Monday, May 12, 2014

I Did It! I Pulled The Trigger and Got My "Fix"

Note:  I am not endorsed or renumerated by Stitch Fix in any way.  This post is only for me to express my opinion and share my experience.  However, if you are interested in trying Stitch Fix yourself, I do request that you use this link, which will give me a 25% referral discount.  Stitch Fix did not provide me with this link in exchange for posting about them on this blog.  All customers receive a referral link when signing on and if you decide to use the service, they will provide you with one as well.

A few posts ago I rambled on quite a bit about whether or not I wanted to try Stitch Fix and what the pros and cons would be.

For those of you not wanting to go back and read a long-winded post (and I don't blame you if you don't), Stitch Fix is an online shopping service where you submit your size, style preferences, and color preferences to a website, and they pick out five surprise items of clothing for you.  You pay a $20 styling fee that is applied to anything you decide to buy.  If you decide you don't like any of the clothes, you send them back in a prepaid envelope and lose the $20.  If you decide to buy all five of the items, you get a 25% discount.

I finally came to the conclusion I had nothing to lose by trying it once and seeing if I liked what they picked out for me.  I do enjoy clothes shopping, but I have less time to do it these days and often have rotten luck finding exactly what I want or need when I do have the time to shop.   I had planned to do it in the fall when I would need my next wardrobe changeover.  I wasn't too concerned about the upcoming spring and summer season.  I had a whole Pin Board of clothes I wanted to buy from other web sites.  There was no need for shopping help just yet.

At the end of March I was feeling down in the dumps from this endless winter and decided that buying some new spring clothes would cheer me up.  Why not buy a few of my favorites to help me prepare for the warm weather I hope would be ahead?  I had some tops and skirts I really wanted from Mod Cloth and a dress from Shabby Apple all waiting for me to order them.  I took out my credit card and prepared to do some damage.

To my surprise, most of my favorite items were sold out. The problem with some of my favorite clothing websites like Mod Cloth is that they don't restock items once they sell out unless there is high demand.  It's not likely I'll ever be able to buy those items from them again.  On top of that, one of the items I was able to buy - the dress from Shabby Apple - ended up being ill-fitting and frumpy. 

Rather than devote more time scanning stores and catalogs and websites looking for new wardrobe ideas, I decided I should just try Stitch Fix now and see what they could do for me.

Ordering from Stitch Fix is very exciting and a little bit scary.  It is a huge leap of faith to order clothes blindly (although I suppose it's less risky than The Something Store).  I did a lot of research before placing the order.  There are countless blogs chronicling various women's Stitch Fix boxes.  I must have perused them all (I admit there is something addictive about them).  I turned a critical eye to the items they received.  Did I like any of it?  How did they feel about the pieces I liked?  Did they fit well?  Were they good quality?  At times it was hard to judge because the plan is customized and other women have different budgets, coloring, body types, and style preferences from mine.  If I disliked everything in another woman's box, but she liked it all, would that mean that my stylist would figure me out?  I also seem to have little in common with the typical Stitch Fix customers.  Most of them are Mommy bloggers who stay home with their kids and are trying to glamorize their frumpy Mommy wardrobes and not women who work full time.   I also couldn't help noticing that Stitch Fix bloggers are overwhelmingly white and many of them are evangelical Christians.  Can they design for a child-free, full-time-employed, skeptic? 

Personal style is a funny thing.  How do you define it?  Even if you say you like a certain type of clothing, there is no guarantee that you will love everything you ever see in that category.  You may like a style on other people, but find out those clothes don't really work for you.  For example, you may love animal prints on another person or on a mannequin, but that particular zebra skirt looks terrible on you.  The clothes you love on someone else might not fit your lifestyle either.

In some ways it's very hard to pin down my style.  I do try to find pieces that are unique and beautiful.  I often receive compliments on some of my more distinctive clothing articles.  I just never want to be over the top.  (I go by the adage that it's far easier to look interesting than it is to actually be interesting.)  If I were to try to define my style, I would say it's about 40% classic and simple (straight skirts, tailored pants, cardigans, blazers) 40% sweet and girly-girly (floral patterns, lace, eyelets, pastels), and about 20% "anything goes" (leopard print boots, skirts patterned with pink cats playing the violin*).  I prefer strong colors, but only those in the blue and red families (turquoise, royal, navy, ruby, pink, fuschia, burgundy, purple) and not in the yellow families (yellow, orange, gold, yellowy greens).  For neutrals I like black, white, and gray but never brown.  Beige and khaki I mostly wear only for casual wear.  Would the profile I filled out convey all of that?  If it did, would I still like the clothes they sent?

I tried to convey all of this in my profile.  I made notes about how I only like certain shades of green and that I like vertical stripes but not horizontal ones.  I told them not to send me maxi skirts or dresses because I'm too short for that sort of thing.  I indicated that I wanted work clothes for summer.  For this box, I asked for no jewelry.  I'm not against having them send me a piece or two in the future, but right now my focus is on clothes.  (Besides, I already have my preferred source for statement jewelry.)

It is kind of amusing that I think so much about style when so many aspects of my life require no style at all.  Sure I have to work in a business attire office.  Yes I do have special occasions with my friends, family, and husband.  Regardless I still spend much of my spare time in places where style counts for nothing and where I have no problem being a slob.  When I'm not at work I might be home cooking and cleaning in sweatpants and a t-shirt.  I might also be at the gym or at dance class wearing workout pants with tanks and tees.  Most of my weekend is spent at the barn in riding gear that gets dirty and sweaty (and this time of year is covered in shed hair).

