Flickr for Clothes, y'all! Good idea?
May 12, 2007 11:36 PM   Subscribe

Wardrobe software. Has nobody done this? Wouldn't a social webapp for clothing be fiercely awesome?

I'm not the target user really (I assume a hypothetical userbase would skew heavily towards the other gender) but even to the extent that I see it being personally useful, it does seem awesome.

Think something like: being able to list everything, add pictures, define combinations, take pictures of yourself in those combinations, get people to suggest combinations for you, etc. Basically a heavy emphasis on organization and communication instead of just spreadsheet-style itemization.

I know that 'social shopping' is an exploding niche and that people have done this with eg. perfumes (basenotes), but I'm concerned that this may be a solution looking for a problem.

Whatcha think?
posted by Firas to Computers & Internet (20 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: GushyFilter :( I hope the tone of the question doesn't make it a deletion candidate, I actually have a serious question in there. To wit: to what extent can software help with dressing? Do people interact with clothes in far too organic ways to use tools that abstract the behaviour?
posted by Firas at 11:42 PM on May 12, 2007

Here's something kinda what you're looking for: Style Diary.
posted by pfafflin at 11:52 PM on May 12, 2007

Response by poster: Yeah, that looks cool. I'm sorta more interested in making such a thing than just using it, so at this point I'm seeking any input (mostly anecdotal) as to whether it'd be useful/used.
posted by Firas at 12:13 AM on May 13, 2007

A guy here. I wouldn't use it - the amount of work needed to photograph and catelogue everything is far far higher than the payoff.
Possible suggestion - use a flash-based "paper doll" system, so users can instead pick a style of jeans that they own, indicate the colour, and add it to their inventory. Then the item graphics are already alpha-masked and formatted to be placed on the doll for combos and stuff. It's quicker for the user, and looks a lot better than uploaded cell-phone pics. The doll proportionals would need to be customisable obviously.

There would need to be tools for users to be able to create their own paper-doll accessories, which could then be added to the library of items availible to people.

Even better would be one of the imitation-real-life avatar creation systems, like in URU or 2nd Life.

At this point, I would play with it as a toy, and use it not to arrange my existing wardrobe, but to explore what I might look like with items of clothing I don't currently own, and see if I can find things I'd never thought of, but like. This is where you put a little "buy this item" link beside each clothing item, which is just a pass-through to an item in the right size and colour at an online store that gives payment for referrals that result in a purchase. Now the site has a no-effort-on-your-part means of constantly generating cashflow.

Personally, I wouldn't buy stuff through the links, I'd just browse and likely buy at some other time or some other place, but I imagine some users would buy things they liked.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:50 AM on May 13, 2007

Mmm, as a girl with too many clothes who isn't very daring about combining them, I like this idea a lot. I've definitely been in a position where I've been so deadlocked in a "this scarf or that string of beads" decision that I've snapped some pictures of myself to send to a friend with better taste. This could perhaps streamline that process.
posted by crinklebat at 12:59 AM on May 13, 2007

Response by poster: That's an excellent idea, harlequin, that a core asset would be the centralized information on clothing lines ("I have Levi's Model xxx, just add a generic image of it.")

Virtualization/flash is not in the cards right now.

I sorta want it to be useful even if you only enter 3-4 things to start with (and definitely want it to be interesting even if you're not logged in or have nothing defined yourself...) Damn, looks like I need to do a lot more thinking before I do any coding.
posted by Firas at 1:05 AM on May 13, 2007

Shoutfit is another site along these lines, and totally worth checking out. I do think there's a lot of room for someone to do it better, though (and what you're describing sounds different from what they do in some notable ways).

I'd totally be interested in something like this. And I'm a boy without much of a sense of style.
posted by moss at 1:07 AM on May 13, 2007

Ok, random thoughts here: what if you called it something like "Capsule Collection" and focused it on the idea of capsule dressing? The notion of a capsule is that you start with one neutral and a few pieces in coordinating accent colors so you have 5-6 things that can be mixed and matched. Eg, right now my wardrobe includes a fall colors capsule - brown pants, mostly-brown skirt, brown jacket, several shirts in bright fall colors, several necklaces in jewel tones.

It sounds like the people actually interested in using it are those who identify as style-challenged, who want a way of developing a sense of style. And I know a lot of people feel overwhelmed by their wardrobe and this would offer a convenient way of organizing it and building their own sense of style. People could use your site to get their closets under control, one small manageable step at a time.

