Clothing subscriptions: are they worth it?
Most people have a vice, bad habit, addiction they can't seem to break. I'll confess to mine: CLOTHES. I love shopping, both in stores and online. I am constantly looking at clothing apps on my phone, and get notifications when a brand I love goes on sale. I think the reason I own so many clothes is because I love the feeling of wearing something new. It makes me feel fresh and confident -- and once an item has been worn a few times, I don't get excited about wearing it anymore. While I try to justify the clothing hoarding as part of the job (buying clothes could be considered a work expense!) ... I have to admit I have amassed way too many items! So in an effort to get it under control -- while still keeping my wardrobe up to date -- I have tried a few clothing subscription programs to see if any of them work for me.
Stitch Fix: This website calls itself a personal styling service, and allows you to create a profile about your personal style, measurements, and any requests you have for clothes. Then a Stitch Fix stylist picks out five items for you -- anything from jackets, to sweaters, shoes, and jewelry. You have some control over things like preferred price points, but you're mostly at the mercy of what the Stitch Fix stylist thinks you'll like and look good wearing! For me -- the element of surprise was one of my favorite parts. It felt like I was receiving a gift (except for the whole payment part!) and several Stitch Fix pieces are still staples in my wardrobe a few years after I bought them. Every once in a while I get the urge to order a box, but it's not a service I use regularly anymore. I prefer having more control over the items, picking them out myself, knowing how much money I want to spend.
Cost: each box comes with a $20 "Styling Fee," which you get as credit towards your bill if you buy one of the items. Each piece of clothing in the box has its own price, and you decide what you want to keep/buy if anything so the price range widely varies. Some tops I got for as low as $28. For keeping all five items in the box, you do get a discount at the end -- and I believe I paid around $200 or so for that shipment.
Pros: The element of surprise! It's a real treat to have someone else picking out clothing for you, and each box comes with a personal note from the person who made your selections explaining why they chose them and how they can be worn. Some of my boxes included items I would have never picked myself, but really loved when I tried them on. The clothes are high quality, and can be good "investment" pieces in your wardrobe. The service is also very flexible. You don't have to commit to regular shipments, and you can opt in and order a box anytime you like.
Cons: If you decide you don't like anything they sent you and mail it all back, you have to eat the $20 styling fee. On one occasion, I got a shipment that really disappointed me and I ended up sending everything back. If you love a good bargain, this may not be the service for you. All the clothes are new and you won't get anything with a "clearance" price.
Le Tote: This is a rental service, and the clothing you get will not be brand new. Le Tote has a huge variety of brands and styles -- everything from active wear, work wear, and more formal pieces. If there's a look that you've been curious to try, but don't want to commit to purchasing, Le Tote is a great way to experiment. The number of items you get each month depends on the membership plan you subscribe to. I had decent luck using Le Tote, especially for outerwear. But one more than a few occasions, I was disappointed with the quality of the clothes. Some pieces were a little too worn, faded, and shapeless. I no longer use Le Tote but did end up purchasing a few items that I fell in love with.
Cost: Membership plans start at $79 a month, and that price gives you 8 items a month (5 clothing and 3 accessory pieces). There's a $99 membership plan that gives you 10 items a month, and a $119/15 item plan. You can also opt for a "no accessories" option that reduces your plan by $10 a month -- so you can get a plan for as cheap as $69 a month.
Pros: You have total control over the items you receive, and can browse a wide variety of options. I liked that you received so many items per shipment, and felt like my wardrobe was constantly refreshed. Le Tote's site also has a shop where you can buy items about to be taken out of rental rotation, and the clothing is usually deeply discounted.
Cons: quality concerns. There were a few pieces that I felt Le Tote should have taken out of rotation before they ended up in my shipments. And several times, the clothing did not fit as expected and I was not able to wear them.
Rent the Runway: in my new Investigative Reporter position, I'm in studio more and out in the field less. That means my wardrobe needs more nice dresses than outerwear -- and Rent the Runway is the perfect subscription service for me right now. As the name suggests, Rent the Runway allows you to rent pieces from high quality designers. You can either rent a single item at a time, or subscribe to a plan that gives you several items a month. This service is also perfect for special occasions like a wedding or gala where you need something like a formal gown -- but you know you will probably only wear it once. While I've used RTR for dresses only, the site also has pants, accessories, jackets, etc -- fit for all kinds of occasions. I highly recommend this service to anyone on the air who needs a high quality look at a more affordable price.
Cost: If you rent one item at a time, expect to pay at least $30, up to $90 for a single piece. There are two options for monthly plans: Update and Unlimited. I use the Update plan, which gives you 4 items a month for $89. The unlimited plan is $159, and gives you an unlimited number of rentals a month. RTR says this is their most popular option.
Pros: Quality. My favorite on-air looks have come from Rent the Runway. The dresses are so nice, you will often see network anchors and national correspondents wearing the same looks. These are brands like Kate Spade and Diane Von Furstenberg -- clothing I have always admired but never been able to afford for retail price. Their site/app has helpful reviews and photos from people who have worn an item before, so you can really visualize how the clothing will look on your body type and decide if you want to order it.
Cons: Price. The Unlimited plan is more than I'm willing to pay a month. And if you fall in love with a dress and want to keep/buy it, their prices aren't cheap. I don't think the price is a worthwhile investment if you mostly wear casual looks.
The bottom line: I enjoyed all three of these services for different reasons. I have noticed myself buying fewer clothes now that I use a rental service every month, but I can't say that I've cut down on spending overall. For my needs, Rent the Runway is by far my favorite. And just in case you're wondering, I'm not a #influencer and was not paid a cent to say any of these things...just another honest review that I hope some of you find to helpful!