The BeReal social media platform, where users take a photo during a random two-minute period every day, is not an obvious place to look for style inspiration. Unlike Instagram, which is full of selfies taken specifically to show off a new coat, a good hair day or a flattering mirror lift, BeReal shows everyone at their most humdrum. If Instagram is a glossy, coffee-table book collection of high days and holidays, Be Real is a blooper reel of life’s tea-bath-bed days.
If you’re on the app, you get a notification to take a picture of what you’re doing at a random time of day – and the reverse camera takes a selfie while you’re doing it. It means you’re much more likely to be in the park in your dog walking coat or sitting at your laptop in an old hoodie than you are to be dressed up.
The thing is, there are clearly useful style lessons to be learned on BeReal, despite the lack of great outfits. Actually, scratch that: it turns out that specifically because in the absence of impeccable attire, there are useful style lessons to be learned on the app.
When I’m wearing grey, my complexion obviously takes on a tone best described as ‘week two of the flu’
BeReal showed me, for example, that I wear gray more than any other color and also that gray doesn’t suit me at all. At the end of the year, you see, BeReal offers you a montage of your photos from the year. Like Spotify Wrapped, but instead of ranking your favorite songs and artists, it gives you the definitive answer to which sweater is your favorite and whether you should wash your hair more often.
Now, I already knew I had a weakness for pencil gray and charcoal knits, but until I saw my montage I didn’t realize how much these are my default uniform. Plus, because BeReal has a habit of posting its ad on my commute home from work, when the mascara under my eyes is the only makeup left on my face, the selfies are a brutally honest guide as to what colors naturally work on me and what they are don’t do me any favors. When I wear grey, it takes on a tone best described as “week two of the flu”, and I look much brighter in photos when I wear a bright colour.
Have you ever noticed that the days you get compliments often don’t match the days you thought you looked good? I’ll go out in a random old thing and people will be really nice about it, and on other days when I think I’ve completely nailed my look, it’s a tumbleweed in the feedback department. Not sure if this applies or not. I certainly don’t think we need to dress according to what is or isn’t bald. What wearing an orange does to your mood is more important than what it does to your eye bags. But if one shade of T-shirt makes your eye color pop and your smile look brighter, while another makes you look dull and tired, that can affect your day, so maybe not it is to be sniffed at.
You don’t need to be on BeReal to get real feedback on whether the clothes you like to wear look like you think they do. Just click on your selfie album on your phone – and brace yourself not to scroll past all the photos you’ve taken by accident – the ones taken under your chin, where the grumpy face rests you have a hangover. See what you wear on casual or garden days as well as dress up day – and whether it suits you. It turns out that you had to see yourself in an unflattering light that can be enlightened.
I still love gray sweaters though. Even if they don’t love me back.
Model: Hanna at Milk. Hair and makeup: Sophie Higginson using GHD and Suzanne Kaufmann. Gray polo: M&S. Dress: jigsaw puzzle. Ear: missoma