Understanding Rule of Thirds in Fashion (2024)

There’s a concept called Rule of Thirds that will help you put together more flattering outfits almost instantly. No matter how cute the individual pieces are, if the proportion of your outfit is off, it may look frumpy or unflattering.

I often mention the 1/3 to 2/3 ratio when discussing my outfits, and it usually elicits some requests for more explanation.

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This concept is actually based in architecture.As Coco Chanel once said, “Fashion is architecture; it is a matter of proportions.”

A balanced one-to-one ratio is boring and expected, whereas unbalanced proportions are interesting and pleasing to look at. It’s generally accepted that a 1/3 to 2/3 ratio is the most aesthetically pleasing division of spaces, and that’s called the Golden Ratio in artistic circles.

Take a look at the Eiffel Tower, often cited as a perfect example of this concept. I drew lines to show the Golden Ratio in action — in this case, 2/3 on the top and 1/3 on the bottom.

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Painters and photographers use this same ratio to compose their works. For example, it’s much more interesting to place the horizon of a landscape in the top or bottom third of the image, rather than the middle.

This is what a lot of people tend to do… that’s if they even bother to straighten the horizon. #petpeeve

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See how much better this one looks, with the horizon in the top 1/3 of the picture?

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Rule of Thirds in Fashion

The rule of thirds applies to fashion as well! Take a look at this well-balanced outfit.

In this case, the 1/3 is on the top, and the 2/3 is on the bottom.

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I achieved this balance by front-tucking my top. If I had left it untucked, it would have cut me right in half, which can look boxy and unflattering.

The front tuck brings the top up, allowing more of my legs to show, and emphasizing my waist.

This is an example with a basic t-shirt and jeans outfit.

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You may notice in both of the above pictures, I drew the bottom line at the end of the pants, not the bottom of the shoes.

This is because in both cases, the jeans are dark and my skin is light, so there’s high contrast between the jeans and my legs.

In this 2nd example, the shoes are pretty much the color of my skin, and in the first example, the shoes are very strappy, so you really see more skin than shoe.

Visually, the outfit sort of stops at the bottom of the pants, at least for ratio purposes. If I was wearing boots that covered the foot and leg, I would draw the line at the bottom of the boots.

Here’s another outfit with the black jeans to illustrate my point.

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Also, I drew the top line at the top of the collar of the jacket, but perhaps it should be drawn at the top of the leopard sweater… either way, the 1/3 to 2/3 ratio is in effect here. It doesn’t have to be exact, it’s just a guideline.

You don’t have to front tuck every top to achieve the right balance, though. Some tops are the right length to work with your outfit without a tuck. This is why we are seeing a return of shorter tops, now that pant lengths are rising.

If you wear a longer top with crop pants, you will end up with a 50/50 split, or a 1:1 ratio, rather than 2:1.

This sweater is about 24″ long, so on my 5’5″ frame, I can easily wear it untucked with most of my jeans and still get a pretty good 2:1 ratio.

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But sometimes switching pants is easier than finding a different top. If you’re wearing a longer top you love, and you put on cropped pants and realize your legs look short and stumpy, try longer pants.

Or add a shoe the same color as the pants, to create even more length on the bottom to offset the length on top.

Here’s an example with shorts. In this case, the top is 2/3 and the shorts are 1/3.

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And here’s an example with a dress.The dress is the 2/3 and the legs and shoes are 1/3. I guess this is why I like knee-length dresses so much!

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Of course, long dresses can be flattering too, but this is one reason why belting a long dress is more flattering than allowing it to hang all one length. The belt creates that 1/3 to 2/3 ratio, instead of having one long column.

And this is also why most long dresses have a waist band of some sort. Take this jumpsuit for example. See how the tie waist divides it into thirds? The top of the jumpsuit is 1/3, and the bottom is 2/3.

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So as you put future outfits together, think in terms of dividing the overall look into thirds rather than halves or quarters.

There are lots of ways to do this, but basically, you want to look for a long and a shorter garment to put together instead of two items that are the same length.

How about cardigans? There are several factors to consider when layering. Color and level of contrast between the items in your outfit will affect how your eye reads the proportions, so every outfit is different, but I’ll show you a common example.

