Monday Musings: On the Rule of Thirds and Travel

Have you ever wondered why some outfits look effortlessly put together and others just aren’t flattering no matter how many accessories you change? It could be as simple as adjusting the proportions. I’m talking about how to use the rule of thirds in your outfit. When I looked at this outfit, I realized it was a great way to illustrate the technique.

LINEN TANK TOP / SIMILAR WHITE JEANS / SIMILAR DRESS WORN OPEN AS TOPPER / MUNRO SANDALS / MADEWELL WOVEN TOTE BAG / IPPOLITA EARRINGS / LAGOS NECKLACE / FRAMES / SIMILAR CUFF BRACELET

I hesitate to use the term “rules” because there is no right or wrong way to express your personal style. I prefer to think of it as a powerful tool you can add to your style arsenal to help you look and feel your best. This outfit illustrates the technique in two ways.

The ratio can be divided by a belt, a hem length, or your shoulders. It’s basically your outfit, not including your head. I’m a big fan of a 3/4 length third layer over jeans or pants because it automatically breaks my outfit into the 1/3 – 2/3 proportions of the golden ratio.

You can get closer to this proportion by tucking or front-tucking your top and wearing full-length pants. You’re creating a visual break in the line of your outfits from top to bottom. The ratios do not have to be exact to create a pleasing look. Crop pants create a challenge for this ratio, which is one reason so many look unflattering…and don’t get me started on capri pants.

Let me know if you’d like me to do a deeper dive into this topic with more examples.

Travel

With my Arctic trip looming large on the horizon, I’m starting to get more excited than nervous. I know the minute we board the ship I’ll relax and dive head first into the adventure…bad pun. It turns out my baggage can’t weigh more than 44 pounds for the charter flight to pick up our cruise. Eek! I’ve got my waterproof pants, warm mitten with liners, fleece top, balaclava for the bottom of my face, and on and on… so now the editing begins.

I have been working on several blog posts that I’ll schedule to go out while I’m incommunicado. There are two dressing room diaries and a few other posts in the mix. It also appears that I can get some wifi on the ship as well. I’m guessing there will be three blog posts per week and maybe a few more, if the wifit permits. I also hope to share some of my travels here on Instagram stories.

Thank you for all your advice for preventing sea sickness. I procured most of them and expect I’ll be just fine.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to wear what makes you feel confident.

52 Comments

  1. Thanks for the diagram explaining the rule of 1/3 I never really understood it.Had to chuckle at your remark of ‘ don’t get me started on Capri pants’
    I think the only icon that could wear them gracefully was the lovely
    Audrey Hepburn with her ballet flats . I will give them a miss as I am no
    Miss Hepburn .
    Can’t wait to see some of your post from Artic Cruise but do take time off everyone needs a break.
    Love Pamela from Wales UK.x

    .

    1. She did wear them beautifully.

  2. Love your “thirds “ info and diagram for wardrobe. We use thirds in fine art
    to find focal points for our paintings. Nice to find your upscale wardrobe selections. Have to go now to make my selections. 🙂

  3. I would love to hear more of your ideas on the 1/3 rule, and see more examples. Have a wonderful trip; looking forward to hearing about it! And I agree with Lee, you always look wonderful but your hair has been looking especially nice lately.

  4. The new capris on the runway , are shown with blazers and heels or cute ballet flats. They are not being shown with oversized tops or tunics or flip flops, generally more refined.

  5. I’m looking forward to seeing your photos of your trip. I’m also interested in a deeper dive into the rule of thirds. Being short at just under 5’2” tall and a bit busty with an ever thicker waist but slim hips and thighs, it is difficult to find clothing that fits comfortably and yet looks good. I have been using the column of color wearing my pants long to the top of my feet. No tucking! It just looks awful now! But I can wear shorter tops that give the illusion of the tuck. I do wear wide pants with slightly fitted or hint of fit tops. We share coloring so I stick with neutrals and navy is my best friend. I’m excited about learning more when you get back. Pictures work best for me. Love you style and imitate it often.

  6. barb from Canada says:

    Very helpful your proportion info. As an extra petite woman am always trying to remember this info when getting dressed or even purchasing clothing.
    For example do not wear leggings, as to wear the expected cover your tush makes my legs even more short than they are!! Thanks again and would love more info in the future. Enjoy your trip.

  7. Peggy Beavers says:

    I would especially appreciate examples of the 1/3 style when wearing dresses with toppers. I’m a short plus-size apple. My dresses stop at the bottom of the calf muscle. Toppers range from fingertip length, base of knee and the bottom of the calf. Belts and partial tuck tops emphasize my outsized bust and stomach and are not my friend. Sometimes the long toppers with a dress give me the look of a large rectangle on legs/ankles that are too small in contrast. I need a solution. Can necklace length or scarf be used to improve my look? Are they an approach to realizing the 1/3 style?

    1. You could try a shorter sweater that stops just above your waist. I’ll put some ideas together.

  8. As for rule of thirds, it’s one reason I have given up on tops and skirts…….unless the skirt is a midi and the top is waist-length rather than hip-length. I look much better in dresses: that item does the 2/3-1/3 work. As for capris vs crops, I am a petite woman (5”1”, 105 lbs) with thin legs, narrow hips and I look terrible in crops but good in capris. I think it might be because I am short waisted with relatively long legs: crops end up being too much material. Narrow pants look better on me, and since wide leg pants have been in style for several years now I have had the chance to reassess and still find them unflattering (except for two pairs I found in a flowy, silky fabric, with a fitted waist and a gradual flare that starts at the hip.) One advantage to being “senior” is (hopefully) having figured out what works best for our body types.

