How Does Walmart’s Be Your Own Model Virtual Try-on Work?

A image of a woman trying on a dress using Wal-Mart's Virtual Try-On feature is shown.

Returning clothes I bought online because they weren’t what I was expecting is one of the few things in this world that really wracks me with guilt, mainly because I start thinking about the damage[1] my returns[2] are causing the planet, all because my lazy ass didn’t want to go to the store.

To give you a better idea of how many of us do this not-very-good thing, returns of clothing in 2020 accounted for 12.2% of the overall £428 billion in returns, according to the National Retail Federation[3].

Hoping to stave off the financial loss incurred by paying for customers’ complimentary return shipping and repackaging (or trashing) their returned items, Walmart unveiled “Be Your Own Model” last week, a new feature on its app that uses the same algorithms and machine learning models used in topographic maps to allow customers to take a picture of themselves to virtually try on clothes. Walmart claims that Be Your Own Model offers a more realistic try-0n experience that doesn’t look like old-style magazine cutouts. Whether Walmart keeps the pictures customers take of themselves is unclear.

Screenshots from Wal-Mart's new Virtual Try-On feature in its app are shown.

“With Be Your Own Model, a customer sees an ultra-realistic simulation with shadows, fabric draping and where clothing falls on their figure in seconds.

For example, a single shirt can come in six different colors, seven different sizes and two sleeve lengths,” Denise Incandela, Walmart’s executive vice president of apparel and private brands, said in a company news release[4]. “Our technology captures all the variations and shows how they look uniquely on each individual.”

The retailer stated that the Be Your Own Model feature can be used on more than 270,000 articles of clothing in its online store, including its own brands and others. The company claims to be the first retailer to offer virtual try-on at this scale.

A screenshot of the instructions in the Walmart app for the Be Your Own Model feature.

That’s all very nice, but is it easy to use?

After selecting the virtual try-on feature on an article of clothing on Walmart’s app, the first thing the app will do is ask you to pose for a picture (against a clean background with good lighting) it will use to dress you up.

A screenshot of the Walmart app instructing customers on what kind of clothing to wear for their picture.

Of course, you have to wear some clothing for your picture. Do not give Walmart your nudes.

For the second step in the try-on, the retailer asks customers to fear “fitted and minimal clothes.”

An example of the minimal clothing recommended to use the Be Your Own Model feature.

In addition, don’t forget the shoes! In the demo video published by Walmart, the retailer cheerfully said, “Heels are best!” Which, OK, but Walmart, have you seen what the pandemic has done to footwear? Comfort is king.

A screenshot of the Walmart app where customers are asked to input their height.

Lastly, Walmart asks folks to input their height in the app.

I’m a shorty, and some clothes that look amazing on tall people make me look even smaller than I actually am.

An example of the Be Your Own Model feature. A woman with a beige jacket and pink skirt is shown.An example of the Be Your Own Model feature at work. A woman with a purple blouse and dark jeans is shown.

Decent work by the feature, but not so sure that blouse is doing it for the model.

An example of the Be Your Own Model feature at work. A woman with a stripped dress and black leather jacket is shown.

I think this look is a winner, especially the layering.

Is Be Your Own model super realistic?

Not particularly, and results will vary because of different bodies and differences in the places they’re posing.

But it doesn’t look like a bad photoshop, at least.


  1. ^ damage (
  2. ^ my returns (
  3. ^ National Retail Federation (
  4. ^ company news release (