StyleCaster: A free personal stylist, only nicer

We all have those friends who dress like they should be hung up in the MoMA. I'm certainly not that friend to anybody. But I do have this idea that style empowers you and, as we've shown right here on WalletpopTV, gives you an edge, especially if you're interviewing for jobs.

Meet StyleCaster, an inspiring guide to looking your best. Can't afford a personal stylist? Not friends with Rachel Zoe? Then StyleCaster will provide you with the dream cyber closet of ideas and network you with stylists, models, and other fashionistas with similar tastes. It's Facebook meets Elle.

"At the end of the day it's about discovery. You don't have to buy the products on StyleCaster. It's about discovering the things you already have and how to wear them better," says Ari Goldberg, the site's young, energetic C.E.O. and co-founder. Mr. Goldberg is in an especially inspired-mood today, given that his company just scored $4 million in funding. If investors see the potential in this, especially in a deep downturn, what can StyleCaster do for your look and closet?

Having a particularly rutty day (please see this video, I promise I clean up nice), I was eager to get out of my blahs by cruising the StyleCaster site. On first look, the site has a nice, clean editorial layout, providing the latest fashion, retail, and muse news--from a look at Gucci's "breezy bohemian" Spring/Summer '09 show to info on Beyonce's upcoming concert stop in Atlanta, Georgia.

But if you want to go deeper into the site, to get StyleCaster's DailyLook, Community access and the weather forecast, and advice on dressing accordingly, then you have to sign up an account. But it's painless. Once you do, your user profile page looks like a dream closet, complete with an interactive guide to that day's user-generated DailyLook.

"Our battle cry is: style to the people," says Goldberg. "It's an organic hybrid of community, commerce, and content."

The big money maker, for StyleCaster, is that the more you use the site, the more it can feed you tips, looks, and ads that correlate with your tastes. Shortly after logging in for the first time, I clicked on an ad for "Blow-Dry Boot Camp," because the way I blow-dry my hair resembles performance art and head-banging. So on that one, the ad got lucky, which normally never happens. The success comes with it seamlessly fitting in with the rest of the content.

Goldberg is driven to provide intelligent technology, which is the engine of StyleCaster's parent company, Sociocast Networks, headed by internet entrepreneur Dan Gilbert. Today it's style, but the company expects to roll out food and sports centered sites soon. "Steve Jobs said the first generation of computing was the early 80s, second generation was the early 90s, now we're in the digital hub--where the computer is the center of everything. I don't believe, and I think Jobs would agree, that the future will look as different as it does now. You'll have a digital hub, but it'll be smart and know who you are."

The real magic is in the technology and Goldberg is inspired by the mall scene in Minority Report, where every ad in the shopping mall is calling out to Tom Cruise's character by name. As long as I can talk back to the ads, especially when having a bad day, that wouldn't be so nightmarish.

"I want to see kiosks in Soho. [More] events, conferences, monthly cocktail parties. StyleCaster is a media company, we're not a website," explains Goldberg, citing the analogy of how salespeople at TopShop are called "stylists." The dream for him is, "I can't wait till you can walk into a TopShop and a Saks and a Barneys, Bloomingdales, and there's a nice shiny Mac where you can log into StyleCaster and right then and there the stylist knows who you are. When I walk in, the salespeople don't know a thing about me. Think about the utility you're creating."
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