Outfit Post: The best mobile fashion, style, and shopping apps

One gloriously bright July morning, I emerged from my bedroom and took the usual zombie-like walk into my kitchen. Rubbing my eyes sleepily, I reached for the coffee pot and felt my fingers brunch against something unfamiliar. It was rectangular, and formidable, and oddly bulky. It wasn't until my eyes opened completely that I realized it was a box, and that I was the proud new owner of an iPhone.

See, it was the morning of my birthday, and my husband had finally listened to my demands for a new phone. The one I'd been using was...unfortunate. It had a cracked screen, squeaky flip cover and was covered in ancient layers of grime from my kids' sticky fingers. Texting on it was lesson in patience, fortitude, and dexterity. And texts from me looked something like this: "R U Th TXW THR THER ARGHHHHHH H8!!!!!!!! And so on.

From the start, iPhone both thrilled and terrified me, much in the way Karl Lagerfeld does to his celebrity muse du jour. It was my baby. The gods at Apple had entrusted it to my care, and I was going to do my best to learn it's quixotic and somewhat temperamental ways. Sometimes iPhone threw tantrums and randomly drained its own battery. On occasion, it butt-dialed small businesses. And iPhone's screen often went blank if tiled at a disagreeable angle. Oh, and there's also the fact that syncing to iTunes once resulted in the disappearance of EVERY SINGLE SONG I'D EVER PURCHASED. That was a very very bad day. But, eventually, we put our issues aside, and today our relationship is stronger than ever.

I've become quite attached to iPhone, and find it a necessary tool when trying to find a new thrift shop, do research on a blog post, or kill time waiting on a doctor's appointment. Sadly,  though, I'm not the most technically advanced person, and often feel I'm not utilizing the phone as fully as I could be. Aside from purchasing books through Amazon's app I rarely use it for shopping. I find it challenging to examine items on a small screen, and the pages are often slow to load. Perhaps most frustrating, the process of entering information on a mobile keyboard requires either surgical precision or very teeny tiny fingers.

The New York Times recently explored the unexpected challenges retailers are experiencing with generating customers through mobile devices. Retailers report that only about 2 percent of their sales are coming from smart phones, well below the expectations of many e-commerce analysts.The potential for added revenue from mobile sales remains huge, retailers believe. EBay said that in 2010 it generated almost $2 billion in mobile sales, and is on track to double that this year.

But major retailers like Coach, J Crew, Urban Outfitters and Loft still do not have sites designed specifically for mobile phones - known as optimized sites - and nor do they have apps. By mid-2010, according to the Acquity Group, just 12 percent of the top 500 United States online retailers had sites compatible with mobile browsers, while just 7 percent had apps. Many sites that are not optimized require page after page of confirmations about shipping methods or credit cards, even for an existing customer who has logged in. Entering a credit card and a billing address and all that sort of stuff is truly frustrating when using a mobile device. It's clunky, and time-consuming, and usually results in a customer abandoning their order.

Christian Louboutain once famously asked, "What is an app?" admitting, "I'm a very bad technician. Technology, zero." However, more designers and fashion retails are warming up to the idea of e-commerce, and several biggies have rolled out iPhone apps to show off collections and allow users to shop. After a bit of research I did uncover a number of mobile fashion and shopping apps for my iPhone that are streamlined and relatively easy to use. Sadly, android users continue to have limited options, but increased attention on mobile sales will hopefully lead to the creation of android fashion and shopping apps in the near future.

Here are some highly rated fashion, style and shopping apps:

