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Category Archives: Line and Design

The Curved Line banner2


By | Line and Design | 7 Comments

From the gentle undulation of a hill-scape, the swirls in a paisley pattern to the languorous curves of the female form, there are few things as inviting as curved lines.

Unlike a straight line which can be quickly and easily followed by the eye, the curved line or feature causes the eye to slow down in order to take in its highs and lows. These lines are then interpreted by the brain as features that increase volume or size and the effect is enhanced the larger or longer the feature, pattern or line is. 

Curvedorganic groupSource: Top Image, Bottom Image

Curved lines also have their own set of effects and associations:

  • Physical: can increases apparent weight and width, holds attention.
  • Psychological: calming, nurturing, abundant.
  • Impression: feminine, gentle. soft, relaxed, graceful.
  • Associations: women, romance, elegance. 
  • As a Pattern: Seem most commonly in casual or dressy garments.  Should be worn in limited amounts to work.

These impressions are intuitively developed through our experience with objects that contain these shape throughout our lifetime.  Curved design lines and features can be found: 

  • within patterns: such as florals, polka dots, and spots, paisley, fluid, flowing patterns, etc.

Circular print groupbSource

  •  as structural components: contoured silhouettes, bubble skirts, scoop and cowl necklines, puff and leg-of-mutton sleeves.


  • garment detailing or embellishments: gathers, buttons, ruffles, paneling, draping, scalloped or round edges, etc.


  •  fabrics: such as lace and anything furry/fuzzy.

FuzzySweatersSource: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3

  • accessories: scarves, bags, toes of shoes, earrings, etc.
Source: Top Row: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3 Bottom Row: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3 

So Many Uses  

The wearing of garments with curved lines or features is best achieved when it feels in-sync with your personal style expression

Curved lines can be employed to:

  • subtly add shape to a straight body, 
  • add a few extra kilos/pounds to a light frame.
  • highlight your God-given curves.
  • add a some feminine allure, to help you soothe, smooth or glide your way through a situation.
  • balance the body where one area is larger than the other e.g., if you have a triangle body shape, wearing a top with circular design lines or features can balance your body and create a more hourglass silhouette.  
  • soften the image of a person who is perceived to be strong, aggressive or unfriendly.
  • soften an all black outfit.

How to Style Curved Lines in Fashion

This is the fourth installment of my major design line features.

For the other three click:  The Vertical Advantage, Horizontal Help and Dynamic Diagonals.


If you enjoyed this week’s feature
please like it on Facebook or Instagram
or leave a comment/question below.
Thank you.
Ann Reinten AICI CIP



By | Coordination, Line and Design, Understanding Prints & Patterns, Wardrobe Savvy | 13 Comments

This week I’m changing up my feature up a bit by focusing on a pattern – stripes to be precise.

They are almost as wearable as solid colors and a must-have in any woman’s wardrobe. Their versatility allows multiple ways to coordinate them with your favorite garments and depending which stripe you use you can easily create either a relaxed vibe or a serious edge to your look.

And I’m starting at the beginning because I’ve often found that when you start with the historical aspect of a garment, fabric or pattern, it often yields many insights that make sense of their use in the present, and why we perceived a certain way when we wear them.

Historically, women have borrowed or have been influenced by many menswear items. Stripes were originally a major part of men’s suiting and casual wear, but many important historical and fashion figures have influenced the way they have been used within fashion.

Vertical Stripes


The world famous London Savile Row is considered by many to be the capital of menswear tailoring. Hugh Holland, the managing director of Kilgour French Stanbury, one of the stores on Savile Row, states that the pin stripes we know and wear today originated from bank uniform around the 19th century. London, being a commerce capital during that time, was definitely the place where fashions emerged. A striped trouser paired with a casual morning coat was the uniform of the financiers of the 19th century. More interestingly, each bank had a specific type of stripe so  their brand and employees could be easily identified.

