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Rule of Three

Some days the idea of putting together a coordinated and polished outfit that not only flatters but functions, can be daunting — if not downright impossible. For myself, I fully admit that I probably spend TOO much time thinking about what to wear and planning ensembles for the week ahead. But, you don’t have to have an outfit schedule or succumb to a complicated look in order get dressed in a stylish manner each morning. Instead, try utilizing this handy two-part “Rule of Three” formula.

Part one, think about your personal style in three words. My three words are eclectic, chic, and tomboy. When you are floundering on what to wear on any given day, use your three keywords to ground your options. For me, this takes girly, floral dresses off the table, so I look to my trousers, button-downs, and blazers as the basis of an outfit. Of course, not everything you wear has to fit into your three words. There will be days when you deviate from this formula, but, when you’re strapped for outfit inspiration, your three adjectives will guide you.

Not quite sure what types of keywords best represent your style? Here are a few standards to get you started: Minimal, Classic, Sporty, Modern, Casual, Bohemian, Polished, Colorful, Neutral. Look at the silhouettes in your closet for additional examples you can use: Loose, Flowy, Fitted, Tailored, Oversized, Cropped. Think about the colors and prints you like as well: Pastel, Bold, Geometric, Stripes, Jewel Tones, Plaid, Paisleys, Black n’ White. Also, you don’t have to fit into the standard aesthetic phrases when coming up with your list of three. Be inventive, especially if you are more fashion-minded in your style. A hyphen can also come in handy for adjectives like “statement-making” or “preppy-feminine.” However, the more elaborate your list of three, the more narrow your style focus becomes. So, while Athleisure, Architectural, Novelty-Prints may sound fun, it’s not usually practical or easy to pull off.

Once you have your three keywords, it’s time to translate them into actual coordinated garments, which brings us to the rule of three formula part two: finishing your outfit with a third piece. Most looks have the basic top and bottom — those are pieces one and two. The third piece is your topper that pulls it all together. As I mentioned above, for me it’s #1 trousers, #2 button-down, #3 blazer. Variations in this include but are not limited to: jeans/t-shirt/cardigan, or skirt/ blouse/trench coat, or shorts/tank top/denim jacket. For dresses and rompers, use the rule of three in your accessories — earrings/heels/bag, or belt/necklace/boots.

The idea is to elevate your clothes into an outfit. Also, don’t think you have to stop at three. You can expand into a fourth or fifth piece, especially during the colder months, when layers are the order of the day! For example, add a V-neck sweater to those pants, shirt, and blazer in the fall and winter. Or, a scarf and boots along with your jeans, long-sleeved tee, and cardigan. Again, accessories play into this formula and work as additional pieces that add polish to your look. Be careful, though. Try not to go overboard with a 6th or 7th piece. Finishing off a simple summer dress with a belt, heels, earrings, bracelet, bag, and necklace may start to look and feel overwhelming.

When in doubt, stick to the keywords from part one to help guide you if you go beyond the third piece and into additional add-ons.

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