How This App is Building Body Confidence Through Fashion Intel


How many times have you been shopping, and let your mood or feelings get in the way of what, retrospectively, would have been a good buy?

Women are their own worst enemies when it comes to deciding what to wear - whether it's formal wear or gym gear, and this is mostly an issue of letting body confidence in between you and a good outfit.

With intimate knowledge of these decisions, and a lifetime's worth of research, Purva Gupta came up with an idea for an app that would help women utilize their emotions when buying. It would build an algorithm based on body positivity rather than body issues in order to promote body confidence and a happier shopping experience.

Gupta finalized her decision to build the app after interviewing tonnes of women (in over 10,000 hours worth of interview) on the street about their bodies and what makes the decision for them when buying clothes - and it was mostly, their faults, rather than their assets.

And therein, Lily was born.

Gupta's innovation coupled with her knowledge of women's insecurities have proved a winning combination, and since its launch, Lily has made waves in the tech and fashion worlds. Techies are heralding it as an app that "drives behavior never seen in the offline world" because Lily never stops working. It logs all searches and items clicked on to collate a broad view of what the user wants or likes, and forms opinions based on these results. It's like the best friend that comes shopping with you every time, but remembers exactly the shapes, colors, lengths and all other specifications you like.

Lily won Startup Conference's Best Startup award in Silicon Vally back in May and may well be 2017's most interesting invention for women, simply for its mission to promote self-esteem and body confidence above all else. It's currently working with a few curated retailers, ASOS among them, and hopes to keep expanding and adding different sources for all the lovely ladies of the Lily world. SWAAY spoke with Gupta about how her app can affect change for women's body confidence in a positive and empowering way.

Purva Gupta at Startup Conference

How does the app work?

To begin with, the app asks users a few quick questions about body type, style preferences and how they perceive their body- one example of a question Lily asks: “How would you describe your décolleté (that's French for chest — I'm very worldly!)?" Then it recommends clothes, as per what the user is looking for, from their favorite stores that will flatter their body & perceptions. With every like/dislike of the user, Lily learns and makes the next set of recommendations better. The level of detail that Lily understands, is almost impossible for a human stylist to understand from hundreds and thousands of products people browse on Lily. Lily is able to do so because our technology enables us to understand attributes in depth about every single item of clothing available on Lily.

Yet, Lily prides herself in making the woman understand how every single item of clothing recommended to her by Lily flatters her individual body type and minute details she shared with Lily, just like how a great human stylist would do. Yes, every single item, in real-time.

How is your app enabling women to feel better about themselves, more empowered?

Girls start recognizing themselves in the mirror at the age of two and from that time on, they start disliking parts of their body. In their teen years, they start developing perceptions about their body and making judgments about it (thighs, tummy etc.) -- usually negative -- relative to the physical appearance of their moms, friends and celebrities. As young adults, these translate into serious insecurities like, “I'm fat," “I'm not good enough," or “I'm less than others." To the effect that women in the US have 13 negative thoughts about their body every single day! Think about that. That's nearly 1 negative thought for every waking hour. Recent study by Dove & UN shows that 8 out of 10 girls with low-self esteem choose not to do something because they feel they don't look good enough.

It doesn't matter how these girls actually look -- because it's all about how they THINK they look! Their perception becomes their reality because their mind has been cultivating and reinforcing these negative self-images since a very young age.

At Lily, the definition of emotion we use is the perception gap between reality & expectation. When the gap is positive, there is confidence and when the gap is negative, there is insecurity. In the first few minutes of a user's interaction with Lily, we try to understand where the perception gaps lie for every part of the user's body. Lily asks how the user feels about her body — what parts she likes to accentuate and which ones she'd prefer to minimize — and then uses a complex matching algorithm to make recommendations.

"The power of this idea lies in the mix of science and organically ingraining positivity in their mindset every day."

-Purva Gupta

How is Lily empowering women with trends this summer?

Lily understands everybody type, every minute detail she learns from the user and uses it to find clothes that will truly flatter the user's unique body and perceptions about her.

Ruffles, a (romantic summer) trend that adds volume and shape by highlighting specific parts of the body to create balanced proportions.

Oversized sleeves and romantic statement sleeves are very on trend for summer allowing women to de-emphasize their arms without wearing too much fabric.

Off-the-shoulder tops are one of the hottest trends too for someone de-emphasizing their arms and shoulders.

The relaxed fit is also very on trend which helps in camouflaging any extra pounds. Crochet/embroidered fabrics are on trend for summer with thicker fabric which is not as revealing.