History PinstripeSource: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3, Image 4

No one is really quite sure of the exact starting point when the vertical pin stripe was introduced to the public. However, there is another popular theory that the pinstripe came about in the glitzy decade of the 1920s where fashion was such a huge part of everyday culture and lifestyle. Inspired by the boating outfits from the late 1800s, the 20s showed off pin stripes in a fun and fashionable way. Pre-Gatsby era, formalwear was quite subdued so more casual suits came forward as a way to make menswear more playful and vibrant. Take a look at vintage photos of men in pin stripes suits and you’ll start to really understand what makes these vertical pin stripes so wearable and chic. The thinness of the stripe makes it work appropriate, but you can just as easily jazz up vertical stripes with bolder accessories and styling. Pin stripes wouldn’t be the first trend that women have adopted into their own fashion realm and it certainly won’t be the last, since fashion is always changing and borrowing inspiration from the opposite gender. Here are some perfect examples of women’s tailored suits, from vintage to modern:

women pinstripe1Source: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3

If you want to look toward current trends, bold and graphic stripes are the vertical stripe look of the moment. While historically, pin stripes are the reigning kind of vertical stripes, current trends and style have been dictating more graphic, statement-making large vertical stripes.

How They’re Perceived

With a history associated with professional endeavors and formal events, the vertical stripe is seen as powerful, professional and authoritative. Variations of the stripe include pencil and chalk with each gaining their name from the width of the line created by the pin, pencil or piece of chalk. The narrower the stripe, closer together and more classic the stripe color, the more formal the impression they will create. If you are seeking the most professional look, opt for stripes in color pairings of neutral hues like black, navy, and white.

women in pinstripesSource: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3, Image 4, Image 5

One last vertical stripe worth mentioning is the gangster stripe. Stereotyped more from movie myth than truth, the fact remains that if you wear it, you run the risk of being seen as theatrically contrived than stylish.

Gangster Stripes

Visual Effects and Styling Tips

It’s virtually a no-brainer that vertical stripes are slimming. The vertical line naturally encourages the eye to travel up and down elongating and visually slimming the area. Here are some more vertical features you may want to look for if you want to increase the slimming effect:

  • One central stripe as a focal point of the garment
  • Many thin stripes close together
  • Low color contrast in between the stripes
  • Vertical stripes worn over your largest area
  • Long length vertical garments
  • Don’t wear vertical stripes over areas where you are curvy as the stripes will stretch out of shape.

Try to avoid wearing one prominent stripe to the side if you are wide, as this can make you look wider. A central stripe is best when you wish to look taller or slimmer. When opting for vertical striped pants, avoid fabrics that stretch as this will warp, hug, and expand over your fullest areas.

To read more about styling with vertical design lines see: The Vertical Advantage

Wearing vertical stripesSource: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3, Image 4 

Horizontal Stripes


Dis you know that during medieval times, you could get sent to prison for simply wearing striped clothing? It’s true. Stripes were for prisoners, and well, evil people. We, along with the fashion industry, have definitely evolved from that belief. Now, stripes have moved on from their negative medieval connotations and have become one of the most coveted patterns for fashion.

From the 1800s onwards, horizontal stripes became one of the fashion staples that we know and love today. Queen Victoria dressed her son Prince Albert in a striped sailor suit aboard the Royal Yacht, and from then on stripes were firmly in the public eye. The 19th century then saw the popularity of the horizontally striped Breton shirt worn by French navy men. Coco Chanel, however, gets the ultimate credit for bringing horizontal stripes into the 20th century when she sold it from her store. From then on, pop culture and fashion icons like Audrey Hepburn, Pablo Picasso, Brigitte Bardot, and Andy Warhol further popularized the striped Breton Shirt in the following decades. Nowadays, modern fashion icons like Kate Moss, Emma Stone, and Alexa Chung are huge fans of stripes, and are often photographed wearing this eponymous pattern and styling it in different ways.

History of Horizontal StripesSource: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3, Image 4


Source: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3, Image 4, Image 5  

How They’re Perceived

Definitely more laid-back than vertical stripes, horizontal stripes are the more casual and sporty of the two kinds of stripes. For business wear they are best left for your business casual days.

One of the most famous and frequent fashion comebacks is the Breton top and it can be relied on to give your look a chic, nautical image. While these stripes do have a definite sporty or casual stereotype there’s no need to feel trapped into the looks as there are many ways to dress the stripes up through the use of tailoring, color, sheen and shine, texture and accessories. 

