Updated: Since first writing this online stylist post, both Stitch Fix and Trunk Club have made some important changes.
First, about Stitch Fix:
- Stitch Fix now styles men
- Stitch Fix now allows you to make exchanges for clothing that doesn’t fit.
- Finally, in February 2017, Stitch Fix started offering plus size fashion clothing to its customers.
Now about Trunk Club.
- Trunk Club has reduced the number of free items in your trunk–from 15 to 10.
- Also, you must return items in 5 days; previously, you had 10 days to do so.
- Finally, like the other online stylist services, Trunk Club is now charging a styling fee–$25. However, if you’re a Nordstrom Card holder and have added that card to your account, now Trunk Club will waive the styling fee all together.
Finally, I recently did a review of three online stylist services for men, in case you have a fashion challenged guy in your life.
Now onto my review of clothing styling services in the form of subscription boxes that come right to your house.
Note: Portions of this article originally appeared on Parade.com.
I recently tried out three of these online stylist services. They are Stitch Fix, Dia&Co. and Trunk Club. None of these services cost more than $25 for the styling. This is amazing considering the $100-plus an hour I paid a private stylist in the past. This was when my then-agent told me I needed to update my look for a book tour.
Of course, the clothes you receive through an online stylist service are not free. However, each one only sends you a set number of pieces. This prevents you from binge shopping. I know that could be a real concern if you have trouble saying “No” to things in the store. Conversely, if you hate shopping, hate dressing rooms, hate everything about buying clothes, you may want to consider using a online stylist service. You can do all the shopping in the comfort of your home.
All of these services offer free shipping both ways. All allow you to pick a price range for the clothing and accessories they send to you. This choice ensures that you stay on budget.
This was the first online styling service I tried. A Stitch Fix subscription box costs $20. You receive five pieces with each shipment. Having worked with a personal stylist in the past, I knew that the way to find clothes you love is to create a style profile based on your likes and dislikes in fashion. Stitch Fix’s questionnaire is quite extensive. It asks you to rate certain kinds of clothing, plus explain your lifestyle and the kinds of clothes you need (stay-at-home mom, business casual or sparkly, special occasion). Then you can add personal notes about you that the questionnaire didn’t cover.
Stitch Fix Styling
While the company uses real-life stylists to pull your clothing, it bases recommendations on an algorithm that doesn’t seem to understand negatives such as “I don’t like” or “No blouses.” The best way to get what you want is to tell Stitch Fix what you like and want only. Case in point: in my last shipment, I asked only for stretchy, comfortable pullover tops and sweaters. And you know what? That’s exactly what I got.
Update: I got this note from the folks at Stitch Fix to better explain how the algorithm works:
The algorithm filters items for our stylists (for example, filtering out certain colors or patterns a client has indicated they don’t like) and makes recommendations to the stylist of pieces that it thinks the client might like based on responses to their style profile. Clients can specify in their stylist note, style profile or at their Pinterest board what they like or don’t like. The stylist is then freed up to read and consider feedback from past Fixes, specific requests, the stylist note, and items a client may have pinned on a Pinterest board. Ultimately, it’s completely up to the stylist what is put in each and every Fix, but they have the best tools at their fingertips to help them back that decision.
When Your Fix Arrives
Every fix comes with a note from your stylist. It also includes picture cards giving you styling suggestions for each of your pieces. I love these cards. I’ve kept every one. You have three days to decide which pieces you want to keep from Stitch Fix. Keeping all five? You get 25% off your entire purchase. Whatever you don’t like you send back in a postage-paid package. You rate your feedback of what worked and didn’t work online. What I like best about Stitch Fix is I ended up with pieces I never would have picked out for myself in the store. It is likely the same experience if I had shopped with a personal stylist, but a lot cheaper.
(I did a more extensive review of Stitch Fix a few months ago.) Note: Stitch Fix now sells shoes. Because of my wide feet, I have not had any luck getting shoes from them.
