Last week when my mom came up to Louisville for a visit, I took her to one of my favorite thrift stores in town. Thrifting has always been one of our favorite pastimes and I hadn’t been in a while so I was hoping to find some gems. I have been looking for a cute patterned skirt for a while now, so when I found this awesome skirt, I was like oh god bless thank you to everyone who has gotten me to this moment.
Then, like I always do before I purchase an article of clothing, I think of an outfit in my head that I could wear it with. It’s just a rule of thumb I’ve adopted so I don’t have things sitting in my closet for years with the tags still on them. (Guilty.) So I thought to myself, this skirt + a grey t-shirt + tan booties + a brown belt + maybe a sweater if it’s cold + probably a long necklace? DONE.
Then after I got home, I was like wait do I even have a grey t-shirt? Instead of thinking too hard about it or actually looking in my closet like a financially responsible adult would, I started browsing Old Navy’s website to see if they had any good deals on basics (of course they did). Thankfully before I had any time to checkout with my order, I had to put away some laundry and – what do you know – I found not one, not two, but THREE grey t-shirts that went well with the outfit I had in my head.
That’s when I decided I needed to catalog my closet.
I had heard of the trend before from other bloggers on the internet, but honestly I was too lazy to even think about going through every single article of clothing that I own. But after I realized that there are sooooo many clothes I keep rediscovering when I’m forced to explore the depths of my closet, I had a long talk with myself and admitted that it was time for a change.
As with most things I do, I started by doing some research. Just a simple “closet cataloging” or “outfit planning” Google search yielded some pretty helpful results. One site said to use the ~old school~ method of taking Polaroid pictures of each item and then DIY’ing a look book of sorts using manilla folders and tape… That seemed like even more work, so I quickly passed on that one.
Another site I visited listed a few iOS apps that are supposed to be like the Fairy Godmother of wardrobe organization and outfit planning. After a quick comparison, I decided that Stylebook was the best option for what I was trying to do. I wanted clean, background-free pictures of my clothes, because ~aesthetic~.
Little did I know how involved the process would actually be.
For a background, the Stylebook site recommends using a solid color piece of fabric that is different from the colors in the garment you’re photographing. Now, no matter what color fabric you choose, you’re probably going to have to pick another one that is it’s complementary color so that you can photograph all the clothes that are the same color as the first fabric. (A little refresher on color theory here if it’s been a hot minute since your elementary school art class.) I ended up using the pale blue flat sheet I had just taken off my bed to wash and a burnt orange bath towel.
Next came lighting.
This is where I had the hardest time. My bedroom has the unfortunate circumstance of having one yellow-tinted overhead light and a few poorly placed outlets, meaning the lighting in my room is not the greatest. This means all of the clothes I took pictures of have a yellowish tinge to them and some of the details are lost. I decided that it was as good as it was going to get, though, short of buying a commercial-grade lighting rig. (I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about it.)
Once I had my makeshift studio set up, I was ready to start photographing.
YES the hard part is over, I thought.
Boy, If I thought setting everything up was intense, I was not ready for what actually taking the pictures would be like. It’s safe to say I have a newly found respect for merchandise/product photographers. That shit is HARD. And frustrating. It easily took 5 minutes just to get one shirt laid out how I wanted it. And for what? One measly picture? My roommate can vouch that I was ready to throw in the towel after 6 blouses.
Then after you take the picture, you have to make sure you get the whole background erased so there’s not a patch of orange towel awkwardly stuck floating around next to your pair of pants when you try to make an outfit. If you take a well-lit picture that’s in focus and doesn’t have your feet peeking in at the bottom (a feat that’s actually a lot harder than you’d think), then this part is fairly easy. Inside the app, there are a bunch of magic elves that do their best to recognize what’s the background and what isn’t, and make the background part disappear. (They’re still learning, though, so sometimes you have to help them out.)
Overall, it took about 10 hours to make a digital copy of every single item, including all of my headbands, purses, and jewelry. (Go big or go home, right?) Mind you, I do not have a small wardrobe by any means and I was kind of particular about how each piece was laid out. (Like I said, ~aesthetic~.)
Here are some notes that I think are worth mentioning:
- Pants are much much much easier to photograph than tops.
- Except overalls. They’re a pain. (But I love them anyway.)
- Be conscientious of shadows, especially when photographing shoes.
- The more space your background fabric takes up and the less texture it has will make it easier to eliminate your background after you take the picture.
- If you’re like me and think about how comfortable something is going to be or how it fits in certain areas, there’s a place where you can make those notes for each individual item as well as the outfits you create.
- Organize the categories in your “closet” like your clothes are organized in your actual closet. Personally, I keep all of my graphic tees separate from my solid colored tees, and I keep my jeans separate from my non-denim pants like my trousers, chinos, and joggers, so I organized the categories on my app likewise.
I’m definitely excited to use this app more when I’m out shopping (so I won’t buy another grey t-shirt) and when I’m getting ready to go on a trip and I need to look my best. (Grad school interviews, heyo.) I think it will also help me not look like a troll this semester when I’m getting ready for class.