CasualstripesSource: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3, Image 4


Glam up Your Horizontal Stripes Ideas

Source: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3Image 4Image 5  

Visual Effects and Styling Tips

Horizontal stripes can be a bit tricky, but don’t listen to people that say they aren’t flattering. Pulling off a pattern is all about styling and finding the right fit for your body and personal style. With the right elements, horizontal stripes can even be, dare I say it, slimming. Here are some tips to make sure that horizontal stripes slim you down:

  • Look for garments with many thin stripes close together
  • Choose low to medium color contrast between the stripes. Think monochromatic like navy and midnight blue stripes or red and maroon stripes
  • Ensure the garment is longer than it is wide (the middle photo below is too short).
  • For pants and skirts look for sturdier fabrics with some elasticity.
  • Wear the horizontal stripe over your smallest area.
  • Consider your body type. Full figured women can get away with slightly wider stripes while petites should opt for thinner lines.
  • Be mindful of the garment silhouette a striped item comes in.

Horizontal Styling Tips

Source: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3

To read more about styling with vertical design lines see: Horizontal Help.


If you enjoyed this week’s feature
please like it on Facebook or Instagram
or leave a comment/question below.
Thank you.
Ann Reinten AICI CIP

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

Horizontal fashion features

HORIZONTAL HELP: how horizontal design features impact appearance

By | Body Basics, Figure Flattery, Line and Design | 2 Comments

All lines are endowed with their own set of image creating powers; from changing the way you appear physically to altering the impression you make on others.  Like many things in life, what is taught in theory is not quite as black and white when applied to real life and so it is with horizontal design line features.

What are horizontal design features? They’re anything that draws the eye from one side to another across a horizontal plane.

They can be found in:

  • within garments: such as boat necklines, off the shoulder collars, bilateral pockets etc.
  • structural components: panels, pleats, seams and fabrics that stand away from the body etc.
  • garment detailing or embellishments: horizontal lace paneling and ruffles etc.
  • fabric: horizontal patterns and prints.
  • colour: horizontal blocking, outfits comprising of several different colored garments etc.
  • accessories: scarves, belts, closed/high vamp shoes, low heels and/or blunt toe shoes etc.
  • length: short garments.

Physical Effect: shortens and widens. Can also be used to balance the body.

Psychological Impression: stability and composure. 

Associations: sport and manual labor. 

As a Pattern: is most seen in casual clothes and therefore best worn in limited amounts at work.


Most women are aware that horizontal design features such as stripes have the ability to make them appear wider, and as a result are best avoided. But that’s not necessarily correct as you will see.  When employed in the right way they can be incredibly effective in creating the perfect proportional balance for your body.  

Play Up or Down

One of the things I enjoy most is demonstrating to audiences how quickly a slight change to a garment or outfit can significantly improve their appearance. This is most easily done by manipulating hemlines.


Regardless if your girls are overly big or teeny tiny, horizontal illusion can come to your rescue.  If you would like to minimize the size of your bust ensure the length of your sleeves are well above, or well below the fullest part of your bustline. The photos of beautiful Christina Hendricks demonstrates this very well.  When she wears sleeves that are too close to the fullest part of her bustline she adds extra visual width to that part of her body making her bust appear larger.  If that’s you desire – great!  If not, the further above or below your bustline your sleeve ends, the small your bust will appear. 

Of course if like Keira Knightley you were missing from the line-up when God was giving out boobs then ending your sleeves at the fullest part of your bustline is the PERFECT thing to do – along with a push-up bra and a little blush in your cleavage to to give the illusion of more depth.  

Line Hierarchy

The design line/feature that is the most dominant is the one that will be seen first and will be the most powerful; only after the first feature/line has been noticed will other design features be seen.  In the case of the white dress that Kiera is wearing in the top line of photos below, while the dress does have a horizontal design features (lines) either side of her upper chest but the vertical seam running from her shoulders to the hemline attracts attention first and being so strong it negates the horizontal line.   In the following three photos each have a horizontal design feature that adds width and/or fullness to Kiera’s bustline. 
Large Waistline/ Big Tummy:
Where you are widest is never the best place to end a garment if it means creating a strong horizontal line.  This beautiful plus size model looks much longer and leaner when the top is longer (out).  Tucking it in emphasizes her small waist but at the expense of dropping her visual height and increasing her width.  When the sleeves end at the same location (waist) the effect is magnified.  If her top were a darker color the horizontal effect would be minimized due to the lower colour contrast level.

