This section is from the book "Clothing For Women: Selection, Design, Construction", by Laura I. Baldt. Also available from Amazon: Clothing For Women: Selection, Design, Construction.
"The study of the relation of line and form, color and composition in dress, opens to the learner delightful possibilities of enjoyable achievements which are beyond all comparison with an unreasoning imitation of prevailing fashion."
Recall for a moment some of the impressions received when looking at pictures. Have you never turned from one with a sense of discord and confusion, and from another, with a feeling of harmony and rest ? In the first instance, perhaps, the picture presented a confusion of line, disorderly arrangement, or inharmonious use of color, but in the second, color, line and arrangement appealed to your sense, as a harmonious whole, hence your feeling of pleasure. Some one has said, "One need not handle brush and paint to give expression to artistic feeling" There is significance in this statement when applied to the mode of clothing our bodies. We are constantly making pictures of ourselves, which either do, or do not, react in a felicitous manner upon ourselves and others.
Each of us has a standard by which she judges of the beauty and harmony of the clothing she wears. Whether or not her standard measures up to an artistic ideal, depends upon her interest in, or indifference to beauty in dress; upon her appreciation of those things which make for harmony in clothing, - color, form, line, and texture; or upon her ignorance of the principles of art as applied to clothing, or her complacency regarding such matters. As principles of design are understood there will result more correct modes of clothing. To point out some of these principles, and suggest methods of application, with suggestions for further study, is the most that can be done in the space available in this book.
We should not think of our clothing merely as a covering for the body, to be constructed upon lines dictated by some passing whim of fashion, but study rather to suit the covering to the form beneath, and that not alone in line, but color and texture as well. The creative genius of the great designers may not be ours, but to none is denied the power of expression, and that in terms of one's highest appreciation. We can approach the same artistic ideals, become familiar with the same principles of design, study the same artistic forms in sculpture and painting, and the modes of draping these forms which have found favor in the successive periods of the world's history. Appreciation should then give expression to better ideals, both for ourselves and others. In clothing design, we cannot dissociate color, form, line, and texture. Color will be treated more fully in a later chapter. We shall at present confine ourselves to the consideration of form, line, and texture.