Three’s company


RATIO RATIONALE Longer jackets work with shorter skirts, according to the silhouette-flattering Rule of Thirds.


Maggie Gibbons

Have you ever looked at someone and wondered how they manage to appear so stylish? They might be wearing something you already have in your wardrobe, yet it never looks as good on you. Why?

The third piece
Well, sometimes it’s simply a matter of different proportions, or the colour. Or it could be a matter of styling. Let me introduce you to a little trick called ‘The Third Piece Rule’. I was told about it some time ago by an American friend who seriously knows her style.
It’s as simple as it sounds: Add something to your outfit to make it more interesting. It could be a gorgeous accessory like a necklace, belt, scarf or hat, it might be a cardigan or blazer; whatever you choose it will bring your outfit to a whole new level. Your jacket and pants may be your basic pieces, the third piece will add an extra bit of jazz. Experiment until you find something you’re comfortable with – in no time you might even be adding a fourth and fifth piece. The next time you’re going somewhere, ask yourself ‘Have I added a third piece?’.

Rule of Thirds
The second tip is ‘The Rule of Thirds’. (I prefer to call it a tip rather than a rule. I dislike rules and feel strongly that none of us has the right to tell you what you can or cannot wear. Sometimes we like a few pointers though.) This particular tip is valuable, as it can really flatter your silhouette. I call it the 1/3 to 2/3 ratio.
Unbalanced proportions are more visually appealing, wear a long jacket with a short skirt or a short jacket with a longer skirt or pants. If your jacket and skirt are balanced half to half it can cut you in two, and might visually add a few pounds. Check a full-length mirror to see if the length of your top works with the bottom.

Three relations
How many times do you stand in front of your wardrobe and feel like you have nothing to wear, even though it might be bulging? Well, this could be a distant memory if you build your ‘wardrobe capsule’, with each item in it related to at least three others for optimum mileage. Simply put, this is a small number of pieces that mix and match to create numerous possibilities. It means you’ll be able to put together several outfits that you can wear at short notice. This is usually built around 5-12 related pieces that can be worn in several different combinations. It might mean a good old culling, but once done you’ll never look back.
Building a working wardrobe for your lifestyle is simple when you think in terms of ‘capsules’ defined by lifestyle need: work, socialising, travel, and so on. Make sure you’re buying for the lifestyle you have not the one you’d like, otherwise expensive clothes will remain unworn. Also, buy for the size you are now, not the size you’ll be when you lose weight. As a pal of mine used to say ‘I’m actually a size 10, but I wear 20 for comfort’!

Maggie Gibbons is an Image/Style Consultant based in Louisburgh. She can be contacted at