Crafting your closet with Polyvore

So, when I’m not Facebook Tetrising my odd minutes away, I love to create fashion sets on Polyvore.com. The site provides a place for you to browse clothing, accessories, beauty items, home goods and various other doo-dads you might (wish to) purchase. If you’ve got the cash-money, you can use the site to locate things and then actually buy them, or if you’re like me, you can just imagine fantasy wonderlands in which you are not in grad school and your closet is full of Marc Jacobs, Kate Spade and Nanette Lepore goodies. “But Ana, I can imagine that marshmallow fashion fluff in my brain without a silly website,” you say. Well, yes, I suppose you could. But with Polyvore you can also stretch your creative muscles and create cute little editorials—visual collections you can share with your friends (and people who have money and know that your birthday is coming up soon). I make these fashion sets all the time and I have quite the fan following (of people who were already my friends and similarly enjoy fashion), so today I’m going to share some tips with you so you, too, can get Polyvoracious with your free time.

  1. Sign up for the site to get started. You’re already on a billion other sites, so just do it.
  2. Play. Once you’re signed in, click on the “Create” button to start building your page. If you’re a newbie, just click on everything and see what happens to get the lay of the land. If you feel like you’re completely artless, the easiest thing to do is to select the “Template” option and it will provide a host of various pre-formed pages for you. These serve as super easy to use blueprints in which you can just drop your fashion items. It’s basically paint-by-numbers and you’ll always have a visually appealing, if not unique to you, creation.
  3. Frida For those trying to craft your own piece or who prefer a simpler, less fashion mag perfect look, you can follow me in my approach. I tend to either begin with A. a theme (Summer in Italy!, My Date with Beck, A Tribute to Frida Kahlo) or B. a search (nude pumps, A-line mini skirt, heart-shaped-sunglasses, etc.)

    Option A:
    With a theme, you have a more rounded out sense of what could fill your page. For example, an office what-to-wear-to-work theme almost suggests your searches for you. Let’s see, I’ll need closed toe pumps (not too high), a suit, new glasses. . . . An oddball theme like “A Day at the Circus!” might get you to push yourself a bit more. How can circus life inspire you to playfully build an outfit that you would actually enjoy wearing? Maybe suspenders and a flower pin are what you take from clowning, a set of bright lycra tights and cute shorts are borrowed from the acrobat. The point is to be inspired and not to actually look like you fly through the air with the greatest of ease, unless that’s exactly what you want. Dot the background with extras that fit the scene. The aptly named “Background” button offers a selection of these extras like a picture of cotton candy, or better yet, cotton candy colored/flavored lip gloss, a photo of balloons, a kitschy pin that reads “I’ve joined the circus.”

    Option B:
    The searches allow the ideas to come to you as they will. It’s like browsing at the mall and finding things you didn’t even know you were looking for. Polyvore keeps up with what’s new and hot so you can just type in dresses and see what’s available. Something amazing at your price point might pop up—whoa, an awesome $30 dress at Old Navy! You can build around that with similarly affordable pieces and then go into the world and get that outfit should you so desire. Or, you can be like OMG Alexander McQueen dress that looks like a freaking fire-breathing dragon!!! And just plop that on your page as though the price wasn’t $5,000, your left nut and your firstborn child. In this scenario you get to imagine what goes with this dress? Where would I wear this dress? and you continue on from there.

  4. Dr. Badass How about some aesthetic basics? Think about proportions and shapes once you have your pieces on the page and/or while you’re picking your items. So, if the shoes are the most amazingly detailed fantastic things you’ve ever seen and/or they are the anchor for the entire set, then maybe make them bigger than everything else on the page. Keeping things really tiny and separated by white space is too scattered and visually distracting. It’ll seem like the images don’t cohere even if they are well chosen.

    Also, consider balance. If all the stuff you’ve picked is placed on one side of the page don’t leave a tiny pair of earrings hanging on the right, it’s lopsided. You can anchor the right with something giant (like the shoes above) or you can re-size what you have and spread it out more evenly. The same goes for color. You can go monochromatic for a cool bold effect that also doubles as a theme, or you can be conscious of spreading color around to achieve balance. Same issues occur here—too much red in one area can draw the eye to one yellow item that you don’t necessarily want to highlight. Lastly, if all your images are facing right, or pointing up, you can select the item and hit “flip” or “flop” to change their directionality and once again push for a more visually pleasing arrangement.

    Just be thoughtful as you arrange. Think yearbooks, ads, paintings, photos, collages. Look at other pieces that you like and borrow their artful positioning.

  5. That’s it! Once you’re done you can throw in some text or not. Hit “share” to decide how to disseminate your creation (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr) and viola! You’re a fashionista editor/stylist/sartorial artist! Enjoy, and share your work with me — Tetris is a cruel mistress, but she can wait.
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