(quick) fashion question(s): do you want to be rated?

istylerate.jpg
(screenshot is a portion of iStyle’s new facebook web-app, a place sharing “personal style and fashion trends”)

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over the past couple of years, a lot of style-sharing websites have come to the online fashion fore…and for many of them, “rating a look” seems to be a big feature. every time i see it as part of a set of features on those websites, i have to wonder, what’s this rating thing all about? is it even what people want? i’m not into the idea myself…but maybe a LOT of other people are? maybe i am the odd woman out? it just doesn’t float my boat.

sooo, it makes me want to ask you (you who post photos of yourself/your outfits online in such sites, keep a fashion/wardrobe or “personal style”-focused blog)…

-do you WANT to be rated on your “look”?

-do you want to be able to rate other people on their “looks”?

-if you’re into rating, what do you like about the practice? what purpose does it serve for you, or for those you rate? is it all just meant to be fun, not at all serious? is it ever serious? do some people think of it as such?

-if you don’t like the idea of rating someone’s outfit or look, why not? can you elaborate on why it’s not your thing?

-are there any rules to rating, spoken or unspoken? or is it a free-for-all?

-when you post a photo of yourself online, are you looking for feedback, good AND bad? do you accept constructive criticism? or any criticism at all? would someone’s (or has someone’s) potentially negative or unsavory comment honestly persuade you to change your stylish ways? or would you/did you just go on being you, despite the naysayers?

-what do you think of negative feedback (feedback that seems to go beyond constructive crit)? is it a matter of free speech, differing opinions, just the way it is online these days, and all that? should it be allowed, or encouraged? or discouraged? does it ever cross the line? if so, in what way? what would a person have to do to make you really feel uncomfortable?

25 comments

  1. Jocelyne

    I think the rating thing is pretty lame, myself.

    I was watching of all things, Oprah earlier today and they were talking about what is acceptable to say to your friends. As in, “you have something in your teeth” (yes) OR You have too much makeup on (no). It makes sense that these website have popped up, woman are constantly judging each other, is it not true that we are known to dress for each other. I like to dress for myself, in what makes me feel good, but dressing for others is such a stereotype. I believe it is true on some level. Maybe younger ladies are not as confident in their own “styles”.

    The internet can be a harsh place, I think that people are really eager to judge and it is so easy to do via the world wide web. I have posted many photos of outfits to sites and gotten many low ratings on outfits that were some of my faves. I think that everything is subject to opinion, so the fact that the people on that site didn’t like my style, is relative. I’m in my 30’s an a lot of these fashionista sites, in my opinion, are full of teens and twenty somethings that are really trendy and don’t have much creativity (outside of following trends) in dressing. However I would never go leave them negative comments about how they dress. Thats just not in my nature. I am a positive person. I think the internet makes it really easy for insecure people to take their insecurities out on others. I can say this hasn’t affected me negatively but I would be lying. Most of the time, I just brush it off, but there have been times that it sort of made me feel bad. Maybe it was PMS, or just human nature.

    One time I put a picture up of a dress I had created from scratch on one of these sites, In my opinion the dress was gorgeous. The fabric was vintage, embroidered satin and it was a 20’s style dress, so it was past knee length. Someone left me a comment that if the dress was shorter it would be better. I was pretty offended that someone would leave a comment on a hand made garment that I created with no pattern, all on my own. The funny thing is, now that I look at the dress about a year later, having not really worn it since I created it, I kind of agree with the comment. At the time, I was so proud of the creation, I would not want to think of changing it. I guess It can be constructive as well, even if it takes a year to process.

    I do think that what matters is to take the time to dress up in some way to make yourself feel good. The reason we are all here is because, after all, its’ fun to see what other people are wearing, their creativity, it’s inspiring and I love that.

    BTW, thanks for having the vision to start my fave fashion sharing group!! I love WR, people are friendly and positive there and it makes me smile!