    1. Yes!! Your nice long legs help a lot.

  9. Love the outfit, and your easy, clear explanation of ratios. Have a fabulous time on your cruise! Marine WiFi connections/speeds can be extremely frustrating, especially when trying to upload. I’ve found late at night and early in the morning are most likely to get you a better connection. Still slow, but better with less competition. Enjoy every moment of this fabulous cruise, and don’t worry about your posts. We’ll all be here waiting to hear about it, gaze at what will be spectacular photos, and see your outfits.

    1. I remember that from our cruise to the Maritimes. Thanks!

  10. Noel Dennehy says:

    Please explain your feelings on capri pants. Enjoy your trip!

    1. I’m not a fan of traditional, narrow capris. They differ from crops which are wider. Capris are only marketed to older women and they tend to carbon date us. I find them very unflattering.
      I’ve written several articles on them
      Here and Here. . It’s probably time for me to cover that topic again.

      1. Mary Frances says:

        I recently saw an article which included capri pants with other styles that are “coming back”.

      2. I’ve seen several articles on that. There can be a flattering way to wear them, but I’ve yet to see it done well by an older woman.
        Theyre being shown in a very body con way with barely there footwear and slim tops.

  11. I really understand your ratio for dressing. I think it’s a little more challenging when you can’t wear a heel. I’ve been working on that. Love your outfit! That cruise sounds Soo fun!

    1. Heels help but they’re not mandatory. Wearing shoes in the same color as your pants also elongates the leg.

  12. I would like more info/examples of the rule of thirds. Many times I know something doesn’t look right, but don’t know why. Thank you!

    1. That’s my thought exactly!!

  13. Jennifer- you can travel with more by wearing your heavier things! I dod it when my suitcase was overweight coming home from Italy. Because no one is dictating how much YOU should weigh. Also, put some heavier items in a tote. It’s smaller volume will keep you way under.and you won’t be sweltering in winter clothes when you board.

  14. Happy and safe travels! It sounds like it will be a fabulous adventure! Enjoy every minute.

  15. Have a great time – what an adventure ahead!
    I would love more examples and information of the ‘thirds’ rule. Thanks!

    1. Okay I’ll put some more thoughts together on it.

  16. Yes please, more info on this topic would be helpful. Sometimes the dress is perfect but the length seems to be a bit off and not sure if it should be shorter or longer, but always below my knees. I have recently started to tuck in regardless of my tummy and see how it can change proportions. A topic for after your return
    I remember the dilemma of packing for Alaska with coats and boots as well as nice outfits for the ship, good luck.

    1. Tucking is so helpful for this. No one is looking at our tummy but us🤣. Luckily they supply the huge boots and parka for this.

  17. Apropos of nothing, your hair has been looking great.

    1. It’s everything to me. Thank you so much. I had her shorten it two inches which really helped.

  18. Have a great time. I can’t wait to see photos of your adventure.

  19. Jennifer, I’d love to see more examples of the rule of thirds. I try to incorporate this rule in my outfits but I don’t think I always get it right!

    1. I’ll put some more together.

  20. It would be great to have more discussion about proportions! If you could fold in proportions for different body types, that would be helpful. My shape is opposite of yours – I have narrower shoulders and heavy hips and thighs. The 1/3 to 2/3 proportion still is important, but there might be other tips…

    1. It works for all body types. I’ll get more examples for you.

  21. Yes to doing a deep dive into the rule of thirds. Thank you!

    1. I’ll work on it when I get back.

  22. Betty Rosengren says:

    Hi, What kind of balaclava do you wear? Have a fantastic trip!

    1. I just ordered an ugly one from Amazon. It’s probably meant for skiing.

  23. I would love for you to do a deeper dive into the golden ratio topic. I’ve practiced your advice regarding fitted bottom/flowy top and vis versa, which was an eye opener. Would certainly like to see more examples of proportion.
    Thanks and enjoy your cruise!

    1. Will do! Thanks Kathleen.

  24. How does rule of thirds play into body types – I am a pear and don’t think I should tuck my shirt in or wear a belt. Can’t wear white slacks and should wear colorful tops. Would you share your body type if you know it please. You always look lovely.

    1. It works for all body types. Wear a darker pant and lighter top or a column of color and try a longer outer layer. Tucking is still important or a high hip length top with fill length pants. I am an inverted triangle.

  25. Yes to more information about proportion! I am 5’1” and am always looking for ways to appear taller and slimmer.

    1. Got it! Tonal dressing that doesn’t have a stark contrast between top and bottom is one way to elongate your look.

  26. Teresa Fournier says:

    You mentioned capris. I would love to see suggestions on styling tops with them since we are coming into the summer months. Thanks and always enjoy your blog.

    1. The length of capris makes it very difficult to achieve that balance unless you wear short tops and fully tuck them in.

  27. I would love to see some more examples of the 1/3…style of dressing when you return.

    Have a wonderful trip.

    1. I’ll work on them. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *