The Dress Spot

Picture this: a search engine for your colour palette!

I believe that we are most beautiful when we wear the colours we already are. Knowing the precise colours of our own pigmentation, all the reds, greens, blues, yellows, and so on, that we were painted with is what a Personal Colour Analysis provides. Wearing the hues of your very own colouring really does make your life better than if you wear the colours that I am, or some other person, or both of us at once. You look better and you feel better to us when we look at you.

I want to solve the problems in PCA. One of them is that the user experience needs improving. Finding our colours in clothing should be far easier and faster than it is. No wonder so many people are stuck in black. It’s right there on all the racks. Locating one’s colours, let alone putting an outfit together, takes way, way too long.

If consumers had more available choice, they could make the colour decisions that they know are best for them. This would put some dollar pressure on the fashion industry to provide us with yet more of our colours. We would return less. We’d be happier. Win-win.

I’ve learned that giving a man or woman a swatch book containing their most exceptional colours and hoping they’ll find them at the mall or online is not enough. Part of the fix is education. Time is taken with clients, and even more time with students training to be colour analysts, to learn to harmonize solid and printed coloured fabrics to each Season. The public needs some teaching in how to do this.

The other part of the fix is making items easier to find. The Internet’s power is in its search capacities, most of which are free. The Internet should be working for you, not the other way around. The Internet itself should go around the web for you finding your accurate colours. That capacity to search is already in place.

I send clients newsletters containing items in their colours, with some discussion about why that garment would enhance them so well. This takes me hours and hours. If it’s May, I barely search for Dark Winter, it’s just so hard to find.

Enter Jeremy, the technology member of the team at The Dress Spot. When he got married two years ago, he couldn’t believe how hard it was for his fiancee to find slate blue bridesmaid dresses with capped sleeves. Right there with you, Jeremy. My friends and I are looking for 60 to 65 colours all the time.

He describes his passion as solving consumers’ issues with technology. The Dress Spot is dedicated to connecting your colours with real-world clothing quickly and accurately. Image analysis is used to determine an item’s true colour as exactly as possible. There are great filters for colours, design features, retailers, and price.

The colour filters are the most thrilling. Open the window linked above. See the colour fan at the upper left? Click it and watch it open up. Now click on one of the colour words across the top. This is about when I started getting excited and thinking “Finally. Finally.”

I picked a very bright green. No solid colour choices. I was offered 6 alternative choices! Looked at the choices, picked a Soft Autumn-looking brown. My choices were green-based, a colour which many Autumn browns contain, because the original colour was green. Found this dress. I mean, this is just lovely. Took me less than 5 seconds.

Nordstrom_51b8cf900e9ed-1

The dress is here at Nordstrom.

 

The colours are as accurate as possible. Comparisons are easy. The site is free.

What about Polyvore – a great, great site that we know and use a lot? It’s so gigantic that it’s difficult to actually buy from, and not highly colour-selective. Since fashion is based on crowd direction, the beauty of that community is in the sets that members can create.

 

I asked Jeremy 4 Q:

1. The alternative choices were impressive. How does the software pick alternatives? Does it keep to a certain hue and give options along the saturation axis? In the alternatives, value seems to remain pretty constant.

Jeremy: It simply moves to a closest color in the HSL space that has a dense pocket of in-stock dresses. So it will often keep the Value consistent and shift hues or lightness slightly. Usually one or the other, not both. I wouldn’t say it necessarily stays within the Season.

2. Once an item is sold out at the retailer, how does your site manage it?

J: We update our inventory twice a day to ensure that nothing is ever more than a few hours from live data. Additionally, most dresses on our site are sold by larger retailers who don’t go in and out of stock with any volatility. They’re pretty slow to go out of stock. I’d estimate at least 98% of our inventory is current at all times. We drop retailers who don’t update their inventory status frequently enough for our quality standard.

3. What about prints, of which I see a few, and solids?

J: Right now we support ‘multi-color’ vs. ‘solid’ (which you can toggle with the ‘multi-color’ checkbox under the other filters on the left). Multi-color basically means anything that isn’t a solid color. Things like stripe and specific pattern filters are new technology we’ll be rolling out in the next few months.

4. Wedding?

J: We have many formal dresses from Nordstrom et. al, but we’ll be adding Dessy (a leading bridesmaid dress manufacturer) next week and hopefully David’s Bridal soon (again, for their bridesmaid dresses). Bridal gowns, on the other hand, will likely not be included for a while. Bridal gown designers are particular about their dresses’ distribution and have strict agreements with their chosen distributors/retailers. That industry is very non-digital.

