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Monday, December 22, 2008

A Real Cut-Up

Just because we're no longer gradeschoolers as likely to dress as a princess as in a jumper doesn't mean we don't secretly still love playing dress-up. Two sites out there now let you tap into your inner stylist without sacrificing your professional demeanor. And if there's one thing we like more than putting together shoes and outfits, it's letting someone else do the heavy lifting for us, which is why Toutie and Polyvore are two sites we really, really love.

Here's how it works: both sites have built sophisticated online tools to lift photos from websites and edit them into collage-style looks straight out of Style.com or Net-a-Porter. Once these images are collected into your "closet," you assemble them into wardrobes that are posted for all to see on the sites (or embedded in your own as we did below). It's a new and powerful form of creative expression combining the powerful fashion forces of magazine editorials, retail marketing, advanced web applications and our simple human desire to have style and flaunt it in your face.

We all love being mavens and these two sites let us express ourselves without needing professional knowledge of applications like Photoshop or Flash or writing lines of code. Yet there's plenty of room for creative distinction and improvisation.

Both sites have their strengths. Toutie's tool is the more extensive. Where Polyvore allows you to drop the backgrounds around products, Toutie goes further with a Photoshop-like suite of editing tools. Paintbrushes and erasers can be controlled by size, opacity and sensitivity. Layers are arranged in an easy-to-reference column and can be easily cropped, sized and rotated. However, the greater flexibility of Toutie's wardrobe builder necessitates a steeper learning curve, but breezy instructional videos and tutorials help speed the process.

What Polyvore lacks in flexibility, it more than compensates with an ultra-clean interface and foolproof drag-and-dropping. Wardrobe assemblage is fast and fun. Members' inventory of images are available for all to use and, in true Web 2.0 style, communal image swapping, commenting and tagging are central to the process.

Create and post your own outfits at Toutie.com.

Polyvore focuses exclusively on the creation of looks and forms a dynamic and rabid community of users out of it. Toutie's tool is a new addition to its die-hard fanbase of shoppers looking for discounts and specials from the web's premier boutique retailers. The benefit of both is being involved in a community of fashion lovers and determined shoppers that inspires and expands your style -- no light task. These two are most definitely up to the challenge.

Note to Toutie and Polyvore users: Since both sites rely on toolbar bookmarks to clip images from a web page, sampling the More Views images on Lori's site is tough (no toolbar on the pop-up window). Fortunately there's a workaround.

1. Right-click on the image you want to clip.
2. Select "Copy Image Location" (or similar phrase depending on your browser).
3. Highlight the URL address bar at the top of the browser and press Control+V (Command+V on the Mac), then "Enter."
4. Voila!

You will have linked directly to that image, complete with browser toolbar and your Toutie/Polyvore clipper. Cut it up and add it to your outfit. And be sure to let us know about the outfits you make!

1 comment:

Mara Spires said...

great post! i just discovered polyvore yesterday and fell INSTANTLY in love with the site...now, i'm off to explore this toutie.com you mentioned.

<3 mara

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