A Striped Affair

If anything gets attention, it’s stripes. Wide, contrasting stripes are clear victors when it comes to adding width and shortening apparent weight.  Multiple thin stripes in a garment that is longer than it is wide have the power to elongate and slim as the eye wants to climb them rather than move from side to side. 



Contrast also plays an important part in gaining the look you want.  The lower the colour contrast between the stripes the more diminished the effect.  Below both dresses have wide stripes but the pink and orange dress is more slimming even though it is the shorter of the two. In other words, the extra length of the brighter dress did not counteract the effect of the wide, bright (high contrast) stripes.   


Color Blocking

The more your body’s length is divided by horizontal divisions of color the shorter and wider you will appear to be and vice versa.

The woman with red hem border skirt has seven horizontal color divisions.  Each one visually shortening and broadening her body:

  1. Black tipped shoes
  2. Tanned legs
  3. Red border on skirt
  4. Skirt pattern
  5. Top hemline against skirt color
  6. White line crossing chest (top)
  7. Sleeve hemline  

Keep in mind also that these women are models with figures most of us dream of, on us the effect is magnified.


Most women LOVE shoes and I’m no exception however, I’m over my ideal weight, have short legs and am over 50.  So my legs need all the help they can get to look as long as possible and that’s why I’m careful about choosing the color of the shoe, the vamp and location of the straps.

Must Know Basics

  • The more your foot is covered by the shoe/boot, the shorter your leg will look – short = fat.  The vamp is the mouth of the shoe and the more it exposes your foot the longer and leaner your leg will appear.
  • The more horizontal lines that cross your foot the short your leg will appear.  Ankle straps unless thin are best for long legged women with slender legs.  Thin ankle straps are less harmful than those that are wide and flesh colored straps are better again.

Best options:

  • shoes with low vamps (last shoe 2nd row)
  • add matching hosiery to camouflage the strap
  • wear low vamp shoes in a color that matches your skin
  • heels – the highest you can manage.


Horizontal design lines and features can be used to increase or decrease apparent height.
The higher on your body the line or feature is, the taller you will appear and the wider the area it has been applied to will appear to be. 


By being aware of the power of design lines/features to broaden and balance your the body you can create the illusion of a well balanced figure within any price point. Here are a few examples:

To Balance a Full Hipline: Short wide sleeves, boat/wide necklines, bilateral focal points, stripes above the waist.

To Balance a Full Bustline: Full A line skirts, drops waists and focal points below the waist.  
To Balance a Rectangular Figure: Horizontal dark waistbands or belts (not tight), high horizontal focal points, Fit and flare dresses, stripes above or below waist (not both), flared shorts or wide to palazzo pants, peplums.
vertical fashion trend

THE VERTICLE ADVANTAGE: how to dress slimmer

By | Body Basics, Figure Flattery, Line and Design | 4 Comments

Imagine walking into a room or onstage and your audience sees you as strong professional woman, maybe one who’s even taller and more slender than you really are. How is this done? Through vertical design.

What is vertical design? It is clothing design elements which draws the eye up and down. The more vertical elements you use, the greater the elongating, slimming effect. For each element used, you can appear almost 4.5 pounds (2kg) thinner! This is the key for how to dress slimmer.

Vertical design is achieved through garments via:

  • shape:  straight and pencil skirts, straight and tapered pants, straight and tapered jackets/tops
  • silhouette: semi- to very fitted (boxy and soft somewhat)
  • structure: darts, panels, pleats, vertical folds, iron creases, seams
  • embellishments: vertical lace paneling, pin tucks, ruffles
  • fabricvertical patterns and prints; fluid fabrics which follow curves.
  • closures: zippers, buttons, lace-up
  • accessories: oblong scarves, pendants, drop and hoop earrings, open vamp shoes, high heels and/or pointy toe shoes, nude shoes, hosiery that blends into hemline and shoes
  • focal points: statement necklaces, medium to large or colorful earrings, applique design, embellished neckline/collar, scarf
  • length: the longer the garment, the more vertical power
  • grooming: long, short, straight hair; hair which stands up on top

Pictured are several outfits using vertical elements. Can you guess what they are (answers are at the end of the feature)?




