My experience with online personal styling services
Disclaimer: this is not a paid advert (I wish), but simply an account of my personal experience.
It is fair to say that the last two years have not been the easiest for any of us. I am almost reluctant to call it two years, because that would mean admitting that this big chunk of time is the longest I have ever spent wearing leggings. Lockdowns, hybrid working, not being able to go out much, have all contributed to me developing a strong attachment to my leggings (particularly my M&S thermal ones) and an equally strong reluctance to force myself back into my jeans. Can anyone relate to this?
Last semester, however, alongside my usual library job, I also worked in a teaching position at University. While you can get away with wearing leggings and a cute long knit as a librarian, the same does not apply when you are in front of fifty postgraduate students to teach them about comparative literature. Time to look semi serious now. Here you have to enter the realm of cool blazers and respectable trousers. Or at the very least, real trousers (sorry thermal leggings, I love you nonetheless).
Having a rather frantic schedule, and being still in the middle of covid restrictions, meant that I did not have much time to go for a shopping trip, nor for much online shopping and/or browsing (believe it or not, turns out that teaching and having another job makes your schedule pretty hectic). So one of my friends suggested I should try Stitch Fix. I know I am late to the party (as usual) however, here are some of my thoughts about the whole clothes box styling subscription.
Stitch Fix is a personal styling service – it means that a stylist chooses some outfits for you, according to your personal need, lifestyle, budget and taste. After filling out a quick questionnaire your stylist will send you a box of clothes, if you like the items you keep them, if you don’t, you send them back. Easy peasy.
I will admit that I was initially a bit sceptical. First of all, I am very, very fussy when it comes to clothes (otherwise I wouldn’t be writing about it so much, would I??). I am also rather particular about my personal style and generally feel very strongly against buying stuff just to follow the latest trends. Most of all though, I want my clothes to make me feel fabulous, yet comfortable and, possibly, warm ( hello, Scottish temperamental weather). So, given all this fussiness, I did not have the greatest expectations.
However, I was rather surprised. I kept all the items that I received in my first Fix, and wore them all on repeat. The exciting part was that even if I had filled a questionnaire with my style and colour preferences, I was sent some fun items that I would never have chosen myself. Enter the jumpsuit – why did I not find out about this sooner? Jumpsuits are superb – who knew?!! I was sent a burgundy one with a cheetah print that I absolutely adore, and it proved to be much more versatile than I would have thought. I wore it with a cropped blazer (also sent in this Fix) and black ankle boots when I was teaching, with sandals and a crossbody bag in summer, and with a chunky cardigan and flats when working in the library. I like that I was pushed a bit outside my comfort zone, but most of all, that I was able to integrate all the items I received in my Fix seamlessly into my existing wardrobe, giving it a quick refresh without having a total makeover.
Can shopping this way be sustainable?
I will start by saying that some of the brands I received (Vero Moda, Only, Stitch Fix own brand) are not always the most transparent when it comes to sustainable practices, nor the most known for everlasting quality. However, I think that shopping this way could be a more mindful approach than just filling your cart with a bunch of clothes that will then end up at the charity because you could not be bothered to return them. Your stylist also includes a nice little note with pictures on how to style each item in your Fix, giving you a couple of outfit options. You can also select the frequency of your Fixes, and cancel at any time. Ideally, this helps you create a curated and personalised wardrobe.
Will I continue my subscription?
Nope. The main reason to stop my subscription is really rather simple – I have now more time to curate my own wardrobe. Don’t get me wrong, it was super fun and I really loved my stylist and she gave great inspiration for new outfit ideas using my current wardrobe. However, I do rather love being my own stylist, I am very mindful of what goes into my wardrobe, and I have a clear vision of what I do need, and what I do not (you can read more about it here ). I think Stitch Fix, or any other similar subscriptions, are a great opportunity for busy people, or if you need a bit of a style booster and don’t know where to start.
Things I didn’t like
Generally I was really quite happy with the majority of my boxes. I didn’t have any trouble with the fit, so I didn’t have to exchange anything. My biggest complaint would be the following. Stitch Fix offers a 20% discount on the overall price of the box if you keep all your items. This meant for me that I ended up keeping a couple of items simply because it was more convenient to keep them all, rather than returning only two pieces. However, those are precisely the items that I ended up never wearing, and are probably going on ebay or vinted pretty soon. Hence, not great for the whole sustainability factor. I think it would make more sense to add a smaller discount to each of the items separately, and a bigger one on the overall price of the box. Also, it would be great to see a stylist subscription box like this, but with second hand clothes for the UK (maybe it does exist and I haven’t found out yet – comment below if you do!).
Ultimately, Stitch Fix was great fun, a nice treat and a really helpful option to have during a period of my life where I was a bit too overwhelmed to curate my wardrobe. It was refreshing and exciting to experiment with something new, especially after the pandemic (and consequent leggings uniform). At the end of the day, however, curating my wardrobe to me is a source of joy and a creativity outlet. Each item I choose has to function within my own design, and the vision I have (yes, I know I sound like I am planning the Sistine Chapel) so I am going back to my usual ways of shopping – aka, planning, hunting down the perfect piece, checking how it works in my existing wardrobe, and so on. Yes, it does take a much longer time to be that kind of shopper (ahem, a mindful one) but then, I believe the Sistine Chapel too wasn’t built in a day (nor was Rome, for that matter).