Longer cardigans are trending, so I found an outfit with an ivory tank, black pants, and camel long cardigan. I actually see two golden ratios in this outfit. First, let’s divide it into thirds.

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Usually, the under layer is the one that draws the eye, and that’s the case here. The tank is 1/3 of the look, and the pants are 2/3. The cardigan frames the outfit, but you still see that golden ratio in the under layer.

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But you also get the 2:1 ratio going on with the cardigan and the pants, except the cardigan is 2/3 and the pants are 1/3. It kind of cool, that it works both ways.

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A few have asked about tunics. I’m not a big fan of tunics in general because they tend to add visual weight due to the lack of structure and longer length. However, it can work.

Who remembers this blast from the past? I think everyone had this tunic in at least three colors!

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This look is a little dated, but you can see how a longer tunic with black leggings and boots can give you an illusion of the 1:2 ratio. It’s not exact, but it’s not 1:1 either.

Here’s the same tunic with black leggings and contrasting boots. Again, the outfit is a bit dated, but I think it’s a pleasing balance of proportions.

The tunic is the 2/3, and the boots are the 1/3, and then the leggings provide some separation… maybe that’s not the right way to analyze it, but it makes sense to me.

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Also, the 3/4 sleeves and the drapey material of this tunic help it not look too voluminous. The sleeves draw the eye to the waist, and the material drapes nicely over the hips rather than hanging straight.

What about a skirt and top? In this case, the skirt, top, and legs are each 1/3 of the outfit. I don’t have a lot of skirt examples, because frankly, I struggle to find tops that are short enough, and front tucking can look odd.

Here’s one I found… I drew the lines where the items SHOULD end. I think this would look better if the skirt were a couple inches longer, and the sweater perhaps an inch shorter. I don’t like where it cuts across my belly.

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Here’s that same sweater with a skirt that’s about an inch longer, and with black tights and black boots. I like this better.

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Remember, it’s not an exact science, and it doesn’t have to measure out perfectly. It’s just a guideline.

It often requires some final tweaking and zhuzhing to get an outfit just right — maybe tucking in your top, adding a jacket, switching to longer pants, changing the color or style of your shoes, etc.

Play around with it, and have fun! And the next time you look in the mirror, and you like your outfit but feel like something isn’t quite right, check the proportions. It may just require a simple tweak, like tucking in your top, or matching your shoe to your pants to make all the difference!

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Understanding Rule of Thirds in Fashion (2024)


What is Rule of Thirds in fashion? ›

The idea behind the third piece rule is that for an outfit to go from good to great, it needs three key elements. Your top and bottom (pants or skirt) are your first and second elements. The third piece is that extra something that finishes off the whole look.

What is the 1 3 ratio in fashion? ›

Apparently, clothing ensembles look more well-proportioned when the top takes up one-third of the outfit and the bottom occupies two-thirds of the overall look. When you're applying the Rule of Thirds, the concept applies to your outfit, not your entire physical height.

What is the 1 3 to 2 3 ratio style? ›

In art, the 1/3 to 2/3 ratio is thought to be the most aesthetically pleasing division of space. It's called the Golden Ratio. The Eiffel Tower is the perfect example. Proportions are important in fashion to balance your look and create more flattering lines.

What is the 3 to 5 ratio significant in fashion? ›

When it comes to getting dressed, many experts consult the Golden Ratio to help balance proportions between different garments. It may be tough to eyeball a 1:1.618 ratio in the mirror, but balancing upper and lower pieces according to a 2:3 or 3:5 ratio creates a naturally aesthetic outfit.

What is the 3-color rule for fashion? ›

The premise of the 3-color rule is not combine more than three colors in your outfit at any one time. The exceptions are black and white — they don't count, as they aren't technically colors, so they can be intermixed without actually adding a color to your outfit.

What is the 3-color rule in fashion? ›

One formula I've found helpful to add color while still looking chic and put-together is the 3-color rule. Aim for 3 colors in an outfit, and yes, your neutrals count. Above, I've used 3 colors: tan/camel for the pants and shoes, red sweater, and light peach blazer. (My personal preference is 2 neutrals + 1 color.

