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Principles of Fashion Design

Instructor: Stephanie Przybylek

Stephanie has taught studio art and art history classes to audiences of all ages. She holds a master's degree in Art History.

Skirts and jackets. Blazers and colorful silk scarves. Who dreams up ideas for the clothing styles we wear? In this lesson, learn about important principles related to fashion design.

What Is Fashion Design?

Do you have a favorite clothing item? Why do you like it? Clothing can make us feel and look good because it's designed that way. But who creates the clothing styles we wear? They're the work of people called fashion designers.

Fashion designers create the clothing styles we wear
Fashion design

Fashion design is the process of creating ideas and designs for many styles of clothing and accessories, like scarves, belts and shoes. Fashion designers are art professionals who know how stay ahead of trends and blend many elements to create clothing for all kinds of occasions. Some designers create one-of-a-kind haute couture fashions, very high-end custom clothing pieces for exclusive clients. Others come up with ideas for the many ready-to-wear styles made by manufacturers around the world. These are the clothing items most of us buy in retail stores and online.

Principles of Fashion Design

Fashion designers learn the basic principles for designing items to go on the human body. Principles are guiding rules and fundamental ideas that anyone working in a field should know. In fashion design, there are several important principles, and they apply to both the garment's basic structure and its decoration. Let's look more at each of them.

Balance is the principle that the parts or features of a garment have equal visual weight. Whether the element is a sleeve, a cuff, or a line of buttons, it works with the other parts of a garment. Balance can be symmetrical, which means both sides are equal, with the same elements in the same places. Think of pockets or pleats on a pair of jeans or dress pants. Balance can also be asymmetrical, which can make a garment more exciting. In this case, the designer uses elements like line or color in strategic ways to make the garment feel cohesive even when the sides aren't the same.

Balance in fashion design is symmetrical when elements are the same on each side of a garment
Symmetrical balance

Proportion, sometimes also referred to as scale, relates to how well the size of the parts of a garment work together. Most clothing is made to flatter someone's shape. Proportions vary for many body types, and designers need to understand how to make clothing look good for different shapes. Think of the difference between a suit made for a tall man or a dress made for a petite woman. These fashions have very different proportions but a good design should be able to make each of them feel cohesive.

Emphasis is one of the ways to create interest in a clothing item. It means to make some elements stand out more than others by adding features like a splash of color or a texture. This technique creates a focal point to catch the eye. Emphasis can be created with one large item or with a group of smaller items. For example, a dress might have a focal point created with decorative structural details like ruffles and pleats or with embellishments like embroidery.

Emphasis can be created through splashes of color
Emphasis in fashion design

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