Recently on Parade.com, I wrote about online stylist services for men. It’s not the first time I’ve covered the topic of using a personal stylist online. I wrote a review of online stylist services for women right here on this blog.
One of the reasons I like online stylist services is that I find them to be a great value for your time and money. That is, if you’re too busy to go to the store or don’t feel you have the acumen to choose on-trend clothes for yourself, these services will do that for you. And for a nominal fee—only $20, on average, which is deducted from the cost of anything you buy from your subscription box.
Popularity of Online Stylist Services
These clothing subscription services are hugely popular. One survey I saw said that orders for subscription box services jumped 83 percent on Black Friday/Cyber Monday over the past year. Of course, these numbers are for all subscription boxes, which includes Dollar Shave Club (razors, which I covered in this 2013 blog post), Birchbox (cosmetics) and Bark Box (dog goodies), among others.
This story is just focusing on three men’s online clothing styling services–Trunk Club for Men, Men’s Style Lab and Stitch Fix Men.
It’s important to note that these three subscription services are for “regular” sized men only. I say this because I would have loved to use my husband as my guinea pig for these online stylist services reviews. However, at 6’3″ and a former football player, the clothing was neither big nor tall enough for him. (Note to companies selling clothing subscriptions for men: take a page from Dia&Co and start a service for “big and tall men”. Speaking of plus size, Stitch Fix will start offering plus-size clothing for women in 2017.)
Stitch Fix Men Online Stylist Services
Stitch Fix Men launched in Fall 2016. The personalized styling service offers men a wide range of apparel, footwear and accessories like socks and belts. Some of the brands Stitch Fix Men is sending include Scotch and Soda, AG, 7 For All Mankind, Penguin and Mavi. Sizes range from XS through XXL, waist sizes 28-42, and inseams 30, 32 and 34.
Like Stitch Fix for women, men sign up online and fill out a style profile to share their size and style preferences. A personal stylist selects five items of apparel, footwear and accessories that best fit his unique taste, budget and lifestyle. The items are shipped right to his door, where he has three days to try on his Fix at home. He buys what he wants by checking out on the Stitch Fix website or the Smartphone app, and then sends the rest back with free shipping both ways. There is a $20 styling fee that is deducted from the price of whatever you buy.
Review of Stitch Fix Men
I had my 30-year-old brother Josh Ingram, a brand strategist in New York City, test out Stitch Fix Men. Josh normally shops for clothes at H&M, J.Crew or the skate shops in his Williamsburg, Brooklyn neighborhood. Sometimes he’ll buy clothes online because he likes instant gratification. He’s never worked with a personal stylist before.
Getting started on Stitch Fix, with the sign up and style profile, “was pretty awesome and well thought out,” he says. “I was excited to get everything from them.”
The excitement waned, however, when it took Stitch Fix almost a month to send him his box of clothes. “I kind of forgot about it,” he adds. When I mentioned that delay to a Stitch Fix spokesperson, she sent me this reply from Julie Bornstein, Chief Operating Officer of Stitch Fix: “Stitch Fix Men has exceeded our expectations and we are experiencing high demand for our service. This has led to longer wait times for some clients. We want to make sure every Fix provides what our clients want and expect–and are focusing on delivering a quality experience rather than a rushed one. We appreciate our clients’ patience and are working diligently to reduce our wait times.”
Pros of Stitch Fix Men
As mentioned Josh found the sign up and style profile creation process for Stitch Fix Men easy and clear, and, when his Fix finally arrived, it was spot on. “They did a pretty good job, actually really good. The stuff they chose was quality and really solid. It was really customized,” Josh says. His Fix included two shirts, a belt, a pair of pants and a sweater. He was impressed with the packaging inside the box and the styling cards that come with each Fix and offer suggestions on how to wear your items with other products.
Cons of Stitch Fix Men
In addition to the wait time, which hopefully will improve soon, Josh’s Fix included a shirt that he’s seen in local shops. In his Fix it cost $95; he believed he could get it cheaper elsewhere. (Note: if Josh had seen that shirt online at a lower price and had contacted Stitch Fix customer service as soon as the Fix arrived, they likely would have offered a price match.) Also, Josh didn’t feel like three days was enough time to try everything on and send it back. And, because he lives in New York City, where outgoing mailboxes are uncommon in apartment buildings, having to walk the Stitch Fix return package to a post office was a hassle.
