Friday, January 1, 2016

My December 2015 Stitch Fix Review

I finally tried Stitch Fix. It was an act of desperation and it may be my undoing.

If you've never heard about Stitch Fix, you can read more about them here, but basically, it's a fashion service that sends you a box of clothes customized to fit your size and tastes. You pay a $20 styling fee (that's essentially a deposit since it's applied to the cost of whatever you buy), keep what you want to purchase, and send back the rest in a pre-paid envelope. 

At first I was put off by the cost, but in the last year time has become the most valuable commodity for me. I've been getting rid of my maternity wardrobe piece-by-piece but haven't been able to replace it with anything. My clothing budget has been just sitting in my bank account while I wear the same few shirts over and over again. I'm all about a minimalist wardrobe, but it was getting a little ridiculous. The convenience of having someone deliver clothes that had been picked just for me was ultimately irresistible.

Here are my thoughts on this experience.

My concerns about Stitch Fix
1.     They would be too expensive.
The clothes are more expensive than what I usually buy, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. As a woman in my thirties, it's time that I started buying higher quality pieces of clothing. I've also been reading more and more about the dangers of fast fashion and have begun to realize that $10 t-shirts usually don't come without the employment of under-compensated manufacturers. 

Since I have no free time to go shopping, my clothing budget had just been piling up like Monopoly money, so I'd prepared my heart to spend a little more on a little less than I usually buy. The real question is whether the clothes are worth the extra cost. I am assuming there's a certain amount of markup to pay the stylists and the shipping expenses, but I still expect a $50 blouse to earn its keep. I’ll have to wait and see how long these shirts actually last.

2.     There wouldn't be anything that's my style
Stitch Fix doesn't have an online store that you can browse through, but it’s pretty easy to find out what other women have gotten in their boxes. Lots of women post pictures of their fixes on Instagram or in blog posts like this one.

One of the things that worried me about using Stitch Fix is that I am in the middle of trying to create a capsule wardrobe. I'm trying to curate a minimalist wardrobe containing fewer pieces of higher quality and complementary colors and patterns that mix and match with each other. But what I was seeing in other people’s fixes were a lot of colors and prints that wouldn't work with what I already have. There were  a lot of crochet and a lot of dolman tees and a lot of drapey sweaters, none of which I'm into.

The thing about Stitch Fix is that it’s supposed to personalize the fixes to your style. So you can get an idea of what they sell, but you can't really judge your shipment based on anyone else’s. My stylist, Eleanor, did an amazing job. I can't recommend her highly enough. All the colors and neutrals worked with my color palette and there was nothing in my box that I didn’t like.

3.     It would be addictive
Uh, yeah. The addiction is not a joke. I just sent back my first fix and I'm already planning on ordering my next one. It's not just easy, but it's a dangerous little thrill to anticipate what goodies will be in your next shipment. Also, Stitch Fix employs a lot of sneaky tricks to get you to buy more—discounts for keeping your whole box, referral credits, and the option to have automatic deliveries. Add to that the blogs and Facebook discussion groups that create a whole culture centered around a shared shopping experience and you have a recipe for over-spending. I'm going to have to be careful with this.

My First Fix

As I said, Eleanora did a great job with my fix. There wasn't a single piece that I didn't like—she even reviewed my Pinterest fashion board (which Stitch Fix had requested a link to) and sent two pieces that I’d pinned. She also only sent colors that I had pinned—no bright reds, greens, or oranges. The only problems I had were of the “It's Not You, It’s Me” variety. The XL dress was too big in my shoulders but the L shirt was too small. That's pretty much my life.

I had decided ahead of time that I would only let myself keep one item so at I wouldn't get carried away. I'll show you the things I didn't keep first.

Crescent “Purdue” Crochet Detail Blouse - $48

Crescent Purdue Crochet Detail Blouse

  I was a little disappointed that a nearly $50 shirt was 100% polyester, but it was really soft. Of course, I tried it on in December so I don't know how breathable or scratchy it might be in the summer. It was a size Large, but was too tight in the shoulders. Returned.

