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The Looking Dap App

Jack Bettridge
From the Print Edition:
Havana—The Insider's Guide, November/December 2011

The fashion world is well-represented in the small-screen venue of the smartphone. A number of apps will clue you to the latest looks and where to find clothes that are this moment on sale. The problem is, if your aim is establishing personal style you won’t be well-served by following the pronouncements of fashion designers or buying garments just because they’re discounted on Groupon.

However, Alan Flusser’s BeSpeak (free on iPod and iPad) is an app that is dedicated to the premise that “style is personal.” The program builds a profile that is tailored to the appearance of the user and then suggests and matches apparel and accessories that make the most sense. It’s a choose-the-wrap-that-fits-the-wearer approach—as opposed to cramming him into the latest fashion. It should appeal to anyone who’s been seduced by, say, the bell-bottom craze and lived long enough to look back on the incident in horror.

Flusser is a clothing designer and the author of such books as Clothes and the Man and Dressing the Man. He also put together the wardrobe for the movie Wall Street, the Gordon Gekko look that sparked a lasting fashion wave of its own. While the proprietor of the Alan Flusser Custom Shop is certainly never stodgy, he does preach a back-to-basics philosophy that “rests on two pillars—proportion and color.”

When you work the app you’re prompted to answer questions on such attributes as your height, size, face shape, coloring and neck length. With your profile created, you arrange ensembles of suit-shirt-tie-and-handkerchief combinations based on color and patterns.

Of course, the app is recommending directions as you go, but the intrepid can ignore them and the program will applaud or decry what you chose. The premise is particularly sound when you’re building a wardrobe: you can purchase suits by the colors and patterns that fit you; get shirts in fabric designs and collar shapes to flatter you and accessorize to a tee.

If you’re working with what’s already in your closet, you can use it in conjunction with the SnapDress app, which allows you to take photographs of your clothes, feed in an ensemble and then get instant feedback on how well you did…and, oh—did we mention?—never make a fashion faux pas again.

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