Finding The Right Balance Symmetry In Outfits

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John Shearer / George V Magazine [London]
When you’re out shopping, you’ll likely have been told that the key to a good outfit is balance. But, why is this so important, and how can you achieve it? Let’s take a look. 
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What’s so great about symmetry? 

Symmetry has long since been considered as appealing in a wide range of scenarios – not just fashion design! In fact, symmetry is even seen in the natural world around us. The shapes of leaves, spider’s webs, flowers, and snowflakes are all symmetrical. In our culture, this simplicity is employed in everything from paintings to makeup, music, chemistry, engineering, and architecture.

Even in casino games, symmetry is quite often considered to be the ideal. Just take something like roulette, for example. Although such numbers don’t actually have better odds, number 17 is often considered one of the best roulette numbers due to its positioning in the middle of the roulette wheel. Particularly during live roulette games which use a real roulette table, the number 17 brings a natural symmetry to the game. 

Elsewhere in the world of textiles, symmetry has also had a historically cultural meaning in rug designs in many nations across the world. Native Americans of the Navajo people employ symmetrical diagonal lines and rectangles in their designs, whilst Oriental and Persian designs tend to be more intricate, but still mirrored from the central point. 

With this in mind, it is perhaps no surprise that symmetry is an important aspect of fashion design, too. It is thought that symmetry in fashion brings balance to garments, and it is a key principle known in the industry as ‘symmetrical balance’ or ‘formal balance’. In other words, this balance can make the outfit seem evenly distributed and stable – or, just right

How to utilize symmetry every day 

Put simply, you’ll want to look for pieces where it hits the body in the same place on each side. Each arm should be the same length, and each leg should too. For this reason, symmetrical designs are most often associated with crisp, clean tailoring, and provide a more formal-looking outfit. Investing in a well-tailored pantsuit or simple dress is an easy way to bring symmetry into your closet.

Though these are simple pieces, they are extremely versatile, and can be dressed up and down depending on the occasion for multiple uses. A cotton shift dress can be paired with a blazer and heels for the office, or with a flannel shirt, leather jacket, and sneakers for a trendy night out. 

Though this concept is the opposite of asymmetrical design, there’s no right or wrong way to go – and, the two work very well together. Asymmetry has a kind of haphazard chic displayed at the Spring 2024 season London Fashion Week by designers like Erdem Moralioglu and Molly Goddard. That said, its best to pick one asymmetric item such as a statement top, and balance it out with some symmetrical pieces and accessories. Remember, it’s all about bringing balance, and sometimes this needs a bit of whimsy to reflect your personality. 

As you can see, symmetrical balance is a key consideration when building the foundational pieces of any outfit, for any level of formality. So, whether you’re having a closet overhaul or just looking for a little inspiration, all that’s left to do is hit the shops and start experimenting to find your take on the style.

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