personal adornment such as face shapes, hairstyles and necklines.