I found an old book a few years ago "THE CUTTER'S GUIDE" A MANUAL OF DRESSCUTTING AND LADIES' TAILORING, by M.E. Roberts, published in Sydney in 1928. At the back of the book, I found guidelines for form (what we now call style) and colour, and I'm sharing these with you over the next few weeks.
This guide was written specifically for women's styling. The language used is so different from our very direct way of speaking ninety years later, but the principles outlined are as sound now as they were then. Please enjoy them :)
This section is on FORM - and covers the basics of design elements.
12. There cannot be rules framed to suit every contingency and every freak of fashion, but some forms of expression and their effects should always be noted in making a costume, no matter what the prevailing fashion.
13. Horizontal lines or trimming decrease the height and increase the breadth; vertical lines add to the height and decrease the breadth. Therefore a short, stout lady should never wear a dress with the trimming running round the figure. He chief study should be to avoid all horizontal lines. She must obscure her waist line as much as possible and not wear a belt. Putting the waist line up higher adds to length of limb, but what is apparently added below is decidedly taken off from above, so that a stout lady must be careful about wearing short waisted gowns. Someone has called the waist line the "danger line," and it is certain that in drafting the pattern, putting the garment together, or arranging the style it is possible to make apparently small mistakes that are more disastrous in effect than mistakes made in almost any other part of the garment.
14. Horizontal lines crossing the figure should be used for the garments of a tall woman, and long lines from shoulder to the foot should be avoided. A woman with a slender figure should have capes or lines of some sort, conforming to modes of the day, to break the straight up and down effect.
15. V-shaped effects, so disastrous to the appearance of a very thin woman, are worn with good effect by stout people. The same may be said of the long pointed bodice. By V-shaped effects must be understood not only a bodice cut V-shaped at the throat or the V-shaped yoke let into the bodice, but all Vandykes or pointed trimmings. Every "pointed" effect and all sharp lines on a garment make a woman look more wrinkled, careworn, and angular than she really is. So also do narrow, dark, straight lines on a light background.
I'm sure we can all find something useful in this week's excerpt :)
More next week,