Amazon’s Echo Look, a $US199 hands-free camera and personal style assistant, went on sale to all customers today.
If you’re anything like me, deciding what to wear can be a time-consuming task. Sometimes I try on five differentoutfits, tossing rejected items onto my desk chair and creating a daunting pile of clothes that I’ll have to refold later. And after all that, I still don’t always feel satisfied or comfortable in what I’ve chosen. So I was intrigued when I heard about Amazon’s Echo Look- what the company refers to as a “style assistant.”
The Echo Look connects to Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa, which means it has the same capabilities as other Echo products, but the style assistant is what sets the Look apart.
The Echo Look takes full-length photos or 6-second videos of your outfit, so you can create a catalogue of “looks” and store those images in collections for future perusal on the accompanying app. Those collections can be separated by season, colour, type of event, or any other categories you choose. This feature could be useful if your closet is so full of clothes you need help remembering what’s in it, but for me, it seemed unnecessary.
I was more interested in the style-check feature, which compares photos of two different outfits and tells you which one looks better. To get a sense of how the Echo Look and app works, I let the Echo Look choose my outfits for a week. Here’s how it went:
UNBOXING: The Echo Look comes with a screw-in stand, wall mount, and power cord.
DAY 1: On the first day, I decided to keep the outfits simple. White button-up tucked into light blue jeans vs. black turtleneck and dark denim jeans.
The white shirt and lighter jeans won by a narrow margin, because, according to the results, the colours match better. But it also said that the shoes are better in the losing outfit. So, I put the black boots with the winning outfit and ran the style check again. That increased the winning margin by 2 percentage points. The Echo Look analyses your outfits by running machine-learning algorithms and consulting a team of “fashion specialists.” You can also ask for style recommendations- and this is where Amazon benefits. If you have pants you love, but only one or two shirts that go with them, you can ask for suggestions of other shirts that would look good and it will direct you toward some options on Amazon.com.
DAY 2: On the second day, I tried outfits with a little more colour and style variation. Tan-striped tank and black pants vs. black and blue denim jumpsuit.
These results are close. The tank and pants were deemed a better shape and fit, but the app said the colour of the jumpsuit looks better on me. So in this case, it seems like colour is more important than fit, since the jumpsuit got a higher rating than the tank and pants. But it’s also possible that it chose the jumpsuit because they are popular right now, and Amazon says the app partially decides based on “current trends.”
Day 3: On the third day, I did a jacket comparison with the same outfit underneath. Blue waxed cotton zip-up jacket vs. rust orange button up jacket.
The orange jacket won by a higher margin than Day 1 or Day 2- 63% to 37%. The results show that the colours work better together and the styling is better with the orange jacket. There’s no mention of the fact that it’s the same outfit underneath, so it’s hard to tell if the style assistant picked up on that or not.
DAY 4: For this one, I wore the same pants and shoes with different shirts. Off-white muslin shirt with rolled sleeves vs. structured woven short sleeve shirt.
Alexa suggested that the colour of the off-white shirt worked better with the rest of the outfit and that the outfit shape worked better on me. This is actually my favourite way to use the style check. I like picking out the majority of an outfit and then using the app to see which shirt or shoes are more complementary.
DAY 5: Instead of doing a style-check for work on Friday, I decided to see what the app would choose for going out to dinner. Boxy blue tunic with black jeans and boots vs white dress with brown lace-up heels.
This one surprised me- it’s the biggest spread yet. The white dress won by 34 percentage points and the only reason provided was “the outfit creates a better silhouette.” I’m not sure how this critique differs from “outfit shape works better for you” or “fit looks better.” The dress definitely accentuates my waist a bit more, while the blue shirt hangs in a shapeless way, but in this case, I decided to go with the blue shirt and jeans anyway, because it was rainy and chilly that night.
After letting the Echo Look choose my outfit for the previous four days, it didn’t feel quite right to go against the advice of my style assistant. But then I remembered – if it’s the assistant, then I’m the boss. And sometimes you just have to pull rank.
Even though I enjoyed using the Echo Look, I can’t see myself using it regularly.
Having photos of your favourite outfits is useful in case you forget about a combination you like, or you can’t remember when you last wore something, but I could do that myself with a selfie stick.
The style-check feature is fun, but the reasons it chooses one outfit over another are sort of vague. When it says the outfit shape works better for me, I want to know more about the reason why – then I could use that information to make better fashion decisions in the future.
That said, if you’re in the market for a virtual assistant, like Alexa, the Echo Look styling feature is an added bonus. You can order it for $US199 over on Amazon.
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