I first learned about Dia&Co. after watching Stacy London’s TLC show Love, Lust or Run. Dia&Co.’s demographic is women size 14 and up who wear plus-size clothing. It works very similarly to Stitch Fix, with its online questionnaire that helps to build your style profile. You also get five pieces in each shipment.
My 20-year-old daughter was my test subject for Dia&Co. We ordered her first Dia&Co. subscription box right before she left for London, where she was studying abroad for her junior year in college. We figured spending a few months in Europe was a great reason to get new clothing. Also, we could treat her to a personal stylist albeit one she could work with via a subscription box. Her styling fee was $20. You pay that fee after you receive your clothing, try everything on and decide which items you are keeping (and purchasing) and which you are sending back.
Dia&Co. Subscription Box
Her experience with Dia&Co. was very similar to mine with Stitch Fix. When she first opened her subscription box and pulled each piece out, she wasn’t sure she was going to like anything. But after trying them on, and then mixing and matching with fashion items she already owned (shoes, scarves, pants, etc.), she determined three of the five items were keepers. Those keepers were a black maxi dress she could dress up or dress down, a pink party dress, and a black-and-white chevron-detailed blouse with orange accents. She sent back the remaining two items in the postage-paid package Dia&Co. provided. My daughter could easily imagine using the service again when she needs new clothes for job interviews.
Originally started as a men’s online stylist service, Trunk Club recently expanded to styling women, soon after Nordstrom purchased the company. With Trunk Club you are assigned a stylist who calls you on the phone to get to know you. After your initial call, your stylist emails you to follow up on your conversation and then sends you a preview of what will be in your shipment.
Trunk Club’s styling fee is completely free. $0. Nada. Nothing. Trunk Club now charges a $25 styling fee, which will be applied to any purchases you make. However, Nordstrom Card holders that add their card to their Trunk Club profile do not have to pay a styling fee.
When Your Trunk Club Box Arrives
Since you are getting
15 10 items (yes, three times double as many as the other companies), you have a lot to look through and consider. Before the box is packaged up and sent to you, you can provide feedback and swap items via the Trunk Club app. (The other services currently do not offer this option of changing what the stylist picks for you.)
One of the reasons I was interested in Trunk Club was because I am a happy Nordstrom customer for years. I had a feeling that the clothes I would receive would be the brands I was familiar with at Nordstrom—Caslon, Classiques Entier—and I was right. I also received other well-known brands, including two bags from Kate Spade and Michael Kors. But an interesting thing happened as I tried each item on. Because these were brands I knew and already had an opinion about, it affected my ability to be truly objective about each piece. With the other stylist services, you are receiving less familiar brands so it was easier to take each piece from the other services at face value, if you will.
15 10 pieces to choose from, it might have been easy to go over budget but in the end I chose just four—a pair of off-white NYDJ jeans, a clutch with a neat zipper detail, and a top and a cardigan (which I’m requesting in bigger sizes).
The contents of my very first Trunk Club shipment.
Trunk Club in Person
If you’d like to experience Trunk Club IRL, you can work with one of its in-person personal stylists. This happens when 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.
Overall Thoughts on Online Stylist Companies
Though we mere mortals may never have the budget of Hollywood celebrities to hire our own stylists all the time, these three online stylist services offer affordable ways to expand your style palette, in the comfort of your home, without leaving you broke. As long as you keep an open mind when your Stitch Fix, Dia&Co. or Trunk Club box arrives, you can make easy additions to your wardrobe.
Since originally writing this review, I have received a few more Stitch Fix “fixes” and at least one more Trunk Club box. My daughter who tried out Dia&Co. just asked for another one as a birthday present. She ordered her second box and loved it so much has just request her third Dia&Co box!
Clearly, we are finding value in these online stylist services that shopping in a store isn’t giving us. Plus, I can tell you that I’ve been able to stay on budget with each fix or subscription box or trunk that I’ve received.