How to Use the Three-Word Method to Simplify Your Wardrobe and Home
With clothing trends evolving faster than ever, you might feel that a minimalist wardrobe is going to look dated very quickly, which could discourage you from creating one. How can you keep things simple yet flexible?
Enter the three-word method to help curate your personal style. If you dress with choices that are your personal favorites, your wardrobe can still evolve over time without having to replace everything every few months (which generally results in the type of closet that contains 150 pieces and "nothing to wear").
I came upon this idea by accident while I was researching something else. I give that disclaimer because it apparently first appeared on TikTok, which is the epitome of trendiness – not my scene at all. Created by New York-based fashion stylist Allison Bornstein, the three-word method went viral on social media earlier this year.
What is the three-word method?
The three-word method is as simple as it sounds. You just choose three adjectives to identify your personal style.
I'll admit that I love the idea of three words because it's minimalist, yet easily personalized. Bornstein uses the method to help her clients choose clothing and put outfits together, and she explains that the three words help you describe the style you currently have as well as the style you want to have.
So one or more of your three words may change over time. Your choices aren't set in stone, and the process is not meant to be intimidating. Bornstein puts it this way: "Don't let the fear of getting it wrong prevent you from accessing this."
How do you choose your three words?
The first step is assessment. Open your closet and pull out your most-often-worn, go-to pieces. Hopefully, if you've gone through at least one round of decluttering, this is a decent percentage of what you own.
Ask yourself, "What makes these pieces my favorites?" Usually we focus on color, cut, neckline, sleeve length, fabric, or other details of style. In this case, you want to determine a more metaphorical attribute that draws you to the garment.
Perhaps your favorite trousers are:
- or fitted
Maybe your favorite blouse is:
- or sexy
Your favorite jacket might be:
- or classic
Next, you'll want to narrow your choice of words to three – and this might take some time. I started with classic and comfortable, and then stalled on my third choice. I wear quite a bit of black and dark wash denim, but I also like jewel tones. So was my third word "colorful"? I don't wear tight clothes, but I really don't care for baggy styles, so was my third word "fitted" or "tailored"?
Bornstein suggests that the first two words should describe your current style, while the third word could nudge your style in a direction you'd like to go. You might realize that most of your closet is tailored and neutral, but decide you'd like to incorporate more feminine looks as well. Or maybe you see that your clothes tend to be preppy and fitted, but you'd like to add some vintage vibe. You could look for a couple of pieces in thrift stores and charity shops (perhaps start with jewelry or a handbag).
Maybe you'll discover that you don't have a personal style – your pieces are unrelated and your look is undefined. That could explain why you've had such a cluttered wardrobe in the past. Now's your chance to set some perimeters and goals which will help you choose with more wisdom and care going forward.
Bornstein says the three words create your fashion "north star." If you're trying to change from trend-driven to classic or maximal to minimal, the three words may prevent a lot of fashion failures from landing in your closet.
Getting out of the closet
If you use the three-word method to describe your home decorating style, you may have a new tool to help declutter unwanted furniture or décor. You could realize that heavy drapes and multiple trinkets are no longer what you want to live with, or that you really love your comfortable overstuffed sofa. You might decide to thin out your jungle of house plants, or to accept the vintage Oriental rug your mom is discarding as she downsizes.
The three-word method can help define your personal style in a way that's simple, clear, yet flexible. Give it a try.
Coming Thursday: Think-Back-On-It Thursday #8 – Decluttering Inspiration
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The 3rd edition of The Minimalist Wardrobe (packed with 7 additional chapters and 40 pages of new content) can be your guide to a simpler wardrobe that passes the "feel good test" and lets you wear your favorite things every day.