Does a Stitch Fix in Time Save Nine?

My love language is definitely quality time. Sure, I respond to words of affirmation too, but acts of service, physical touch and gifts are lower down on the list for me. Or so I thought before my Stitch Fix box arrived in the mail.

I wanted to try this style-as-a-subscription service primarily to evaluate it for you, dear reader. I mean, how much help can a remote stylist provide to someone who already has a pretty good eye for what suits her?

But that was before this unassuming box arrived in the mail.

Now I don’t know about you, but for as long as I’ve been receiving things via the postal service I’ve been excited about what the mailbox might contain every day. It’s disappointing for me when there is only a Chinese takeout menu to recycle. I even like seeing bills in there!

And now that we can order so many things online, I’m about as giddy as my kids when there is a box waiting on the front step. I don’t always remember what I’ve ordered, so that adds to the frisson.

But this box was a little different. Beginning with the stylish print on the inside of the box. And the beautifully presented items, almost like a gift. And the personalized note from a real stylist, plus suggestions on how to style the pieces she had chosen. Yes, Stitch Fix uses technology to underpin the entire service, but they also employ real people as stylists. I really felt like I was opening a surprise gift.

Because I had no idea what they had sent me.

I had filled out their quiz online that gives them some parameters in terms of style, occasion, price range and item types, and I had included a note about what I was most interested in receiving. In my case I had asked for unusual pieces that could upgrade my basics, or something like that. (A friend asked for date night items.) I was also very specific about asking for pieces that had a defined waist.

So How Did Stitch Fix Do?

 My style, but not my colors.

My style, but not my colors.

I’ve had two ‘fixes’ as they call them, mostly because I wanted to see how they did with additional feedback. And surprisingly, to me anyway, I’ve kept pieces from both fixes. Neither one was 100% a hit, but they got it right enough, and made it so easy to send back the things that were a miss that I think I may have become a convert. To have new clothes surprise you at home every couple of months (you can choose every 2-3 weeks, monthly, every other month, or every 3 months) is a great pick-me-up whether you are stylishly challenged or not.

 Pants that fit! Woo hoo!

Pants that fit! Woo hoo!

The first box contained a very nice basic black dress that I just didn’t need, a black and white striped jersey jacket that was just meh, a beautiful necklace that was totally my style, just not my colors (my fashion friend down the street took that one!), a very pretty top that did nothing for me either color-wise or style-wise and these very basic pants that were totally yawn inducing. I hate pants. Especially in the summer!

Except. Except this was the first pair of pants I have put on in YEARS that actually fit properly. And not just properly, they were actually flattering. So I’ve hung them up until the weather turns chilly again because frankly, part of the reason I hate pants is that I can never, and I mean never, find any that fit me.

Feedback Leads to Flattering

Their second effort was definitely more in line with my style, so clearly they do pay attention to your feedback. In fact, I was just on the Stitch Fix site to confirm some details for this post and they had a selection of dresses for me to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to in a very Tinder-like fashion, which I assume will be fed into an algorithm somewhere to assist my real stylist in choosing the next items they send me.

mixed_media_shirt.JPG

In the second fix they sent me a basic white shirt that is made more interesting by the ‘mixed media’ of its design; the front is a classic white shirt, but the back is a soft jersey material. It has cool cuffs too, but the best part is that it is fitted and it defines the waist that I have. This was a point I made a big deal out of after they sent me the first blousy top. Again, not something for a DC summer, but it’s hanging there waiting for the weather to turn.

There were some pretty silver earrings that were almost the same as a pair I already own and a subtly printed pair of blue pants that would have been great for casual wear had the price been casual as well. They seem to be getting it right at least some of the time, although the very pretty printed top in perfect colors was still one of those flowy things that just doesn’t work for someone with short legs, a bosom and a waist.

 Wish this photo did this dress justice! It's really, really flattering.

Wish this photo did this dress justice! It's really, really flattering.

But the dress! This dress in the second fix was a total stunner. Absolutely nothing I needed, but so perfect in every way that I couldn’t not keep it. Which is kind of what their business model is based on. If you hate to shop, have trouble putting together outfits or just don’t have time to shop, Stitch Fix could be a godsend. If you’re like me and get excited by a little something new now and then, this is a pretty easy way to get it.

My friend Lisa posted this on Facebook after she received her first fix: "Tried Stitch Fix for the first time. Got my order today and I have to say I'm thrilled with the selection, quality, and price. This hit all my buttons - didn't have to take time to go to multiple stores; didn't have to try a bunch of stuff on that I wouldn't end up buying; didn't cheese out and just go to Dress Barn because it's close (and I always regret). I thought this would be a good way to get a quick infusion of clothes without becoming overwhelmed and stressed by going to the store." 

Lisa loves that she doesn’t need to go shopping for things that just never work for her, but she also told me that she likes how Stitch Fix gets a lot of detail about your body type and has you continually refine that with the feedback after each fix.

Another friend, Rita Goodroe, has found Stitch Fix super valuable for that reason too. Here’s what she had to say: “I really love Stitch Fix. As a petite (4'11) plus size, it's hard for me to find clothes in the stores and online shopping is more miss than hit. What I enjoy is that Stitch Fix has access to clothes that fit my measurements from places I wouldn't even know about, or have access to, which allows me to diversify my wardrobe. Working with a stylist also helps to refine each delivery so that I'm keeping more and returning less which, truthfully, is what I want!”

And apparently a lot of people feel the same way. The company now has sales in excess of $1 billion and has also introduced a men’s and children’s service. I’m not sure this premise works for children’s clothes, but I think I could get behind this idea for men. I wonder if they have the sizes that will work for my 6’3” hubbie? He hates to shop, doesn’t really like to put outfits together, and doesn’t really have time to shop either. Hmmm . . .

Clearly the style-as-a-subscription service is here to stay. Stitch Fix has some competition in Front Door Fashion and Le Tote. Lisa also uses Front Door Fashion and has found their clothing a little more fashion forward, and slightly higher quality (with a slightly higher price tag) than Stitch Fix. They send her things that she wouldn’t have chosen herself, but that she loves.

Le Tote is a different business model – this is more of a clothing rental service, with your monthly subscription offering you access to outfits you choose to try out for a time.  You can choose work, weekend or special occasion and the idea is that you wear them for as long as you like, then send them back. If you really love something, you can purchase it for 50% of the retail price.

So what’s my verdict? Definitely a hit. I care about how I present myself and I probably spend more time shopping for the right things than most women (primarily online now), but I love the surprise gift element of Stitch Fix. And if I really hated shopping and struggled to find clothes that fit and flattered me, I would certainly pay a premium for this service. And yet I’ve found the prices to be in line with what I would expect to pay in a store. Seems like a great way to stay stylish and it definitely saves time. So yes, a Stitch Fix in time does save nine!