Also, it could be done in bite-sized increments. If you only have to catalog a handful of items at once, you are more likely to do it. And enough people have camera phones now that it wouldn't be too onerous to snap the pictures.

Finally I think a lot of people are interested in simplifying their life and most people's closets are a rats nest. So the value of your site might be providing structure and motivation and tips, as well as being a place to store photos and get ideas. Not only could you put up your capsules, but view other's capsules to get ideas.

Fashion and organization are two things that make me happyhappyhappy, and I spend way too much time thinking about - email's in profile, drop me a line if you want more poorly-organized thoughts.
posted by selfmedicating at 4:28 AM on May 13, 2007

It's funny you titled this "Flickr for Clothes" since there's a community on Flickr called "Wardrobe Remix" which might give you lots of ideas.
posted by macadamiaranch at 5:42 AM on May 13, 2007

On the paper doll idea, my daughter loves stardoll which skews toward fantasy, but might help generate some ideas.

I agree with -harlequin- on the amount of work needed to get my virtual closet set up for the purose of finding wardrobe combinations. What might encourage me to take the setup time would be if the site allowed me to plan my wardrobe for upcoming days or weeks, and if it sent reminders about dry cleaning and laundry.

For example, let's say I have a meeting coming up next week and I'd like to wear a certain outfit. When I enter that into the wardrobe planner, it'll run a series of checks:

- verify I haven't already planned to wear any pieces of the outfit the day before or the day after. If I have, then tell me I'm on the brink of wearing the same piece two days in a row.

- check if my outfit requires dry cleaning. If any pieces of the outfit do, then set reminders to drop off and pick up pieces.

- set reminders to launder pieces if they're not already washed.

- suggest alternate outfits if all the pieces of my first choice aren't ready to wear and I'm too lazy to wash them or to late to run them to the dry cleaners.
posted by hoppytoad at 7:42 AM on May 13, 2007

I swear some guy did this -- made a website with all his clothes, then promised that every day, he'd wear whatever got the most votes. However, this is the internet, and last I heard everyone was trying to make him wear the same horrible set every day until he got fired. I'm trying to find or remember the guy's site, but no luck yet.
posted by booksandlibretti at 8:59 AM on May 13, 2007

I had this idea a while ago. No enthusiasm in implementing it at that point, but I just graduated, so if you want a girly-girl who put far more thought than here listed to work with, I'd love to chat. Email in profile.

I think this idea is wonderful; but then again, I like clothes, and computers. And been thinking about this for about 3-4 years now. Several points:

1. As mentioned, amount of input required by user will be a turn off for most users, and is the biggest hurdle. Capsule idea is good. I think pictures can be very simple, and most clothes are a combination of several things. For example, for sleeves you have: short t-shirt style, 3/4, long, cut off, kimono short, kimono long, poncho sleeves. For neck: boat neck, crew neck, v-neck, one side cut out (left or right), halter top, tube top, spaghetti strap. Back: keyhole, backless, full back. Length: midriff, tummy, hips, thigh. Color and pattern. Fabric. There is a limited number of combinations that would cover 90% of all possible clothes out there. Same thing goes for pants, skirts, shoes, and accessories (to a point - but I have an idea about this too).

2. A list of possible clothes to select from would be a most efficient way (that I can see) to get the user to input a large percentage of their wardrobe. Perhaps an estimation of "for a 50 piece wardrobe this will take you 5 minutes to input".

3. My super-awesome idea is this. Get the user's weather automatically, by location. Depending on the weather, offer combinations. For example, a sweater might count as +10, a tshirt as +2, a tank top as +1, underwear as 0, a long sleeve shirt as +5, a jacket as +15. If the weather is -20C you'd ideally like to be at some X. If the weather is +20C you'd like to be at some other, but close to X, Y. Thus, get weather, figure out the X, offer all possible combinations to offer comfort.

4. Color combinations: several options on how "flexible" the user feels. Crazy? Combine everything. Neutral? Combine those whose hex codes are different by a certain mathematical amount. Fashiony? Twice a year get "popular colors" from the runways, and offer combinations that have these colors.

5. Offer things like: "If you bought a black t-shirt, your possible outfits for +15C weather will be twice as large as it is now". This should be possible to calculated based on (a) weather-algorithm I tried to explain above, and (b) Initial input by the creators of "basics" that expand options. (Again, this is where I might be able to offer advice).

6. Financially, this could be very awesome for the currently exploding fashion blog scene. Clothes are expensive; and while designers wouldn't likely need this sort of promotion, there are a lot of small-time designers who would likely want to participate in such a project.

