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Note (July 7, 2014): After discovering more features of Stylebook, the review has been updated at the bottom.
A while back I downloaded an iPhone app to help keep my closet organized and, most importantly, make sure I’m getting my money’s worth out of my clothes. I cataloged a good portion of my closet, but then got frustrated and lost interest, so I deleted it. When Randi did a review of a similar app, I decided to try again and decide which one is the best for me.
This is going to be a pretty long post, so bare with me, but I want to give you as much information as possible. I’ll break it down into sections and compare and contrast the apps within each section. I’ll include the app that I think wins each section as well. Keep in mind, though, that different features are important to different people, so the one that worked best for me might not be the one that works best for you!
This is the feature you’d think would be the most straightforward. Well, it’s not. In the App Store, it looks like Stylebook is $3.99 and Closet+ is free. Easy sell for Closet+, right? Well, it turns out the free version only allows you to import 50 items of clothing. Who has that small of a wardrobe? No one I know. If you want the full version, you have to pay $2.99, which still ends up cheaper than Stylebook. However, that doesn’t include updates in the future. If you want future updates without having to pay more, it’s $5.99. So it’s more for Closet+, plus they lose points for their sneakiness.
So, you’ve downloaded the app of your choice. Now what?
The biggest (and worst) task with the app is actually importing your wardrobe. I personally recommend taking the photographs with the native iPhone camera app rather than within Stylebook or Closet+. That way, if anything happens (like the app crashing), you still have the photos to re-import.
Either way you’re going to have to take a photo of each item of clothing (and jewelry, makeup, etc. if you want) individually. This will take forever. It has taken me two months and counting (mind you, a week and a half of that was spent in the Mediterranean). However, it’s a great opportunity to take a good, hard look at your wardrobe and decide if you really want to keep everything you have. Do I really need all of these bracelets I bought in Venice Beach back in 2006? (read: do I want to spend the time taking photos of each one and importing it into my phone?) No. So, they go in the garage sale pile!
One recommendation to speed up the process: if the piece of clothing is relatively new, find a photo of it online and import it into the app. That way it’s an attractive picture and you don’t have to take the time laying it out and taking a photo yourself.
- You can only import images one at a time.
- You have to cut the background out of each image. Sometimes the app does it for you, but sometimes the background is too similar to the piece of clothing that you have to do it manually.
It takes forever.
In addition, when you’re trying to remove the background, the app shows a grey color to represent where the background has been erased. However, throughout the rest of the app, the background is white. This is incredibly frustrating, because tiny specs of background that haven’t been erased don’t show up on the grey, but they show up on the white. It would be 1000x easier to edit the images if the background in the editing interface was also white.
Closet+, on the other hand, can import many photos at once (but don’t try to import all at once or the app will crash). This makes it a ton faster.
The navigation is one of the most frustrating parts of both apps, second only to importing your wardrobe. Neither one seems to have really mastered it. Let’s look at both individually.
The home screen in Stylebook is quite pleasant visually and easy to navigate. The large icons and subtitles tell you exactly where you can go, and once you leave the homepage, the matching icons at the bottom serve as easy navigation as well.
While the links at the bottom never change, the links in the top corners do, which is rather frustrating. For example, to add a new article of clothing, you click the + button on the top left of the home screen. To add a new look, however, you click on the + button on the top right of the screen once you get into the category you want.
I’ve had a while to figure out Closet+, and I still don’t quite understand the navigation. There’s no homepage like there is for Stylebook, which makes it really confusing. You open the app and have no idea where you are and no idea how to go anywhere. There aren’t any icons or thumbnails of your clothing like there are in Stylebook, which makes the entire app very hard to navigate.
Once you click on the five horizontal lines on the top left, you have to scroll way down to find the “New Item” button. Even then, there are two options for “New Item” and “New Outfit.”
The new item options are pretty self-explanatory: Take Photos and Choose Photos. The new outfit options, however, aren’t: Item Grid and Manually Selected Items. What do they mean? And what about Item Grid makes them not manually selected? Are the outfits chosen at random?
Then there’s another icon with five horizontal lines, that takes you to another menu. Which looks almost exactly the same as the previous menu.
This is when I gave up on Closet+.
In this category, Stylebook wins by a landslide. Removing the background really makes the clothes the focus. Even the photos I took myself look like they’re stock images (mind you, a lot of them are stock images). I was able to see what the outfits would actually look like, rather than images of all of the pieces arranged next to each other.
