INTRODUCTION: WHY STITCH FIX?
Despite being a triple Libra harmonious butterfly, I have a bit of a stubborn streak: I get it from my Aries Mars. It took at least 17 people pointing out the very obvious hole in my favorite black cardigan to convince me that maybe I needed to reassess my wardrobe situation. I had been purposefully ignoring that hole, because acknowledging that hole would mean opening a massive floodgate of related painful realizations: I’d been wearing the same outfits over and over to client meetings at work, I’d been seriously slacking on konmari for over a year (oops), and I’d been spending a lot of money on clothes, accessories, and makeup that…well, weren’t lasting or doing it for me over time.
And then something miraculous happened as I was floundering in wardrobe despair…I resisted the urge to crawl under a rock, and instead, listened to some advice.
“You should try Stitch Fix,” a (very stylish) coworker said to me one day. I had noticed a package she had received, a delightful perfectly-square package, which made her smile with excitement as she retrieved it from our office’s reception desk. I looked at her with puzzlement and not a tad bit of jealousy (what was in that box?). And then she began to explain further. Stitch Fix is, as their website puts it, “your partner in personal style.” It’s a website, and a service, where women (and soon men – the male version is launching in Fall 2016) who are either too busy to shop often or have no idea HOW to shop for what they need can sign up to receive boxes of clothing/shoes/accessories curated for them by professional stylists (at a frequency that works for them). From the website:
For busy women on the go, [Stitch Fix] is the personal styling service tailored to your taste, budget and lifestyle that helps you look and feel your best every day.
How it works (in a nutshell):
- Sign up with your email and a password
- Complete a detailed, but straightforward survey about your preferences, personal style, and sizing information (it is recommended that you share social media pages such as a Pinterest style board or Instagram account to help the stylist understand your personality/what you like/what fits you/etc).
- Schedule the date you would like to receive your box – it costs $20 to do this, and that’s the only mandatory fee for the service. It comes off the price of your order if you choose to buy any of the items mailed to you.
- Wait on the edge of your seat…! (or don’t)
- When the box arrives, try on the clothes/shoes/accessories and see what you think. You get 3 days to decide if you want to keep the items, or mail them back (Stitch Fix provides a prepaid return box).
- If you decide to keep any of the items, you check-out and pay for them online through your account and mail back anything you didn’t want to keep. If you decide to keep all of the items sent to you, you get a big %25 discount on the total price (it’s pretty significant, makes a big difference). However, if you don’t decide to buy everything, the original $20 still comes off of any purchases and any referrals you’ve made give you credit, as well (I’d referred a friend when I got my first box, so I got an additional $5 off).
- Review the items online and let the stylist assigned to you know what you liked, loved, hated, etc. The feedback form is awesome and thorough.
After hearing all this, I was intrigued, but I told my coworker I’d consider it. A few days later, that same coworker came into the office raving about the shoes she’d been sent in her Stitch Fix box. They were a style of shoe she’d been desiring for a while, but hadn’t been able to find. “It’s like they read my mind!” She beamed, referring to the Stitch Fix stylist who’d picked them out for her. She looked so happy, and so cute in her snakeskin flats. I couldn’t help but look down at my drab Target-brand flip flops.
So these Stitch Fix people happened to be mind-reading magicians as well as stylists?
I signed up the very next day.
My first box arrived around August 15th. I raced home from work to try everything on, surprising Jack with my enthusiasm (I’m usually a little less energetic after a long day at work). When I’d filled out my Stitch Fix profile (the big style survey mentioned above), I explained the following:
I struggle to find jeans/pants that fit me, due to short legs + big butt + tiny waist combo (25 waist, 34 low hip, 38 high hip). I tend to like petite sizes because of my general shortness. I would call myself “fit/in shape.” I lived in Japan for a while, which inspires my current style, as does dark mori/witchy aesthetics. I lack business/corporate-friendly clothing, but don’t know how to shop for it without sacrificing my quirkier/nerdier/artsy personality. I love black, dislike bright colors.
