Fashion Isn’t Just Aesthetics

Photo acquired from Disney ABC under Creative Commons

Photo acquired from Disney ABC under Creative Commons

With the Oscar’s comes talk of fashion. One of the highlights of the Oscar’s is watching the celebrities on the red carpet to see who is wearing who. Perhaps it is that she is from Kentucky (my home state) or perhaps it is my obsession with red (maybe a little of both), but I would go with Jennifer Lawrence as best dressed. The Daily News says in a slideshow,

Do you hear that? It’s a collective intake of breath as Jennifer Lawrence reminds us once more why she’s fashion’s favorite darling. The “American Hustle” star pulled out all the stops in a red peplum Dior Couture gown worthy of a Hollywood princess.

But is fashion just about aesthetics or is there perhaps math behind it?

I have seen quite a bit of chatter on Twitter lately of the mathematics behind ties. When researching the mathematics behind fashion, I came across a book by Thomas Fink and Yong Mao entitled The 85 Ways to Tie a Tie: The Science and Aesthetics of Tie Knots. There are loads of resources out there, though. I was surprised to even find a school for fashion that offered courses relating mathematics and fashion. The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York offers classes like Geometry and the Art of Design that has the following description,

A contemporary primer of geometric topics that expand the concepts of shape and space, this course presents some of the established and emerging ways geometry can provide tools and insights for artists and designers. Included are a variety of visual phenomena such as fractals, knots, mazes, symmetry, and the golden ratio.

It seems that many designers are even aware of the relation between mathematics and fashion. Coco Chanel said

Fashion is architecture: it is a matter of proportion.

Along these same lines,

“All of the great fashion couturiers used the Divine Proportion, perhaps by instinct,” Antonio Gonzalez de Cosio, fashion editor and author, told USA TODAY College in an email. Take for example, “Balenciaga with his architectonical designs [or] Dior creating his new look with very small waist lines in proportion to the body.” Couture is about clothes with “harmony of form and of balance.”

See Caroline Slattery’s article, How Fashion is Actually Just a Bunch of Math for more on the golden ratio in relation to design (Slattery’s article also mentions the above quotes).

Below is a list of some more resources regarding fashion and mathematics. Have you thought about the mathematics behind fashion before?

About Tyler Clark

I am a second year doctoral student in mathematics at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, FL. I obtained my MS from WKU in Bowling Green, KY where I researched continued radicals and Cantor sets.
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