Winner: Stylebook. There’s no contest.
This is probably my favorite part of the apps. I really want to get the most out of money I spend on my clothes, and both apps help me track this. I put in the price I paid for the clothing, and when I log the article of clothing on my calendar, it figures out the cost per wear of that piece of clothing.
However, Stylebook takes this one step further. If I click on Style Stats on the homepage, it gives me a breakdown of how much my closet is worth, the items with the best value, the items with the worst value, and which items I haven’t logged on the calendar yet. I can also see which colors are most common in my wardrobe, which helps with shopping decisions.
One Improvement Needed
The biggest problem I came across with both apps is that I can’t access the clothes I’ve imported into my iPhone on my iPad. This also means that if I get a new phone (which I could really use soon… my iPhone 4S is more than two years old), I have to re-import everything. This seems like an oversight.
Update (July 7, 2014): After posting this review on Twitter, Stylebook responded with two options for me. They are:
1) Use Wifi Accept (also called Wifi Share) to send pieces of clothing and looks from one device to another while they’re connected to the same wifi. This can be used to send your own clothing to another device or an article of clothing to a friend if you’re loaning it or giving it away. It took a little bit of time, but it wasn’t nearly as much of an ordeal as it would have been to upload all of the pieces of clothing to my iPad the same way I had on my iPhone.
The one thing I recommend: create the same categories you have on your first device before sending anything over wifi. If the category from Device 1 is on Device 2, it will automatically categorize it. If not, you have to categorize it yourself, which could take a while.
The cost, brand, color, and all other details about the clothing transfer over wifi as well, but the calendar feature does not. In order to track the cost per wear, worst value, etc. on your second device, you’d have to log all of those a second time.
Once I followed the instructions on the Wifi Accept tab, I had everything on both devices! (Except Exercise & Pajamas, but I haven’t finished uploading those to my iPhone yet, so I’m waiting to transfer those over at once.) I’m very happy with it. My one request to the Stylebook team: please make the calendar transferable!
2) Make sure Stylebook is checked on iCloud Backup so your closet transfers when you buy a new phone. Go to Settings -> iCloud ->Storage & Backup -> Manage Storage and click on your device under the “Backups” heading. Make sure Stylebook is checked for iCloud Backup. If it is, you just have to install iCloud Backup on your new phone. I wasn’t expecting to have to do this, but I was forced to test it out and (much to my surprise) it worked!
When I tried to install the most recent iOS update, 7.1.2, my phone freaked out and demanded to be reset to the factory settings. I was incredibly distraught about losing my Stylebook closet that I had just spent at least 100 house working on and perfecting. Luckily, I had backed up Stylebook on iCloud and my phone had been backed up at 6:32 that morning.
Once I went through the factory reset and restored it from iCloud Backup, it took a while for my apps to download. Stylebook was one of the last ones, and it froze. I tried to pause the install and restart it to give it a jumpstart, but this caused it to delete itself and then be re-downloaded from iCloud. This didn’t work. Don’t delete the app and try to re-download it from iCloud because it won’t keep your data with it.
Luckily I was thinking on my toes (after a solid 10 minutes of freaking out) and did a factory restart again. iCloud hadn’t backed itself up since the first factory reset (luckily), so once I restored it, Stylebook downloaded just fine and my whole closet was there! Needless to say, I was incredibly excited. Now I can get a new phone without having to worry about losing my Stylebook data! (end of update)
If it wasn’t obvious already, I ended up going with Stylebook. The visuals and statistics were the main features that sold me; the cost advantage was just a plus. It’s a huge time commitment, but once you get everything logged the first time around, it’s really easy to add new clothing as you buy it. And I have a feeling it’s going to save me a ton of money in the long run thanks to the statistics (and thanks to the fact that I can’t get a new phone until they create a way to transfer my imports).
tl;dr – Stylebook vs. Closet+
- Closet+ is faster when importing clothes
- Stylebook is better in basically every other respect, including price (don’t be fooled by the App Store prices)
- Stylebook‘s statistics are incredibly helpful in making sure you get the most out of the clothing you buy
- Wifi Accept within Stylebook allows you to transfer clothing to other devices like tablets, but you can’t transfer your calendar
- Make sure to use iCloud Backup with Stylebook so you don’t have to redo your closet when you get a new phone