Pants vs Skirts

Pants elongate the legs from waist to hem, which is usually at the ankle (J). Skirts vary more, going from waist to around the knee, leaving the legs exposed (K). The shorter the pants or the wider the skirt, the less elongating and slimming effect. Why? Because where the legs are exposed is usually an area of colour contrast that horizontally divides the length of the body (L). If hosiery and/or shoes/boots are worn in a similar contrast level (depth and colour) to the hemline colour, the vertical influence is maintained.


Run a Line

The most effective vertical line is one that runs down the center of your torso or limb (a seam, contrast stitching, zipper, row of buttons). However, the line’s position and width can negatively impact the elongating effect. This is definitely worth considering in light of how to dress slimmer.

Dress O’s wide vertical central panel, which is lighter than the sides, adds width to the torso. The wide central vertical seam in dress P divides the torso in two equal halves; however, the purple side is shinier, which makes it appear slightly wide than its darker matte counterpart. With sweater Q, the wider panel makes the torso appear wide regardless of the seam (vertical line). Sweater R is slimming due to the vertical seam being on the center of the torso.

A crease down the center of a pants is slimming. Pairing such with pointy toe high heel shoes looks even better.

Color in the Lines

Color coordinating your outfits can achieve an elongated look, either with an inner or outer line.

For example, a solid color single breasted jacket left open and paired with pants of the same or similar color creates an uninterrupted appearance from shoulder to pants hemline. Worn with a bright/light top and you create an outer vertical line (S). The darker colour is slimming because it recedes; a lighter/brighter colour advances, drawing the eye to the centre.

For variety, wear pants and a top of the same colour along with a solid colour single breasted jacket or cardigan in a different colour. This creates an inner vertical line (T). A light/bright jacket or cardigan should be avoided by those who are large above the waist because it will cause the upper body to appear wider.

Focal Feature

Even the best-laid lines of style and trends can be undone if you add a focal point which minimizes the vertical effect. For example, wear a low-placed focal point (colourful shoes, border on skirt) and you draw the eye downward, which in turn ruins the illusion of slimness and height. However, all you have to do is wear something eye-catching up high as a counterbalance (an accessory, statement jewelry, make-up or hairstyle) to move the eye upward. Ta-da!


Beware the Stretchy Stripe

While it’s well-known that vertical stripes elongate your appearance, some fabrics undo all the good of those stripes. Stretchy, clingy fabrics with vertical stripes can stretch out of shape where you are widest and end up accentuating what you want to camouflage. Stick with non-stretchy fabrics and a semi-fitted silhouette for stripe success.

Toe the Line

Wow! Who knew design lines exerted so much influence over how people perceive your physical appearance? Did you know it also affects them psychologically? It’s true. Tall is associated with strong (think trees, skyscrapers, and pro basketball players). Someone with “upright” morals is viewed as having strong beliefs. So it’s natural to view someone who walks tall or has an elongated appearance to be some kind of authority.

You can use vertical design to as part of your plan for how to dress slimmer. If you want to appear more professional, more authoritative (and slimmer and taller), be sure to incorporate vertical elements. After all, pinstripes for menswear hasn’t lost its pro touch!


A: 1. pintucks in shirt, 2. skinny pants, 3. high focal point with button on collar
B: 1. one colour outfit, 2. raglan neckline drawing attention upwards, 3. embellished collar, 4. pointy toe shoes.
C: 1. outer vertical colour flow, 2 .strong focal point blouse
D: 1. semi fitted tubular dress, 2. vertical pattern, 3. pointy toe shoes
E: 1. solid coloured dark dress 2. eyes up focal point – white shirt, 3. pointy toe shoes.
F: 1. solid coloured dress
G: 1. knee high boots, 2. striped coat, 3. focal point on shoulders and at neck, 4. high heels, 5. pointy toe shoes.
H: 1. gored skirt, 2. high waistband on skirt, 3. high focal point – leopard blouse
I: 1. vertical pattern in skirt, 2. pointed toe shoes