7. Communication wise, see all the above blogs. Suzie bubble and Agathe (website down at the moment, but I imagine will come back soon) are two people who post what they wear (and ask for opinion) extensively. Both have a large readership, from what I gather. A community that would allow people to exchange outfits would have to be based around photographs; and that requires more work than the average user is willing to put in. I'd imagine something more along the lines of local-weather-and-sales based community could function well.

Good luck, and let me know if you do anything with this information.

Caveat: I am not a fashionista. I am a regular girl who really enjoys following fashion and finding logical patterns in it. I like pretty things, and I like efficient things. Sorry for the long answer!
posted by olya at 12:40 PM on May 13, 2007

I believe an app like this was a finalist in the MyDreamApp competition, but I don't quite remember the details.
posted by crayolarabbit at 3:30 PM on May 13, 2007

For inspiration, you might want to watch the beginning of the movie Clueless. Cher has a computer program with her closet inventoried that suggests an outfit for the day, pretty high-tech for 1995!
posted by wsquared at 3:45 PM on May 13, 2007

Being a dude, and little too practical to grasp the fashion angle of this thread, I do remember a simple app that would take the weather forecast and then display an avatar with the suggested combination of attire for the day. This kinda reminded me of that...I could find that page useful again because I've been failing miserably at making those decisions on my own early in the morning..hah. (aside from the Delaware area having sporadic climate changes)
posted by samsara at 5:56 PM on May 13, 2007

Samsara: From your description, sounds like it could be this
posted by olya at 6:58 PM on May 13, 2007

Your idea kinda sounds like Polyvore. People grab pics of items from shopping/fashion sites, then mix and match them to make an outfit.
posted by quoththeraven at 11:18 PM on May 13, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks all! I've put a URL in my profile where you can sign up as interested (my reading of the guidelines suggests this is ok…)

I have a bit of a mental gag reaction when it comes to some of this stuff [girlzone!] but I think I can pull it off—unless the site has to be pink :)

On the subject of guy-friendliness though, the idea of the average user being someone who isn't too sure of their style rather than an alpha vixen is a good one. I actually like that. This way, instead of just being another way to deal with a part of your life, it can improve your life.

I'm extraordinarily wary of autosuggestion type stuff—seems like an artificial-intelligence rabbithole; you'd work on it for ages and it still wouldn't function very well—but I bet there are ways to combine human intelligence (X matches with Y, A is in category B) with probability formulas to kinda come up with something like that.

crinklebat: exactly! quick explanation of how such a thing helps: lets friends give better suggestions.
moss: shoutfit looks excellent. Yeah, it actually comes close to my personal vision... think shoutfit + more momentum + more sense of community
selfmedicating: yeah, this can actually be a way to help people get rid of some clothes!
macadamiaranch: yeah, a lot of people are into this 'strutting my style' thing aren't they...
hoppytoad: yes, exactly! If you want to get all obessive and track what you've worn when, plan for the future, set laundry reminders etc., that'd be like an alpha/prize user
booksandlibretti: that'd be
olya: You rock!! I like the relationship of the software becoming more helpful the more info you give it (colour, weather suitability, etc.) Thanks for all the input and the links to fashion blogs. I'm not into the ones that are gawking industry-insidery but the sartorialist looks great.
crayolarabbit: looks like it's Windy Chen's entry (iStyleIt).
wsquared: I'll keep an eye out, but you know how it is with hollywood technology…
samsara: yeah, I've had that problem too... walking into an unusually warm day with a jacket... sucks.
quoththeraven: yeah, Polyvore seems to have the virtualization angle down pat. It's not something I have any skill at implementing, but it's an interesting possibility for the 'create combinations' interface.
posted by Firas at 12:33 AM on May 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

Olya, that's great! Very similar to the site I saw before...honestly I think its an untapped goldmine if they made it use feeds (and had a male avatar...less of the cutesy look, more of the "wow your hopeless, you have no idea how to dress yourself so here try this" variety). Toss in a lot of the ideas above and you have something that is practical, functional, as well as stylish.
posted by samsara at 10:49 AM on May 16, 2007

I love how Polyvore lets you put things together to create your own outfit. I don't think their interface is the best though... I would rather have the wishlist feature like Kaboodle instead of "drafts" like Polyvore.

Not to give you too many features to think about, but I'd love to see a poll feature so people can ask "should I get this dress or this dress?" and maybe a price monitoring service like

When you get something started, add it to Projects and mefi mail me. :)
posted by IndigoRain at 2:04 PM on May 10, 2008

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