Actions performed by a virtual character can be controlled with verbal commands such as ‘walk five steps forward’. Similar control of the motion style, meaning how the actions are performed, is complicated by the ambiguity of describing individual motions with phrases such as ‘aggressive walking’. In this paper, we present a method for controlling motion style with relative commands such as ‘do the same, but more sadly’. Based on acted example motions, comparative annotations, and a set of calculated motion features, relative styles can be defined as vectors in the feature space. We present a new method for creating these style vectors by finding out which features are essential for a style to be perceived and eliminating those that show only incidental correlations with the style. We show with a user study that our feature selection procedure is more accurate than earlier methods for creating style vectors, and that the style definitions generalize across different actors and annotators. We also present a tool enabling interactive control of parametric motion synthesis by verbal commands. As the control method is independent from the generation of motion, it can be applied to virtually any parametric synthesis method.