Thursday, June 25, 2015

Stich Fix Review #5 - Can They Outfit My Vacation? (Apparently Not)

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 for those who are interested.  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 on future orders. 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.

If you are reading this post, then you are either a regular reader of my blog or else you found this post while searching online for Stitch Fix reviews.  That means that I probably don't need to explain what Stitch Fix is.  Just in case you still don't know, here is the capsule summary.

It's an online personal shopping service.  Like most subscription boxes, you don't know what they are going to send you.  You fill out a fairly detailed style profile on the site.  If you want to order a box, you pay a $20 styling fee and arrange a delivery date.  Stitch Fix sends you 5 items of clothing and accessories.  You pay for what you keep and send back what you don't like in a prepaid envelope.  The $20 fee is credited toward your purchase.  If you keep all 5 items, you will receive a 25% discount.  If you send it all back, you lose the $20.  Unlike many other subscription boxes, you don't have to do monthly shipments (although you have that option). You can simply order a box on demand.

I have had 4 "fixes" so far of varying success.  My first box was filled with clothes that made me squeal with delight upon receipt and cry with disappointment upon trying them on.  Nothing fit.  My second box had a couple of pieces that didn't work for various reasons, but I was thrilled with a top and a dress they sent.  My third box was an odd combination of this and that, but I kept two very practical pieces and one piece that wasn't practical for the season that I loved anyway.

It was my fourth box that made me question whether I ever wanted to do Stitch Fix again.  I couldn't believe that my stylist had gotten it so wrong.  Clothes were ugly, ill-fitting, or really just outside my style.  I was probably unnecessarily angry over that box.  Stitch Fix can have a strange effect on you though.  Many subscribers seem to have a difficult time giving up hope that there is a better box on the horizon.  They can also can be unreasonably angry over disappointing fixes.

I decided to order a box specifically to help complete my vacation wardrobe.  I can probably make do with what I already have for this trip, but I thought it might be nice to have a few vacation-specific items to fill it all out.   This will be the first time I have ordered a box to suit an occasion.  Stitch Fix advertises to its subscribers that if you have a specific occasion in mind to let the stylist know.  The Stitch Fix blog sometimes has posts about vacation wardrobes, but I rarely ever see any resort wear in the user review blogs.  It still caters heavily to mommy bloggers.

For a Mediterranean cruise, where I will be leaving the ship and taking excursions in cities in Italy, Greece, and the Dalmatian Coast, I have some very specific needs.

1.  It's going to be hot out.  Clothes need to be loose fitting and made from lightweight, breathable fabrics.

2.  Clothes need to be in good taste.  I don't want to be an Ugly American.  I know I can't completely disguise the fact that I'm American, but I can try to look like a better class of American.  I won't be the tacky American in jorts, athletic sneakers, a fanny pack, and a baseball cap.  Also, there is a dress code on the ship after 6PM (no shorts or jeans in public areas).

3.  The United States seems to be the only country in the world where shorts are acceptable in metropolitan areas.  I need skirts, dresses, and capris for when I'm taking city tours.  I will likely wear shorts when I'm on tours that aren't focused on a city (such as hiking in Krka National Park in Croatia) but those shorts need to be tailored and tasteful.

4.  I prefer sleeveless tops and dresses.  Part of that is just comfort.  I like to wear as little clothing as decency allows in hot weather.  Part of it, I will admit, is vanity.  I wear plenty of sunscreen, but sometimes I just can't avoid getting sun altogether no matter how much sunscreen I wear.  I hate the "farmer tan" look.

5. Since I like sleeveless tops and some of the city tours include churches, I will need a little shirt or cardigan to cover up.  Churches in Europe don't allow bare shoulders.  Some of my skirts will need to cover knees as well since churches also don't allow bare knees.

It's very hard to convey all of this in the limited space one is given to write a note to the stylist.

My cynicism was on full blast while waiting for this package.  I often like to peek at the invoice online when my box ships to get an idea of what I will be receiving.  I will even Google one or two of the items if the surprise becomes too much to bear.  I eventually did when the box took a day longer to arrive than I expected.  I didn't Google the items though.  I felt a need to postpone the disappointment.  Nothing I saw online in review blogs looked like what was on my pin board. Besides, I was focusing on clothes are deviate from my usual style. It also made me nervous when I noticed how quickly the turnaround time was.  I received the message my box was being styled on Friday and found out on Monday it had shipped.  How much time and effort do they put into putting the box together?  (Do they work weekends?)

The box arrived (with obligatory photo of the outside).  My first thought was, "Please Stitch Fix tell me you didn't make Carol my stylist again."  I really wanted my stylist note to say that I prefer not to have Carol again, but I didn't have enough space to do so.

I have a ritual now.  I take the entire pile out of the box and view it from the side so I can assess the colors and patterns.

Next I read the stylist's note.  How much of her babble actually mentions my requests or items she saw Pin board?  I also make a quick glance of the style cards.  I was very pleased that I not only didn't have Carol, but I had Megan again.  Yay Megan!  She was very clear about the pieces she chose and why she chose them.  She clearly read my stylist note and the notes from my last Fix as well.

Then I pull every piece out and examine it and try it on.  I may not take photos right away if my husband isn't around.  When it's time to take photos, I look at the style cards for inspiration for the photos. Here are the photos!  The photos are the final stop in my keep/return assessment.

(The photos are terrible and I look awful in them.  Sorry about that.  Until my injuries heal there is little I can do about my weight gain.  I also don't know why my boobs look so ginormous.)

Item 1: Olive & Oak Dallas Top
Price: $58
Item 2: Daryl Printed Capri Jean
Price: $68

This was an adorable top, but the elastic peplum waist just didn't flatter me.  It also caused the back to gap and sag.  I had an unsightly bulge in the back plus the straps sagged and didn't cover my bra when I moved around.  If it weren't for the waist, I would have kept it.

