The Magic of the Third Piece...
Have you often wondered what makes someone look really great or how to take an outfit and make it more impactful and pulled together? Well there is actually a very clear answer to this question and it’s simpler than you think. It’s the magic of the third piece, and by third piece, I’m referring to a third piece of clothing or accessory that completes the look and pulls the whole outfit together. I’m here to share the secret with you that I share with all of my clients - how to use the third piece to take your outfit from mediocre to statement-making!
The main items comprising this third piece category include jackets, blazers, cardigans, sweaters, scarves, and statement necklaces. I urge you to take any usual outfit consisting of pants and a top, and add one of the above mentioned items. Now see how your look just went up a notch, or in many cases, several notches! Let’s discuss each category of items:
Jackets: This can include things like a denim jacket paired with a summer skirt and t-shirt or a leather motorcycle jacket with jeans and a t-shirt. There are several styles of jackets including the safari, motorcycle, baseball, member’s only, bolero, denim, and many more. Don’t worry if you do not know the difference between all of these styles. Basically, a jacket is a clothing item, usually falling shorter than the hip or around the hip area, designed to be worn over other clothing either indoors or outdoors. The idea is that it is an item layered over your shirt - any shirt whether it’s a t-shirt, sweater, camisole, or button-down. Different jacket styles will be more or less flattering depending on your body shape. Note: The bolero is very difficult to wear unless you are thin, have small breasts, and have a very defined waist. I mention this one because too many people wear this one when they should choose something more flattering! FYI - the bolero hits above the waist, usually just below the chest - think of a bull fighter vest and that’s the bolero.
Blazers: Technically a blazer is a style of jacket but I give it its own category because it is a wardrobe MUST HAVE! Everyone - men, women, young, old - should have some sort of blazer in their closet. I believe in the blazer so much, I have about 8-10! I find one I love and buy it in multiple colors and patterns. This is the most universally flattering, classic (in that it will never go out of style), and always appropriate item. This jacket style has a single row of buttons in the front, a notched lapel, and falls just at the hip or just below the hip. For women, when looking for a blazer, make sure there is some contour at the waistline area as this will create the most flattering lines for your figure (i.e., make sure that the sides do not just come straight down making you look boxy). For men, a blazer is a sport coat, the only difference being the fabric and type of buttons. Also, add a pocket square to give the look more pizzaz.
Cardigans and Sweaters: Cardigans are sweaters that button down the front and when I say sweaters here, I mean something that will be worn open. Many popular sweaters today have no buttons and remain open, and maybe even feature some ruffles along the open edge. A regular sweater that is pulled over the head (i.e., no openings in the front) does not count as a magical third piece but does make for a more layered look when paired with a top underneath.
Scarves: These can vary in shape, size, pattern, and texture. Scarves can be tied around the neck, draped over the shoulders, or worn wrapped around the neck. There are several options here and can even be paired with the above mentioned items to really make the outfit come together.
Statement Necklace: This can be something with more color, “bling” or sparkle, or heavier in size. Much like scarves, the statement necklace offers a wide variety of options and can be work with the other items mentioned above, except a scarf because a scarf and statement necklace worn together would be overkill. A statement necklace with a simple dress can provide the same impact as the third piece but with obviously only two pieces.
Some additional notes:
- A dress counts as two pieces in the sense that the top and bottom portion are part of the outfit.
- It is important to always keep a balanced proportion with all of the items of the outfit.
- Jackets and blazers give the most polished looks and also convey more authority to others. I always recommend wearing a jacket or blazer to any important event like a job interview, work dinner, meeting with clients, or any time you want to convey more authority and competence.
- If it’s blazing hot in the summer and the idea of a third piece seems more like torture, then opt for something lightweight, short sleeved or even a vest.
Choosing the right third piece for your outfit is the surest way to look more pulled together and stylish!