How to Use the Rule of Thirds in Fashion

rule of thirds fashion


Have you heard of the rule of thirds? It isn’t just a principle reserved for photography, architecture, or art. In fashion, it’s a game-changer for outfit composition, too. This timeless concept, which involves dividing an image into three equal parts to create balance and harmony, can be seamlessly applied to your everyday looks. Today, I’m sharing how the rule of thirds in fashion can transform your wardrobe, even turning your everyday essential pieces into an elevated outfit.


What is the Rule of Thirds

Consider the rule of thirds as the proportion of your outfit. The first step is to think differently about how we put them together. Focus on proportions instead of splitting an outfit into two zones, such as a top and bottom. Take a moment to look at yourself in the mirror and draw an imaginary line across the middle of your body. For most people, the line will be just below your hips and the widest part of your body. Ideally, you want to adjust the proportions to avoid cutting yourself in half.  Whether wearing jeans with a blazer, a midi or maxi dress, or leggings and a sweater, using this technique will elevate your style.


How to Apply the Rule of Thirds

Jeans + Sweater

Let’s start with a basic everyday outfit of jeans and a sweater. In the first photo, you can see that wearing the sweater untucked cuts my body in half. The outfit is okay but not flattering. Incorporating the rule of thirds and dividing the outfit into three segments, 1/3 sweater, and 2/3 denim, refines the look and adds more balance.

Style tip: an extra layer does not follow the rule of thirds. It not only adds structure but also draws attention to each piece.

rule of thirds fashion


Trousers + Vest

Let’s compare the two figures. In the first photo, the vest is too long and cuts my body in half again. That, combined with the loose trousers, makes the outfit look frumpy. Instead, opt for a shorter, well-fitted vest as the first third to emphasize the upper body. The trousers are the second two-thirds for a well-proportioned and effortless outfit.

Style tip: experiment with textures and colors to add depth and interest to the outfit.

rule of thirds fashion


Midi Dress

The rule of thirds is a little bit easier with a midi dress and boots. The dress serves as two-thirds, and tall boots finish the ensemble with the other third. Introducing a belt like I did in the second photo defines the waist and evenly breaks the outfit into thirds. Remember that adding a third piece, like a blazer, does not follow the rule. It pulls together a balanced and visually pleasing combination.

Style tip: select footwear that harmonizes with the dress length and style.

rule of thirds fashion

The rule of thirds principle is a great technique for achieving a harmonious balance in any outfit. It will elevate your style and help your outfits come seamlessly together. Do you apply the rule of thirds in fashion? Let me know in the comments!

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Also see: Wearing vs. Styling: How to Make a Good Outfit Better and How to Make a Basic Outfit Not Look Basic

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rule of thirds fashion

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Meet Jill

Thanks for visiting Doused in Pink, a Chicago style blog. I am here to bring simple style tips and outfit inspiration to help you elevate your everyday style. You will also find posts on the best beauty products, wellness, DIY projects and decorating ideas. My goal is that you leave feeling like you learned something new that helps you feel confident when you walk out the door.

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