The Perfect Way to Build an Outfit by Number

You can build an outfit using a simple math equation and a basic formula. 

What is an outfit? Why is it so hard to put outfits together in a way that looks great? Keep listening because today I’m going to talk about outfit math, how to make it simple and applicable, and break it down into its most basic form.

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Today we are going to be talking about outfits. Before we get into this let’s define what an outfit is. You walk to your closet, grab a shirt, grab a pair of jeans, and put it together.

This is an outfit. 

An outfit is essentially the clothes that you have on your body. The unique makeup of  how they work together.

What often happens is that people get overwhelmed putting outfits together. For me personally, I don’t think I ever really thought about my clothing in regard to a full head-to-toe outfit. 

I would just put on some stuff and I either liked it or I hated it. I didn’t really give much thought to it other than that. The first time I really ever started to think about outfits being a formula of any kind was the first time I ever encountered an outfit guide. 

That’s where you purchase an ebook of some sort and it has different pieces of clothing and then tells you how to combine them together in a bunch of different ways. Breaking it down through these past several years has made me realize that outfits really aren’t complicated. 

Outfits are basic math. The pieces and the proportions can get complicated. But today I’m going to introduce you to three different formulas for creating outfits so that you can simplify it in your own brain and your own closet, and begin to really appreciate this head-to-toe look that you create with an outfit. 

Are you ready for the big secret? 

The big secret is two, three, and four. When you think about an outfit, the most common iterations of outfits are two-piece outfits, three-piece outfits, and four-piece outfits. 

I’m going to talk a little bit about each one: what it’s good for, how it works, and give you a couple of examples for each one so that you can kind of see how to put these together in your own life.

Build an Outfit with 2 Pieces

A two-piece outfit is the most basic outfit that you can put together. The two-piece outfit works in summertime because you don’t want to wear as many clothes. You don’t want to put those completer pieces on because they’re hot, even if they do elevate the outfit. 

An example of a two-piece outfit would be a shirt and a pair of shorts. This is one that works really well for summertime because it keeps you cool.

One thing about these, if you’re in a month where you can add a completer piece, two-piece outfits like this often do look unfinished or incomplete. In this case, I recommend focusing on the three-piece outfit. 

If you’re just looking for simple, though a two-piece outfit is really easy to put together.

A third option for two-piece outfits is a dress and a completer piece. With a dress, you can’t really get into these super complex three-piece and four-piece outfits unless you start adding a lot of layers to them. 

A two-piece outfit really is your sweet spot because you have the dress itself and then some form of a completer piece, like a cardigan, blazer, jacket, et cetera.

So in this case, a two-piece outfit is simply one plus one equals two. 

Build an Outfit with 3 Pieces

Let’s talk about the three-piece outfits- it’s one item plus another item plus a third item equals three pieces of clothing. 

A three-piece outfit really is the sweet spot for most wardrobes because it gives you that finished look, intentional look when you get dressed. Imagine that you are heading out, you’re dropping your kids off at school maybe, and you put on a shirt and a pair of leggings. 

I know a lot of you are into athleisure and that’s great. So you put on a shirt and a pair of leggings and it looks unintentional. It looks unfinished, right?

So what can you do to take that basic outfit, that basic two-piece outfit and turn it into something really intentional as a three-piece outfit? 

With athleisure, you could grab a denim jacket. That quickly makes it look intentional and purposeful.

You could also grab a cardigan of some sort if you wanted. This looks a little bit more laid back and a little less intentional. But you can do is just mix it up and create an outfit that looks like you planned it that way and you meant it to look casual. 

Let’s look at other examples of three-piece outfits.

Back to our shorts outfit – you can take a tank top and a pair of shorts and then add a kimono over it in the summer and you have a three-piece outfit that’s not going to cause you to get overheated. 

Another example of a three-piece outfit that many people don’t think about is in the fall and winter, you can take a pair of pants, jeans, slacks, whatever you want, and then wear a button-front shirt and put a crew neck sweater over the top of it.

You still have a three-piece outfit that looks sort of like a two-piece outfit. But you have the peekaboo collar showing out from underneath your sweater and you have more of a put-together outfit than just the basic sweater and pants.

If you think about a three-piece outfit as being three pieces of clothing put together into one outfit, you’re looking at something like a top, a bottom, and a completer piece. Really standard, really basic. The core essentials of any outfit really are these three pieces. 

Build an Outfit with 4 Pieces

Finally, let’s talk about four-piece outfits. Now these are a little bit more tricky because as you begin to build more layers, you are looking at outfits that typically work better in cooler weather.

These kinds of outfits work well for the fall and winter. In this case, you are taking four pieces of clothing: one bottom, one top, maybe a completer piece, and then an additional wearable accessory. 

An example of this would be something like a pair of jeans, a long-sleeved t-shirt, some kind of vest, and then a scarf.

In many cases your four-piece outfit is going to include a heavier layer, a heavier outer layer, like a coat, a vest, and then probably a wearable accessory, like a scarf to give you that fourth piece. 

Final Thoughts on How to Build an Outfit with a Math Formula

I really want you to demystify the thought of creating outfits because when you think about it, it really is just basic math.

You’re taking one and you’re adding something else to it.

So one plus one equals two, or one plus one plus one equals three, or one plus one plus one plus one equals four. 

Now is the perfect time to experiment with different outfit combinations. I would love for you to think about your current wardrobe and go experiment and see what three-piece outfit you’ve never tried that you can make this week. 

Related Style Articles:

how to build an outfit using a basic formula

Now you know exactly what an outfit is and the basic ways that you can build an outfit using one piece of clothing at a time.


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