If you are a speaker, presenter or writer, you are aware of the power of three. Three ideas together are the magic number to keep your audience interested, or your reader’s attention. The general advice is that you should present three ideas or underlying theories when speaking or writing. Three choices are considered ideal: small, medium, large; hot, medium, cold; gold, silver & bronze. Witness “The Three Stooges”, the “Three Musketeers”, and “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”. Three is an important number in your wardrobe as well. Wearing three items together increases your visual presence and signifies greater importance than wearing two. Additionally, even if your body is perfectly proportioned, dressing in two equivalent sized items does not hold the visual appeal that wearing three, or two unevenly sized items does.
When I talk about wearing three items together I mean the two necessary pieces, such as a shirt with pants, or a blouse with a skirt, and then adding a third layering piece. The obvious choice for a third piece is a jacket, sweater or vest, which is fine, but the third item is not necessarily clothing. The Power of Three can come from an accessory such as a pashmina shawl, a pendant or pin, or a necktie or scarf. Simply wearing a top and bottom is boring; how much more interesting is it to bring in another item in a contrasting color or fabric. Wearing a third piece adds to your visual presence by creating interest and depth. It is also a good technique to add your own personality or style to a simple outfit.
Defining proportion is more difficult than talking about layering and items of clothing. The human eye is drawn to things that are uneven or asymmetrical. Experienced photographers know not to put a distant horizon at the center of a picture. They will put it 1/3 or 2/3 from the top. Splitting your visual image into thirds takes that concept and applies it to your outfit. Even if you are perfectly proportioned, and your waist falls at the 50% mark, wearing clothing that is not symmetrical adds interest. The current trend of wearing cropped tops and high-waisted trousers is an example of this. Similarly a longer jacket is more flattering with a short skirt and this is why for guys as jackets get more fitted they get shorter. I always suggest mixing long with short and loose with fitted to provide a contrast and add complexity.
Some easy ways to add the Power of Three to your wardrobe include:
- Wearing a long necklace with high-neck tops, and a shorter statement necklace with lower neck tops.
- Determine where your waist is (narrowest part), and then wear a belt slung 2 inches lower.
- Buying a multi-color sweater that matches most of your tops, then alternate wearing it with pants and skirts.
- Adding a jacket to your wardrobe that can double as an indoor jacket, and outerwear.
Once you start to notice the Power of Three in action you’ll wonder why you never thought of it before. You can use it to dress up or dress down an outfit. You can use it to add color and personal style. You will never wear a simple top and pants together again!