Whether it’s transforming our T-shirt bras into backless ones, turning two bikini bottoms into one chic top or using hair ties to temporarily hem our trousers, we love a good fashion hack. Especially if it comes with a fun name, like our latest styling obsession, “sandwich dressing.” No, this isn’t a reference to mayonnaise, but instead a suggestion to think about building outfits in much the same way you think about building a sandwich.
Sandwich Dressing Is Our New Favorite Viral Styling Trick (& It's So Easy)
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“If you think about a sandwich, it has the bread at the top, the bread at the bottom and something different in the middle,” Tomlinson explains in her first post. “This in turn creates a balanced effect. And, the same rules can be applied to your outfits.” Basically, her Sandwich Rule of Dressing entails balancing one piece on your bottom half with another on your top half and including something contrary in the middle.
As Tomlinson demonstrates, this can be achieved with color, fabric weight or proportions. In her first example, she shows how chunky black boots worn with cream-colored jeans and a white sweater can look heavy on bottom. But with the simple addition of a black scarf or belt the outfit becomes much better balanced. “The key is to bring some of the color on your shoes through to the top of your outfit to create that balance. Another way to do this is through coats and jackets.”
Similarly, oversize tops in heavier materials, like Tomlinson’s plaid blazer, don’t mix well with slim-fitting jeans and dainty ballet flats. Instead, she suggests pairing them with a more substantial shoe, like a tall boot or exaggerated lug sole. In this instance, the bread is the blazer and boots, and the sandwich filling is the skinny jeans.
Lastly, Tomlinson talks about how to apply the Sandwich Rule when styling voluminous pieces. Sporting a sweater with padded shoulders, a black waist belt and black skinny jeans, she explains, “Skinny jeans make the [sweater] feel top heavy and detract from the flattering shape at the waist that we’ve created with the belt. In order to emphasis the shape at the waistline and balance out the padded shoulders, a slightly wider leg looks more flattering.” She goes into more detail on this in her second video, which specifically addresses the Sandwich Rule using proportions.
So, what does this look like IRL? Here are four examples from some of our favorite street style stars.
1. Bread: Camel-Colored Sweater and Cowboy Boots
Filling: Breezy Blouse and White Jeans
Shanna Battle’s outfit here demonstrates the Sandwich Rule in two different ways: first with color, then with materials. Adding the darker sweater draped over her shoulders is key to balancing out her rugged cowboy boots and avoiding looking bottom heavy. Plus, the heavier knit and leather footwear also double as the “bread” balancing a lightweight blouse.
2. Bread: Sheer Blouse and Minimalist Sandals
Filling: Loose Denim
Denim, even in lighter washes, can feel inherently heavy. But Liz Teich’s lightweight top and barely-there sandals make beautiful bookends for her wide-leg jeans, giving thick denim a more summery vibe.
3. Bread: Puff-Sleeve Blouse and Wide-Leg Trousers
Filling: Waist Belt
Ijeoma Kola demonstrates how to use the Sandwich Rule for proportions perfectly in this outfit, which balances a voluminous top and wide-leg pant with a cinched waist emphasized with a belt. Even better, the belt is black, while the top and bottom are both light colors, to further promote the illusion of an itty-bitty waist.
4. Bread: Beige Handbag and Beige Sandals
Filling: Rainbow-Hued Dress
Here’s a slightly different take on the color application. Grace Atwood’s brightly colored mini deserves a turn in the spotlight, which is why coordinating neutral-hued accessories are the best option. Equally bright sandals or a patterned handbag may feel fun but make it hard for the eye to find a focus and can wind up looking far too busy.