  • Chicfeed: This app pulls photos from the internet's most respected style blogs, including The Satorialist and Lookbook. If you're seeking quick eye-candy, there's no better way to see loads of style photos all in one spot. 
  • Shopstyle Mobile: This site's spinoff app aggregates clothing and accessories from more than 100 e-commerce sites (Asos, Bluefly, and Neiman Marcus among them.) Explore indiscriminately, or search by keyword, brand, store, price, color, size and sale. If you find something you love, the app directs you to an online retailer. 
  • Pinterest: Pinterest is a website that lets you 'pin' photos and images from the web to a virtual bulletin board, and has a rabid following with bloggers. It requires an invite to join, though you can put your name on the miles-long waiting list for an account. Debuting this morning, the Pinterest app allows users to pin images through their mobile phones, browse other user's pins, reply and 'like' your favorite pins, and pin with your iPhone camera. It's a handy way to create a virtual shopping list and track trends.
  • iShoes: Explore more than 50,000 shoes in the Finder, or search by style and designer. The app indicates which pairs are on sale and connects you straight to retailers.The  iShoes app is free, and offers decent-sized close-ups of each item.
  • Lucky at Your Service: Another free app, this one uses GPS, e-commerce and real-life staffers to locate editor-approved clothing, shoes, accessories and beauty products. Once you've found that amazing piece, the app directs you to the online retailer, and, in select cases, to a store within 50 miles that stocks it. Even better, the Lucky concierge team can call the store to place the item on hold for you. The concierge team sends you an email within an hour with details how you can pick up your new garment.
  • Net-A-Porter (and Gilt Group): These genius apps for luxury clothing and accessories alert you every time their main sites are updated with new products.You can also create wish lists, purchase items, and read weekly fashion news.
  • Sephora: This app puts everything you love about beauty products at your fingertips. You can browse products based on brand, new products, and online exclusives; look up specific shade names and formulations; watch expert tutorials; read product reviews; and get news on special online offers. You can also easily review past orders.
  • eBay: The goliath of auction shopping, the eBay app allows you to seamlessly search for items and place bids. The app allows you to watch items, search by brand, price, and keyword, and links with Paypal to permit instant payment. It also provides personal recommendations of auctions based on recent purchases. 

Do you have any favorite shopping and fashion apps? Do you use your mobile device for shopping? Would increased availability of retail apps encourage you to use your phone for shopping?
    Vintage thrifted silk top; Gap Outlet cargos; Target belt; H&M platform clogs; Forever 21 rhinestone pyramid bracelet; Charming Charlie pearl bracelets and gold bangles; Forever 21 rhinestone earrings; Loft coral ring; Betsey Johnson gold watch


  1. The Ebay app for iPhone nearly destroyed me. I would spend hours on it, barely cognizant of the auctions I was betting on/winning until the fog lifted and I would be mortified/broke. I finally had to delete it.

    This shoe app you speak of, though, sounds promising...

    I really like how you clustered your bracelets.

  2. One day, one day, I'm going to be able to tuck shirts into pants and look as cute as you.

    I don't do a lot of online shopping to begin with, so being able to shop on my iPhone isn't something I'd need. I do use it for everything else though! I love my iPhone!

    Come take a look inside A Working Mom's Closet

  3. That's awesome! I'm pretty knowledgable about shopping apps, but these are some new ones. Would be interested in how they power their local product inventory. (I work for a company who does just this!)

  4. i adore you Elissa. I really do.

  5. I'm trying to do less shopping, but I do have the Revolve and Allsaints apps on my phone. (I've bought through the Revolve one, but not Allsaints, as I have definitely seen it show items available which were not simultaneously available on the website, and I have already had several not-so-great experiences with Allsaints customer service.) I've got the Style.com app as well; it didn't have super-fabulous reviews, but all I use it for is to occasionally browse designer shows, and it works just fine for that.

    A friend of mine uses the... I think... Etsy Lovers app and really likes it. Haven't tried it yet. I don't have any of the Ebay apps, as I have never bought anything from Ebay and probably won't; I fail on Ebay searches and have never seen the fantastic bargains others seem to score, and I don't trust it anyway.

    The app of my desires at the moment is a really good closet organiser/outfit builder. There are a few out there, but none of them have been enough of a "yes!" for me to go ahead and install.

    I do love my iPhone!

  6. uh-oh. I'm on my ipad now, loadin' her up with free apps. This is going to be sooooo fun.

  7. I love my F21 app. Even though I generally just "look" lol

  8. I love your outfit today. I just can't pull off the oversized shirt look, I end up looking frumpy instead of chic. You're oversized shirt looks fab!

    My mobile provider charges $3.99/mon for the eBay app! Outragous! I've hacked my phone though and found a way to unlock the eBay mobile site (stupid Virgin Mobile, locking our smart phones out of EVERYTHING that they can't make money off of.) BUT I tried to bid on Friday and it didn't accept my bid! I don't know if I didn't push the screen hard enough and didn't notice or what. But I missed out of a great deal on a Stile eyeshadow pan. ERG!

  9. Your very thorough list will get me into deep trouble. I'm going to tread carefully with the plastic hidden VERY far away.
    Dare I say thanks?

  10. Welcome to the cult! :)

    This is my list of iPhone apps from last year: http://www.closet-coach.com/2010/08/18/5-great-style-apps-for-the-iphone-ista/

    But I seriously need to write a sequel because I have a lot more apps now (one screen and counting) ... and I need to check out some of the ones you wrote about!

  11. Great post! I also love the Rue La La app... and Hautelook...


I love my readers! Comments are welcomed and appreciated.