And if you're still (inexplicably) unsure about downloading the app, head on over to their Twitter for some expert advice about body shapes, and what to wear for you this fine summer.


5 Min Read

The Psychological Power Of Clothes

She walks into a room ready for her presentation. She wants to land this new client and has worked weeks on it. She heads to the 35th floor of the tallest building on the block knowing she has documentation that is sure to impress. The conference room has a 20-foot long table surrounded by executives in blue suits, button-down shirts, pencil skirts, and blazers.

At this point, she realizes she didn't take into consideration the other important component of her presentation... she is not dressed appropriately.

Is it true that there is power in clothing? Can an incredible outfit increase your confidence and add validity to your brand? Will you perform your job better or feel more empowered? Will first impressions of you be more positive?

For me, the answer is a resounding yes. I believe that clothing can greatly impact first impressions and make a lasting impact on anyone you interact with. Like it or not, people will judge you on how you look and they will make both conscious and subconscious decisions about you based on what you're wearing… Is she trustworthy? Is she the expert we need? Will she fit in our corporate culture?

Can an incredible outfit increase your confidence and add validity to your brand? Will you perform your job better or feel more empowered? Will first impressions of you be more positive? For me, the answer is a resounding yes.

After all, if you were hiring a financial advisor, and one walked in with a pair of jeans and the other in a pair of trousers and blazer, who would you trust with your money? Even if you don't realize what you're doing when you interact with people, there may be more going on beneath the surface. It's something to think about for sure.

Here's another example, let's say you want to hire a party planner for an event. You meet with the first candidate, and she is wearing a wrinkled shirt and her fingernails are chipping and half-painted. Whereas candidate number two walks in and has on a pencil skirt, pumps, and silk blouse. Who do you think would pay more attention to the details associated with your party?

In 2019, WWD wrote about the psychological effects clothing has on a person:

It is said that clothing is what makes and defines a person. What you wear tells others what you are and makes a statement about your taste, character and individuality. It gives an insight into your nature, whether you are casual or formal, playful or serious, cool or just composed. Whether you are attending a job interview, out on a date or just strutting by the beach, your apparel tells us so much about you at a simple glance.

We know that it takes 5-7 seconds for a person to subconsciously form an opinion about you. Our eyes take in how you look; after all, what you're wearing will influence how you are perceived. How do you want to be perceived to your audience, your clients, and in your working industry?

How do you want to be perceived to your audience, your clients, and in your working industry?

And it goes way beyond the external. There is scientific data that shows how an individual feels differently when dressed in a variety of styles. In an article from Research Gate, they found that, "Fashion choices can affect both self-image, the impression that you convey to others and in turn, the way in which people behave towards you."

Have you ever heard of the term "enclothed cognition"? It refers to the phenomenon in which people tend to adopt the traits and properties they associate with the clothes they wear. In a study on the psychology of clothing, that same article as above reports that, "Participants judged women to be more forceful in job interviews and were more likely to recommend them for hiring when they were dressed in a more masculine style compared with a more feminine style," and that "Both men and women are attracted to stylish clothing that fits them well, makes them feel well-dressed and looks current."

On some level, we may all agree with that statement.

Naturally, as a personal stylist, I am a true believer in the power of clothes. I have seen my clients' exhilaration as they take in their transformation, brought about by an outfit, a new style, and clothes that look incredible on them. I have also witnessed physical changes like their facial expressions, huge smiles, laughter, sparkling eyes, and even a change in the way they walk. It's almost like there has been a shift in attitude toward their inner beauty, which has increased because they feel and look amazing and confident.

Although most of us are no longer strutting our way to the boardroom, the psycholigcal power of clothing is still necessary and relevant, especially now that we're confined to our home offices. Most of us are on virtual calls or live streaming from our computer, and it's easy to not prep as much for your "waist-up" meetings. But, like it or not, you should look on-brand, and put together clothes that are relevant for your industry. Not only will your peers perceieve you as more professional and more put-together, but I am sure you will also feel better, be more alert, and have more energy.

Most of us are on virtual calls or live streaming from our computer, and it's easy to not prep as much for your "waist-up" meetings. But, like it or not, you should look on-brand, and put together clothes that are relevant for your industry.

I'm not saying you need to look like a superstar every second of every day. However, I want you to think about the positive impact well-fitting, stylish clothes can have on both others' perceptions of you as well as your inner-confidence and intrinsic behavior.