02 July 2014

Stylebook app review

So: yes, I am still traveling. More on the details of where tomorrow, but for today, let’s talk about how much I’m thinking about packing my suitcase. Perhaps you saw this photo on Instagram from last week as I packed up for a conference?

Given that I have written about packing tips several times here, you probably wouldn’t be surprised to see a suitcase filled with clothes in the same color palette.... and given that I’m ALL NEUTRALS ALL THE TIME with our house, it’s probably not surprising to see all that black, white, and gray. What can I say? When you hate checking a bag as much as I do, you become very particular about packing a suitcase.

I was equally obsessed with the perfect packing list when I went to Switzerland last month, and I showed you my outfits using a super fancypants app:

Did you wonder how I managed to make my outfits look so magazine-worthy (and by that I mean the images themselves, not the clothes within)? It’s all thanks to the Stylebook app. After the app made my list of favorite things in February, a rep from Stylebook contacted me asking if she could link to my blog to advertise what their customers are saying. I said sure, but that I wanted to write a longer post later about the mechanics of actually using Stylebook. Finally, this is that post! But to be clear: she absolutely did not ask me to write it, and this is NOT a sponsored post. (Maybe it would be if I were more enterprising, but this blog is not about the dolla bills, y’all. No sponsors = no limitations in what I can or can’t say!)

So. Stylebook! As I said in February, it’s perfect for those of us who love organizing things visually, and well worth the three bucks I paid for it in the App Store. It claims you can save money by cataloging your closet so when you’re out and about, you won’t buy something similar to what you already own, nor will you buy something that doesn’t coordinate with what you have (and will therefore be worn less). I don’t think that’s the case for me, but I’ll spend more than three bucks on a cup of coffee that I also don’t really need, and I’ve gotten more enjoyment from this app than that coffee.

Stylebook lets me organize my clothes in such a way that I can truly feel like I’m “shopping my closet”. It looks like the catalog websites you see when you’re online shopping, you know?

Plus having my clothes presented in that way makes me feel like they’re newer/fancier than they are, so I like my clothes more and I’m less interested in buying new ones.

But loading your clothes into the app so they look pretty like that? OMG, it is SO MUCH WORK, you guys. You take a photo of each item on a contrasting background. I laid out a white sheet and a dark blanket for each little clothing photo session:

IF you are able to find a contrasty-enough background and IF you are taking photos in daylight without shadows, the Stylebook app is fairly good at picking out what’s background and what’s your clothing item, and subtracting only the background.

The background subtraction is essential when you want to make outfit collages, like you see above. It’s what makes this app ultimately so fun to use, between having the clothes presented catalog-style (leaving the background in the image just feels boring) and the ability to make your collages magazine-style.

But unfortunately, my closet is full of items that have a lot of contrast all by themselves – like that black and white striped shirt above. And THAT is when it starts to take time. Because while the auto-remove is decent enough for high contrast, it’s impossible to find a background color that will be auto-removed leaving only black and white. Which is why I actually spend most of my time doing this:

That’s what you do when the automatic background subtraction doesn’t work: erase it manually. It has both tap-to-remove, which removes contiguous amounts of the same color (and you choose the threshold of “same”), and draw-to-remove (which functions just like an eraser in old-fashioned Paint programs). It’s awesome that Stylebook gives you these options, and they’re fairly easy to use, just time-consuming. I find the easiest thing to do is zoom WAY in and keep the eraser size large – when the eraser size is smaller than my fingertip, I can’t see what I’m doing.

Here’s another example:

I could mostly remove the background from this necklace with the auto function (in this case I used a piece of black cardstock). If I used a white background, the bright parts of the necklace disappeared with the background, but with a dark background, the space within the links of the necklace remained. Plus, when I zoomed in I could still see places that were removed that shouldn’t have been.

If I lowered the threshold for background removal to add those bits back in, it also added made the shadows worse. And because of the aforementioned my-finger-is-too-fat-for-the-tiny-eraser problem, I dealt with the little bits of missing necklace in this picture by ignoring them. It looked fine from a distance anyway, see the photo above!

On the whole, the app gives you a ton of options for editing your photos for background removal. Plus, there’s about a million ways to categorize your clothes, make outfits (including layering and resizing the clothes within), and organize your outfits. There’s even more options, including a calendar feature, that I haven’t used yet but intend to someday. I found it all incredibly intuitive to use, so I’m not even bothering with a walkthrough of all the options. Compared to getting your clothes loaded into the app, it’s easy as pie!

Which brings me to my last point... that I haven’t actually finished loading everything in. It might be awhile (maybe when I finally finish the wardrobes and move it all in?), but in the meantime, it is PERFECT for planning your closet for trips.

Again, I’m no paid shill for Stylebook – I’m just a girl obsessed with visually organizing things and packing a suitcase in a very efficient way. That’s why I find using it so satisfying. And with all the business travel – and heck, pleasure travel too – it’s nice to be able to dress snappily along the way!


Tina said...

Really, really like this! And now I know how you do it! Thanks!!!