"In 2009 and 2010, brands made apps just to make apps," says Macala Wright Lee, a digital media consultant who has worked with the likes of Cynthia Rowley and Teen Vogue. "This year, more people are creating apps that actually have relevancy and need for use."
So while pretty look books and spot-the-shorter-pant-leg games may be amusing, 2011 is the year of fashion apps that are really helpful. We scoped out six iPhone apps that make it easy to be stylish.
Glamour Ask a Stylist
The deal: This app is Glamour magazine's attempt to answer the age-old question "How do I look?" Simply snap a photo of an outfit or specific piece of clothing that's causing you worry, type your question ("Are these boots too wild for a first date with an auditor?") and voila — in a matter of minutes, the Glamour stylist of your choosing will send you an opinion at any time of the day or night.
Why we want it on our phone: Because we don't have $120 to pay an in-person stylist for an hour of her time.
The deal: Scan a product's barcode at a store and get a list of websites and local shops where said product carries a lower price tag. As a bonus, they'll hook you up with coupons and deals based on your shopping habits. Barcode scanning technology still has a ways to go in the apparel industry, but this works like a charm for beauty products and some accessories.
Why we want it on our phone: Because the $2 we saved on a bottle of Kiehl's perfume is enough for a small iced Americano at Starbucks.
The deal: Feel like exploring the mall but have no idea where to start? Enter Pose, a social shopping app that lets you browse photos of merchandise that other users have found in stores. Just take a picture of an item and type in the price before sharing it with the entire Pose community or just your friends. Users can weigh in on whether they like your find, and you can browse pictures, prices and store info for items found by shoppers in 55 different countries. Retailers, including the about-to-shutter Metropark, have already started using an interface that lets them customize the Pose framework to do things such as announce contests or transmit photos to in-store display screens. And on June 1, the company plans to introduce Pose 2.0, although it is mum on details about what features will be added.
Why we want it on our phone: In a time when Facebook stalking is a sport, it's fun — and surprisingly helpful — to find retail inspiration through strangers' shopping bags.
The deal: This wardrobe organizer lets you keep track of pieces in your closet, make inspiration boards using photos of your own clothes and keep a visual calendar showing exactly when you wore what. Sure, it's a bit time consuming to photograph and catalog all of your gear. But the ability to banish repeat outfit offenses is worth every second.
Why we want it on our phone: Who hasn't wanted their own version of Cher Horowitz's virtual closet from the time "Clueless" came out in 1995?
The deal: This product from Google Labs, which finally became available for the iPhone in October, is a visual search engine that lets you take a photo of pretty much any object and gives you results based on the image. It isn't solely designed for fashion. But imagine snapping a picture of a vintage clothing label and getting info on the designer. Or sending Google a picture of a pair of shoes and receiving information on where to buy them. You can even offer a visual snippet of text from a French clothing catalog and receive the English translation.
Why we want it on our phone: A picture is worth a thousand words indeed — especially when you're on the go, can't be bothered to type and aren't quite sure what you should be searching for to begin with.
EBay Fashion App
The deal: OK, so it isn't new per se, having launched last June. But the Internet auction king's mobile style software is a surprisingly easy way to shop for vintage goods in a very specific way. Browse by era or style, or even click on a photo of a current runway trend to find similar listings. There are other nifty features that allow you to upload your photo and "try on" sunglass styles, or to model pieces of clothing virtually on an avatar. But we're more interested in the ability to find a 1940s black satin slip in our under-$5 price range with the swipe of an index finger.
Why we want it on our phone: Because few things in life are as fun as scrounging through racks of dirty used clothes in hopes of unearthing a gem. Unless you can do it virtually, sans mothball aroma, while waiting in an airport security line, that is.