In the fall of 1998, a new television
series aired about three pretty sisters in their mid-twenties
who lived in a mansion in San Francisco. Aside from their
obvious good looks, cutting-edge fashion sense and the whole
living-in-a-mansion thing, the Halliwell sisters seemed otherwise
quite ordinary. I mean, they had trouble finding and keeping
jobs and boyfriends. Who can’t relate to that? In fact,
they were anything but ordinary; in fact, they were the Charmed
Ones, good witches who fought and vanquished evil every episode.
Each sister had special powers, but it was together that they
and “The Power of ‘3’ ” were unbeatable.
By the following year, every teen-aged girl I knew had fallen
under the spell of the Charmed Ones and The Power of “3.”
The Halliwell sisters’ ability to triumph over evil
is just an updated version of the mystical power of the number
“3,” the modern incarnation of an all powerful
holy trinity in designer duds who comes to the aid of man
in his eternal struggle to keep the bad within him and around
him at bay.
But it may surprise you to know just how magical and powerful
the number “3” is in the decidedly non-mystical
world of our daily lives.
For example, take the three-sided geometric shape we know
as the triangle. From the great pyramids of Egypt to the most
celebrated works of art, it is the humble triangle which turns
flat, two-dimensional objects into three-dimensional forms,
giving them shape, mass and movement.
When it comes to the written word, where would we be without
that time-honored literary device, the love triangle, which
adds depth, complexity and conflict to any love story.
And certainly all of French cinema would collapse without
France’s sophisticated version of the love triangle,
the ménage à trois, in which hubby
decides to go on vacation with wife and mistress and three
kids in tow, and they spend endless hours sitting around the
kitchen table drinking wine, smoking fat little cigarettes
and being utterly blasé about the whole thing. It’s
pretty hard to get more sophisticated than that!
Aside from the books we read and the movies we see, the number
“3” works its magic in our every day lives through
color – in the world around us, in our homes, and in
what we wear. Your grandmother may have called it bottle green
and your mother may call it hunter green, but that deep shade
of green, a secondary hue, is the offspring of the union of
two primary colors: blue and yellow. Indeed every hue, whether
secondary or tertiary, tinted, toasted, washed or neutral,
can trace its parentage back to the “3” primary
colors: red, blue and yellow.
Like the Charmed Ones, interior decorators and fashion consultants
regularly use the magic of color and texture to vanquish the
blahs and to breathe new life into tired living rooms and
boring wardrobes by calling upon the Power of ”3”.
So, if your wardrobe has the blahs here are some easy ways
to get the Power of “3” to work its magic for
Polychromatic color schemes contain a minimum of “3”
colors and are found in prints, plaids and tweeds. If you
opt for a polychromatic print in a skirt or a blouse, look
for one where the dominant or background color is a warm hue,
such as a deep terra cotta or apricot. The eye needs a pleasing
focal point upon which to rest when confronted with an array
of colors. While a polychromatic dress is usually a bit much,
a polychromatic scarf can be a beautiful accent to a neutral
Polychromatic color schemes are used to great effect in the
theater where your aim is to dazzle the eye for a brief period
of time. Over time, however, the riot of colors has a fatiguing
effect on the eye and if you are giving a speech or presentation
or even talking to colleagues at work, you will find that
your listeners will start to look away and their attention
to wander. So, although it may be a great way to attract attention,
it’s not a great way to hold it.
Monochromatic is the opposite of polychromatic. Here you are
putting together an entire outfit using one color. By using
a vertical column of color, you are creating a longer, leaner
silhouette, something I recommend to all my clients who want
to look a little taller and a little thinner, and who wouldn’t
want to look taller and thinner??? Sound a little boring?
Let’s take that brown wool suit you bought a few seasons
back when brown had been declared “the new black.”
Remember that? You usually wear a solid beige or beige print
blouse with it and maybe a gold necklace and earrings. No
muss, no fuss, just fine for the office. In fact, it’s
fine as far as it goes, but we can do better!
Take that brown wool skirt and pair it with a silk blouse
in a deep metallic bronze (metallics are everywhere right
now), top it with a chocolate brown leather jacket and add
a chunky beaded necklace in shades of brown and dark pewter,
and it is no longer just a boring brown suit. You’re
still monochromatic, but you have now added “3”
levels of texture to make the outfit pop: silk, leather and
Just a word about leather jackets, Ladies. Leather jackets
have come a long way since “the Fonz” jumped the
shark in his black motorcycle jacket on “Happy Days.”
Today’s cropped, fitted leather jackets are supple,
soft as a whisper and have some stretch to them. They come
in a range of colors from pretty-in-pink to brown bomber and
are so light weight that they can be worn into late Spring;
and on cool summer nights, a leather jacket in pale peach
over a flowered cotton skirt is absolutely adorable.
1 + 1 + 1 = The Power of “3”
Now we come to my personal favorite, because of the flexibility
and freedom it gives you to put colors together and make them
work for you while creating your own signature style. The
easiest and most foolproof way of doing this is to start with
an anchor piece, which contains all of the colors you want
to use and from which you will pull the “3” colors
you need to put your outfit together.
Let’s say our anchor piece is a simple white cotton
blouse with small pinstripes of light taupe, powder blue and
pale rose. Ready? Here we go!
Tuck that blouse into a pair of light or medium taupe pants,
drape a sky blue sweater over your shoulders and give the
whole outfit some POP with a red leather belt and you are
ready for casual Friday at the office.
Add a pair of light wash jeans, top it with a rose beige blazer
and POP the outfit with a peony pink scarf -- perfect for
antiquing in the country.
Now pair that blouse with a khaki skirt, add a navy blue blazer
and POP the outfit with a beaded handbag in bright cranberry
and off you go to meet friends for lunch.
Get the idea? A discreet dash of a third color in the form
of accessories (jewelry, handbags, belts, shoes, scarves,
etc.) adds visual interest and polish to any outfit. If you
stay within a particular color palette (warm or cool), you
can’t go wrong.
So, the next time you put an outfit together, think about
the Power of “3” and add that little pop of color.
You never know where that extra dash of je ne sais quoi
can take you! Although, if you should find yourself sitting
around a kitchen table with your husband and his mistress
drinking wine and smoking short fat little cigarettes, I would
suggest you be very blasé about the whole thing and
discreetly drop your fat little cigarette into her glass of
Beaujolais when no one is looking. Now that’s
a dash of je ne sais quoi!!