What is the most beautiful ratio? ›

The extreme and mean ratio was named by the ancient Greek mathematician Euclid. The premise is that the closer the ratios of a face or body are to the number 1.618 (phi), the more beautiful they become.

What is the 80 20 rule for clothing? ›

They say that the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, holds true with wardrobes: Most of us wear 20 percent of our clothing, 80 percent of the time. Why waste valuable space on the other 80 percent of your wardrobe that you rarely wear?

What is the Golden Ratio in clothing? ›

The Golden Ratio is a number that can be found all over the human body. You can use this ratio (1:2, 2:3, 3:5) in dressing your body in a more appealing way. The human body is said to be about 8 head lengths. If you break the body up using these proportions, you will look better to the human eye.

What is 1 3 ratio examples? ›

For example, if there is 1 boy and 3 girls you could write the ratio as: 1 : 3 (for every one boy there are 3 girls) 1 / 4 are boys and 3 / 4 are girls. 0.25 are boys (by dividing 1 by 4)

What is the perfect shape ratio? ›

This resulted in a formula of measurements which yield the ratio 1: 1.618, known as The Golden Ratio. The Golden Ratio is number that shows up all over the human body, from the length of the arms and legs compared to the torso, and it seems to define what proportions look best; that is, most attractive.

What is 3 2 1 ratio examples? ›

In this example, the ratio of gravel to sand to cement is still 3 : 2 : 1, so the total number of parts into which the concrete is divided is still 3+2+1=6.

What is the rule of 4 in fashion? ›

The goal is to have at least four accessories or points of interest to every outfit. This has been a game changer for me because I tend to be a plain jane, and often I feel like my outfits lack a little something.

What is the rule of 33 clothing? ›

The idea behind Project 333 is simple: Wear only 33 articles of clothing for the next 3 months. All clothing, accessories, jewelry, outerwear, and shoes count towards your number. Exceptions include wedding rings, underwear, sleepwear, in-home loungewear, and workout clothing.

What is a good current ratio for fashion industry? ›

The current ratio weighs up all of a company's current assets to its current liabilities. A good current ratio is typically considered to be anywhere between 1.5 and 3.

What is the rule of 5 clothing? ›

Then, after seeing a report from think tank The Hot & Cool Institute, suggesting that to keep things sustainable, British people should only buy five new pieces of clothing a year, she started the Rule of Five campaign. Since then, others in the fashion world have started to follow her example.

What is the fashion 5 rule? ›

Tiffanie has broken the year into five seasons, during which those who have pledged to the Rule of 5 can buy one item, not including underwear, lingerie or socks. The idea here is to have a fashion credit to “spend” in that period. If you go through one season without buying anything, you can buy two in the next.

What are the three fashion design basics? ›

The main elements of fashion design are Line, Shape, Texture, Pattern and Colour Awareness on these elements will help to evaluate whether a design is goo create fashion illusions and spot trends and changes in the fa understanding how these elements can be executed and manipulated is essential to good designing.

What are core colors in fashion? ›

Core colors are exactly what they sound like: The basic colors of black, gray, navy, and white that create a solid foundation for your professional wardrobe.

What is 3 color design? ›

Triadic color schemes offer high contrasting color schemes while retaining the same tone. Triadic color schemes are created by choosing three colors that are equally placed in lines around the color wheel.

What is Zendaya's golden ratio? ›

According to the measure of the Golden Ratio of Beauty Phi, Zendaya's face is 94.37% accurate to the ideal proportions. This placed her second after Jodie Comer. I also found out that Zendaya's lips were particularly striking. It has a score of 99.5%, just 0.5% away from being the perfect shape.

Which ratio is most pleasing to the eye? ›

The ratio 1 : 1.618 is also known as the Greek letter Phi. It appears that a structure based on (or approximately based on) the measurements of the Divine Proportion will look aesthetically pleasing. Designers can use this understanding of proportion in an effort to make their work more visually appealing.

What is Kylie Jenner's perfect face ratio? ›

Rest of your features
Mouth Width to Nose Width Ratio1.62
Bi-Goinal to Bi-zygomatic Ratio0.74
Bi-Zygomatic to Mid Face Height Ratio1.87
Chin Angle136.44
Chin Length to Philtrum Length Ratio2.16
13 more rows

What is the 30% rule in fashion? ›

Basically, your closet should be 70% classic and functional pieces and the remaining 30% are your trendy and fun pieces. The 70/30 rule is hailed as capsule wardrobe law and applying it to the average wardrobe can go miles in creating pure outfit perfection.

