Elements of Fashion Design (10 important ones)

The leading fashion designers, manufacturers of garments, textile experts are all concerned about a bunch of common things year after year, fashion season after season. These are the elements of fashion that combine together in the fashion design process to create spectacular garments and accessories. These elements consume their thoughts, discussions and design boards.

What are these important fashion elements?


1. Color

color as a fashion element

Color is the first thing you notice about a garment. The value ( lightness or darkness) and intensity of color (brightness or dullness) used, the proportion of different colors used, colors of the accessories used, where the colors are placed all are very important in the fashion designing process as the first impression of anything is important.

Basically, colors are classified as warm and cool colors and then black and white. The designers use colors to create illusions of size, light etc. For eg. Dark and dull colors can create an illusion of distance. Bright colors make a dress appear bigger in size than a dark colored one.

Effective color schemes are used to enhance the look of the garment. Some colors are deemed as fashionable during different fashion cycles and the fashion designers usually follow suit

Check out the related posts : English names for colors ;  What color should I wear? The main factors affecting color choices; Best color combinations for clothes- fashion color wheel.; Color theory for fashion designers

2. Silhouettes

silhouette of a clothing

The silhouette is one of the most important elements of fashion design. It is the basic shape, outline, and style of the clothing. The most important dress silhouettes are
1. Sheath silhouette
2. A line silhouette
3. Straight Column silhouette
4. Hour glass silhouette
5. Bell silhouette
6. Trumpet silhouette
7. Shoulder Wedge silhouette
8. Trapeze silhouette
9. Extreme-volume silhouette
10. Asymmetrical silhouette
11. Empire silhouette
12. Egg shaped silhouette

You can check out more details on the different types of silhouettes used in fashion designing

Season, taste, occasion, body shape and size of the wearer, the special effects required and desired are all considered when choosing and designing the silhouette for a particular garment. The silhouette should complement the body of the wearer as well as be in sync with the time period. 

Designers use various style elements to change the silhouettes like the trumpet skirt with a very exaggerated bottom part or the corseted bodice which is figure fitting or the shoulder pads which create the illusion of a broad shoulder.

3. Fabric 

fabric used in making the clothes

The type of fabric you choose for a design is very important in how it will shape up. The fabric texture refers to the hand or feel of the fabric including its stiffness or softness and its appearance, drape and the visual effect of all these on the consumer/wearer.

Other than the smooth appearance of most fabrics, there are a variety of fabrics with different textures- some are pre-pleated, some crinkled, some crushed, some woven with raised patterns. Most of the fabric texture is achieved by the particular type of weaving of fibers, some texture is made as a result of the fabric finishes used after the production.

A swatch of the fabric is kept in the design board so that the texture of the fabric is at the forefront of the design process.

Check out these related posts – Types of textured fabrics ; Fabric finishes used to bring out changes in fabric texture

4. Fabric prints and patterns

prints and patterns of fabrics

When you are designing you will be taking into consideration the designs inherent in the fabric – in fact they can play a very important role in designing. Learn the names of the fabric patterns in this post on the 100+  fabric design patterns.

The way the fabric patterns repeat in the fabric is a very important element of designing. It is fascinating how this can decide how we cut fabric for sewing. Check out the post on how to design clothes keeping in mind the prints and patterns. 

5. Body Shape

When you wear clothes you want to look fashionable and present the best of yourself. Everyone is made different, their body shapes are different but a certain categorization is needed to successfully design fashion garments. The most important body shape as per these categorizations are rectangle, triangle, inverted triangle, oval, square, round, hourglass.

Related posts : Checkout this post on the 7 different female bodyshapes. ; How to dress for your face 

Out of these, an hourglass figure is deemed as the ideal body shape though it can also be different according to the time, social and cultural influences etc. Fashion designers design clothes that will give the wearer this ideal body shape. 

how to dress for a body shape

Related posts :  Dressing to suit your body shape. ; Best clothes for a rectangle shaped body; Best clothes for a triangle (pear) shaped body; Best clothes for an inverted triangle shaped body; Best clothes for an apple bodyshape (round); Best clothes for a petite 

6. Balance & rhythm

symmtery, balance and rythm

This refers to the symmetry ( or asymmetry) in the shapes, colors , style lines, elements; the relative degree of importance given to different elements of the design.

The designer designs the garment so that the two sides of it appears to be the same or different. A proportionate and appropriate combination of lines, shape, color and texture can result in different rhythms. 

Rhythm refers to the pattern created by the use of lines or shapes; like how the synchronized embroidery design is made around the neckline and sleeve hem as well as the hem line to create a rhythm for the garment. Another example is the repetitive use of a special print on a fabric resulting in a formal rhythm.

Deliberately disturbing the symmetry is also desirable in fashion design – as in creating Asymmetrical hemlines.

7. Emphasize


This refers to the importance given to a design element to denote something or bring attention to something –  it is usually a break in the rhythm of the garment.

Some features of the garments are given more emphasis because of their positive effect on the wearer. Like the studded collar in a denim jacket or a color block garment with contrast band along the waistline. A corset is used to give emphasis to the thinness of the waist. 

8. Design lines

design lines

This refers to lines in the garment that separates its shape like waistline, neckline, hemline; then there are style lines which are basically seams. These lines and their correct placement is very important in the composition of the garment. Lines are combined or arranged strategically to create different visual dimensions.

The two types of design lines are straight lines and curved lines. Straight lines can be horizontally placed, vertically placed or diagonally placed. A curved line can be almost spherical or gently curved as to look almost like a straight line. Curved lines give the appearance/effect of roundness and straight lines that of slimness, though there are exceptions like a horizontal line that can look like broadness. Diagonal lines like that of a cross over jacket create an asymmetrical line across the body 

The style lines of the garment should work together ie they should all complement each other. You can learn more about the 20 different types of design lines here.

9. Dress details and decorative designs

decorations and embellishments

This includes details given to enhance the look of the garment like yokes, strategically placed fabric patterns, cutouts, peplums, sleeve hems, fabric trimscollars, darts, lapels, bands, frills, ruffles, panels, pleats, tucks, bindings, inserts, gathers.

The Decorative designs include surface embellishments done on fabric used for designing like embroidery, applique, quilting, trims like tassels, fringes etc. All these are added keeping in mind the type of fabric, simplicity or complexity of the garment, functionality of the garment etc.

10. Unity & proportion

Proportion refers to the relationship of the various components of a garment and size or scale of the garment in relation to the size of the wearer and to each other.

Unity is how all of the elements of fashion design like proportion, balance, rhythm, emphasis all come together and enhance each other. 

unity in clothing design

As important as all these things are, there is one thing that shapes the ultimate design – the fashion style that is popular and in-demand among the customers you serve.

Check out this post on the the best styles in fashion today.

Related posts : Words related to fashion ; Different types of fashion wear ; Evolution of Fashion – A short history lesson.

Subscribe to get weekly notifications of posts in your email

Author: Sarina Tariq

Hi, I love sewing, fabric, fashion, embroidery, doing easy DIY projects and then writing about them. Hope you have fun learning from sewguide as much as I do. If you find any mistakes here, please point it out in the comments.

12 thoughts on “Elements of Fashion Design (10 important ones)”

  1. wow. good job. i searched factors of fashion designin on google and this was the first thing that popped up. keep up the good work, i have been taking notes

  2. I m sooo much interested to opn my botic soo plzzz guide me how m I opn thi work and start my botic. Which things to be needed to opn?????

Your opinion is important. Leave a comment