“I want to look professional and put-together but I don’t know how.”

Does this sound familiar to you?

One of the most common problems that women have told me about over and over again is that they don’t know how to combine different pieces of clothing so they look professional and put-together. They also want to look stylish.

Most of them also admitted that they have so many clothes yet every time they open their wardrobe to get dressed for a meeting with a client or a business-networking event, they feel they have nothing to wear.

If you have ever had any of the above problems, then this is for you.

Today, I’m going to let you in on a secret styling trick. It’s called The Third Piece Rule.

After spending 8 years as a buyer in the fashion industry and now working with private clients, I can tell you this is one of the simplest ways to achieve a polished look. My clients find it so easy to get dressed for business events, everyday work or casual occasions.

So, “what’s the rule,” you ask.

Ok, it’s not so much of a rule but a styling technique that makes an ordinary outfit look instantly put-together. And when applied correctly, it will make you look polished every time you step out of the door.

According to the Third Piece Rule, your top and bottom are your first and second pieces. The third piece is an extra element that you add to complete your look. These can be anything from jackets, blazers, vests, jumpers or cardigans to accessories such as scarfs and jewellery.

Essentially, the third piece adds nuance to an otherwise ordinary outfit, making you look put-together, polished and like you have put in a bit of effort into your look. It simply encourages you to make stylish choices.

For the purpose of simplicity, we’ll exclude shoes and handbags when applying this rule but those are obviously critical elements of your outfits.

Here’s an example:

Third Piece Rule-Posh
Source: InStyle

Notice how Posh looks so effortlessly put-together. If you look closely, she’s wearing black trousers and a white top. But it’s the knee-length jacket that makes her look so polished. She probably only spent less than five minutes to put that outfit together and I’m sure she has more clothes than you and I combined.

“But I don’t have those fitted black trousers or that long jacket.”

No problem. You don’t need either.

I am sure you have a pair of blue jeans and a white t-shirt and a black blazer (or a leather jacket). Here’s a look you can achieve with those three items. Put on some black pumps and you’re good to go.

Third Piece Rule- Jenna
Source: Harper’s Bazaar

Here’s another example:

Third Piece Rule- Jumper

A white button-down shirt, black jeans and a jumper, that’s it.

Here are a few more visuals for you. I want to make sure you get the concept and that you can use a few different items to achieve that put-together look.

Third Piece Rule- Cardigan
Jeans + T-shirt + Cardigan

Add a scarf or a belt or a simple necklace.

Third Piece Rule- Scarf Third Piece Rule- Emmanuel Third Piece Rule- Necklace

Notice how all women in the above photos are wearing a basic combination of jeans/trousers and a white top. It’s the third piece that makes them look polished yet effortlessly chic.

So, here’s a quick recap of what the third piece rule is:

1st piece (top) + 2nd piece (trousers/skirts) + 3rd layering piece = A perfectly polished look

Items you can use as a third piece:

  1. Outerwear: Cardigans, jumpers, jackets, blazers, coats, or vests
  2. Accessories: Statement necklaces, belts, hats or scarves

Looking polished or stylish doesn’t necessarily mean you have to buy expensive items of clothing or that you need to own that one stunning statement piece. It also does not require you to buy a completely new wardrobe.

You can easily create an outfit that looks pulled together with the clothes you already have. Your wardrobe is filled with potential.

Remember to use the third piece as a final touch.

How to get started today

You don’t have to wait for that special occasion to try the Third Piece Rule. Instead, you can put it into practice while you meet a client, run errands or do school pick-ups so that it becomes a habit. You will then naturally start adding the ‘final touch’ to complete your look.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Go over the ‘third pieces’ I shared in this post.
  2. Pull out all the third pieces from your wardrobe, including accessories.
  3. Come up with 3 outfits using the rule.

When you understand the concept and apply it right away, you will see how easy it becomes for you to put an outfit together. Do it intentionally a few times and you will get into a habit of making more stylish choices.

Open your wardrobe and pull out a white t-shirt, blue jeans and a black blazer/jacket. Put it on and take a photo.

For now, I want you to make this combination the go-to outfit for when you don’t know what to wear and still want to look put-together.

Top + Bottom + Third Piece = Put together

 

If you are on the lookout for the basic items like a white t-shirt or shirt, here are my recommendations to get you started.

White Deep Neck T-Shirt
& Other Stories
White Round Neck T-Shirt
& Other Stories
White Shirt
Mango

 

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