There it was, all of my fashion confessions in one 500 character form field. If I could have added ALSO PLEASE HELP ME DEAR GODS PLEASE HELP ME LOOK CUTE at the end, I would have (thank goodness for that character limit, am I right?). I just don’t know how to shop for clothes, especially Professional Working Woman clothes…I know what colors, aesthetics, and styles I like, but I struggle to fit those things on my small, curvy body. I tend to latch onto the brands of clothing I’ve stumbled upon over the years as actually fitting me, never venturing out into the wider world of fashion with conscious knowledge of how to dress myself, despite a personal aesthetic that is actually quite distinct and intriguing (so people tell me). My style is inspired by fantasy books and witches (elves and magic and forest spirits and Gothic horror) – how do you even find that when you’re looking for Adult Clothing for Professionals?
The first thing I noticed about my Stitch Fix box was how efficiently it had been packaged. They’d fit shoes and four items of clothing into a perfectly square and fairly small box, without wrinkling anything…! Inside, there was also a note from the stylist who had been assigned to me, a pricing sheet, and a general “Welcome to Stitch Fix” sort of message. I threw all of those papers aside in order to get to the good stuff faster: the actual items in the box. Here they are, in order of appearance (i.e. in order of how quickly I ripped them out of the cute tan and blue Stitch Fix tissue paper):
Crescenta Tie Neck Blouse by Daniel Rainn
Holy moly. My first look at this thing, and I knew I loved it. Putting it on, I was almost crying tears of joy. Here, finally, was a top I could wear to client meetings that (a) fit me literally perfectly and (b) didn’t feel unauthentic or not “my style” (like so many plain, button-up blouses I’d tried on in the past had). This top was flowy and ethereal, with a really interesting neck-line pattern, reminiscent of a renaissance tapestry, rounded and intricate like a drawing of a labyrinth. It also had silver bells/charms on the sleeves and around the tassel on the front – little glints of metallic shine, giving it an elven feel. They really did read my mind! How did they know I love elves? My coworker hadn’t been wrong! These were some legit fashion wizards.
10/10! I put this one in the “will definitely buy” category.
Kay 4-way Stretch Skinny Jean by Liverpool
I don’t own a pair of full-length jeans, and never have since…middle school. Jeans terrify me. Jeans upset me. Jeans are for women with skinny, long legs and no curves and…wait…what’s this!? Jeans that actually make me look slim? Jeans that actually feel comfortable as they hug my curvier thighs and butt? Jeans that actually look like they were made for a petite person (in length)? Jeans that I don’t want to immediately rip off my body and burn in a bonfire? Was this some kind of black magic woo-woo?
These jeans were comfortable as heck! I loved them. The only issue was, they were too big for my waist, by just a little. I needed one size down. No problem – Stitch Fix will send you the size you need for free shipping if you send back the size that didn’t fit you and still pay for everything. 9/10 for the black magic woo-woo jeans.
Krystine Lace Back Cardigan by Moon & Sky
So. SOFT. I couldn’t stop petting this cardigan. The neutral tone is not one I usually go for, but after trying it on with my favorite forest green dress I was totally sold. Also, how cool is that pattern? The more I wore it, the more warm and cozy I realized it was…this sure would come in handy now that certain other cardigans have giant holes in them…
9/10, ridiculously soft, adds to my ethereal elven theme, will wear daily in Autumn.
Niall Sweater Swing Dress by RD Style
This one was tough – I had to wear it for at least fifteen minutes around the apartment to decide if I liked it. Oh, it was comfy and warm and just the sort of thing I look for when the weather starts to cool off – big, over-sized sweater dresses to wear over leggings. The issue for me was the cut of the neckline / the way the dress hung from my chest down…I wasn’t totally sold that it looked good on me. The quality was clearly high, and it was definitely a “me” item (look at that lovely shade of neutral grey!), but this ended up being the only item I set in the “will maybe buy” category upon first fitting. 6/10, nothing crazy special, had to think about it longer than the others…but it wasn’t NOT good, y’know? Decisions, decisions…
Society D’Orsay Flats by BC Footware
Pointed toe. Open sides. Sparkly gemstone gold. I admit, for a second, I raised an eyebrow. None of those qualities are generally attributes I look for in shoes. I love flats, but I usually favor a rounded toe and a nice heaping helping of matte black. I would never have batted an eyelash at these shoes had I seen them in a store. But hey – what the hell! Stitch Fix had gone to all that trouble of mailing these babies right to my door, why not give them a try?
