Aligned Shopping 101
Lessons from Align style analysis
Part 2 Lines
In the first part of this blog series, we discovered how scale works. Scale is literally how big an item needs to be relative to you, for you to look proportional. But it’s not the same as size. You can read it here.
The next step is line. Any item of clothing has an outline, shape and detail. But it will only look right when the lines of the garment match the lines of your body. The biggest aspect of line is direction.
Lines may have a horizontal direction, a vertical direction or a diagonal direction. With clients, I go even more into specifics and consider the degree of the diagonal. Some people wear the steeper diagonals better than the shallower kind, or vice versa.
The most classic example of horizontal vs vertical lines is of course wearing stripes. We’ve all heard that horizontal stripes widen and vertical strips lengthen. It’s often misused by recommending only vertical stripes to people that carry weight. Which is sad when the horizontal lines in this person are stronger than her verticals. Even more ironic, I’ve seen people that carry weight that have both dominant horizontals and dominant verticals, but the dominant horizontals seem to be slightly more common.
There are many ways in which clothes have horizontal and vertical lines
So while stripes in horizontal or vertical direction definitely do give horizontal or vertical emphasis, there are many other ways in which clothes have horizontal and vertical lines. In this blog, we’re going to take a look at tops and see what line direction we can find. To steer clear of the stripes discussion, I chose only non-striped items on purpose.
As always, ignore the whether the clothes suit the models, we’re really only looking at the clothes.
- This shirt has very strong verticals. The most important part is the outline: it’s a lot longer than it is wide, which gives long vertical lines. Therefore its outline is long, for a start. But take a look at the sleeve: it’s a short sleeve, but it’s really a very long short sleeve. Of course, there are also vertical pleats on the front of the bodice, which also make very strong verticals. The buttons make a vertical line as well – not a very long one but still they go vertically. And finally, the neckline is quite vertical as well, being a narrow V.
- The second shirt still has quite strong verticals, even though it’s a totally different style. Obviously, the item itself is still long, and that makes a strong vertical in itself. Instead of pleats, we now have a lot of fabric hanging down in folds. The folds are vertical lines too. The neckline is not vertical but it sits quite high. Which means that there is quite a long line from the neckline to the hem.
- This last shirt still has strong verticals: long outline, vertical folds, a row of buttons – much like the previous two. But now we have some diagonal lines as well from the fold over. Diagonals are made of vertical lines and horizontal lines, so this shirt has not exclusively verticals but has more pronounced horizontals too.
- With shirt number four, we’re having very strong horizontals. The first thing that stands out is the neckline, of course. It’s a straight horizontal line stretching from shoulder to shoulder. The entire shirt is loose fit, there’s even some width in the sleeves. That gives room for horizontals as well.
- The next shirt still has a lot of width, so once again plenty of horizontals. There’s a strong A line, and bell sleeves. Sleeves are usually a vertical element (when your arm rests down the side of your body). By introducing a bell sleeve, there’s not just width but also a diagonal outline. It’s another way of lessening the verticals and bringing in more horizontals.
- The last shirt in the row has mostly horizontals and diagonals. Here too, there’s some width in the body and the sleeves. The neckline is an exception, it has more verticals, but it’s not as narrow as it could have been. The sleeves are a bit on the short side, and that lessens the verticals as well. Finally, there’s a seam at the level of the waist. That’s a horizontal element in itself, but the placement of it breaks up the vertical lines of the front of the shirt too.
Horizontal and vertical lines
7. It’s hard to miss, the big horizontal block that makes up the yoke of this shirt. The verticals are formed by the black piping on the cold shoulder. The horizontal is more pronounced than the vertical, but both are present.
8. With this shirt it’s more understated, but we still get horizontals (from the width) and verticals (from the length) at the same time. Bonus points for the designer for thinking to add diagonals too.
9. Very similar to the previous one, but now we also get short verticals from the pleats underneath the neckline.
10. Here there are horizontals and verticals but in a different proportion. The neckline, narrow fit and long ‘short sleeve’ push the balance towards vertical.
I hope this helped you develop a new perspective on shopping. Next time you’re in a store, what will you look for in clothes? Does your body like stronger verticals or horizontals? Let me know in the comments.
In the final part of this series, we’ll consider volume.
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