  2. Shay

    Outfit rating makes me absolutely queasy, but all online fashion networks seem to do it in some form. I understand they want their readers to easily find the “best” looks, but who’s to say they are the best for everyone? At the same time, I love wardrobe remix, but I get sick of clicking through pages and pages of bathroom mirror reflection photos of people in t-shirts and jeans, I just don’t have time for that. I have no idea what the happy medium is…

    I find that all fashion networking sites are into different aesthetics and celebrate certain looks more than others, and wardrobe remix is not exempt from this either. Maybe people just need to find the one that fits what they are looking for or their particular style.

    What creeps me out more than the rating systems is the amount of personal info fashion networking sites want you to provide and make public in order to participate. Chictopia requests all your body measurements, so people can find you by “type.” I don’t have weight issues, but I’d like to keep those things to myself thank you very much! And Lookbook emblazons participants ages in bold type, promoting ageism and discouraging older people from participating without ridicule.

  3. Kate Sloan

    I am NEVER looking to be rated.
    As a girl who is extremely confident & secure with my personal style, I post my outfit photos for a few reasons: 1) to document my style for my own reference, 2) hopefully to inspire others, & 3) to receive positive feedback. NOT to be rated, NOT to be given criticism (even if it’s constructive).
    I don’t think it’s right to rate other people’s outfits unless they specifically ask you to, because in doing that, you’re devaluing their personal style through the paradigm of your own.
    Also, because rating looks further affixes the completely untrue idea that an outfit is either “chic” or “not chic.” Good style is not a binary, nor is it a sliding scale from good to bad. Good style is distinct & may not always receive high average ratings, because a good, well-fleshed-out style won’t appeal to everyone. & that’s how it should be.
    I think, for me, the unspoken rule in the rare times I do rate outfits is this: Just because it’s not my style or my exact taste, doesn’t mean it has no value or deserves a low rating. & I think that’s what most people (lookbook.nu snobs, cough cough) don’t understand about rating, which is why generally, the high-rated looks on those websites are all in the same trendy vein.
    When I get negative feedback on my outfit photos (it’s rare, but it does happen), I tend to either delete it or reply with a sassy answer that essentially says, “I don’t care that you don’t like my ______, I’m going to keep wearing it anyway because I like it.”
    I think, in general, our society is still a bit phobic of people having their own unique styles that aren’t necessarily Vogue-approved, & the rating system is perpetuating that.

  4. Andrea

    Not at all, I hate the idea. I assume someone’s showing me their outfit on wardrobe_remix or on their blog because they love it and they want to share it, not because they want my critique or some kind of score. I think rating outfits causes more hurt feelings and low self-esteem than it does anything positive. Even though the Internet is public, I think we have the right to moderate it in the same way any public space would be moderated. Someone is unlikely to come up to you in a cafe and tell you they hate your outfit, and if they did you would be well within your rights to be annoyed. Why should online be any different?

  5. Frida

    I think this is quite an interesting topic.

    I don’t really have a wish to be rated or to rate others. I like to be able to tell others if I like something they have posted, but leaving a comment feels nicer and more personal. However rating is a bit faster and easier.

    The reason I sometimes post an outfit and look at others is to get and to give a bit of inspiration. Criticisms is not what I’m looking for. When I look at a photo of me in an outfit I sometime feel like this is exactly me, sometimes I feel like it’s not really me, that’s the only criticism I’m concerned with. And if I don’t really like what someone else is wearing I don’t want to tell that person to do something different, it’s her/his choice to put on whatever makes her/him happy.

    I don’t know if I think negative feedback should be altogether banned, but it should in no way be encouraged. People who leave such comments are not happy people, I’m just glad I’m not one of them.

  6. Franca

    I don’t want to be rated or rated anyone because (1) that would mean judging all outfits on the same scale, and I just don’t think it makes sense to compare a work outfit to a casual day outfit to full evening dress, for example (2) rating creates a spirit of competition, and I don’t want to be in competition. We’re ALL great! (3) my reaction to outfits is often quite instinctive, like ‘I like this top’, and my opinion on things can change. If I was to rate something with a score I would feel like my opinion was too fixed and set in stone, and I don’t want that.

    On the feedback questions: I originally started posting to WR after lurking for a while. I really enjoyed looking at other people’s outfits, and felt like I wanted to contribute in a small way by commenting and posting myself. I can’t say I don’t enjoy all the positive comments, but they are not the primary reason for posting. Sometimes I get very few, and I still feel like posting was worthwhile.

