Polyvore: Fashion Design on the Go

If you’ve never been to the Polyvore website, it’s a bit like Pinterest, but just for fashion (because there aren’t enough people posting pictures of fancy clothes on Pinterest as far as I’m concerned). Users create fashion collage boards called sets, pieced together from articles of clothing they find on Polyvore and elsewhere on the Internet.

This already sounds like the best site ever, right? Random people on the internet using the tools of high fashion to create their own works of clothing art, with sometimes lovely and sometimes dismal results. But it gets better, because you can get all this on your phone, too! Let’s take a look at the Polyvore iOS app and see if it can measure up to its web app big sister.

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Get on the Best Dressed List

The main goal of the Polyvore app is to let you browse the sets of people you follow and the best liked sets across Polyvore. The Browse button is in the bottom left and will refresh your feed. Swipe left and right to view the stunning collages, and tap the set to see more details. If you find a user you’d like to start following, tap their set, then tap the user’s name and the Follow button. Next time you refresh, their newest sets will appear in your Following feed.

The collage sets can be almost intimidatingly attractive, but tap them and Polyvore will break down the outfit pieces for you.

The collage sets can be almost intimidatingly attractive, but tap them and Polyvore will break down the outfit pieces for you.

Polyvore connects you to the online retailers for all of the amazing clothes in the various collages, so if you see something that strikes your fancy, tap the collage and then swipe up to see all the pieces used in the set. Tapping on a blouse or dress will bring you to its information page, if available, and you’ll get a link to the retailer if you want to purchase it. You can buy everything in a set if you’re feeling saucy.

Polyvore will point you in the direction of the online retailers so you can pull the outfit together, or just save your favorites and look for cheaper alternatives.

Polyvore will point you in the direction of the online retailers so you can pull the outfit together, or just save your favorites and look for cheaper alternatives.

But you probably don’t want to do that. While there are some inexpensive shirts and even some reasonably priced shoes and skirts that don’t crack forty bucks, the tastes of the Polyvore crew can run to the upper limits of fiscal sanity. Maybe you can afford a $1,500 coat, big spender, but I can’t. That’s when I like to add a set to my favorites or save a piece of clothing to My Items. Then I can easily find all those awesome but stupidly expensive clothes and search the clearance racks or look for knockoffs. Because I may be fashionable, but I’m not proud.

Fashion Faux Pas

The other thing you can do with Polyvore is create your own fashion sets. Choose from any article of clothing on Polyvore, including jewelry, shoes and handbags, and pop it into your set. Pieces of clothing are sort of like big stickers, and you can paste them wherever you’d like on your board. There are a few tools to edit everything as it hits your collage, but there’s really not a whole lot here. You can move things in front of and behind stuff, and that’s probably the most useful tool as you move your clothes around on the screen.

Grab cool clothes and add them to your set. You can move them around and add sweet embellishments.

Grab cool clothes and add them to your set. You can move them around and add sweet embellishments.

There are embellishments you can add to your collage that will make it look more professional, such as clippings of magazine articles, photographs of models, and frames and borders. This being Polyvore, though, these aren’t just any frames and are for purchase from online vendors, too, just like the clothes and everything else. Once you start making your own collage sets, you’ll see the embellishments make a huge difference between looking like the layout of a veteran designer and a kid making a mess in mom’s closet.

To be honest, though, I find creating collage sets pretty cumbersome on the iPhone. You can only add clothes that are already on Polyvore, and the search feature isn’t great. Polyvore just sort of forces you to browse everything your whole life until you find something you like; you can’t really create with purpose or design an outfit around that one cool pair of pants you saw.

The search really lets you narrow things down, but you can't add anything that isn't on Polyvore.

The search really lets you narrow things down, but you can’t add anything that isn’t on Polyvore.

The browse feature is robust, though, so if you know you want a specific brand or plan to create an outfit out of pieces that all cost less than $30, you can shoot for that. It’s just that it’s all a lot easier in a web browser on an actual computer with the Polyvore bookmarklet that lets you add just about anything to a set. On the iPhone, set creation feels limiting.

Final Thoughts

A whole lot of the giddy fun of Polyvore is creating amazing outfits that I could never afford — or would be brave enough — to wear in real life. It’s like grown-up paper dolls. Unfortunately, that big chunk of the Polyvore scheme just doesn’t work as well on the iPhone. It’s present, and I’d definitely have missed it if they’d left it out entirely, but I don’t feel like I can create fashion sets with the same kind of maniacal purpose as I would in the browser.

All of the stunning and sometimes ridiculous outfits the users I follow are present and accounted for in the app, though, and it’s nice to be able to swipe through that incredible beauty and absurdity when only my phone is handy. No, the Polyvore app isn’t going to replace the web app for me, but it’s a nice complement that let’s me get my fashion fix on the go.


Summary

While it's not as easy to create new fashion collages as on the web app, it's great to have all of my favorite sets right there on my phone.

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