Elements of Fashion Design

Four basic elements are important in the design of any garment or fashion accessory. Recognizing what the various elements mean can help women choose the right clothing or accessories.

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Color wheel
COX Color Wheel. Image courtesy of Amazon

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 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, a woman should know and wear her most flattering colors.

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Woman in Silhouette
Compassionate Eye Foundation / Getty Images

In other types of design, shape and form are considered elements; in fashion design, shape and form amount to the silhouette of a garment or fashion accessory. 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.

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Petite star Shakira wears a gown with vertical sequin spangles to an inaugural charity ball in Washington DC, January 20, 2009. Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

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.

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fashion texture detail
Actress Ko Ah-seong, fashion detail, attends a photocall for 'O Piseu' during the 68th annual Cannes Film Festival. Dominique Charriau / Getty Images

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.