The Fashion Designer’s Directory of Shape & Style

Thursday’s Book Review:
The Fashion Designer’s Directory of Shape and Style

by Simon Travers-Spencer & Zarida Zaman

Book Cover

Book Cover ~ © 2008, Quarto Inc.

4 stars = Satisfactory

A visual guide to the main aspects of fashion design. This book includes a myriad of mix-and-match shapes and style elements for blouses, sweaters, dresses, skirts, shorts, pants, coats, and jackets.

Mainly this book is a directory of fashion elements, all the various shapes and styles of sleeves, collars, hemlines, etc., but I like that it gives an overview of the design process, as well. It gives tips for creating a mood board, choosing color, working on a dress form, and understanding proportion.

Then, it starts showing all the variations possible for sleeves, necklines, collars, waistbands, pockets, cuffs, closures, and hems. It breaks them up into garment categories, such as coats and jackets, blouses, dresses, knitwear, shorts and pants, and skirts.


Sleeve Variations ~ © 2008, Quarto Inc.

I like the illustrations, which are essentially pattern flats, because it’s easy to visualize and understand the style they’re portraying. It also shows photographs of runway models wearing examples of some of the given variations, for those who need real-life demonstrations.


Runway Examples ~ © 2008, Quarto Inc.

The book also comes with a fashion template—a paper doll, essentially—that you can trace the garment variations over to produce a fashion sketch.

A lot of the fashion model illustrations are extreme examples of fashion, rather than everyday, wearable garments. They’re pretty to look at, but more realistic designs would have been more useful.


Ruffled Bloomers ~ © 2008, Quarto Inc.

At the end of the book is a brief directory of textiles, which seemed unnecessary. It’s not comprehensive by any means, just a few examples of fabrics sorted into categories like heavyweight, open weave, and sheer. I’m not sure what it has to do with design elements such as empire waistlines, asymmetrical hems, and welt pockets. There are other books out there that better explore the vast world of fashion textiles.


Textiles ~ © 2008, Quarto Inc.

For the fashion designer or dressmaker, this book is indispensable. It teaches you all the variations that you’ll eventually need to work with, and it provides inspiration when you’re groping for the perfect design element.

I give this book four out of five stars; it lost a point because of the unnecessary textile chapter and the fact that the template “paper doll” can’t be used unless you first trace it onto card stock or sturdy paper, or else cut it out from the book. Overall, however, this is a useful addition to the home sewer’s library.

Buy Now: The Fashion Designer’s Directory of Shape and Style

(Yesterday’s Thimble is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Basically, this means if you click a link to an item that Amazon sells, and then buy it, I earn a small fee that helps support this website.)


Have you read this book? Have you used the design elements to create your own fashions?

About Lisha Vidler

I am a sewing instructor living near Memphis, Tennessee.
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