Contrary to popular belief, patterns are flattering. According to a new study conducted at Florida State University, women are more satisfied with their bodies and feel more positive about their shapes when wearing a dress with an “optical illusion” pattern.
For the study, Jessica Ridgway, assistant professor of retail, merchandising, and product development, recruited 15 women with common body shapes and created avatars that looked nearly identical to them. She showed the women their avatars in seven shift dresses — each with a different “optical illusion” pattern. By optical illusion, she meant stripes (even the dreaded vertical!), zigzags, color blocking, the usual patterns you see on dresses in stores.
“Several retail designers use optical illusions in their clothing,” Ridgway said. “Some of the illusions are well-executed and create a flattering effect, and some simply do not work well with the body shape of the wearer. I really wanted to understand what these garments do for women from a psychological perspective.”
After showing the women the dresses, Ridgway asked them several questions about their perceived appearance, like how they would describe their bodies and how they felt they looked with each dress.
She found that participants believed that wearing these patterned dresses had a positive effect on how they perceived their shape and increased their body satisfaction. Even the vertical stripes!
So you can stop avoiding all busy yet superfun patterns for fear of an unflattering outcome. Next time you’re drawn to an item featuring color blocking or some wacky pattern, try it on. You might be surprised by how you feel.