    On constructive feedback, whenever I do get it I don’t find it particularly useful. When someone says ‘you should wear this with blue court shoes’ or whatever, I always think that they don’t know anything about my circumstances and wardrobe. I don’t have blue court shoes and am I really going to go out and buys some just because of one person’s opinion? Anyway, I am my own worst critic and i ususally know when something doesn’t look good! If someone said something like ‘I saw you have this other item of clothing, maybe you should try wearing it with that’, that would be a different matter and I would certainly give it a try.

    What I find completely unacceptable is negative comments that focus on the wearer’s body rather than the clothes. I don’t tend to get such comments, but I remember once when I thought somebody implied I was pregnant (he didn’t actually) and I just felt AWFUL. I don’t actually like positive comments focused on the body much either. Sometimes people will say things like ‘Have you lost weight?’ and I know its supposed to be a compliment, but I just don’t feel its relevant. For me the outfit posts are about dressing right for one’s body, not changing the body to fit the clothes.

    Apologies for length of this post by the way, you always ask such good questions that i just want to go on and on!

  7. UTBWB

    Great post Tricia. I think when we put our posts or pictures ‘out there’ we are often seeking commendations or criticisms, but… I also think there is always a nice and/or polite way to state an opinion. Sometimes I read the comments written in blogs and think they are unnecessarily cruel. My personal belief is that those who blog or post are generally more sensitive to the hurt that other peoples judgement can cause and therefore are more encouraging with their comments. My frustration is with those who post comments anonymously; these usually seem to be the more negative ones, if you feel a need to be negative or unconstructive, at least have the guts to own it. Rating to me is bollocks, it takes all types to make the world go around, the old ‘one mans trash is another mans treasure’ is the best summarisation of my opinion on this.

  8. Sal

    So glad you brought up this topic, Tricia. When I first started to get negative comments on my outfit posts, I thought, “Well, I’m putting images of myself out there. I guess people feel like I’m ASKING for them to pick apart my style and tell me how to do it better.” But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that those are not, not, not my motivations. Like most everyone who has commented here, I post outfits to document my own style and in hopes of inspiring others. I DON’T want to be rated on my look, and I DON’T want people to go into great detail about how I could improve my look. If I wanted that kind of feedback, I’d ask for it specifically.

    This comment, which showed up recently on Keiko Lynn’s blog, really struck me:

    “sophie said … i think this might be one of my favorite outfits of yours, minus the shoes. i feel that you really excel at putting together outfits, but when it comes to hats and shoes you have an unfortunate habit of making the wrong choice, and as a result the outfit doesn’t turn out nearly as cute as it otherwise could have been. a simple brown leather or black patent shoe would have been perfect with this outfit, but your choice of the lavender shoe seems to knock heads a bit both with the overall style and look of this outfit, but the color scheme as well. lavender really doesn’t collaborate with that beautiful plum-tinted raspberry shade you’re wearing. that being said, i do think you look beautiful, as always. By taking my advice, however, and paying more attention to your choice of footwear and how it blends with the rest of your outfit to create a look, i think you can really take your style up to the next level.”

    There is praise mixed in there, but combined with such condescension and nastiness that it all just makes me feel ill inside. Here is a person who thinks she’s being helpful, but is doing so in such an insulting way that her intentions are eclipsed. I’ve gotten comments from people telling me my pants are too short and my haircut is boring and all sorts of stuff that hurts and makes me never want to post images of myself again.

    And beyond that, rating style ranks right up there with the “hot or not” phenom for me. Beauty and style can’t be quantitatively rated. Style is a matter of TASTE, and one look is not measurably better than another. I would never condone nor participate in anything that rates someone’s style.

  9. rachel

    not so much into the idea of ratings myself. style should be first and foremost about individuality and creativity and putting yourself out there to be judged or to judge whether or not someone’s “look” is up to par with certain standards kind of defeats that purpose.

  10. Kate

    I wouldn’t want to give or receive actual ratings, or criticism of body shape or anything else that was not directly related to the outfit. Personally I wouldn’t mind receiving criticism about my outfits, but I would feel less comfortable about giving it to other people because hate to offend anybody!

