I'm talking discoverability today, but not book discoverability, although that's a sizzling-hot topic among writers.
We accept that book-buying behavior has changed because we only have to look at our own habits to know it's true. Ten years ago, most of us would have balked at the thought of browsing for books online. We wanted to hold books in our hands, sniff them, skim the contents, and study the cover art. Today, we still want to do all of those things, but we're also hooked on the convenience of online buying and have learned to appreciate algorithms that suggest new titles based on past purchases. Speaking of suggesting new titles, in-person personal recommendations, presumably from friends, co-workers, bookstore personnel, librarians and others continue to be the top driver of book sales.
But we're not discussing book discoverability today. I've got a burning question and need answers.
How do you find clothes that fit well and make you look good?
Once upon a time, I'd have trekked to the mall and whiled away a Saturday afternoon trying on clothes. These days, I lack the desire and free hours for an afternoon of clothes shopping. When I do venture to the mall, it's to buy something on an as-needed basis, which rachets up the stress level and almost guarantees failure.
To complicate matters, I'm a woman of "a certain age" and cuts, lengths, and colors that once flattered no longer do. I'm also losing weight and reluctant to pay big bucks for clothes that may (I hope!) not fit in six months.
The Internet is a shopping mecca, but it's hard to determine fit, the feel of a fabric, and its color and drape. A book buyer who shops online may be disappointed with the actual rendering of a book cover, but that disappointment won't propel her to return the book. A red shirt that skews orange when the buyer hoped for true red will go back.
Catalogue shopping is convenient but presents the same roadblocks as Internet shopping. With both, it can be a hassle to repackage and ship back garments that don't fit.
If we’re lucky, sisters/friends/coworkers/exercise buddies will offer store names, the names of favorite saleswomen, and will urge us to try on their recent purchases. "Just try it, and I promise I'll shut up." If we admire garments worn by our most forthcoming pals, they'll tell us where they got them. Helpful!
Just as publishers and authors experiment with ways to get books into the hands of readers who will appreciate them, clothing manufacturers, Internet companies, and retailers are looking to match garments with the appropriate wearers.
Gwynnie Bee is one such matching service. It bills itself as the Netflix of clothes. Instead of sending subscribers two DVD's at a time, it sends out two items of clothing. When a piece is returned, the next in the customer's virtual closet or queue is sent out. (Disclosure: I am not compensated by Gwynnie Bee for this post. Indeed, I've paid the company's subscription fees for three months and may subscribe for a fourth.) The company's concept fascinates me because it introduces subscribers to clothing manufacturers who may be new to them and encourages the trying of different styles while minimizing financial risk. (The subscription isn't cheap, but neither are the mistakes in my real closet.)
Three days ago, I received a Gwynnie Bee item that surprised me in a good way. It looked great on me. I'm not bragging; I'm saying, Maybe it's not all downhill from here. Would I have picked the garment out of a catalogue or an online site? Nope. I put it in my queue/virtual closet only because a dress from the same manufacturer had fit well. The looks-good-on-me garment spurred me to go to the manufacturer's website where I found the item on sale and ordered it in two colors. Score! Score!
I'd like to tell you every garment I've received from Gwynnie Bee looked at least okay on me, but some were duds. Then again, I've taken clothes into fitting rooms and discovered they looked better on hangers than on me. Also, although the company says its clothes are for women size ten on up, I'd say it suits size twelve and up. Petite women and very tall women may not find enough garments to make a subscription worthwhile.
The Gwynnie Bee concept excels at assisting with/enabling discoverability. In addition to the one manufacturer whose clothes I ordered, I've bookmarked the websites of two others. Once I've crawled out of my clothing rut, however, I plan to cancel my subscription. In other words, Gwynnie Bee will do a good job and subsequently lose my business.
Life is so unfair.
Answer my burning question, please: How do you find clothes that fit well and make you look good?