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Monthly Archives: May 2014

diagonal design lines


By | Body Basics, Figure Flattery, Line and Design | No Comments

Of all the design lines seen in accessories and garments above all my favorite is the diagonal. At first this line can seem innocuous but look a little closer and you’ll see that it is possibly the most common and most impactful line of all.

Diagonal design lines may be single or divergent lines with each causing the eye to move from one side to the other on an angle.

  • Physically, diagonal lines can slim and lengthen when more vertical lengthen. While those that are more horizontal will shorten and widen the area they have been place over.
  • Psychological, diagonal lines can be generally described as dynamic and interesting as they are not as conventional as horizontal or vertical design features. 
    ~ As a single design lines or features: interesting, inventive and lively. 
    ~ As zig zag lines within patterns they can be seen as fun, creative or busy.
    ~ As alternating lines within patterns they can be seen as dramatic, erratic or intense.
    ~ Diagonal prints and patterns are best left for after work hours as they can be overwhelming especially when in bright colors.

  • Associations: Alternating diagonal lines are often subconsciously associated with danger as many dangerous events and animals in our natural world have diagonal shapes.

Diagonal lines and features can be found:

  • within prints and textures: such as herringbone, chevrons and argyle etc.

  • as structural components: such as triangle and inverted triangle silhouettes, panels, seams, collars, necklines, darts, flared pants and raglan sleeves etc.
  • garment detailing or embellishments: pockets, inserts, rick-rack and pleats etc.
  • accessories: scarves, bags, pendants, toes of shoes, earrings etc.


The wearing of garments with diagonal design lines or features is best achieved when they feels in-sync with your personal style expression.

Single lines

The longer and more vertical the diagonal line design features the more powerful the effect. Add color contrast to amplify the result.

A. Length is highlighted by the color contrast.

B. Diagonal line is slimming but not as much as A.

C. Only slight slims the mid torso.

D. While the line is highlighted by the color contrast the angle is more horizontal than vertical.

Divergent Lines (Triangles)

Triangles are one of the most common diagonal design lines found within garments e.g., ‘V’ necklines, collars, lapels, ‘V’ shaped button placement on a double-breasted jacket or a chain and pendant.

A triangle is formed when two or three sides are apparent (e.g., ‘V’ necklines, collars, lapels, pendants and jacket openings etc). The widest arm of the triangle is the one that commands the most attention (even if the widest arm is missing e.g., V-neckline). The brain will perceive that area as the one with the most width. Below jackets (C and D), each have a ‘V’ shaped hemline. The jacket with the widest inverted ‘V’ hemline ( A ) is the one that makes the hips appear widest. The triangular opening in jacket D is longer and narrower, lengthening and elongating the area.

Likewise the width and length of the ‘V” in V-necklines will impact the width and length of the face, neck, shoulders and bust line:

E: Balanced width and length

F: Widens shoulders

G: Lengthens face and neck and slims bust line

H: Lengthens the face and neck, plus slims the bust line even more than G