Each day it seems there’s a new trending aesthetic, prompting yet another fashion identity crisis. Am I balletcore (think tulle skirts and wrap cardigans) or indiesleaze (neon tights, dark eye make-up, oversized hoodies)? Is my look more clean and minimal or is it soft grunge? And what the hell is clown-core? One might find themselves screaming “Who am I?” into a wardrobe of impulse purchases and boring basics.
Thankfully, there are style experts bucking this trend by offering practical advice on TikTok about how to find your personal style. New-York based stylist Allison Bornstein is one of them. She went viral on TikTok with her “three word method”, an elegant and simple strategy designed to help you define your style. Essentially, the process involves analysing the clothes you wear most and finding words to describe them. Adjectives can also be aspirational, like a “North star” to describe your dream look. The words needn’t be coherent either. In fact, they should be dissimilar, she says, because “that’s what makes an interesting style.”
We can see this concept at work by looking at celebrity examples. Fashion influencer Alexa Chung is “preppy, whimsical, edgy,” according to Bornstein. In the below image, her white ruffled dress is whimsical, her sock and heel combo preppy and her chunky chain choker adds the edge. Actor Tracee Ellis Ross is “bold, colourful, and exaggerated.” Princess Diana was “sporty, demure, and opulent.”
Dissecting the style adjectives of celebrities can also help you find your own personal style, says Bornstein. If you like the sporty element of Princess Diana’s style, the boldness of Tracee’s and the edginess of Alexa’s, put those all together.
Defining your personal style will help you shop with more purpose and reduce wasteful purchases and buyer’s regret – plus save you money in the process.
Amy Smilovic, founder of New York-based label Tibi, started using TikTok a mere five weeks ago. Drawing from more than two decades’ worth of design and styling expertise, her TikToks give tips on layering and ask questions like “what is good style?”
Smilovic is a fan of the three word method (hers are chill, modern and classic) but says the choice of adjectives can tend to be one-dimensional, describing the clothes rather than the person.
“People use words like ‘oversized’, but what does that actually mean? If you interrogate that a little more you might find it means someone has a relaxed outlook.”