Principles Of Design

The principles of design serve as guidelines for the purpose of combining elements of design in garment. These principles are important because they create a harmonious design. They are flexible in terms of current fashion trends.

The Principles of design are :

  1. Proportion
  2. Balance
  3. Rhythm
  4. Emphasis
  5. Harmony

Proportion –

Proportion means as the pleasing relationship of the parts of a whole to the whole, and to each other. It is comparative relationship of distance, size, amount, degrees or parts. It can apply on one-dimensional line, two-dimensional shapes or three-dimensional forms. In a garment, silhouette is divided into construction lines, thereby creating spaces, which must relate to one another and to the whole garment in a pleasing way. Proportion is a synthesizing principle. Traditionally it deals mainly with lines, shapes and areas. Proportion is the size relationship of the areas of the body. The relationship between the areas can be explain in terms of numeric ratios. Generally, uneven ratios 1:3, 2:3 and 3:5 are the most interesting in designing. They nearly repeat the body proportions and divisions are interesting because they are not equal. Not all fashion trends are pleasingly proportional for all figures. 

Proportion establishes not only in parts of a garment but also in terms of the relationship between one garment and the other, such as tops and skirts, jackets and trousers and the rest. 

Basic Law of Proportion or The Golden Mean Law – 

  The mathematical formula for proportion establish by early Egyptians were 3:5:8, visible in a knee length skirt and top. 5:8:13, which can be seen in a long top which is enough to cover the hips with trousers.

 The golden mean ratio has been a subject of fascination for artists and mathematicians. The golden mean ratio occurs in nature and also a mathematical formula used by artists, designers, architects and even musicians in creating beauty. The magic ratio is technically 1.1688. But for artistic uses it’s often simplified to 1:1.5 or 2:3. The Swiss architect Le Corbusier believe that the golden mean ratio naturally appeal to the human eye. And people through time and space are drew to it whether they know it as mathematical formula or not. In addition, well proportion clothing has historically been based on the golden mean ratio. It is in both nature and man made structures.

 There are times during fashion cycles when proportions invert like when the hemline of tops and jackets are low, and less of lower garments, like skirts and trousers are visible. A proportionate garment design need to be complement with proportionate motifs, their positioning on the fabric and the background spaces, and its suitability to the wearer. 

   For instance-

  Indian ladies suits follow an inverse proportion system, which is visually pleasing; because the space divisions are those specific by the golden mean. Although mini skirts are design in poor proportion, they have a visual appeal as the length of long expose the legs or legs cover with stockings and flat shoes or medium heel is proportionately balance by the short garment. 

 Proportion and Body Size – 

In general, body size is divide into three categories – small, medium, and large and these categories are the guideline in selecting garments. It is important to follow the principle of proportion, according to which fabric designs, textures, and accessories should be in proportion with the body size. 

  • small-  statured people should not select large patterned fabrics and big accessories, as they overpower the personality of the wearer, due to inappropriate proportions. 
  • The medium-sized person has a much wider range of fabrics and accessories to choose from but should evaluate each item in terms of the body size.
  • In the same way, small-patterned fabrics and small accessories are in complete contrast with a large figure type, and emphasize the body size. 


               In Principles of design Balance is a state of equilibrium of the design part or balance is the concept of visual equilibrium and relates to our physical sense of balance. It is the equal distribution of weight- actual or visual. It is a reconciliation of opposing forces in a composition that results in visual stability. Balance refers to equal distribution of actual and visual weight about a central point. Where there is balance there is a pleasing relationship of all the parts from side to side and top to bottom. A sense of stability results. A garment must be balance to be visually pleasing. 

There are two basic types of balance – Symmetrical balance and Asymmetrical balance

  1. Symmetrical balance –  It means equal “weight” on equal side of centrally placed fulcrum. It also known as formal balance. When the elements are arrange equally on either side of a central axis, the result is bilateral symmetry. In case of symmetrical or formal balance, identical objects are place on either side of a real or imaginary central line. Therefore, one side is the exact mirror image of the other, such as the left and right side of the human body. The line can be horizontal or vertical. It is also possible to build formal balance by arranging elements equally around a central point, resulting in radial symmetry. 

                This is the most common feature in garments, as it is the easy to achieve and provides stability along with a pleasing , sober, and sophisticated look. A garment designed keeping formal balance in mind lacks creativity and tends to emphasize any body irregularity, if present; therefore, the designer needs to lay more emphasis on color, texture, and accessories.

Examples of symmetrical balance include all garments that have identical left and right-sides, such as trousers , cardigans, straight, skirt, princess line dress.

2. Asymmetrical balance – When the structure decoration and accessories are different both the sides from the center of the dress, it is called asymmetrical balance. It may also be called informal balance. It is more complex and difficult to visualize. In this, attraction is created on both sides by using different accessories. Asymmetrical or informal balance provides more excitement. In this case,the design composition is visually different on either side of the real or imaginary line but one part equalizes the other in weight, such as the front and backside of the human body while looking at the body from the side view.

    A designer is free to express his creativity while creating outfits with informal balance. A small interesting detail on one side can balance a larger uninteresting area on the other side. This balance helps in leading the eye away from the body irregularities and enhancing the beautiful parts of the body. Formal wears are mostly asymmetrical in design therefore, consumes more time and money for construction. 


   Rhythm is a sense of orderly movement. Rhythmic movement serves to unify the design provide a transition between areas of the garment, avoid conflicting areas of interest, and identify the centre of emphasis in a design. Rhythm is the most important principle of art. It is created by repeat use of design, the eye will move easily from one part to another. Rhythm can either be obvious or subtle. Rhythm establishes through repetition of lines or shapes or colors to give direction which the eye follows. It is necessary to create interest in a design and convey the theme of the design. Rhythm is an organised movement. gathers , pleats, buttons, and other details follow a rhythmic pattern which constitutes in Principles of design.

