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Dynamic Diagonals

Of all the design lines seen in accessories and garments above all my favorite is the diagonal. It can create interest and drama in a garment and it you read below you’ll see that it is possibly the most common and most impactful line of all. Diagonal lines may be single or divergent lines with each causing the eye to move from one side to the other on an angle.

  • Physically, diagonal lines can slim and lengthen when more vertical, while those that are more horizontal will shorten and widen the area they have been placed over.
  • Psychologically, diagonal lines can be generally described as dynamic and interesting as they are not as conventional as horizontal or vertical design features.
  • Additionally, as a single design lines or features they are seen as interesting, inventive and lively.
  • As zig-zag lines within patterns they can be seen as fun, creative or busy. As alternating lines within patterns they can be seen as dramatic, erratic or intense.
  • Associations: Alternating diagonal lines are often subconsciously associated with danger as many dangerous events and animals in our natural world have diagonal shapes. In fashion, this creates drama and/or excitement to the garment or accessory.

Diagonal Lines and the Body:

The longer and more vertical the diagonal line design features the more powerful the effect. Add color contrast to amplify the result.

      1. Length is highlighted by the color contrast.
      2. Diagonal line is slimming but not as much as A.
      3. Only slightly slims the mid torso.
      4. While the line is highlighted by the color contrast, the angle is more horizontal than vertical, which is less slimming than a stronger angle.

The application of diagonal lines comes in many forms and uses. Mainly, watch for how they appear when placed on your figure. Do they widen an area and thereby balance out a figure challenge area, or are they lengthening and elongating for instance? During my style consultations we look at the best ways to apply design and line principles to both balance out areas of imbalance on your figure as well as highlight figure assets with shapes and lines such as the diagonal line.

Divergent Diagonal Lines:

When two diagonal lines diverge they create a triangle. Watch for the widest side of the triangle. This one commands the most attention. Where the widest side of the triangle resides will widen that part of the body. This can be both good and bad, depending on your body shape and where it is placed.

In the example below, “E” is the most balanced. Necklines “C” and “F” will visually widen the shoulders which is good if your hips are wider than your shoulders, while necklines “D”, “G” and “H” would be great on those with wide shoulders or proportionally larger bust lines.

Watch the openings at the bottom of your jackets and sweaters as well. Jacket “C” would widen this figure’s upper hip area, especially with the contrasting shirt underneath. To lessen the effect, wear a dark or matching shell under the jacket. The use of diagonal lines can be fun and figure enhancing…it’s just knowing how to apply them to your unique figure. Call me for a consultation today and lessen your shopping frustrations and maximize your budget.

*Newsletter images and text provided by Ann Reinten, Image Innovators Co.  as well as Pat Gibson,

Pat Gibson is a certified Image Consultant, Personal Stylist, and owner of The Artistry of You, LLC. To learn more about how Pat can help you achieve your best personal style and image call 440-212-2269 or email, or click here to schedule a complimentary style discovery session!