I had concerns other than style.  I was concerned about fit.  I have such a difficult figure to dress and Stitch Fix doesn't carry any petite lines.  If you're short, they simply rely on designers who tend to cut their clothes shorter (and those might not be the pieces I like the most on others' blogs).  I was also concerned about price.  I set my budget high because I really am looking for quality items.  I find that cheap clothing tends to look cheap.  Stuff from stores like Old Navy and H&M tend to be ill-fitting and poorly made so as to assure all my lumps, bumps, and saggy bits are on full display. I need to invest a bit more in looking good.  Paying more money may increase my odds of quality, but doesn't guarantee it.  Also, would all of the pieces be affordable enough if I wanted to buy the whole package?

I had to wait a very long time to find out just what I would be receiving.  Due to high demand Stitch Fix is pretty backlogged with orders, so even though I made the order in late March, I was unable to schedule the arrival of my box until the middle of May.  On the bright side, it meant the weather might  finally be somewhat appropriate for spring clothes.   I spent weeks looking obsessively at the review blogs, trying to guess which  items might come my way.  In fact, by the time I was two weeks away, I was becoming bored with the whole process and I was beginning to care less about my box's arrival.

Then the day came that the box arrived.  I told myself that no matter what I saw when I first opened the box that I would try it all on and keep an open mind.  I was hoping for five fabulous items to totally make over my wardrobe.  I had to keep reminding myself that I might not like everything they sent (and that it was possible I would not like anything).

The box arrived.  I may have squealed a bit when I saw it.  The box was smaller than I expected it to be.  They pack the stuff in tightly.  Very environmentally friendly.


Here it is: The Unboxing.  I am doing a Stitch Fix review blog post, just like so many other customers out there.

When they ship your order, they have a list of what the clothes are on your account page.  I peeked and looked ahead of time.  I knew I would be receiving three blouses, a jacket, and a dress, but I didn't know what any of it would look like.  That was going to be the big surprise.

Everything is packaged quite nicely.  They include a personal note from your stylist explaining why she chose these particular items.  It was clear from the note she had paid attention to my Pin board.

The other distinctive feature of Stitch Fix is they give you these style cards that suggest different outfits you can make with each piece.  There is a suggestion for how to dress it up and how to dress it down.


So here are the clothes.  If Kevin and I had been home together for a longer period of time this night, I would have had him photograph me in them, but we were both home late, so I just took photos on the hanger.  I didn't have good enough light for selfies in front of my big mirror.

Piece #1
Lily Cheyanne Cross-Front Top
$64


 This was the first piece I tried on.  I had high hopes for it because I loved the neckline. Unfortunately it didn't flatter me at all.  It made me look a bit dumpy.  I didn't love the color either.  I prefer my blues to be deeper and less green-y.  I also thought the price was a bit high for a glorified t-shirt.

Piece #2
Daniel Rainn Helga Abstract Pocket-Front Tank
$68

I loved this top.  The print was so much fun.  I could really see wearing this with a black skirt and a cardigan for a more dressed up look, or with a light skirt and brightly colored shoes for a more fun look.  It would also be great with jeans.

The size was all wrong though.  It was enormous.  It was not just big and billowy, but had huge gaping armholes that let the whole world know what color bra I was wearing.  It also seemed a bit pricey for what it was, but had it fit, I would have paid it because this top would have been so practical and fun.

Piece #3
Collective Concepts Esten Button-Up Sleeveless Blouse
$58

Is this not the most gorgeous color ever?  I was in love the minute I saw it.  Sadly, just like with the black and white top, it was way too big with the same gaping armhole problem.  I think I almost shed a tear having to send it back.

Piece #4
41 Hawthorn Farah Fit & Flare Striped Dress
$68

Another piece in a gorgeous color.  I wanted this to work so badly, even though it has horizontal stripes and I usually don't look good in horizontal stripes because I'm thick and busty.  This dress was the opposite of the two shirts.  It was way too small in the top (and still had a small armhole gap to boot).  I think I did cry over this one.  The price was pretty reasonable too.

Piece #5
41Hawthorn Harper 3/4 Sleeve Jacket
$58

See the jacket on the left?  I saw this on some other Stitch Fix review blogs and put it on my Pin board.  The stylist took notice.  The problem is I forgot when I pinned it that I had the jacket on the right in winter storage.  The jackets were just too similar to make the Stitch Fix one worth keeping.  Even though I liked it and it fit, I sent it back.

When I first ordered my Fix I told myself that if I kept three of the articles of clothing they sent, I would do this again.  I ended up keeping nothing, but I liked almost everything.  The problem was not the style. The stylist did a great job.  The problem was the fit.  I'm giving them one more chance to get it right.  I ordered another box that will be delivered at the end of June.  If they do well with that one, I'll do my fall wardrobe with them.  We will see what happens.

I am learning about other similar styling services such as Tog + Porter, Stylemint, StyleYou, and The Golden Tote. If the blogosphere is any indicator, Stich Fix tops them all in popularity.  I am not sure which others I would want to try.  Tog + Porter seems the most similar to Stitch Fix.  It requires a lengthier styling process that includes uploading photos of yourself and Skype sessions with your stylist.  I have looked at online reviews and it seems that women are far less happy with the clothes they receive.  I haven't liked much of what I have seen on Tog + Porter blogs, which means the complex process of styling doesn't seem worth the effort.

Right now I am still looking at my styling cards and wishing I could have kept that pink top and that blue dress.  

*Yes I really own these items

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