Trivia question – how many fashion games have been released in 2008? I count nearly a dozen. Most of these are time management, only a couple let the player dictate the fashions, and none let the user design her/his own clothes… until now! Fashion Solitaire takes the basic concept of solitaire and turns it into a vogue designing experience. Brace yourself for some fresh air.

The goal of Fashion Solitaire is to create interesting fashions, dress all of the models, and host a fashion show after each stage. Your mentor, Alora, is there to give you tips and compliments in between levels. As a budding fashion designer, you start off with a limited number of prints and styles to choose from. As your reputation grows, you unlock access to more cuts and patterns, vastly expanding your potential designs.

The first stage, for example, is the “Night on the Town” theme, so you’ll be designing fetching semi-casual evening wear. The models each have their own requirements, asking for clothing of a certain type, or in a specific color, style, or print. Meet all of the model’s demands, and then finish dressing everyone to win the level. You’ll gain bonus cash if you exceed the minimum number of specifications, so aim to get them all. Any bonus cash you’ve earned can be used to buy more patterns and clothing types.

You dress the models by selecting clothing items and accessories from the available cards. Each card has a picture of an item, such as shoes, skirts, shirts, dress and accessories. Select a card and drag it over to the model to dress her with the pictured item. Only the top card of each pile is displaying, so you will need to use or store that card before you can reveal the others below.

You can move up to five cards that you don’t want to a discard pile, referred to as your closet. You can also stack cards of similar type on top of each other to get access to the cards underneath. The real solitaire components of the game are only revealed later in the game, as the card layouts become more complex.

Here’s the exciting part — in between rounds, you can design your own creations to be added to your deck. Your creations will replace another card of the same type, so you will need to employ some strategy and consider models requirements. The best deck will use a variety of colors, prints, and styles so that all bases are covered. Patterns allow the use of multiple colors in one garment, making them more versatile for meeting models needs. You get bonus cash for using your own creations, so it’s totally worth taking the time to customize your own deck.

At the end of each round, you can select one outfit that you’ve created to be part of your signature collection at your next fashion show. There are six rounds in the first stage, so that means six outfits for the first show. Once you’ve beaten all the rounds and have your models selected, the show begins. Click the mouse to take photos of the models on display. You’ll be given the option to email these designs to a friend, or to view them later.

The music and sound effects are simple but suitable, with a lot of drums and symbols giving the whole thing a hip feel. The graphics are very similar to what you see in The Sims 2: smooth 3D art and animations without excessive detail.

Fashion Solitaire is definitely more “fashion” than “solitaire.” It’s a refreshing spin on the classic card game, and a welcome addition to the fashion-themed craze. Players have a lot more opportunity to be creative and focus on unique fashions, with more chance for unique designs than they do in JoJo’s Fashion Show. It’s a cut above the vast selection of time management fashion games available, which are great if you enjoy the genre, but have very little to do with actual design.

With 500+ garment creations possible, 48 different rounds, and 8 unique stages, Fashion Solitaire takes several hours to beat. If you enjoy making clothing combinations, the replay value is high. Anyone with a penchant for style, and who’s skin crawls at the thought of mixing mauve and mustard yellow, should check it out