The third piece

LogoIn last week’s post, I mentioned wearing my new denim shirt as a third piece. Today I thought we’d talk a bit more about that. In the fashion industry, there’s what is referred to as the “third piece rule” but I tend to cringe at the word rule when it comes to fashion.

No rules

Essentially, a third piece is anything, with the exception of shoes, that goes above and beyond the basic pants and top or skirt and top look. On the old TV show, What Not to Wear, Stacy London and Clinton Kelly referred to it as the “completer piece” because it really helps to complete an outfit. Though some consider scarves, hats, or even statement jewelry as third pieces, the term is more often used to refer to an extra layer such as a jacket, a cardigan, or a vest.

Fashion retailers such as Nordstrom, Madewell, and Banana Republic know the power of the third piece. Their associates are encouraged to wear three piece outfits because the third piece helps them look pulled together and more knowledgeable about fashion.

For those of us who live in cooler climates, adding that third piece might seem like a no-brainer except in the height of summer. I was certainly dressing this way long before I knew there was a rule.

So, let’s take a look at some third pieces from my closet. There’s nothing here, except maybe the necklace, that hasn’t appeared on the blog before. I’m wearing the same striped t-shirt and jeans in every photo to show how easy it is to dress a basic pants and top up or down with a third piece.


Third piece: Uniqlo ultra light down vest


Third piece: 3/4 sleeve shirt


Third piece: Deco Cardigan from cabi Fall 2019 Collection


Third piece: basic jean jacket


Third piece: grey blazer left over from my teaching days

Whether we want to call it a rule or not, it’s easy to see how the third piece provides us with an easy formula for getting dressed and looking put together. Pants, top, third piece, then add a bit of fun with shoes and accessories and we’re ready to go!

I welcome your opinion. Please leave a comment.

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