This is the final post in my Style 101 series. To view other posts in this series, click HERE.
Have you ever seen a photo of a fashion blogger or celeb wearing a simple outfit that still looks polished and thought, “Why does that outfit work SO well”? Some of those women naturally have good style game and can make anything look next level chic (*cough* Olivia Palermo *cough*). The rest of us can use a little trick called the third piece rule.
What’s the third piece rule? It’s a widely used rule of thumb in retail that encourages more nuanced and stylish outfits. It boils down to simple fashion math:
1st piece (top) + 2nd piece (pants) + 3rd layering piece = A perfectly polished look
Here’s a list of third piece items you can incorporate to a basic top + pants combination to take your outfit up a notch:
- Outerwear: Jackets, blazers, coats, or vests
- Accessories: Statement necklaces, belts, hats, or scarfs
- Sweaters or cardigans
(It’s important to note that this formula does not include shoes, but those are obviously critical elements of your outfit as well.)
I’m a fan of simple math, so this rule of thumb is genius to me. Better yet, it’s SUPER easy to implement. In order to illustrate the power of this style trick in real life, here are a few pics illustrating my outfit pre- and post-third piece rule:
Let’s start with a casual black and white outfit. In the before photo, my outfit isn’t very exciting apart from the western style flats with a cool design. And then boom — add a fedora as the third piece (my favorite!), and the second outfit in the after immediately has more style and intrigue. It’s still casual, but it isn’t basic.
Again, another basic black-and-white outfit that isn’t bad, but it’s missing a little…oomph. Once I add a third piece (the statement necklace) and a fourth piece (the watch), the second outfit immediately looks more polished and office-ready.
Finally, here’s a business casual outfit that is heavy on the casual and lacking on the polish. By simply adding a tailored blazer as the third piece, I’m able to transform this casual outfit into a professional outfit that is far more reflective of my personal style.
Hopefully these amateur photos of mine show how easy it is to incorporate the third piece rule into your outfits and what a difference it makes. You absolutely do not have to use this rule every time you get dressed to create stylish outfits, but it’s a good trick to know when you need to spice up an outfit quickly!
Now it’s your turn! Try adding a third layering piece to your favorite outfit, and let me know what you think in the comments below. Better yet, share photos!
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