A stylist on TikTok (@allisonbornstein6) has practically solved this dilemma in a process she calls the 3 Word Method. She has a series of TikTok videos and Instagram posts detailing how the method works and how she applies it to her own style, which has gained her wide popularity on social media. Her words, in case you are wondering, are classic, ‘70s, and elegant.
Allison Bornstein explains that one way to figure out your personal style is to apply the method to some of your favorite fashion icons, or women whose style you personally admire. If you love casual, feminine style, then those might be 2 of your 3 words in the 3 Word Method! Or if you love a bold and sporty look, your personal style might be more colorful and active.
Bornstein also reminds us that your 3 words don’t have to stay the same! Your style might be fluid, and that’s okay. The 3 Word Method aims to help you define your style. Here’s how it works.
What Is the 3 Word Method?
The 3 Word Method is a simple and easy way to help you define your style, using three words to describe the clothes you love and the outfits you put together. There may be a difference between the clothes you wear and the clothes you want to wear, and this method can help you figure out a happy medium between the two. Notice which words overlap as you evaluate both styles.
I’ll use a commonly known style aesthetic as an example. The coastal grandmother style has been very popular over the last year, and the three words for this style are classic, comfortable, and chic. Classic pieces, like trousers, sweaters, and striped patterns, combined with comfortable, breathable materials, and chic outfit combinations, are the basic components of the coastal grandmother aesthetic.
Here’s another example of the 3 Word Method. The French Girl style (which we totally love) is effortless and chic. The three words that could be applied to the French Girl style are elegant, effortless, and minimalist. French fashion is elegantly put together, without being overly trendy or flashy. The effortless attitude of the French applies to both beauty and fashion, where looks are coordinated but not overdone. The word minimalist applies to the range of colors, patterns, and fabrics that are characteristic of the style, which is limited and soft.
Or take the effortless, cool-girl style, otherwise known as the LA girl. Edgy, authentic, and modern are three words that can be applied to this style aesthetic. Sneakers, an emphasis on athleisure, and the perfect combination of casual and statement pieces. Streetwear at its finest! If you admire the cool-girl aesthetic, then one of those three words might apply to your own style.
How Does the 3 Word Method Help Determine My Style?
The 3 Word Method is exciting, and the possibility of defining and refining your personal style is even more exciting. But there is a difference between choosing three words you like and applying them practically to your closet. When you’ve decided what your three words are, you can apply them to the outfits you put together and the general vibe of your style.
If you find that words like colorful or bold define the style you want to have, then you should be using those words as a test for every piece of clothing you buy or keep from your current wardrobe. Do these pieces meet at least one of your words? Or do they help create an outfit that can be explained by at least one of your words?
Sometimes it takes a few different pieces to create an outfit that has a ‘70s vibe, as Bornstein demonstrates, or to add elegance to a basic outfit. The goal is to create outfits you love and feel great in, and the 3 Word Method should help you accomplish that goal.
How Do I Know My 3 Words?
The first step of applying the 3 Word Method to your personal style is to evaluate your current closet. Take everything out of the closet, out of the drawers, off the shoe rack, and place it all in the center of the room. This exercise is the perfect opportunity to evaluate your current wardrobe and determine which pieces are representative of your personal style, even before you decide what it is. Separate your clothes into two piles — items you are keeping and items you are not.
Next, group your keep pile into different sections. Analyze what colors make up the bulk of your wardrobe, and whether you tend to have more patterns or solid colors. Do you wear a lot of loungewear? Own mostly office appropriate clothing? Do you have more dresses and skirts than anything else? These patterns and categories will help you determine what your three words are!
Your three words can truly be anything that describes the looks you like. Trendy, effortless, bold, comfortable, classic, feminine, sensual, elegant, edgy — the list could go on forever. You could also follow Bornstein’s idea to include decades (‘70s, ‘90s, etc.) as a way of explaining style or even include colors that you love. If 80% of your wardrobe is blue, you might want to use that as one of your words!
After applying the 3 Word Method to my own style, I landed on comfortable, neutral, and elevated. I chose these three words because comfort is essential for college students like myself, I love neutral colors over brights or patterns, and my current goal is to elevate basics for every occasion. My three words are a mix between my current style and the style I want to have, proving to be the perfect method for shopping and building a wardrobe I love. Are these the only three words that describe my style? No. But applying Bornstein’s method allowed me to evaluate my closet and refine my personal style in a new way.
Defining your personal style can feel like a daunting task, but all you need is three words to get started!
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