Putting Your Best Seam Forward: The Power Of Line Illusions

Putting Your Best Seam Forward: The Power Of Line Illusions

Last week, our readers learned why line & design is so important in giving your look an edge. Today, let’s explore putting your best seam forward with line illusions. 

Line illusion is a powerful tool in your look arsenal, but you’ll need to understand how various types of lines, such as verticals, circulars, stripes, and diagonals, influence the eye quite differently if you want to take full advantage of its power. There’s also a big consideration that you may be forgetting in making your best line designs work best for you. 

The Influence of Vertical Design Lines 

Vertical design lines are those that draw the eye up and down first and foremost. This includes a dart, pleat, zipper, and button-line. Even single-breasted or open coats and sleeveless tops are verticals. 

What does a single vertical line do? This is used to create the illusion of height by elongating the body. Create a long, slenderizing line with a single front seam, for example. 

When you add multiple vertical lines, the area is divided to minimize how the eye reads it. The effect is the illusion of a much smaller area. 

Color plays a big role in the slenderizing, minimizing effect of verticals.  

A high contrast top in red and white divided down a center seam would bring both colors forward. The illusion is then lessened, which defeats any slenderizing and minimizing intent. 

Meanwhile, the same top in white and navy offers a very different visual contrast. The eye naturally pulls one color side forward and the other color side back, which accomplishes the slenderizing, minimizing illusion. 

The Influence of Striped Design Lines 

Stripes are a power player in the illusion a look yields, but it can easily work against you if you don’t understand the visual dynamics. 

There are three factors that influence how stripes are seen by the eye: 

1. Distance – the eye determines width and height of an area based on the distance between the stipe pattern. Stripes set far apart offer a wider and shorter illusion for the area and vice versa for those set closely together. 

2. Width – the eye also uses the width of the stripe itself in judging width and height of an area. The wider the stripe, the wider and shorter the area appears to the eye. 

3. Contrast – The above effects are enhanced or diminished via color contrast. The deeper and stronger the contrast, the stronger the effect, which means black and white offer the ultimate contrast. 

The Influence of Horizontal Design Lines 

Horizontal design lines run side-to-side against the body. This includes hemlines, necklines, waistlines, belts, and horizontal stripes. 

Horizontals are used to widen and shorten an area. It’s seldom a design feature that should be head-to-toe unless your very thin and tall because it creates a shorter, heavier illusion. 

However, strategic use of horizontals can draw the attention away from your less desirable areas by placing the attention on your best assets. It can also add balance to disproportionate body types. 

Many want to conceal heavier bustlines, hips, or thighs, for example. So, the horizontal accents should be placed near the hemline or shoulderline. 

Others may have a smaller bust and larger waist, which can be better balanced by wearing a top with horizontal features. 

The Influence of Diagonal Design Lines 

Diagonals cause the eye to simultaneously move across and up/down the area of the body. The eye starts at the top of the garment and moves down and across to the other side of the garment. 

The flow of the angle determines what illusion is created. Long diagonal designs flowing vertically create elongation. Short diagonal designs flowing horizontally create width. 

Keep in mind that diagonals are commonly used in a garment’s sleeves and/or neckline, such as yokes, drop-sleeves, lapels, pendants, collars, and lapels. Such adds both interest to solid colors and grabs the eye’s attention toward the upper body. 

The Influence of Circular Design Lines 

Circular design features include patterns, such as florals, swirls, and polka dots. Hemlines, necklines, pockets, and sleeves can also be rounded. 

Straight lines create a faster eye appraisal. Circular designs slow the eye’s movement as it follows the curves. This accentuates the body’s shape and angles and creates the perception of feminine softness. 

How Are You Making Line Illusions Work For You? 

As you can see, lines make or break your look. Use the knowledge of circular, horizontal, diagonal, vertical, and striped lines to offer balance and bring your best assets front and center of your look. 

Of course, your line knowledge hinges upon truly understanding your unique body. That means applying line decisions to your scale and size. Otherwise, even clothing that’s a perfect fit for your attributes may still miss the mark because it doesn’t account for your scale. 

A quick way to determine scale is to consider both your height, weight, and ratio between your wrist and ankle. If you need more assistance with scale and size or line illusions, I’m always happy to help. 



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