The Power of the Third Piece


3rd piece


The Third piece is your hero, it’s the accessory or piece of clothing that can add the excitement and personality to your outfit when everything else you’re wearing are  basics or supporting acts.
Quite often it can be some sort of jacket, other times it will be a great piece of jewellery.

3rd piece optons


The 3rd piece is a great way to cover over your mid-section if it’s less firm too and can be quite disguising.  Or you can use it to create a column of colour too.


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  • I relied on jackets for so many years as my 3rd piece, and now that jackets often feel too structured for me, I’m finding that scarves can often fill this role.

  • This is why I love jackets! I feel like I’m trying to hard if tees or jeans are too embellished, but a cool jacket feels just right.

  • Yes, totally agree! On the U.S. version of “What Not to Wear,” stylists Stacey and Clinton call it a “completer piece.”

    Maybe that’s why I find it much easier to put together outfits in cooler weather; it’s much tricker to assemble multiple-piece ensembles from summer things.

    • Heidi – yes it’s easier to dress in cooler weather than hot weather. That’s where accessories come in in hotter months as we don’t want the layers.

    • SUMMER SOLUTIONS: I agree jackets are difficult to incorporate into summer dressing, so let me offer some alternatives:

      a lightweight simple cardigan with 3/4 sleeves (worn unbuttoned of course),

      a lightweight shrug (this is a bolero style piece, it can be 3/4 sleeves or even cap sleeves)

      a CROCHET pullover, poncho, or open-front piece, with a VERY large open weave (i.e. fence-net) so it feels and looks “airy” — these double as beach cover-ups for casual duty so choose vivid summery brights or go with wheat tones for the natural/nude palette that is trending right now.

      If all this is still too much “weight” for you to bear, try a lightweight or sheer, colorfully-patterned scarf worn loosely at the shoulders, or as a pashmina.

      Finally (my personal choice) if you have the confidence to pull this off, evoke Audrey and let your completer piece be a wide-brim sunhat worn with non-competing sunglasses, for a look that is polished to perfection. For statement dressing, this has never failed me.

    • It’s really common – people always ask me why I tend to look ‘stylish’ and it’s because of that 3rd piece, whether it’s a necklace or scarf, or a jacket or the like – makes all the difference in looking put-together.

  • Imogen how does the third piece work if you’re wearing a dress? Is it a second piece? Or do you need two items on top of the dress? Also, would you consider statement shoes a third piece? Hair accessories? Bags? Thanks 🙂

  • I’m 47 and only just this year have I discovered the power of basics with a third piece! Now that I’ve included a lot more of what I used to think of as the “boring basics” in my wardrobe, it’s so much easier to put together a stylish look!

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