Stressed about what to wear? This Fort Wayne-based style app might be a good fit

I entered 2020 with the intention of taking my style game to the next level. I lost 50 pounds during a three-year period, so naturally, I’ve had to rebuild my wardrobe.

With that in mind, I signed up for one of those national mail-order styling services and received my first box of clothes in early January. As you may know, many styling services have popped up that seek to pair users with personal stylists who hand-select clothing and accessories for them based on their style, size, and budget, shipping it all to them in convenient packages.

As prescribed, I completed an online survey about my preferences, lifestyle, and other data points that might help this service style me. But upon receiving my first order, I was disappointed. There seemed to be a disconnect from what I had indicated in my profile and how my digital stylist interpreted my style.

For example, I don’t care for blocky, blousy or oversized tops. And what did they send? You guessed it. Those trendy oversized tops.

RID ME's Leslee HillUpon receipt, I expressed detailed feedback, and luckily, the next few boxes were better. But the experience got me thinking: What if there was a better way to feel more confident in my attire and reduce the all-too-common stress of choosing what to wear on my own?

Enter RIDME LLC. Co-owner Leslee Hill of Fort Wayne and her team are bringing the concept of a personal stylist on-demand to a device near you. 

Unlike other style services, RIDME is an app that allows users to connect with an authentic community of fellow users to curate outfits with greater confidence—reducing stress and ultimately curbing the amount of waste in their own closets.

Hill, who previously worked in fashion and more recently as an image consultant, says the problem she set out to solve is found in the app's namesake.

“One of my goals with RIDME is really to combine mental health with getting dressed,” she says. “For example, you might have this piece of clothing you want to wear, but you don’t think your body is good enough to wear it or you don't think you measure up with the people at the event you're going to.”

In other words, RIDME is Hill's attempt to banish the psychological anguish some people experience when getting dressed, including self-doubt, outfit boredom, and anxiety. And for some, these stressors strike quite often.

“Trunk Club did a study that said women in the U.S. experience wardrobe panic 36 times per year, on average,” Hill explains.

Choosing what to wear can be an anxiety-inducing experience.

The goal of RIDME is to keep unnecessary anxiety to a minimum and give users a way to get direct feedback on an outfit without leaving the comfort of their homes. To that end, the app allows users to upload a photo of their outfit for a community of other users to assess and give them constructive feedback. These users are everyday people without training as a stylist, per se. The idea is to provide a "safe place" for users to receive fashion input from their peers in a fun and game-like environment, Hill explains.

It's the digital version of putting on a dressing room fashion show for your friends or family when you're trying to make an outfit decision.

In the app, users can rank outfits with stars and offer comments for improvement. The goal is to get a five-star ranking for an ensemble. RIDME users can get real-time feedback on outfits.

“Say a user wants to get to five stars on an outfit; community members have the option to say, 'I would add a bracelet, or I would change your shoes,'” Hill explains. 

It's all about helping other people feel like they're ready to take on the world, she says. 

Currently, the RIDME app is free and available for both iOS and Android. In April 2020, Hill plans to launch RIDME +, a premium version that will connect users with professional stylists.

In the future, she hopes to collaborate with companies in the mental health space to reach more people, too. But she isn’t stopping there. She also aspires to educate consumers on how to be more strategic in their purchases, so they contribute less waste to the global fashion industry in the first place. 

According to international research conducted by the relocation and removals company Movinga in 2018, Americans rank among the top countries of people who waste clothes worldwide—with 82 percent of items in their closets never being worn in a year.

“Ultimately, I want to change the fashion industry from the ground up,” Hill says. “Because designers are not going to stop manufacturing when we keep buying. So if we can teach people how to buy less—meaning buy better for your body type—they will be less likely to have things in their closet they never wear.”

In the meantime, for those of us trying to advance our style game in a way that feels authentic and practical for our lifestyles, this app might be a good fit.

Read more articles by Lauren Caggiano.

Lauren Caggiano is a Fort Wayne-based writer. A 2007 graduate of the University of Dayton, she returned to Northeast Indiana to pursue a career. In the past 12 years she has worked in journalism, public relations, marketing, and digital media. She currently writes for several local, regional, and national publications.
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