Wednesday, September 17, 2014
More on Stripes and the Science Behind the Fashion Rules
The scientists have worked hard on the issue of stripes and the question do they make us look fat. The answer is, it depends on how you run the experiment.
The original experiment by German doctor and physicist Hermann von Helmholtz showed that a square made of horizontal stripes appeared to be taller and narrower than an identical square of vertical stripes.
The modern experiment by Dr Peter Thompson, a senior lecturer in psychology at the University of York, England showed participants pairs of drawings. Each pair showed line drawings of identical women, one wearing horizontal stripes, the other wearing vertical ones. Participants judged the women in horizontal stripes as thinner than the one in vertical stripes. Dr Thompson drew the conclusion that horizontal stripes make you look thinner. The theory behind this interpretation was explained, when we view vertical stripes on a waistline, we have to take in the constant contrast of black to white to black, and so on. This tricks the brain into believing that the area is bigger than it actually is. In the case of horizontal stripes there’s a single unbroken line which simplifies mental processing so there is no confusion for the brain to sort out and no extra visual inches added to the body. It was found that narrow black stripes on a white background were most flattering and the best proportion is about 10 per cent black to 90 per cent white.
The experiment was performed again on 3D objects. Dr Thompson took cylinders and covered them with horizontal or vertical lines and asked people to decide which looked wider. Participants confirmed the previous results from the line drawings.
But here's where it gets really interesting. Val Watham's work overturned the previous experimental result. Val worked with fashion students, who designed, produced and modeled dresses and shirts for the new experiment. Students produced garments in vertical and horizontal stripes. Participants rated how tall and wide the models looked in each outfit. The results this time confirmed that vertical stripes made the models look taller, while horizontal hoops made them look wider.
The new theory postulates the idea that stripes show the contours of the body underneath. Horizontal stripes may reveal contours more strongly than verticals, making people look wider.
My previous post on stripes is here.
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