If I wanted a cute pair of jeans, I would have kept these.  I love these jeans.  I really do.  However, they are not capris on me.  They are just jeans on me.  I need petite capris.  Also, who would be crazy enough to wear denim in Greece and Italy in July?  I almost considered keeping them because I liked the style so much.  I decided it was better to return them so I could spend the money on the type of pants I really need for the trip - shorter and lighter.

Status: Returned and Returned

Item 3: Skies Are Blue Romano Pintuck Top
Price: $44

I loved the style and it fit perfectly.  However it was practically transparent.  My beige bra looked black. 

Status: Returned

Item 4: Loveappella Zola Asymmetrical Dress
Price: $58

I loved the color.  I'm a sucker for purple.  I liked the creative hemline.  The dress did nothing for me though.  It fit, but it hugged every lump and bump.  It's too hot for Spanx where I'm going.

Status: Returned

Item 5: Staccato Joey Button-Up Top
Price: $48

This top is Tencel, but looked and felt like chambray.  Like the purple dress, it really did nothing for me in terms of flattery.  It looked a bit too mannish for my taste.  Megan suggested it as a layering piece since I wanted something to cover my shoulders when I'm touring churches, but I needed something I can easily stash in my bag.  This seemed too bulky.  I was looking for more of a little shrug or light blouse. 

Status: Returned

Another failed box.  I applaud the effort, but this just didn't work.  Will I ever do Stitch Fix again?  I'm not ready to give up on it yet.  I think I'll wait for the fall though.  I'll find other ways to find those elusive petite capris.  I have a note in to Rebecca at Keaton Row and we'll see if she can find me something I can afford.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Maybe You're Part of the Problem

Another shooting.  More innocent people dead.  A shooter who was clearly racially motivated.

Although you can argue about how rare shooting like this are compared to the general population (as gun advocates are currently doing), is the attitude behind it all that rare?  Dylann Roof's racism didn't exist in a vacuum.  His beliefs had to come from somewhere.

We live in a society that feeds this type of feeling.  You argue that it's just a few wackos.  The extreme racists are in isolated groups and everyone thinks they're a bunch of kooks, right?  No one outside of the KKK takes the KKK seriously.  We have a black president for goodness sake.  Racism is dead among rational people.

I believe that it's not the kooks and the extremists and the weirdos we have to fear.  It's the ordinary people who think that because they never use the "n word" that they are enlightened and have no problem.

Let's talk about what racism is.  Racism isn't outright prejudice and discrimination - although racism feeds those feelings.  Racism isn't just spewing hate.  Racism is the institutionalized values and systems we have in place that we aren't even aware of.

Below is a quote from one of my previous posts about what defines racism.

What is racism?  Racism is that funny feeling white people have walking through black neighborhoods.  Racism is the lack of diversity in most popular culture outlets unless it's entertainment specifically aimed at black people.  Racism is the dog whistles media personalities use to demonize poor people such as "ghetto", "inner city", and "welfare queen".  Racism is black people consistently receiving far harsher punishments for the same crimes white people receive from our justice system.  Racism is police killing 21 times more black suspects than white suspects.  Racism is the divide we feel between blacks and white every day in the subtlest of ways.  For example, at my previous job, one of my best friends in the office was black man, but he and I almost never socialized outside the office other than going out to lunch during work hours.   Racism is moving your purse away when a black person is close to you.  Racism is the complete lack of respect President Obama receives from Americans and from the media - respect that is due the office of the President of the United States.  Racism is the president receiving more death threats daily than any other president in history.

Are you constantly making "birther"jokes or even buying into those conspiracy theories (or at least hoping they might be true)?  Do you say, "I don't hate the president because he's black, I hate him because he's a terrible president," but when pressed for reasons why he's so terrible, all you can say is "He's a communist," and not really offer any viable facts and figures to support your argument?  Then you are likely part of the problem.

When a black suspect dies at the hands of police brutality, do you find yourself looking for reasons why it happened?  Do you nod and smile with relief when Fox News tells you the victim was a "thug" or that he was "no angel"?  Do you find yourself agreeing that the violence was justified because the victim had something of a criminal record?  How would you feel if that was your child?  Are you white?  When you were a teen, did you do any underage drinking, buy cigarettes illegally, smoke pot, trespass, or lift a small item from the candy store?  If you are the parent of a white teen, was your teen ever caught committing any of these crimes?  What is the difference between you (or your teen) and a black police shooting victim?  My guess is you either weren't caught, or if you were caught, you probably got nothing more than a stern talking to from your parents and the police.  If you somehow thing police shooting deaths are somehow different, and that you are really looking for ways to devalue another's life, then you are part of the problem.

When you complain about your taxes or worry about the financial status of the country, so you blame the social safety nets?  More to the point, when you are criticizing society's leeches, what images come to mind?  Do you blame the people in the "inner city"the "ghetto" the "welfare queens" or the "blah people"?  Then you are part of the problem.

Do you ever preface a sentence with the phrase, "I'm not a racist but..." because you think saying something horrible can somehow be made acceptable by simply declaring you yourself are not a racist?  Then you are part of the problem.

It's not just the white supremacists, the overt racists, the pandering politicians, or the Quiverfull breeders trying to put more white children on the planet who are racially polarizing this country.  It's the subtle, institutional racism that we are all part of, or complicit in.   It's the way white society still can't see blacks as equal, or see their lives as having equal value.  It how we look the other way when we see how the marginalized are dealt with.  It is the fact that some of us do express outrage when these incidents happen, but move on with our lives shortly after.

So what are we going to do now?  Will we find a way to make a change, or will we continue to be part of the problem?