The Rule of Thirds in Fashion: How to + Styling Inspirations

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The Rule of Thirds in Fashion

The rule of thirds, also known as the Golden Ratio in fashion, is a guideline for creating flattering and balanced outfits. The main element in practicing the rule of thirds when putting outfits together is to divide the outfits into thirds. 

This rule does not work every single time but it is a helpful guide to use when you feel something is wrong with your outfit. If you often find yourself in a similar situation, practicing the rule of thirds when creating outfits can be useful. 

Learn about the golden ratio and how to apply them to your outfits in this post!

What is The Rule of Thirds?

The rule of thirds is used widely in visual-based industries like photography, films, and paintings. It divides the image into thirds horizontally and vertically. This will create a balanced output and it looks pleasing to the eye. 

The rule of thirds in fashion simply means dividing your outfits into thirds. It helps you create balanced clothing proportions. For example, pairing a long top with a short bottom will create a 2:3 to 1:3 ratio and vice versa.

How to Apply The Rule of Thirds Into My Outfits?

The Golden Ratio used to achieve a well-balanced outfit is 1:1, 1:3, and 2:3. This allows you to create a visual break and achieve a pleasing balance for your outfits. For, example, a crop top, and long pants outfit is a 1:3 to 2:3 ratio. A long tunic top with black leggings creates a 2:3 to 1:3 ratio. 

Here is a visual guide to applying the rule of thirds:

the rule of third in fashion. using the golden ratio to create a well balanced outfit

In the first example, a fitted tank top is paired with a long straight leg jeans. The top part is 1:3 ratio while the bottom is the 2:3 ratio. The second one where a long t-shirt dress is paired with a black leggings is the opposite, the top is the 2:3 ratio while the bottom is 1:3 ratio.

You can also achieve a 1:2 ratio on both top and bottom like in the third example where a cropped t-shirt is paired with a mini skirt. You can also add knee-high boots to get that 1:3, 1:3 to 1:3 ratio. It is the same concept but this time shoes are included instead of just the tops and bottoms.

How are proportions used in fashion?

Creating a balanced outfits is all about breaking the pieces into thirds. Outfits can be broken into thirds with these:

  • Adding a belt
  • Tucking in the top
  • Where the end of the top meets the bottom
  • Rolling your sleeves
  • Different colors for bottoms and shoes
  • Different colors for tops and bottoms

The breaking line should stop when it hit the golden ratio of 1:3 to 2:3, 2:3 to 1:3 or 1:2 to 1:2. It may take time to understand just by reading, but practicing the rule of thirds in fashion often will help you understand better.

Keep in mind that this is just a guideline and rules are meant to be broken! Experiment and keep trying out different styling tricks to achieve the right balance for your outfits.

Styling Inspirations

Here is another example of the rule of thirds that I applied in my outfit:

First outfit: First way of using the golden ratio

This is an interesting application as you can see two different ways to apply. One is I paired a crop and fitted top with a wide leg jeans where the ratio would be 1:3 to 2:3. I added a belt to separate the top and the bottom as well.

First outfit: Second way of using the golden ratio

While the second one is a denim jacket over the crop top with the wide leg jeans where the ratio would be 1:2 to 1:2. Both works and look pleasing to the eye. I used different shades of blue for both the denim jacket and the denim pants.

Second outfit: Patterns on patterns

I paired a patterned top with a patterned skirt in different colors. The top is oversized and long up till my knee and the skirt can be seen from my knee to my ankle. This creates a 2:3 to 1:3 ratio. It still look balanced and aesthetically pleasing to the eye. 

The break is obvious since I paired two different patterns and colors.

Third outfit: 1:3 to 1:3 to 1:3 ratio

a balanced 1:3 to 1:3 to 1:3 ratio in my outfit. this is how i used the rule of thirds in fashion.

This is a unique way of applying the rule of thirds in fashion. I created a balanced 1:3 to 1:3 to 1:3 ratio. I included the boots in the ratio as it takes up more on this outfit than usual. 

Although it looks boxy and the proportions are balanced from the top, bottom and shoes, I made it interesting by pairing a printed top with a pleated skirt. This creates a dynamic look.

Fourth outfit: Dress with unique waist details

black monochrome outfit. im wearing a black hijab with black dress and black sneakers with green handbag

This dress has a 1:3 to 2:3 ratio as it has a unique waist details where it enhanced the waist. This creates a fitted upper and a voluminous bottom that gives the aesthetically pleasing golden ratio. 

Even though the look is monochrome from the top, bottom and shoes, the overall look still looks balanced and great.

It takes time and practice to understand the concept and to get it right. However, this golden ratio in fashion is just a guide and not a must-follow rule.

The next time you struggle styling the outfits you have picked for the day, just give it some fix like a simple tucking in the top or adding a belt to the outfit!

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