I’ve been wanting to wear tops and pants without feeling the need to add a third piece in order to complete a look.
Why? Three-piece dressing, which I love, is being replaced by two-piece dressing, and I’ve got to change with the times. It would seem like wearing two pieces in an outfit instead of three would be a welcome transition similar to the thrill of going from a letter grading system in school to a pass/fail grading system. Your chances of getting it right would escalate.
But I don’t see it that way!
I say two-piece dressing puts pressure on one of the separates to be outstanding. For instance, eligible tops would need to have a unique shape, fun texture, or some kind of pleasing all-over print. They can’t just be plain or your outfit fails.
Something Artful Home has plenty of is unique separates with lots of personality. They have a personality-filled collection of neutral colored pieces. There are striking pieces that have great texture. As a brand ambassador for them, I get to test my style theories using their selections. In my study of tops, I chose this neutral, textured Margery Top by Lisa Bayne to experiment with.
I’m reporting in with my findings on two-piece dressing.
Professional women are switching to two-piece dressing
I’m a professional woman. A lot of my wardrobing clients are professional women. For the longest time working women have worn three pieces of clothing at one time—a skirt or pant, a top, and a cardigan or blazer—in order to be taken seriously in the workplace. Three pieces helps a woman look professional, polished, and put together.
But that’s changing, and I’m nervous. I don’t want a woman to be invisible and, historically, three pieces per outfit gives her a better chance of being visible. It goes for my busy retired clients, too. Many of them have stayed with three-piece dressing not because they’re worried they won’t be taken seriously, but they do worry about showing their arms. Wearing a cardigan or a jean jacket over a top takes that worry away.
However, wearing just two pieces makes more and more fashion sense. Workplaces are changing. I have a client in their fifties who is working at Twitter. I’m helping her look professional while also acknowledging her work environment. A third piece isn’t key. More and more I’m on the lookout for exciting tops or sweaters for them to wear sans jacket.
Today’s style demonstration features the Margery Top
In the past I’d buy solid colored tops, no prints, smooth textures, and have a plan that the jacket would stay on all day. Now I’m looking at doing the opposite. Could I still feel professional in just two pieces?
The Margery top is in a rippled knit—absolutely no wrinkling, which is great for the workplace. What’s totally inside my comfort zone is the fact that it’s in neutral colors and has dots. You know how much I love dots! It has a cowl neck and a crescent hem—shorter in front than in back. The cowl neck is super soft. What surprised me is that I could still wear a necklace with that neckline. I’ve never thought about adding a necklace to a cowl neck, but it just seemed right. It’s my sparkly bee pendant. I like how it brings more attention near my face.
I kept everything else simple. I’m wearing the Bumpy Belted Ring and the Crescent Ball Bangle, also from Artful Home. And I have on my gunmetal earrings with a little sparkle.
I went for shine with my patent leather Chelsea boots and my flashy quilted bag. The shiny surfaces add polish to the outfit. With my red Uber Optics frames and red lipstick, I’m ready to enjoy a day at work!
But could I bring the Margery Top into my weekend life in Sonoma?
I have to admit I thought I could only wear this top with black pants. I was being short-sighted. I didn’t see it going anywhere but work or a lecture or a class. But one day I woke up wanting to wear two things: the Margery Top and my jeans. Was it possible?
This is the section of today’s lesson that’s equivalent to the student in chemistry class who mixes two chemicals together and creates an explosion. I slipped on my jeans and then the top and sparks flew! I was so surprised. When I pair the knit top with jeans, it just looks cool. I wanted a casual, arty feel for the weekend so I threw on my antique Celtic cross pendant and a black and soft white, faint plaid print, sheer chiffon, oblong scarf. I liked the je ne sais quoi feel about the scarf. “Oh this little scarf? I just threw it on.”
I reached for my flat boots and an easy black tote. I look at this picture and it reminds me of how good I feel in it. I can’t wait to wear it again!
Well, actually, I wore it just last night. I came home from a massage appointment and wanted to feel cozy for the evening. I put the Margery Top on over those same jeans and added another scarf.
This scarf has more volume and can be wrapped around my neck for warmth. It covers the cowl neck detail, but it’s okay. Everything blends together. I love, love, love the bold pattern in the scarf with the smaller pattern in the top. I would have taken a picture of me wearing it, but you really don’t want to see my massage hairdo. No one does!
So, my friends, I believe this experiment was a success. I can wear two pieces and feel professional. I’m especially proud of not limiting this top to black bottoms. That would have been a shame. This top wants to come out and play often.
Good news: There will be no testing on this styling lesson, but you know I want to hear from you about your two-piece dressing. What do you look for in top styles? Are you a confident two-piece dresser?
P.S. I’m compensated by Artful Home for writing this blog post. All thoughts and words that go into the blog are my own, but you knew that already! Thanks, Artful Home!