Thursday, July 8, 2010

You Made Me Wear This

IT’S been hot lately, which makes getting dressed in the morning a little harder. I want something cool enough for the five-block walk to the subway, but warm enough for an air-conditioned day at the office.

Sometimes it takes a couple of outfit changes, but the other day, I was torn. I wanted to wear a pair of long navy blue Elizabeth and James shorts, with a light purple silk blouse and very high, blush-colored snakeskin heels. But I was afraid that the silk blouse, which I usually wear with skinny jeans, would not be flattering with the loose blue shorts.

My husband was of little help. And I wasn’t about to call my girlfriends for advice. So I pulled out my iPhone, snapped a photo of myself in the outfit and uploaded it to a Web site called Fashism. “Is this look too boxy for me?” I wrote. “I love these shorts but not sure how it all looks on my body.” About five minutes later, the first comment landed. “It’s a tad form-less,” thestalwart wrote.

Another commenter, MLG, agreed: “Just a little bit too much going on for my taste.”

The crowd-source had spoken. I went back into my closet, slipped on a colorful dropped-waist dress, and headed to work with an extra kick in my flat, silver sandals.

Not long ago, people turned to fashion magazines for advice. Now they are turning to one another. Web sites like Fashism and Go Try It On, both less than a year old, are picking up where fashion blogs have left off, and are making fashion more immediate and personal.

The premise is simple enough: Upload a photo of yourself wearing a particular outfit. Ask a question or share some details about your look. Users then rate your outfit by clicking “I like it” or “I hate it” on Fashism (or “Wear It” or “Change It” on Go Try It On).

Would-be Rachel Zoes can also comment. It’s similar to that Web site Hot or Not, where users rate one another’s sex appeal. But these sites are geared for fashion and, more refreshingly, are largely free of the snark or harsh judgments that plague earlier crowd-sourcing sites.

“It’s for people who want a quick second opinion,” said Marissa Evans, 26, a former Web analyst and strategist in New York, who started Go Try It On. Ms. Evans employs a small team of moderators to ensure civility. “I really wanted to build a site that is helpful, not hurtful,” she said.

In some ways, these sites are similar to other user-generated fashion sites that are riding the crowd-sourcing wave. Sites like FashionStake and Catwalk Genius champion up-and-coming designers, and invite users to window-shop and even finance new talent. Show-and-tell sites like LookBook and I Like My Style allow users to post new looks, as well as critique other postings, much like contestants on “Project Runway.”

To read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/08/fashion/08CROWD.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=a21

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