For years mothers have told their daughters that horizontal stripes make you look fat and vertical stripes are more flattering. Therefore, many women shy away from wearing horizontal stripes. Well, your mother’s advice is wrong! I am here to say that any woman can wear horizontal stripes, it all depends on your body shape, the size and color of the stripe, and how you wear them. Over the next few weeks, I’m doing a series on stripes. I’ll explain the science behind the illusion of stripes and how to use stripes to flatter your figure.
Dressing to flatter your body shape is all about how our eyes see objects and colors. We use our clothing and accessories to draw the eyes to our best parts and away from the parts we don’t want people to notice.
We actually use fashion optical illusions to create body balance. The optical illusion which pertains to stripes is how our eyes see vertical and horizontal lines.
Our eyes move quickly over vertical lines up and down creating an illusion of height or length, thus, vertical lines lengthen and can slim the body. Look at these boxes.
Even though both boxes are the same size, the box on the left looks slimmer . Now look at the two shapes below.
The two shapes are the same size. However the shape on the left looks slimmer due to the vertical lines and your eyes seeing the height. The placement of the vertical lines is also important as seen in the next illustration.
Even though both shapes are the same size, the shape on the right looks slimmer. The closer the lines are spaced together the slimmer you will look.
When we look at horizontal lines our eyes move more slowly back and forth over the lines. We are looking for the horizon as it gives us a sense of balance. Since it takes us longer to read the horizontals and our eyes move slower, we tend to see the shape as broader. Look at the illustration below.
The shape on the left with the horizontal lines looks wider than the figure on the right. You can see the lines are thick and spaced farther apart. The wider the horizontal, the more your eye will slow down and focus on it.
Now take a look at the two shapes below with different sizes of horizontal lines.
The shape on the right appears smaller. The narrower the stripe, the more difficult it is for us to focus on one line. Our eyes start moving up and down instead of side to side. So narrow horizontals start impacting our eyes like verticals! They become slimming!
The placement of a horizontal line is also critical as seen in the illustration below.
The shapes on the far left and the far right look the slimmest while the shape in the middle that has the line cutting it in half looks the widest. The illusion here is that the longer the eye has to travel up or down a shape before it is interrupted by a horizontal line, the taller and leaner the shape will be.
The optical illusions caused by vertical and horizontal lines come into play not only when we are dressing with stripes but also when we are considering any line in our outfit. Once you understand the illusion of lines you can start to think how you can dress your body shape to create the right “illusion”. If you are a triangle figure (bottom wider than top) and you put a horizontal line across your hips, it will make that part of your shape appear even wider. However, if you add a horizontal element across your shoulders it will balance out your hips and bring attention upward!
If you have any questions about vertical or horizontal lines feel free to contact me.
Up next time – How to Wear Horizontal Stripes.