The Rule of Three


I can hardly believe another week has passed! Time just seems to be zipping by me at an unspeakable rate! Anyone else experiencing this phenomenon as well?

I’ve been busy acclimating myself to my new makeup courses. I’ll admit to you all that this is much more challenging for me than my styling classes. Styling was my wheelhouse. It felt extremely natural. On the contrary, though I have always loved to play with makeup, I don’t necessarily have a natural affinity for it and the process, on a professional level, is much more detailed and intense than you think when you’re just sitting at home playing with different colors of lipstick or eye shadow. Of course, this makes me dig my heels in all the more, determined to figure this all out and do my very best! I’ve been accumulating e-books and watching YouTube video after YouTube video, in addition to my regular work, in hopes of really saturating my mind with all the information and skills I possibly can. You may have to pray really hard for me, guys!

You may remember about a month ago when we talked about Thrift Shopping and I gave you my 12 Tips for the Thrifty Fashionista. Today I want to talk to you in a little more detail about Tip #3 – Following the Rule of Three.

The Rule of Three is really a simple concept, and I use it not only when I’m thrifting, but when I’m doing any kind of clothes shopping. Rule of Three is simply this – Before you buy something, picture your home wardrobe and make sure you can wear that piece in at least three different ways – for instance: Is there a way you could style it for a work outfit? Is there a way you could style it for a date night? Is there a way you could style it for running errands on the weekend? If you know you could get three different looks out of it, you know you’ll get your money’s worth.

Right off I’m going to give you exceptions to the rule because if you’re anything like me your mind is already going, “Well, what about this, and what about this and what about…” Some exceptions would be – a special occasion dress. If you’re buying a dress to attend, or be in a wedding, to go to the prom or a banquet, or some other extremely rare or special occasion – obviously these are unique pieces that you are not going to be able to mix and match and are probably not going to be able to wear for many, if any, other events. Another exception – bathing suits. I think that speaks for itself. Also, nightwear – again, obvious. The exceptions to the rule are pretty self-explanatory pieces, and you’ll pretty much know it when you’re shopping for one.

So, how does my process work? Let me walk you through it. Last week I did a large thrift shop because my favorite store gives you 50% off everything in the store for your birthday! Sweet deal! While looking around I came across this great Zara blouse. It was a great shade of blue with some tan embroidery. (So it worked for my “seasonal colors”. I knew the color would work on me.)  It was still tagged (NEW! Not a lot of wear and tear.) and I really didn’t have anything comparable to it already in my wardrobe,

Still tagged Zara blouse, thrifted for $2

so I wouldn’t be “double-purchasing.”(Nobody needs 2 dozen blue long sleeve blouses.) It was priced at $3.99 – already a GREAT price – plus I’d get my birthday discount! Awesome! I tried it on…perfect fit! So far it’s looking like an ideal purchase. But, it still has to pass one last test… the Rule of Three.

My mind starts thinking…. (I’m sure you could see the smoke coming out from under the dressing room door!) I start running through my home wardrobe. What’s in my drawers, my closet…skirts, pants, shorts…anything that would create an outfit with this shirt.

Of course, I could always pair it with jeans. That’s a no brainer. EVERYTHING goes with jeans. That’s almost a cheat, so I didn’t even count it. (You certainly can if you want to, though!)

The first thing my mind went to was my wide leg linen pants. The color of the embroidery on the shirt was so similar to the color of the linen pants, they were going to compliment each other perfectly. As well, both pieces have a slightly “masculine” feel to them and it would give off a bit of a Katherine Hepburn vibe, and who doesn’t love Katherine Hepburn?! Outfit #1 is covered!

My linen pants thrifted from the first Thrift Box I ever purchased from Janeane at Designing from My Closet. (Psst….I have another one on the way! Look for that in my next post!)

Next, my mind went to my khaki Lucky Brand pants with studding down the sides. Khaki is a great, but not always expected, neutral that, once again, is going to play into that masculine edge on the top. This would be a more casual look for the shirt, where as the linen pants would have to be worn with heels. Now I have a little more versatility. That’s always a plus! Additionally, I have multiple pairs of pants in this color, each styled slightly different, which gives me options for this same basic look. Outfit #2 done – one more to go!

Thrifted for $7 from Clothes Mentor

Finally, I knew I could pair the top with a skirt. Just after Christmas I had picked up this great floral pencil skirt from New York & Co. when they were having their close out sale. One of the colors incorporated into the floral pattern is a blue very similar to the blouse. It will pull that color out beautifully, and, I believe, because of the long sleeves, but light weight of the blouse, I’m going to be able to take the look through multiple seasons! Ta-DA! Three looks – mission accomplished and the shirt came home with me.