Mak “ Jaclynn” ¾ Sleeve Button-Up Cardigan - $38
Margaret M “Emer” Houndstooth Straight Leg Pant - $98

Mak “ Jaclynn” ¾ Sleeve Button-Up Cardigan

Margaret M Emer Houndstooth Straight Leg Pant

The sweater was incredibly soft. This was first runner-up to be kept. Returned.

The pants are beautiful but are about three times the price of any pair I've previously purchased. Add to that the fact that they've got a stretchy waist and it was just too big a jump to make so soon. I just got out of maternity pants last summer. If they'd had a zipper, I might have considered them. Also, they were a little big in the waist. I think I need to change my pants size from XL to Large. Returned.

Pixley “Kathy” Striped Fit & Flare Dress - $68

Pixley Kathy Striped Fit & Flare Dress

This is the piece I most wanted to keep. I had pinned this dress and mentioned in the comment that I wanted to try a fit and flare dress. (After wearing maternity clothes for five years, I actually want to celebrate my waistline.) Eleanora really paid attention to my pins and came through with a dress that was perfect for me…except for the size I had provided her with.

The XL dress was just too big. I went into my style profile and changed my dress size down to a Large. Returned.

Market & Spruce “Xander” Short Sleeve Woven Back Sweatshirt - $54

Market & Spruce “Xander” Short Sleeve Woven Back Sweatshirt
Market & Spruce “Xander” Short Sleeve Woven Back Sweatshirt

There's no getting around it—this shirt is a little weird. I'd loved the way it looked online and had pinned it, but I didn't realize it was half sweatshirt. Nevertheless, I loved it. My biggest worry is that I’m always cold so I’m ALWAYS wearing a sweater or jacket. Every time I go to work, church, or a restaurant, I’m covered up. I was worried that the pretty back of this shirt would be forever hidden. That's why I tried adding layers under this shirt. I don't know if Eleanora would approve of this look, but Peter liked it and so did I. Kept.

I really liked doing this. I plan on ordering from them until I have my wardrobe built up, but I’m not going to set up automatic deliveries. I need to be careful to save up for these orders and spend only what I've got budgeted. These clothes are about twice what you'd spend at Target. I’m told they're worth it, but if it turns out they don't last longer, I'm going to stop using Stitch Fix.

Honestly, the styling was great, but the convenience won the day for me. If I could have Maurice's or Old Navy send me a box of random clothes and a return envelope, even without the styling, I'd sign up. Of course, without someone like Eleanora sorting through my likes and dislikes, I'd have to weed through all the blech clothes myself to find a winner. And that's just as time consuming.

My Recommendation of Stitch Fix
Stitch Fix is not the ultimate shopping experience, but it is good for some situations.

Try Stitch Fix if:
  • You don't enjoy shopping (or don't even have time for browsing online).
  • You don't trust your own judgment in fashion or are still trying to define what your personal style is.
  • You have an idea of what you're looking for (like skinny burgundy jeans or a dress to wear to a winter wedding) and don't want to have to go from store to store looking through all the racks for that one item.
  • You're ready to spend more on grown-up clothes. 

Skip Stitch Fix if:
  • You consider shopping a fun activity and don't get upset if you come home without that one thing you were looking for.
  • You think you understand your tastes better than anyone else could and don't care what anyone else's opinion is. 
  • You prefer to buy quantity over quality. You will either spend too much on Stitch Fix or be frustrated that you blew your whole budget on one shirt. (BTW, Goodwill, Savers, and The Salvation Army Store are great for this. You will feel so posh when you walk out with your arms filled with bags and only spent a few bucks.) 

Be careful if you like to go shopping without a plan, just to see what's out there. Stitch Fix will be fun for you but could easily get out of hand. 
If you decide to try Stitch Fix, it would be super if you'd use this link—I’ll get a credit for referring you.