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Is Google the new Gok?

Tanya Arturi has a play with Google’s new online personal stylist service, Boutiques.com

Published on December 13th 2010.

Is Google the new Gok?

Not content with search engine domination, Google is now trying to influence what we put our wardrobes too, launching new online personal stylist service, www.boutiques.com.

Although the site is currently only linked to US-based retailers, we predict a UK launch in the not too distant future. We asked image consultant, Tanya Arturi from Cheshire Image Consultants to give us the lowdown on this personal styling service – is it Gok or is it flop?

How it works
The site is very interactive and there are several ways to search for style ideas – you can either get inspiration from celebrities, bloggers, retailers, style genre or by trend. Alternatively, you can set up your own boutique - which is when you get more of a personal stylist service.

When you set up your own boutique, you first get asked to pick your favourite looks from a number of different pictures. This will then determine your style personality – classic, romantic, casual chic, edge, street or boho. You then have to pick clothing styles, colours, patterns and designers that you either love or hate. Once you have taken around five minutes to answer everything, the site comes back with some catwalk look suggestions and recommends individual items.

Is it Gok or flop?
The site concept is extremely good; there’s definitely a gap in the market for this time of service. Most other online fashion sites assume that you know what you’re looking for – I personally recommend www.shopstyle.co.uk and www.ASOS.com to clients who know what colour and style they want to add to their wardrobe.

One of the main things that a personal stylist can offer, which websites can’t, is to help a client define their style personality. This is extremely important - if you go against your style personality you won’t feel comfortable with what you’re wearing. Boutiques.com is the first online service I’ve come across that goes some way to address this issue. After I completed the ‘your boutique’ section of the site, the catwalk looks and styles it recommended were spot on. However, I know what colours, clothing lines and patterns suit my colouring and body shape. Most people don’t.

After testing the service, I would definitely recommend it to clients, who have had their colours analysed and know what body shape they are (therefore, they have the knowledge of what clothing lines and patterns suit them and what to avoid). Most of the clothing suggestions the site makes can be found in the UK, so this is a great research tool, saving a lot of shopping time and energy.

If you have a good idea of what colours suit you and what clothing silhouettes you like (ie. empire line v bubble skirt), this is a fantastic service that you will enjoy using. However, the vast majority of women who need a personal stylist don’t have this knowledge and might feel overwhelmed by all of the different options you can choose from. Also, just because you like pink and strapless, it doesn’t mean that a pink strapless dress will look good on you.

I personally believe that this website is aimed at younger, trend-driven women who have a good understanding of fashion. This is also reflected by the celebrity looks currently on the site – women like Carey Mulligan and Mary-Kate Olsen. However, the typical woman who seeks the advice of a personal stylist has generally ‘lost their way’ - they don’t know what their style personality is and they tend to be aged 35+ with a more rounded body shape. If a woman with a more rounded figure likes stripes and a bubble skirt, she might find it on the website, but it might not look great on her figure.

Finally, like all online fashion sites, the largest problem is fabric. The type of fabric you wear is key to flattering your shape. For example, have you tried wrapping a round shape (like a ball) in crisp, stiff wrapping paper? Equally, try wrapping an angular shape (like a book) in tissue paper. The same applies to your body and the only real way to find the right type of fabric for your figure is to see and touch it.

The Google Gok
The best thing about the site is its attempt to find your style personality; all other sites miss this important piece of information. However, Boutique.com is only at BETA stage and with a few tweaks, it could soon become a real contender in the personal stylist stakes. The main areas Google need to work on are:

- Offer women the ability to submit their measurements, so that the software can work out what body shape and scale they are. Once their body shape is determined, clothing lines, patterns and fabrics can automatically be chosen for the user

- Finding the right colours for a person isn’t as pre-determined as body shape. However, at a basic level, the website could ask people to pick their hair colour, eye colour and skin tone, which would then provide an idea of the basic colours that suit them

Overall, this is a great launch website and I will be waiting with nervous anticipation to see if Google gradually evolves its offering and puts me out of a job.

Tanya Arturi is a Colour Me Beautiful consultant at Cheshire Image Consultants. For more information visit cheshireimageconsultants

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