New York & Co. skirt, I love the colors in this skirt, and it’s so comfortable, made of a stretch jersey


Let’s take a look at our three outfits once they were put together:


Blouse with linen pants. I’ve added some crystal beaded hoop earrings I found on clearance at Chico’s, a thrifted silver hooped necklace, a thrifted crocheted belt and a pair of thrifted Ivanka Trump wedges


The blouse with the khaki Lucky Brand pants. A much more casual look, I’ve kept the bling minimal with silver filigree drop earrings and a leather work pink bracelet. I’ve also added a thrifted khaki belt and a pair of thrifted Hush Puppy low wedge sandals


Finally, the blouse with the floral skirt. For this look I’ve added some silver layered drop earrings, a red thrifted necklace, a red rope bracelet, and a pair of thrifted black Steve Madden wedge sandals

You may now be asking, Ronnie, what’s the point in going through all this? It seems like a lot of work. Why can’t I just look at something, think it’s cute and buy it. Well, you can. But, I’d wager there’s more than a few of you out there – and in the past I’ve been guilty of this myself – who have bought some “cute” piece, or “great deal” (But it was so cheap!), got home only to realize it doesn’t go with anything in your closet, shoved it in the back never to be seen again. Or maybe it came out for one wear before it went into the black hole of forgotten clothes. The Rule of Three eliminates the black hole. Taking five minutes to think through your wardrobe allows you to know for sure that when you get home there will be ways to style your “cute” top or “great deal” so that it really WAS a worthwhile purchase!

Hopefully now they’ll be a few less black holes in our closets and a lot more really workable pieces!

As I sign off, I’m looking forward to the weekend! I’ve got a new Thrift Box coming from Janeane at Designing from My Closet! (A birthday gift from Mr. T! Isn’t he awesome?!) I’ll be sharing that with you in my next post. And on Friday, my beautiful niece, Melanie, is getting married! So hard for me to believe! I still see the blonde, curly-haired little girl running around so long ago. Now she’s a stunning young woman who’s found this amazingly sweet young man! What was it I said at the beginning? Time is zipping by at an unspeakable rate!

Until We Meet Again!


10 Replies to “The Rule of Three”

  1. This really is a smart way to shop. I’m so guilty of buying things because I like them and they are a great price…and then figuring it out when I get home. The problem is I can’t always remember what I have at home…ha ha!!


    1. Thanks, Jodie. I used to not be aware of what was in my wardrobe. But, I’ve become purposefully intentional about it, and have spent some designated time organizing and styling my pieces so that I KNOW what I have. Also, because I don’t buy so impulsively anymore, I don’t I have SO MANY pieces that I lose track (like I use to! haha!)


  2. I love that shirt and the way you’ve styled it, especially with those linen pants. So elegant. And yes, I agree with you on the rule of three. I purchased a great shawl collared cardigan today in brown and beige shades that can be worn with so many items; and I got a lovely black lined, lace casual short-sleeve tee that will also go with lots of things.


    1. Thanks, Sandy! I love the linen pants look, too! Those pants are soooo versatile! It is a great way to keep your shopping organized and your purchases sure to be workable pieces. Sounds like you got some GREAT pieces today! Neutrals are almost always a good way to go because they were with so many things!
      Thanks so much for stopping in and sharing!


  3. Great tips! Just this season I said to myself that I have to think better before I buy. Because I buy a lot single pieces, and then to find out that I have , nothing,, to combine it with. These tips I really have to remember. Love your khaki pants!


    1. Thanks, Nancy! Glad you found them helpful! That’s exactly the way I use to shop, too. This system has really helped me to be more organized and have much more workable pieces. Hope you’re able to incorporate it a little. Have a great weekend! 🙂


  4. You and i give the same advice so many times! That rule of three is a big one. I have to admit, though if something is at the thrift on a 25% discount senior day, and I really, really like it, I tend not to worry to much because I’ll just donate it back if it doesn’t work out.

    Yes, to the time is flying. I’ve cut back the blogging to only two post a month for a while so I can get caught up on all my other activities. With it being intensive gardening season at the moment, my photographer doesn’t mind this either. Thanks for coming over and linking up, Terri xox


  5. We do give similar advice! Great minds… Ha ha! I can still break the rule on occasion. My favorite shop on Saturdays has their sale ticket 75% off, so at that price I just take a chance on things, and that’s precisely what I do, just donate things either back there or to other shops. Or, frequently one of my kids might be able to use it.
    Thanks for stopping in, Terri! Always great to hear from you!


  6. This is a great guideline Ronnie that I continually forget to go by! That Zara shirt is so fun…and I like how you styled it all three ways. It’s a perfect example. Nicely done Ronnie…oh and I’m with you on the makeup. I want to get better at it as well, but if I’m completely honest some of my hesitation has been my acne scarring. I don’t like to draw extra attention to it but it gets better over time!


    1. Thanks Chrissy! I use to have a terrible time with this rule, too. Like all things, it’s learned behavior! Ugh!
      I get the acne thing. I have rosacea and it can be a real pain to try and get it covered. I constantly feel like it’s showing, especially on my lower cheeks. I’m really hoping that I’ll learn some great techniques that will not only help my clients, but help myself, as well. I already see my applications improving!


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