Ummm, can you spell A D O R A B L E? Because I can, and I did, like 8 times as I stared at my feet in the mirror. Woah, pointed toe is kinda cute?! And that sparkle – it’s not really that sparkly, it’s more shimmery, and elves definitely shimmer. And wow, they look good with the jeans! And the cardigan! And…oh, I see what you’ve done there, Stitch Fix. Well played! You got me to love a pair of shoes I’d never have normally noticed on my own AND you sent me pieces of an outfit I happen to also love that go perfectly with them.
9/10. Extra point for the cleverness factor. Also, don’t my feet look like they could be Galadriel’s?
So, all in all, I had an extremely positive first time Stitch Fix experience. In fact, even though I wasn’t 110% sold on the grey sweater dress, I ended up buying it because I loved the other four items so much and the “buy all” discount was that significant (I basically ended up getting the jeans for free). I ended up sending back the jeans to get a size smaller, and it all worked out.
Oh! But let me tell you about the absolute best part of all: after I’d finished trying everything on, I remembered the little note from the stylist that had come in the box. Melissa – the stylist assigned to me – had written a personal summary of why she had chosen what she had for my first box. Let me share with you the best part:
Warmest wishes Brooke! I’m so excited to be styling your very first Fix! I LOVED your Pinterest and your ethereal style so I pulled this Daniel Rainn Tie Neck Blouse. The details of this top and the dark navy color will make you look sophisticated in front of clients and still have that charming touch with the unique neckline.
MELISSA YOU ANGEL! She called my style “ethereal”! She actually looked at my nerdy, witchy Pinterest (which I had made only for the sake of Stitch Fix BUT I DIGRESS). She actually took the time to get to know me, and she nailed finding clothes that fit my personality! Stitch Fix stylists aren’t mind readers, I realized, they just actually listen to what you tell them about yourself. I felt loved, I felt appreciated, and I felt grateful.
I’m sure not everyone experiences the positive results that I did with Stitch Fix, but I was desperately in need of a wardrobe overhaul and this has jump-started the process for me in a wonderful way – so I can’t help but show my enthusiasm and genuine surprise…honestly, I was not expecting this to work out so well. What were the chances that I’d end up buying all the things they sent me – like getting a lucky hand on your first draw? Well, I’ve signed up for a second box to arrive around October 17th…so we’ll see if Melissa and Stitch Fix can make magic happen once again!
Some final thoughts/advice:
- Stitch Fix is primarily for professional, working women. Not to say you wouldn’t benefit if you’re in college or something, but the clothes are expensive in the sense that they’re high quality, and not really for people looking to find bargains (though Stitch Fix does a lot to ensure you pay less than what everything is truly worth with their referral program and “buy everything” discount). Stitch Fix gives you the opportunity to choose what price range works for you, and they do their best to meet your needs. However, the cheapest option (beyond the “give me whatever is cheapest” option, which doesn’t state exact prices) is $50-$100.
- It’s not necessarily a recurring service! You are not locked into month-to-month payments or boxes. Stitch Fix is nice in that it lets you set the rate that works for you. I didn’t even set a second delivery date until after I had tried my first box, and that’s only because I loved my first box (I could have walked away and never done the program again if I’d wanted).
- If you want to try Stitch Fix, make a goddamn Pinterest board. I know, I know…Pinterest is so popular and so full of organic recipes and cutesy DIY solutions…just suck it up and do it. It was the best thing I could have done to ensure my first Fix would be successful. How did Melissa really know what to pick for me? She had a Tolkien-shaped fashion map drawn out for her from the start ;)