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Try This App: Cloth Brings the Fabled Computer-Organized Closet to Life

·National Correspondent, Technology
Woman getting dressed in closet
Woman getting dressed in closet

This woman needs help. (Thinkstock)

In the opening scene of the ’90s cult film Clueless, protagonist Cher Horowitz prepares for school in front of her computer, using a futuristic computer program to sift through every item in her wardrobe and tell her what matches and what doesn’t. And with the quick tap of a “Dress Me” button, she’s ready for her day.

For any 14-year-old clothes hound, that was (and still is) the dream: the ability to skip the overwhelming process of sorting through your clothes each morning and have an algorithm figure it out instead.

A free app called Cloth, which received a major update Wednesday, is the closest we’ve come to Horowitz Xanadu thus far. Cloth, which is available on iOS for iPhone and iPod Touch, is an organizational tool that allows you to photograph and index the looks you create. Then, using a filter system that considers weather, occasion, and location, you can search through nearly every outfit you’ve ever worn and choose the right one for the day. iOS 8 users can even set a morning weather alert that gives them quick access to their best outfits for the current conditions.

It may not be at the same level of that clunky Clueless computer, but it sure beats digging through your closet. (Especially if you have a huge closet.)

There is, unfortunately, a major caveat. Rather than being able to scan in the barcode of every new purchase, or search for your clothing via brand and season, your virtual closet’s inventory depends upon your entries of “looks” in the app. Meaning that you will either need to spend a serious amount of time playing dress-up alone at home, or contribute to it over time by taking photos of outfits you’ve put together and tagging them with helpful or relevant words like “dress” or “hat.”

Here’s how it all works:

After opening the app and signing in, you’ll arrive at a feed of looks — some of them your own (if you’ve already added them) and some of them from people you’ve chosen to “follow” (more on that later). This is an Instagram-like space that’s meant for inspiration, and I can envision it being especially helpful if people in your fashionable friend circle end up using the tool daily. In other words, if it were snowing that day, your feed would automatically be filled with cozy outfit ideas.

Cloth app screenshot
Cloth app screenshot

If you tap on the clothes-hanger symbol at the bottom of the screen, you’ll find the app’s most important element: the search tool. Here’s where you can sift through every look you’ve ever cataloged based on unique tags, preset categories, location, and weather. (Cloth let me try out a beta version of its app with a pre-filled account. So the entries you’re seeing are semi-professional shots that look nothing like what I’d imagine an average person’s day-to-day cataloging would be like.)

Cloth app screenshot
Cloth app screenshot

If, at any time, you want to add what you’re wearing to your library, just tap the camera at the bottom of the screen. From there, you can either take a photo or choose something from your existing Camera Roll. After you’ve settled on something, you’ll have a chance to do some quick editing via in-app tools.

Selfie in the Cloth app
Selfie in the Cloth app

To make your bathroom selfie useful, however, you’ll then need to tag it with all the relevant information that goes along with your look: location, a caption, tags that might make it easier to search, category, and weather.

Selfie in the Cloth app with keyword tags
Selfie in the Cloth app with keyword tags

If you let it, the app can automatically identify your general location. And the weather is preloaded, based on data that Cloth pulls from the service Wunderground. When it comes to Category, you can pick from a list of the following categories.

Categories in Cloth app
Categories in Cloth app

Once you’re done adding information to the mix, tap Catalog it, and you’ll be prompted to share it on an endless number of social accounts (which, barf). You can always skip that part.

Cloth app sharing screen
Cloth app sharing screen

Say you have something a little risky (a Halloween costume, perhaps?) that you want to try out and catalog but aren’t quite sure you’d like to air to your followers. When you’re in the process of categorizing it, you can tap the eye watermark in the upper-right corner of your photo.

Cloth app screenshot
Cloth app screenshot

Once you do that, you’ll see it change to a padlock watermark, and then only you can see it.

New Look screen in Cloth app
New Look screen in Cloth app

It’ll show up in your feed like this:

My Wardrobe screen in Cloth app
My Wardrobe screen in Cloth app

There’s also an option to search for looks in your area, and even message people you follow to show off an outfit, swap ideas, or ask where someone got a wonderful pair of shoes.

Messaging screen in Cloth app
Messaging screen in Cloth app

Yes, this could become the Instagram of fashion apps, or something. But Cloth’s real innovation lies in the fact that it will allow us hoarders to remember our most creative combinations and think less about what might be cute to wear in the morning, pre-cup of coffee. That’s enough in itself.

Follow Alyssa Bereznak on Twitter or email her.