                              When dominant color, pattern, line or detail on the garment repeats on distinct locations with or without variations, then rhythm is maintain. Arrangement of the elements of design to produce rhythm can include repetition of lines, shapes, colors or textures; alteration of lines, shapes, colors, or textures; radiation of lines, shapes, colors or textural folds. Rhythm makes eye movement smooth. The principle of design that refers to a regular repetition of elements of art to produce the look and feel of movement. 

 Methods of Creating Rhythm – 

             There are 3 ways to create rhythm. They are –  

  1. Repetition – By repetition of lines, shapes colors or accessories rhythm can be made. Parallel lines are form by the use of seams, buttons, embroidery, lace etc. which helps uninterrupted eye movement. 
  1. Radiations – Radiant lines is use to produce rhythm. Gathers are use to create such lines. Eye moves easily from one part to the other on the small lines created by gathers. We can see such lines in gathers on necklines, arms and skirts.
  1. Gradation – Rhythm can be created by gradual change in lines, shapes, shades of the color. Gradation in light carpet on the floor changes gradually in value. 


      For Principles of design there is some portion in every dress which is the center of attraction. This portion is point of emphasis. Emphasis is the center of interest, which draw attention more than any other part. This center of interest should be one and should relate to the total garment design. Point of emphasis is related to body structure. Emphasis should be laid only on that body part which is most attractive. Every beautiful garment possesses an emphasis area which is dominant as compared to the other areas in the garment. It is placed on an area that needs to be highlighted. To lay emphasis, buttons, belts, laces etc of contrasting and dark colors may be used. Emphasis can lie on the portion repeat use of certain elements.

For example emphasis should be around the neck of a person with a beautiful face and on waistline for a person with slim waist. It should enhance the grace of the wearer and not the other way around. Emphasis occurs at the point of visual interest or contrast.

Emphasis is achieve by – 

  • Contrasting colors.
  • Bold and unusual shapes.
  • Eye catching patterns.
  • Complex textures.
  • Attractive design details.
  • Interesting trims.
  • And many other features.

The details emphasizing the face are very popular, such as the use of a bright colored scarf or necktie, collar in contrasting color, jewelry, and hats.


 In Principles of design Harmony is a relationship of different portions in a dress. Harmony is achieve through judicious use of colours, shapes and textures to give a feeling of oneness. Harmony in dressing relates to the total look where all elements of designing work together in garments, accessories, jewelry, and hairstyles to produce a visual effect that attracts and holds the attention of the observer. To achieve harmony, all design elements must be select and arrange to create a unified idea, concept or theme. This is the ultimate goal in any creative effort. It requires combining lines, shapes, colors and texture in a way that’s appropriate to the purpose. 

Principles of Harmony – 

A harmonious garment has consistency in terms of design elements such as silhouette, lines, color and texture. The following are the principle of harmony – 

  1. Silhouette of the garment should be in pleasing relationship with the wearer’s figure or body type.
  2. Style lines should be consistent on every area of the garment and on separate garments that are sold as coordinates. They should have compatible angles and compliment each other when present on different areas of a garment.
  3. All areas of the garment should reflect the same shape so that the continuity of the design does no break.
  4. Patterns on the fabric should be use skillfully to make an attractive garment. Stripes and plaids should always match the garment parts unless used as a design feature. 
  5. Similar or contrasting textures should be use in a pleasing combination to add variety in a garment.
  6. Unity in color combination should be there and the color should be perfect for the person, season and occasion. 
  7. Avoid small difference in the hem length of sleeves and garment ends. As they interfere with the horizontal movement of the eye.

That’s all for the Principles of design. If you have any query you can comment below.



How do thoughts become things?

I’m sure we all have heard that thoughts become things, and at some point in our lives we have had some experiences which prove this. We quite often say this to ourselves that whatever I was thinking, exactly the same thing has happened. Answer to how this happens is, the thoughts which excites us the most, which are most interesting to a us and which are recurrent, we tend to follow them and our actions are in accordance with them hence giving us the result. This is how thoughts become things.

Well, human mind is complex. At a time, a lot of different thoughts are running in our minds. According to a study there are 50,000-70,000 thoughts that come in our mind each day. And if we do the math it means we get 52-72 thoughts a minute, that is approximately 1 thought per second. I think these are a lot thoughts to deal with, in a particular day.

How a person processes them determines his state of mind. If negative thoughts outnumber positive ones, then the person suffers from depression and if positive thoughts outnumber negative ones then the person is happy. Our thought processing determines how we feel . The kind of thoughts that run in our mind influences the release of certain chemicals in our brains which causes us to feel a particular way.

Taking example from science, there is a phenomenon known as Resonance . It the tendency of a system to vibrate with increasing amplitudes at some frequency of oscillation. I think this applies to our thinking process as well. A lot of negative thinking will attract negativity in our lives, likewise positive thinking will attract positivity. 

‘The Secret’ emphasizes a great deal on how Thoughts become things. The book focuses on the power of positive thinking and how like attracts like. It mentions that if we think positive , then positive energies will be emitted from our mind and we will attract more positivity from the universe.

Our thinking process also determine, the way of life we are living. So by controlling it we can lead the life we want to live. From my own experience, its simple concept but very difficult to follow. But human mind is great , if we convince ourselves then nothing is difficult to achieve. Hence by thinking positive we can translate positive thinking to positive actions thereby attracting positive results.


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