The Smart Trick That Makes Looking Stylish 100 Times Easier

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 US editors who previously worked 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.

1. Roll-neck 

How to look stylish:


Style Stalker

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

How to look stylish:


Style du Monde

Style Notes: The most classic but always stylish three-piece outfit is jeans, a white T-shirt and a blazer.

4. 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.

5. Cardigan

Style Notes: This is the French way to follow this rule: Wear a cardigan with a floral dress and a gold pendant. 

6. Belt Bag

Style Notes: A bum bag not only breaks up your outfit, it also means you can go hands-free and have a more streamlined look. 

7. Headband

Style Notes: Hair bands are a key accessory for 2019, and look amazing when they match your dresses.

8. Mini Bag

Style Notes: Jessie Bush's mini bag is the perfect accent to her T-shirt and midi dress.

9. Pendants

Style Notes: Monikh is the queen of elegant and simple outfits, and here she uses a gold pendant as her third piece.

Next up, see our guide to the key trends for spring/summer 2019.

Opening Image: Style Stalker

Related Stories