Since I’ve committed to a “shop-free” three months (remember last week’s post, My Clothes Shopping Diet?), I’ve been paying closer attention to what’s already in my closet, and I’ve realized that I have a variety of some pretty nice things. I’ve also realized that I’m not using many of those items to their maximum advantage.
That realization gave me a little inspiration to really look at what I have and come up with a plan for using those pieces better, especially since I do enjoy figuring out how to mix the different pieces I have in ways that I haven’t tried before. Usually I do this in my head – I start with a top or a pair of pants and then mentally stroll through the pants, skirts, or tops that I could pair with it, and, beyond that, think of what accessories I could add to give the look a little more punch.
I’m writing this as I’m preparing dinner and thinking about how my style of cooking, what I call “short order cooking,” is very similar to how I style my outfits. When figuring out a dinner plan, I look in the fridge, see what’s there, and figure out pretty quickly what I can throw together. I’m realizing that I do the same when I am trying to figure out what to wear: Look in the closet, see what’s there, throw something together.
But what if I had some outfits planned (just like those people – hate them! – who plan a week’s worth of dinners), so that I wasn’t faced each day with figuring out “on the fly” what I was going to wear and how to make that outfit look a little different from what I’d worn the day or week before.
What if I had a “style book,” as if I had my own stylist who created outfits for me, outfits that I could go to at a moment’s notice?
When I was researching last week’s article, I discovered a really great app that is designed just to solve the “what-to-wear” dilemma. It’s also a trick to keep me focused on what I already own and how I can see the various pieces with new eyes. It’s a way to create my personal style book.
And, guess what, it’s called Stylebook!
From the Stylebook app website:
“Stylebook is designed to help you carefully curate your wardrobe so you can look effortlessly chic every day. We want you to get the most out of what you already have in your closet and to choose new pieces that will integrate well into your wardrobe as a whole.
“A little organization can go a long way when it comes to getting dressed. Mixing and matching what you own, comparing new purchases to what you have in your closet, planning the outfits you’ll wear on vacation, and saving all your favorite style inspirations in one place will all help you develop your personal style. This was the basic idea behind the original version of Stylebook, which has now evolved to include over 90 features.”
I’ve been having a lot of fun this past week exploring the app and testing out some of the features. If you want to try it too, here’s a little intro:
The first step is to photograph the clothes in your closet – each piece individually. You add these items to the app’s CLOSET in the appropriate category (e.g., Tops = T-shirts, Blouses, Sweaters, etc.; Bottoms = Jeans, Shorts, Trousers, Skirts, etc.). You have the ability to add or delete categories or rename them, so you can really customize the list.
To photograph your clothes, you need a contrasting background on which to lay/arrange them. A sheet works well for this. I’ve pulled out two sheets – a white one and a medium blue one; I use the white as the background for dark colors and the blue for light colors. Just lay the sheet on the floor and smooth it a bit (it’s better if you toss it in the dryer for a few minutes before using it as your background so the creases are relaxed). Sometimes the background is slightly visible in the photo, so there is a tool in the app that allows you to adjust the background automatically or manually after you have photographed an item.
When getting an item ready to photograph, lay it out so it looks nice. You can nip in the sides for the photo if it looks better. I’ve decided to lay out my pants with the legs lined up one on top of the other, but you can lay them out so both legs are visible. (I found it helpful to Google “flat lay photo” images for inspiration about how to arrange my clothes for the photos. Check out my Pinterest board also as a resource for this.)
Have fun with this part of the project. No need to rush it – then there’s too much pressure to just finish and it’s not fun anymore. Start with the in-season items, since that’s what you’ll be wearing now. Then when you’ve finished photographing the clothing that’s in season, you can add in the other items at your leisure (remember – at your leisure!). These screen shots are a peek at what I’ve done so far.
“Building a well-balanced, versatile wardrobe takes time and thought. It isn’t a sprint – it’s a marathon.” ~ Nina Garcia, Marie Claire magazine
After you have photographed your clothing pieces, the fun really starts! It’s time to create the LOOKS. The app allows you to style outfits by adding pieces from your Stylebook closet – start with a pair of pants, add a top, a pair of boots, that bag you forgot you had, and how about throwing in some fun jewelry that you’ve felt a bit hesitant to wear. Then try creating a different look with those same pants. Or that maxi skirt (you remember those great maxi skirts that I love!).
There are a lot of other features that could prove useful. Here are some:
- You can add details about each item if you’d like (color, brand) so you have the ability to search by certain criteria.
- There’s a calendar feature that that allows the user to record when a certain outfit is worn, then, after some time, you have access to statistics like how many times you’ve worn a particular item and the cost per item based on how often you wear it. Enlightening!
- The Stylebook app can also help when you shop – you have your entire closet right there in your phone.
- You can keep a list of what you need so when you do shop, you are sure to be spending your hard-earned dollars effectively. Or maybe when you see the count of how many items you actually have, you’ll decide you don’t need to add anything at the moment.
- You can create packing lists – maybe that will help me bring less when I travel!
I hope I haven’t made this sound more complicated than it really is. You can download the app here.
The app costs $3.99 (this is the first time I’ve ever paid for an app!), but I think it’s really worth it. There is a website (Stylebookapp.com) that covers all of the features and how to use them as well (Stylebook app demo here).
If you decide to try this app, I hope you have fun with it too! You may find, like I am, that you have more “what-to-wear” options living right in your closet.
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