Overall Thoughts on Stitch Fix Men
So what was Josh’s takeaway from Stitch Fix Men? Well, he loved the belt so much he kept it. “It was really unique,” he says. “The color of the leather was really nice, a beautiful cream brown.” But he did send the other four pieces back. He’s not sure he would use the service again. A big part of this is because mailing things isn’t always convenient. I imagine that if Josh had lived in a private house, a doorman building or the suburbs with a car, his opinion of the convenience of Stitch Fix Men may have been radically different.
Trunk Club for Men Online Stylist Services
Trunk Club for Men started in 2009 in Chicago. In 2014, Nordstrom purchased the company. Trunk Club added women’s clothing in 2015.
If you read my review of Trunk Club from earlier this year, I’d mentioned that I liked the Nordstrom connection. As a devout Nordstrom customer, I was familiar and comfortable with the quality of clothing the store sells and the level of customer service it offers. Trunk Club hasn’t let me down in either of those areas.
The Trunk Club Clubhouse Experience
In addition to its clothing club for men, Trunk Club offers in-person personal stylists that you can work with, if you visit one of the Trunk Club Clubhouses in Boston’s Back Bay, Chicago, Dallas, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, New York and Charleston, S.C. The Clubhouse services both men and women.
At the Clubhouse you can have custom clothing made—something not offered through the subscription service. In fact, because my husband is considered to be big and tall, if he wanted Trunk Club clothing, he would have to get them through an in-person appointment at a Clubhouse for custom-made shirts, casual jackets or business suits.
Review of Online Stylist Service Trunk Club for Men
Because of my husband’s size, I had to find another surrogate man for this review. Meet Eric Bruun, 48, of Carmel, Indiana, a private equity investor and single father. Eric’s actually been a Trunk Club customer since 2012.
“The thought of not having to drive to a store, try on clothes, and attempt to know what colors do or do not go together seemed too good to be true,” explains Eric of why he started using the service after hearing about it from a co-worker. “I’m also a single parent so I didn’t have the luxury of having a woman to help me choose clothes and provide feedback on how I look.”
Never one to enjoy shopping for clothes, he signed up for the service. He says that setting up his style profile on the Trunk Club website was “surprisingly easy.” “I went online and answered some questions about various brands that I liked, had worn before or was interested in,” he explains. “I answered some really simple questions regarding my physical build and size of clothes I typically wear.”
Soon after completing his profile online, he received an email with the name and photograph of his stylist, Lisa, who then scheduled a phone call with him. Next thing he knew, his first Trunk (or clothing box) arrived. “My first Trunk contained a variety of sweaters, shirts and jeans,” he adds. “The stylist also included a handwritten note.”
Eric loved the personal touch, and the clothing was pretty great. He received 10 pieces and had five days to try everything on. He was hooked.
In the beginning, as he was building his wardrobe, he received a Trunk every month or so. Nowadays, he’ll order a seasonal Trunk. That is, unless he has a special occasion or needs something to wear for an upcoming event.
Pros of Trunk Club for Men
Eric now calls his stylist Lisa his “clothing goddess.” Having someone he’s built a rapport with has made the service invaluable for him. “She’s given me confidence to try some new brands and looks,” he says. “She has helped me graduate from dressing like every other guy to dressing like a man that looks like he cares what he wears.”
As a busy businessman who travels a great deal of time, having online stylist services send him a clothing box when he wants clothes has made life that much easier.
When Eric has had business in Chicago, he’s visited the Trunk Club Clubhouse there. “It was a blast,” he explains. “When you first arrive you sit at their bar, have your drink of choice, and then your stylist comes to get you and then you go to work.”
Cons of Trunk Club for Men
While clearly a huge Trunk Club fan, Eric wishes there were better options with the belts they send. “I think Trunk Club has an opportunity to increase the selection of accessories they offer,” he says. Interestingly, he feels like he doesn’t hear from this online styling service nearly enough. He would like style updates sent regularly to spark him to contact Lisa about new clothes. Also, Trunk Club initially did not have a styling fee. Now it charges $25. Trunk Club deducts that from the cost of any clothing you buy.
Overall Thoughts on Trunk Club for Men
Not only does Eric enjoy the ease of working with his stylist, he also finds the checkout process and shipping back of clothes to be easy. Trunk Club provides a return UPS label with every Trunk. You can drop your Trunk at a UPS Store or arrange to have UPS pick it up from your home.
Also, unlike other men’s styling services, Eric appreciates that he can work with a stylist in person or order custom clothing at the Clubhouse. “I’ve had some shirts, jackets and a new top coat made using Trunk Club’s custom services,” he says. “Every man should aspire to have a few pieces of custom clothes.”