  11. ambika

    Ratings strike far too much of criticism–and criticism that can’t actually be articulated since it’s just a number.

    Besides which, who am I to critique someone’s clothes? What works for me aesthetically (which can often be *very* different from what I wear myself) may leave someone else cold. It’s *so* personal that adding this generally anonymous rating aspect to it just seems to miss the point.

    & given all that, of course I would loathe being rated myself.

  12. Diana

    Definitely not into rating, or being rated. I’m not looking for other peoples’ approval of what I do or wear, and I don’t enjoy judging other people. Everyone has their own ideas, priorities, aesthetics. What works for one may not work for another. Any rating system (however well-intentioned) will almost always devolve into judgments not just on the clothes, but on the people themselves (calling people stupid, crazy, fat, etc.). There’s no way to keep the personal judgments out. If I post a photo of one of my outfits online, of course I’d love for other people to love what I’m wearing, but it’s more of a statement (“This is my style.”), and less of a question (“What do you think of my style.”).

  13. Annie Butterfly

    I have no interest in being rated or having people offer ‘constructive criticism’ about my outfits… I delete any negative comments immediately. Especially anything related to my body shape… I once had a woman tell me I had ‘no waist’ and therefore shouldn’t wear a certain outfit… ouch. Delete. I don’t mind positive comments on my body, as long as it’s not overtly sexual. I work hard at maintaining my figure and and it is encouraging when someone notices.

    Rating can be so rude and hurtful. if I were to rate anyone, it would only be the ones I could honestly rate highly. I would never give someone a low rating, out of respect for their feelings.

    I agree with Diana here:
    “If I post a photo of one of my outfits online, of course I’d love for other people to love what I’m wearing, but it’s more of a statement (”This is my style.”), and less of a question (”What do you think of my style?”).”

    My outfits are part of my creative expression, and if someone is telling me what to wear, it’s no longer mine. No amount of suggestions from strangers would persuade me to wear something other than what I choose.

  14. caroline

    I’m not into rating just because I think the internet makes it too easy to say things to/about people that you wouldn’t necessarily say to their face. It’s easy to forget that the person you’re discussing (or rating) is an actual person.

    I am, however, all for positive comments. I know not everyone has the same tastes, but I prefer to speak up if I see something I like and keep my mouth (typing fingers) shut otherwise. You know, the old “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” thing my mom drilled into me.

  15. elle s'ennuie

    I’m not a fan of rating websites of any kind, be it fashion or ‘hotness’ up to the vote (except perhaps sites for rating kittens, but only if the only option is to rate every kitten a 10 😀 ), so I stay away from them.

    For outfits posted elsewhere, be it w_r or blogs or other places, the rule I go by is that I only say anything if I have something good to say, and only offer criticism/advice if it’s explicitly asked for, never otherwise. Because it’s not like math were you can point out that 2+2 does not 5 make – what to me might seem unflattering or clashing or simply aesthetically unpleasing (all of these judgments are very subjective anyway), might be exactly what the person putting together the outfit was going for. In the end, it’s the dresser’s vision that is the end result. It’s up to the viewer to appreciate it or not. To offer ideas of alterations to make the outfit “better” suggests that there exists a scale where all outfits lie somewhere between “BAD” and “GOOD”.

  16. alleaso

    Rating for me is a no. What is ugly to one person may be gorgeous to another. I don’t believe it should be up to one person, or a group, if something is “fashionable.” Everyone sees outfits differently so what you may see as overwhelming and clashing someone else may see as bold and confident. I do think it’s appropiate to compliment others style when you like it or even to give small amounts of constructive critisism if you see something you like but could use a simple little tweak. Such as “that’s a great skirt, I bet it would look amazing with a red blouse” that’s not saying that the current outfit is bad, but it is giving you the option to try that. However blantly telling someone their outfit is wrong is unacceptable. I read on one site that viewers were encouraged to leave commetns on their favorite or least favorite pictures. I don’t think it’s right to tell someone, who’s in something they love, that you hate their outfit. It’s just rude, there is nothing helpful about it, in any way.

