The next major paradigm of dress after ancient wraps and drapes is garments that are cut from rectangular pieces of fabric. The basic principles are the same around the world, for example, for a Japanese kimono, a European chemise, or an Arabic djellaba. The rectangular-cut fabric hangs from the shoulders, with an opening cut for the head, and has smaller rectangular pieces attached to its sides, forming the sleeves (Tilke, 1922).
Pieces are rarely shaped, and when the fabric is cut, it is primarily done in straight lines. The use of darts to shape the garment to the body is rare; instead, gussets are sometimes inserted to create three-dimensionality in garments. The valuable hand-woven fabric is cut apart, though not cut into shapes that align to the shape of the body. In this manner, very little or no fabric is wasted in the making of the garments. The garments are generally not tightly fitted to the body, and the individual fit, if there is one, is usually achieved by the use of, say, belts that gather the fabric towards the body.
The pieces that make up the garments are non-figurative in relation to the body and, hence, need to dress the body in order to be defined.
The pieces that make up the garments are non-figurative in relation to the body and, hence, need to dress the body in order to be defined. In itself, the rectangular piece of fabric of the sleeve may just as well be used to cover the leg.
Based on Tilke’s (1922) studies, Hamre (1978:13-15) clarifies the connections between full cloth wrap dressing and rectangular-cut garments by observing that, historically, wrap clothing, ponchos, and mantles developed into djellabas, tunics, and kaftans; thus, she brings to light different propositional positions of where to join the fabric with seams for creating such rectangular-cut garments.
Historically, patterns were not used in the making of ancient full wrap clothing or rectangular-cut garments. The form of the garment was either communicated by the dressing itself (wraps) or was clear from looking at an existing or flatly depicted garment (rectangles). Without patterns lengths and widths are decided based on the width of the woven fabric in relation to the body of the intended wearer. For both of these types of garments, the fabric hangs from either the shoulders or the waist, acting as the bodily starting point while outlining the size and proportion of the drapes or the rectangular pieces.
the fabric hangs from either the shoulders or the waist, acting as the bodily starting point while outlining the size and proportion of the drapes or the rectangular pieces.
Based on the analysis by Hamre, viewing rectangular-cut garments in this way facilitates an understanding of just how the fabric hangs on the body in a similar way as has been made for the full cloth wrap dresses. Hence, it is possible to extract directions of how the fabric hangs on the body in a similar way as has been made for the full cloth wrap dresses. In this reconstruction, the garment is cut from one piece of fabric in a manner similar to the Bronze Age pattern and the 19th century cloak, however, this construction principle is valid for many ancient rectangular-cut garments, regardless of the number of pieces constituting the garment.
In modern times, the principles of rectangular cutting have been further developed into everyday wear in for example China (cf. Tsui, 2008), and principles derived from this paradigm have been adopted by many designers.