Personal Style

The Almighty Third Piece

ROCKING The Almighty Third Piece:

How NOT to get caught naked fully dressed

The most important part of waking up is not having Folgers in your cup, it’s picking a kick-ass outfit to rule the day in. Now class, who can tell me what the most important part of that outfit is? OMG you’re right, it’s the third piece! By now you’ve checked out your own outfit and counted the pieces of clothing you have on… if you’re still lost, keep reading. If you’re not, still keep reading because well, the more you know…

The third piece helps bring your outfit together to give it the perfect final touch and can take your basic outfit to chic in seconds. It says to the world, ‘I care about my appearance and take time to think about how you would perceive me.’ Scientifically speaking, when you add a third piece to your outfit for the day it gives onlookers more things to focus their eyes on; the brain equates this to putting in more effort and as a result you must be a style god. Please be advised I am not a scientist.  

I’d be remiss if I didn’t warn you at this point that you can go overboard, over dressing is a real thing. If you give the eyes too much to focus on, they can become distracted. Have you ever look at someone and got dizzy? They were probably mixing too many patterns.

I bet you’re wondering what constitutes a third piece. Well, to get started there are the obvious ones: Blazers, Jackets, handbags, and sweaters. Then there are the not so obvious ones: Hats, statement jewelry and bold sunglasses. Third pieces should evoke emotion. When you look at them they should be making a statement about who you are and what you are there todo. Whether it’s a jacket, hat, or scarf it should be the climax of the story that your outfit is telling.

Often times I hear “my belt is my third piece,” but here’s the thing, a belt is an essential furnishing, though it is a pivotal part of an outfit, it is not substantial enough to stand on its own as a third piece. While being “furnished” is an important part of having a put together look, these pieces are too essential to be considered a third piece. Think of it this way, a man without a jacket may not look good, a man without a belt looks sloppy.

So here you go, your guide to the third piece. Or as i’d like to say, the single most important thing we can ever teach you. Well, everything else is important too but you know what I mean!

Jackets

Jackets are cool when it’s cold, but most people shy away from them when it gets above 70 degrees. Don’t get me wrong, sweating through your outfit isn’t the greatest idea, but a light jacket could be all you are missing to the perfect fashion-forward look. Plus, you know how they all say “beauty is pain?” Well, it’s true.

If you are like most of us and haven’t learned how to regulate your body temperature to adapt to wearing a coat everywhere at anytime, then you are going to want to pay close attention to your fabrics. While that suede jacket may be a bit too much for a hot day, a nice linen one might do the trick and keep you from sweating. You will also want to think about the breathability of the piece; something super light and airy is great for the late days of summer but wearing them towards the end of fall might prove useless against mother nature.   

Jackets are less likely to be chosen over their blazer counterparts, but still deserve the same amount of love and affection. I love pairing a cool bomber with a more professional look. The clothes say, “I’m to produce, the jacket says, “I’m here to produce the fun!”. Yes, jackets are meant to be more of a “casual” piece, but that’s the beauty of the third piece, it takes the shape of whatever it’s paired with. For example, a denim jacket can be perfectly acceptable in a business casual environment when paired with a button down and coordinating tie.

Despite what I just said, also keep in mind that jackets are casual pieces and don’t belong in every situation. For events that require a little more va-va-voom, reach for the jacket’s bold cousin, the blazer!

Blazers

Is it just me or does something feel completely wrong when you go a whole week and don’t put on a blazer?! Yes, I’m one of “those” people. I think that blazers often times get a bad rap as being a piece of clothing you wear when you’re trying to be extra fancy; however, in today’s athleisure inspired world, you can wear a blazer with joggers and not look that out of place.

Having a strong blazer game is dependent on making sure there is a variety of color, fabric, and construction variations. If all your blazers are traditionally colored, constructed, and made up of the same fabric blend then they will all do the same thing for your outfit, nothing. Color is easy; don’t be afraid to go for a bold “look at me” color or pattern! However, when you go the bold direction keep in mind the overall “tone” of the piece; is it a neutral, light, dark, or metallic?  

The closely connected sister of coloration is fabrication. You don’t have to just go for the traditional wool-poly blend, we are living in times where denim blazers are a thing! While you may not have the style chops to pull off a denim blazer yet, there are still some fun things you can do! Linen is a super cool option on a fall or spring day as it is light and airy and is in line with most fall looks. You could also go with a cool jersey knit fabric which are way more comfy than their traditional counterpart and the fabric allows for flexibility with dye which leads to awesome coloration!

Finally, construction of the piece plays a vital role. What does this mean? Great question, constructed blazers have: defined shoulders, darting that shapes the body and are lined and fused. A deconstructed blazer is the exact opposite. Without defined shoulders and less construction the minimalist charm of the deconstructed blazer  makes is the an extremely versatile piece.

Hats

Hats are such an underutilized third piece. Most people only seem to consider them for function, and they do serve a purpose, but right now we are not talking about your basic winter hat. We’re talking fedoras, snapbacks, and anything that doesn’t slightly resemble a stretched out gym sock on your head. Well…. okay, maybe sometimes that gym sock isn’t so bad with a little bit of heathering in the fabric.

Unlike all the other third pieces we’ve talked about, hats give you the power to change the shape of your face and make you look like a whole different person. Seriously, scroll through Facebook pictures of your favorite celebrities- Kanye with a backwards hat on, can you say el Fuego? It’s not that he unattractive without the hat, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. The hat makes you focus more on the other features on his face. Similarly, adding a hat like a fedora helps emphasize your jawline and face shape.

Just as with every other third piece, coloration is important.  But, more importantly, having a diverse collection of hats is important. Consider stocking your wardrobe with: baseball hats, beach hats, and fedoras; after all, diversity is the spice of life!

If you haven’t noticed by now, it all comes down to coloration, fabrication, and variety but honestly, that’s kinda the trick to all clothing. What we really want you to take away is the almighty importance of the third piece. We went into detail about a few of your options but there are other pieces you can use. Think about a statement piece of jewelry, like a necklace; just keep in mind your neckline. If you are wearing a V-neck you would want to go with a piece that hangs lower than the cut of the shirt; if you chose to go with something shorter the piece will need to be round. The necklace shouldn’t be wearing you, you should be wearing it. You can also pair your outfit with a sick watch, just make sure it matches your shoes or the color of the feature item of your outfit. And then there is the scarf! The important thing to remember with this item is to just make sure you keep the fabric of the scarf seasonally appropriate.  

Next time you want to walk out of your house in slacks and a shirt, just remember, to the rest of the world, you are naked; less is not always more, sometimes it’s just less. As you can see, there are so many options for the third piece, and we didn’t dig into every possibility so just look down and count.   

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