 

My suggestion was professional wear. I asked Jeremy if he foresaw a site that could analyze the colours of a skirt, and suggest shoes and a blouse based only on the colour matching skill of the software, skills that this site appears to already have in place anyhow. He said, “Hmm. That’s interesting.” Good start, ay? :)

Here’s a question for you, dear readers: What’s your most frustrating part of finding clothing in your palette colours? If your brother were a coding genius on sabbatical, looking for something to do, with no limits on what he could design, what kind of colour shopping app would you ask him to build?

If you played with the site, what impressed you or didn’t work so well? If you had Jeremy’s job, what’s the first thing you’d do?

Someone might say, Could my Season colours be coded in specifically and grouped together? I agree! It is high time you had access to that. I am so happy to tell you that it’s in the works.

You are a hugely intelligent and creative group. Please do help to shape The Dress Spot into a tool kit that is expressive of how consumers like yourself, with exact knowledge of their own colouring, could benefit even better from the online clothing purchase experience.

 

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15 thoughts on “The Dress Spot”

  1. All very interesting. Until I got to the paragraph where you pose the question, “If your brother were a coding genius….” Programmers are not all male.

  2. Amen, Paisley! My husband is a programmer, so you actually DO have me thinking, Christine… thinking…….

  3. Looks amazing! I love the Nordstrom brown dress you posted. I can never find dresses like that. I’ll play with the site and see what I can suggest. At first glance, it’s not clear to me how to find different kinds of off-whites.

  4. The first thing I noticed is that few colors in the fan color palette spoke to me. As a soft summer, I always look for the grayest colors and most seemed way too bright to use as a starting point. I finally clicked on one the paler blues. The results looked too light for me, but I was pleased with the alternatives given. Also, I was not able to go back to the page with the alternative colors shown after clicking on the first one. The color options shown were intriguing and I would have liked to see the dresses for all of them.

  5. First, scarves or pashminas for each of the twelve categories, then camisoles, then blouses and jackets, then pants and skirts and shoes.

  6. I’d love some sort of filter that include materials. I know not all retailers are good about listing their products’ materials; although they’re required to put it on the actual tags, they don’t always include it online. I avoid most synthetic fibers, especially polyester, and it would be nice to be able to exclude some of the items that way. And of course, I’d love to see more than just dresses. I’m having a hard time finding a certain style of brown pants, for example!

  7. I think being able to filter results by size or at least size range would make it usable for me. Like fully half of all North American women, I’m over a size 14, yet I didn’t see any plus size options on the site. That loses half the possible revenue, if only the small half of women can find clothes there.

  8. I am loving DressSpot! I just had my analysis two months ago, and I am still struggling to train my eye to see colors properly. Hitting the Strict Hues Only button then perusing the choices is helping to train me a bit. I hope the site will expand and include tops and other items over time. But my technological dream would be an app that allowed us to scan a piece of clothing while we were shopping, and analyse the color and see if it really lands on our pallet or not! My techie son assures me this could not be done without a special device (one of which appears to be in development on Kickstarter), but since so much is available today that we couldn’t imagine just ten years ago I am holding onto the hope!

  9. THANK YOU, Flora, for saying what I too thought when I just now read the article. I’ve worked as a programmer myself and am last time I checked quite clearly female (and not at all alone at that). As a female business woman/entrepreneur I’d expect you to avoid phrasing yourself like that, Christine.

  10. Sincere apologies for the offense. I used ‘brother’ for reasons that you could not have known and I should have clarified. One, my own brother could be that person, involved in software and marketing strategy. Two, my contact person was Jeremy, and I was pretending that I could just call him up and say “Hey, Jeremy? Can you do some coding for me? Want to come over for supper Sunday?” Thirdly, as a feminist myself, and an avid one, I believe that women should be as free and un-self-conscious as men are. As Sheryl Sandberg quoted…who?…Germaine Greer?, there will be no problem with work-life balance when some man somewhere asks himself how he’s coping. I know men who don’t even understand the term. The way that I live this equality that I strive for is to not make special concessions. Using words like male/female coder or keeping brother out of that sentence because someone will notice adds tension to a situation that is already too tense and P.C. We put too much attention in details. For women to feel as relaxed as men, we need their self-confidence, their lack of defensiveness when no offense was intended. If I’d written ‘sister’ there, I doubt a man would have cared or picked up on it. Of course, there are historical reasons why they wouldn’t feel slighted and a woman would, and bringing that feeling to light is how it will be noticed and resolved, so I appreciate your comment. Point taken. But this is a conversation for another place, and I respect that everyone will choose their own position inside it.

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