What is the 60 30 10 rule fashion? ›

This idea can be translated to the relatable cohesion of planning a wardrobe outfit: 60 percent is the main outfit color, 30 percent provides visual interest like shoes, neck tie or handbag, 10 percent like the jewelry that provides the sparkling details.

What is 2 1 fashion rule? ›

Fashion is also a visual medium, and while we don't divide our outfits in 9 equal sections, applying the Rule of Thirds requires diving our outfit in three equal parts to visually create a ratio of 2:1. This ratio is basically the Golden Mean, simplified.

What makes an outfit aesthetically pleasing? ›

A fashion aesthetic speaks to pleasing clothing and accessories dictated by color palettes, textures, prints, patterns, and silhouettes. Aesthetics give the wearer a complete, cohesive outfit of the day; each one is digestible and easily categorized.

What is the feminine Golden Ratio? ›

The distance from the top of the nose to the center of the lips should be around 1.618 times the distance from the center of the lips to the chin. The hairline to the upper eyelid distance is classically 1.618 times the length of the top of the upper eyebrow to the lower eyelid.

What is fib in fashion? ›

Fibonacci sequence is a series of numbers where every number is equal to the two numbers before it. An investigation of application of proportions based on the Golden ratio and Fibonacci sequence in the fashion design and pattern making of ladies' clothing is the main aim of the paper.

What does 3 4 represent? ›

The fraction 3/4 or three quarters means 3 parts out of 4.

What does 2 3 means? ›

2/3 is equivalent to the fraction two-thirds, which means it is equal to 66.66666667 percent. When converted to a decimal, 2/3 is . 666666667. In other words, two-thirds of something is equal to two out of every three parts of that thing.

What is the most pleasing rectangle ratio? ›

To calculate the most aesthetically pleasing rectangle, you simply multiply the length of the short side by the golden ratio approximation of 1.618. So, the long side, in this instance, would have a length of 1.618. If you have a pencil, paper and ruler handy, try drawing a rectangle of this scale.

What waist to hip ratio is curvy? ›

Usually, we consider hip sizes above 36 or 37 inches curvy and hip sizes below 34 to be a slim silhouette. Also, the waist-to-hip ratios of curvy individuals are often in the range of 0.7 to 0.8.

What is the body shape of a 36 24 36 person? ›

A 36 24 36 figure is a type of hourglass figure.

The final measurement is around the hips, the widest point below the waist when both feet are together. The 36 24 36 figure is measured in inches, and in centimeters is known as the 90 60 90 figure.

How does a 3 1 ratio work? ›

A 3:1 Ratio is the relative fraction of phenotypes among progeny (offspring) results following mating between two heterozygotes, where each parent possesses one dominant allele (e.g., A) and one recessive allele (e.g., a) at the genetic locus in question—the resulting progeny on average consist of one AA genotype (A ...

What is an example of ratio with answer? ›

Ratio is used to compare the size of different parts of a whole. For example, in a whole class of 30 students there are 10 girls and 20 boys. The ratio of girls:boys is 10:20 or 1:2. For every one girl there are two boys.

What is 5 3 ratio examples? ›

If for every 5 apples you are selecting 3 oranges, then the ratio between apple and oranges that you give is 5:3.

What are the four C's dress code? ›

Only this time, it's the four C's: cute, chic, classic and comfortable.

What is the rule of 8 in fashion? ›

The eight-point rule is essentially a point system for nailing your outfit. You are going to count each piece and accessory in your look and get a total. The goal is to get between 6 and 8 points. As soon as you get over 8, your outfit may be too much.

What is the 10 rule for clothing? ›

With the Rule of 10, you simply keep 10 items from each category of clothing that you own. Ten is a generous number–not minimalist at all–and leaves you with more than a week's worth of items. (And many more than a week's worth, if your wardrobe lends itself to mixing and matching.)

