There is no set formula for how to be stylish, however, there is one trick that is helpful when trying to create a simple but polished outfit. We hadn't heard of this styling philosophy until we came across a former Nordstrom employee's interesting account of her manager's outfit advice. In order to encourage a more stylish sales staff, some retail associates are given the style guidance to wear outfits comprised of three pieces, not including your shoes. Your trousers and top are your first and second pieces, and your third piece is an extra outfit element such as a jacket, blazer, sweater, vest or statement accessory. The Cut reported that the third-piece rule is in effect at Banana Republic and, according to one of our editors who previously worked retail at Madewell, the retailer encourages the practice too.
So what's so special about a third piece? It adds nuance to an otherwise run-of-the-mill outfit, making you look put together, polished, more interesting and like you put a little effort into your look. Essentially, it's a simple rule of thumb that promotes more stylish outfit choices. If you're in doubt about the third piece's power, just take a look at some of our street style favourites who you'll notice have adopted the guideline. Scroll down to shop the five key buys to nailing this trick.
Style Notes: An easy way to master this rule is to layer a fine rollneck under dresses and shirts.
2. Statement Socks
Style Notes: Remember shoes don't count as a third item, but socks add to your tally. Emili Sindlev often uses statement socks to jazz up her outfits, making a skirt and jumper look out of the ordinary.
3. The Blazer
Style du Monde
Style Notes: The most classic but always stylish three-piece outfit is jeans, a white T-shirt and a blazer.
4. The Camisole
Style Notes: Lucy Williams' favourite three-piece outfit is to wear jeans and a white T-shirt with a statement silk cami layered over the top of the tee, making it look more luxe.
5. Statement Earrings
Style Notes: Statement earrings are the perfect addition to jeans and a shirt or tee and are an easy way to achieve a stylish three-piece look.
Next up, how to wear polka dots when the rest of your summer wardrobe is in storage.
Opening image: Style Stalker