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Fashion Fridays: Math Circles

Did you notice the circles the first time you viewed this picture? Yes! No- just me? Well, by the end of this blog, I hope you will start to see more math terminology in every structure you encounter:) You can find some unique art pieces along Atlanta's Beltline and this circular lamp post a great example! Standing on a platform on the eastside trial, this piece is a replica of a circular antique street light.

Now the teacher's dress is from Badgley Mischka. See how the coral ruffle goes all the way around her shoulders? It’s a circle! If you have ever watched Project Runway, then you know that a circle pattern was used to cut out the fabric for this dress. Let’s break down how the designer incorporated the side-less shape into this fashionable frock.

Taking into consideration the way the ruffle should look in relation to the sheath and straps of the dress, the folks at Badgley Mischka had to make calculations about each part of the circle it formed. The most important thing to remember about a circle is that it’s just a set of points equidistant (the same distance) from the center point; the center is the original starting point of the circle.

And that's how they made this dress as pretty as Pi!

Let’s walk through the parts of the circle they calculated to ensure the ruffle is neither too big nor too small. Imagine we’ve removed the ruffle from the dress and laid it flat on a table; we are now looking at a very stylish circle.

After identifying the center, also called the origin of the circle, we can measure the radius.

The radius is the distance from the center to any other point on the circle. All the points on the circle are equidistant from the center.

Measure the distance all the way around the circle and you now know the

circumference of the circle.

Draw a line straight through the center of the circle, from one point to another, and you’ve just found the diameter- the distance across the circle.

By now you might be thinking, “Okay, but what does this have to do with PIE?!” Nothing, because we’re talking about Pi!

Often denoted by the Greek symbol, the value of Pi is an irrational number (a number with decimal digits that never repeat nor end.) The actual value of Pi is:


So, we usually just round it to 3.14

What is Pi really? Well, if you took the diameter of a circle and decided to wrap it around the outside of the circle itself, it would take three whole diameters. But that still would not be enough. There would be a fraction more needed to complete the wrapping and that piece equals about 0.14159265... and so on. So for any circle it would take "pi" diameters to wrap completely around the circle. Hence, on a circle, Pi is the ratio of the distance around the circle (circumference) to the distance across the circle (diameter). The coolest thing is that no matter how big or small the circle, Pi always equals 3.14!

Now, it’s easier to envision a seamstress measuring the parts of our fabric circle before cutting it down to perfectly adorn our math teacher’s dress!


Fashion is far from the only instance understanding the parts of a circle can come in handy!

If you’ve ever gone to the fair and played games in the hopes of bagging an enormous stuffed bear - only to walk away empty-handed and angry - you may have been duped by diameter! Whether it’s the ring toss or shooting hoops, if the circumference of the ring or ball is too small and the circle is not able to fit over the bottle top or pass through the basket, the carnies have done their homework!

Architecture is another industry that heavily relies on dismantling the parts of a circle. Looking back at the picture of our math teacher, we find numerous examples of circles in the city design like the bulbs on the lamp post, the base of the pole, and even the center of the painted flower in the background.

Understanding the parts of a circle may just come in handy at home, too.

The next time your sibling tries to take more than his or her share of the pizza, bust out your newfound circle knowledge and lay down the law with the lingo:

A chord is a line that connects two points on a circle.

(The diameter is always the longest chord.) A sector is the "pie-slice" shaded region.

While your sibling tries to figure out what language you’re speaking, you can make off with the largest sector of pizza pie!

🍕 Math is delicious!

Photographer: @jaxonphotogroup

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