What is the 2x2 fashion rule? ›

Basically, the formula is: take two casual pieces and two formal pieces and wear all four. That's it. Beltempo goes on to say this can work with contrasting style words, too, building up an outfit that is, say, two parts bohemian and two parts dark academia.

What is the 70 30 rule outfit? ›

Basically, your closet should be 70% classic and functional pieces and the remaining 30% are your trendy and fun pieces. The 70/30 rule is hailed as capsule wardrobe law and applying it to the average wardrobe can go miles in creating pure outfit perfection.

What is the 20 year rule fashion? ›

This rule is known as the '20-year rule', and what it means is that fashion follows cycles that repeat every 20 years. We go from 'love it' to 'hate it' to 'meh', only to end right back at 'love it'. An essential element of this rule is the feeling of nostalgia that these trends stir.

What are the most important ratios for retail industry? ›

Key ratios for the retail sector are the current ratio, the quick ratio, gross profit margin, inventory turnover, ROA, interest coverage ratio, and the EBIT margin.

What is a good inventory turnover ratio for fashion industry? ›

An ideal inventory turnover ratio for retail is between 2 and 4. However, it can vary among different industries, so you should research the benchmarks for your specific industry. A low inventory turnover may reflect issues in your sales strategy or low market demand for your products.

What is a bad current ratio? ›

What is a bad current ratio? In general, a current ratio below 1.00 suggests that a company's debts due in a year or less are greater than its assets. This could indicate that the company may struggle to meet its short-term obligations.

What is an example of the rule of thirds? ›

Rule of Thirds Example: Landscapes

If the focus of your image is on land (i.e. mountains, buildings), the horizon should fall near the upper third and if the focus is the sky (i.e. sunsets, sunrises), the horizon should fall near the lower third.

What is an example of rule of thirds in design? ›

The rule of thirds is a method of breaking up an image or design into different sections using columns and rows that form a grid. The grid consists of three evenly-spaced rows and columns to make nine equal boxes that fit over the image. The grid on your phone's camera is a great example of this.

How is the rule of 3 used in design? ›

The rule of thirds simply states that if you take a canvas and divide it into three equally sized horizontal sections and three equally sized vertical sections, the resulting grid provides a sort of “roadmap” that helps you choose where to place your design elements.

What is the most powerful way to use the rule of thirds? ›

The rule of thirds explains that if you place the main subject of your image in the top, bottom, left, or right blocks of the grid, you'll capture a perfect picture every time. The rule gets even simpler than that. To capture a well-balanced photo, all you have to do is avoid keeping the main subject in the center box.

Why is the rule of thirds important? ›

The rule of thirds is important because it creates a good balance between the elements in the frame. It helps you decide how much background and foreground are necessary for a visually appealing photograph. It also helps you manage the empty space, especially when your scene has plenty of it.

What is the 5 outfit rule? ›

The five outfit rule is pretty simple. When you see an item that you just have to have you can only buy it if you can think of five different outfits that you can wear it with. These outfits should come to mind straight away, no having to wrack your brains to desperately come up with things, and no cheating.

What is the rule of thirds sweet spot? ›

Each horizontal row of squares is exactly one third the height of the image. Each line represents exactly one third of the image, and where the lines cross is the supposed sweet spot for where you should frame the focus of your image.

How is the rule of thirds used to create emphasis in a composition in design? ›

The Rule of Thirds divides your scene into a 3×3 grid with equal size rectangles. To follow this rule, compose your subject in one third of the frame or on the line. This creates a more dynamic and pleasing composition since it gives more emphasis to your subject and their environment.

What is rule of three patterns? ›

Three-part structure.

Use a three-part structure to organize your writing. In the beginning, set things up. Then build anticipation, and finish with the punchline, resolution, or plot twist. The easiest way to do this is by having three characters experience the same situation in slightly different ways.

Why is three aesthetically pleasing? ›

Apparently, it's just how our lovely brains work. For one, three is the smallest number that can be used to form a distinguishable pattern in our heads. Also, when you see an odd number of things, your eye is forced to move around more, which makes for a more interesting visual experience.

What are the three 3 elements of design? ›

As we learn more about design and how to improve art, we have seen that we need to first understand what it is that a design consists of. Today we covered three of the foundational elements of any piece of art: line, shape, and space.

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