Sounds like I’m definitely going to have to get my husband an appointment at a Clubhouse. The gift of custom clothing might just be the perfect holiday, birthday or anniversary present to give him–or to give a man who has always wanted to work with a personal stylist but didn’t know how to go about doing that.
Men’s Style Lab Online Stylist Services
Because Trunk Club established its footing in the online stylist services space first, most people compare Men’s Style Lab to Trunk Club.
About Men’s Style Lab
Men’s Style Lab calls itself a personal styling concierge for men. Like other online stylist services, it creates a style profile for you and then chooses clothing accordingly. Men’s Style Lab calls this profile your Style DNA, and it includes information not only about your body type and clothing sizes but also your lifestyle.
Around since 2013, the company focuses on new as well as established brands. These include GANT, Fossil and Florsheim. Men’s Style Lab sells everything a man might need–work shirts, T-shirts, henleys, sweaters, pants, blazers, outwear and accessories. The one category Men’s Style Lab does not cover is suits.
Its pricing is similar to what you might find at Banana Republic, J. Crew or Brooks Brothers. For example, work shirts range from $75 to $135, sweaters $80 to $140 and shoes $80 to $220.
Like other online stylist services, Men’s Style Lab charges a styling fee—$20, which is applied to any of your purchases. You get five items of clothing, and you have five days to try the items on before sending back what you don’t want. Shipping is free both ways via UPS. You can arrange to have a Men’s Style Lab box come every 30, 60 or 90 days.
Review of Online Stylist Service Men’s Style Lab
I interviewed Kevin Duck, 44, of Atlanta, Georgia, who works in the financial services industry, about his experience as a Men’s Style Lab customer. He started his clothing subscription last year, after trying another online stylist service. Men’s Style Lab has quickly became his go-to for his daily wardrobe. For his casual or athletic attire, he shops at Banana Republic, Macy’s and Nordstrom.
“I started using Men’s Style Lab for two reasons,” Kevin says. “One, Men’s Style Lab allows me to stay more current with fashion while not requiring the time commitment that would take me away from other obligations. And, two, it is nice to have the ease of receiving complete outfits as opposed to individual pieces of clothing.”
Creating his Style DNA online was easy. But it was just the beginning of working with his stylist. “My stylist has been able to refine her choices for me over time based on my feedback of previous selections,” he says. In fact, Kevin says that it’s important for him–or any customer–to try on everything in his box. “I try on all the clothes, even the ones that I don’t like, so that I can provide feedback on fit and continue to refine [my style and preferences] for particular brands,” he adds.
Pros of Men’s Style Lab
Kevin gets his boxes from Men’s Style Lab monthly. The convenience and timeliness work well with his busy schedule. While he hasn’t developed any favorite brands, “I have purchased some styles and worn some outfits that I would not have normally pieced together,” he says. “It has expanded my wardrobe somewhat.”
Also, he appreciates that he has ready-made outfits he can grab and wear. For example, “I have noticed that in colder weather, I have really enjoyed the shirt, sweater and pants combinations,” he says. “They always seem to go together perfectly and fit well.”
Cons of Men’s Style Lab
While Kevin has no complaints about Men’s Style Lab, I have one criticism. And it’s not unique to this company. All of the men’s online stylist services I’ve reviewed do not cater to men my husband’s size. In fact, like Trunk Club, Men’s Style Lab’s pant sizes are limited–going up to 40 waist only. Stitch Fix Men goes up to 42 waist. I’ve read in more than one place that Men’s Style Lab is seriously considering expanding to big and tall sizes in the near future. Please do.
Overall Thoughts on Men’s Style Lab
For the convenience it provides, Kevin feels the prices are fair for the clothes he receives. But Kevin’s a smart consumer so he will check from time to time to ensure that Men’s Style Lab prices are competitive with shopping elsewhere.
“I will spot check against advertised prices, just for reference,” he explains. “Each time the prices listed are in line with the Men’s Style Lab offered price. Given the other benefits of the service, I find that to be a positive.”
Some other positive benefits have been getting his wardrobe out of a rut. He used to always wear the same type of clothes from the same stores. “Now my wardrobe has more variety,” he adds. In fact, since subscribing to Men’s Style Lab last year, “I have received everything from pants, shirts and sweaters to jackets, blazers, belts and shoes,” he adds. “Also, I have been able to make requests for certain types of clothing when necessary. This gives it a full-service and on-demand feel, which has been nice to have.”
For anyone who has a tough-to-buy-for-guy in their life, one of these online stylist services might just be the perfect gift to give for the holidays, Valentine’s Day, his birthday, Father’s Day college graduation or another occasion for which you will be buying your favorite guy a gift.