  17. futurelint

    I don’t like that so many places have ratings… it discourages me from joining them because I don’t want to hear other people’s criticisms on my outfits (especially since most sites allow you to rate anonymously which I think just brings out the worst in people). I can tell from w_r and the number of commentsI get on an outfit if a lot of people like it or not, which is enough for me. In the same way, if I post an outfit and all anyone comments on is the shoes (or some other article of clothing) I know that perhaps the rest is dull or just okay. Regardless, I don’t really want to be rated.

  18. danielle

    i feel that outfit rating is one step to the left of those tabloids that slam celebrity outfits. i think it’s a juvenile idea, at best. i don’t think there’s any negative intent on the surface of such systems, i just believe it’s a very immature source for validation.

  19. Marijke/LeFiffy

    Very interesting post.
    I strongly dislike the idea of pressing outfits in a ranking, which would mean that you can’t relate the outfit to the personality of the wearer.Maybe these ranking sites are so popular because it’s easier to push a hot/not/maybe/button than to leave a comment that puts your opinion into words.
    It’s contra-individual, I think. “Wear this and you’ll win, wear that and you’ll lose” would be the consequence and that’s exactly what most of the w_r-people don’t want to have.
    But, on the other hand, I have to say that to a certain extend “The Remixers of the week” may create some kind of sense for competition in some people’s head. Don’t get me wrong Tricia, I know it’s far from a usual ranking-system but I remember a poster that put a line like “if I don’t make it to Remixers of the weeks with outfit, I’ll never make it” or something like that under her picture.
    I guess you can compare it to the flickr-explore-fetish, which I personally don’t get, most of the pictures there don’t appeal me very much.
    Well, as I said, I hope you don’t get me wrong, I enjoy to look at the week’s finest from your point of view.

  20. Danielle

    I’m wondering if it’s just the current generation of young people (of which myself am included in) that feels the need to so harshly criticize each other. The reason why I follow your blog is because, unlike some of the other fashion communities you mentioned and on livejournal and such, you are an actual inspiration. Yours is not overly trendy and does not promote conformity. Looking at fashion rating communities really tires me out and causes me to lose faith in a lot of things. I don’t even post my outfits because I know I am not even close to being hip enough, but just looking through outfits sometimes gets me down, I hate to admit. Everything looks the same, and anything that deviates from the norm is scrutinized to the very last bit.

    I just sometimes wish I was alive back when people seemed to be more accepting and loving towards their peers. Perhaps it’s just the internet that sheds light on hatred, though.

    I don’t know. I’m discontent with a lot of things, but thank you for being such a good person.

  21. Bella Di Nonna

    A very interesting topic. As with those who’ve previously replied to this, I feel very uncomfortable with the idea of “rating” outfits in this way. One of the brilliant things about fashion blogging and online fashion communities is it’s a fun way to try out different looks, see what others are up to, and be inspired to create your own style. If you like someone’s style, that’s wonderful, but if not – well, that’s okay, but just as you wouldn’t tell someone on the street that you dislike their outfit, there’s no need to do it online.

    However… I also do know that I always check in on the “Remixers of the Week” post, and I love it when an outfit I’ve posted gets lots of comments. Personally, I like the way the online fashion community seems to operate on the principle of praise that which you like, ignore that which you don’t. I don’t intend to join any sites that inspire people to negativity.

  22. laura

    i don’t want to be rated either. i love what i wear and i don’t really care what others think about it. of course, it’s still to hear what others think about your outfit. that’s what i like about groups like wardrobe_remix: people don’t criticise you (at least not in a rude way), they only tell you which elements about your outfit they like most. i would never post my pictures to one of the “rating”-websites.

  23. stylefyles

    It seems as though most are in agreement:

    Comments are cool, ratings are not.

    I try to post pics to wardrobe remix, weardrobe and lucky style spotter, but I’m not a fan of the function in lucky style spotter that enables others to anonymously rank your style/look without providing details for their ranking.

    It is nice to get feedback, but usually, once I’ve snapped the photo and viewed it on the screen, I’ve already made up my mind about which elements of the outfit work and which don’t. Still, I don’t mind constructive criticism…I’m willing to read/listen, but if I really love something, no amount of negative feedback or constructive criticism can make me change my mind.