I’ve known for many years that saying something is cut on the bias is pretty much synonymous with:
A. Hollywood glamor
B. A figure flattering dress
So…what does it mean to be cut on the bias, where did it originate and why is it so darn flattering?
What does cut on the bias mean?
Cutting on the bias merely means to cut fabric on the diagonal, sewing it so that the fabric wraps around the body in a draping fashion – clinging to a woman’s curves. It’s actually a very difficult way to sew fabric, especially the silky type, making it hard for a novice to recreate one of those old Hollywood looks herself at home.
Though the bias cut was used many centuries before to create a better fitting garment, it was popularized by Madeleine Vionnet in the 1920′s and 1930′s, which is why we often associate it with old Hollywood gowns. Vionnet dressed such icons as Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo and is known as “the Queen of the bias” in fashion design circles.
The sensual cut
A bias cut garment hugs the curves of the body, making it an incredibly sensual cut. Because it hangs diagonally rather than vertically, the fabric tends to accentuate the hourglass figure. The curvier the wearer, the more va-va-voom a bias cut dress will look. It gives almost a mermaid figure with the skirt hugging the hips, but a flowing fabric billowing out just a bit at the bottom.
I went through a phase of buying vintage nightgowns that could double as evening gowns with a little bling and a shoulder wrap. As a curvy woman, I loved the way the satins and silks hung on my hips. But bias cut isn’t only done on a gown or satin. It’s also used in many plaid & patterned skirts (creates an interesting result in the fabric and fits better) and in other long skirts meant to drape close to the body.
I’ve put together a few examples of how the amazing cut on the bias below: