Monday, December 30, 2013

I Am Not Cool Enough to Dress Myself

After switching jobs, I realized a few things about my wardrobe.  First, I dress like an accountant.  Which was fine at my corporate client-facing job, but not as cool at my hip downtown startup.  Second, I'm in a bit of a style rut.  I tend to find something I like and buy the crap out of it.  I own 8 Calvin Klein shift dresses, 7 J. Crew Jackie cardigans, 5 striped shirts, and 4 pairs of red pants.

I also discovered that I apparently do all of my shopping online at night when I can't sleep.  Now that I've switched jobs, I actually sleep at night, and I started business school, so I have even less time than before.  I used a personal shopper at J. Crew before, which was great, but was very time consuming.   So, I decided to outsource dressing myself to strangers on the internet -- and there were a lot of options!

First, I tried Golden Tote, which has two options.  You pay $49, pick one item, and they will pick 2-3 more.  Or, you pay $149, pick 2 items, and they will send you 4 - 5 more.  There are no returns, unless you return the whole thing.  Golden Tote was originally conceived as an overstock solution for Puella, a brand which is sold at Anthropologie, which is really brilliant.   There were offering a baseball sweater, I had been looking for one for a while, and I also picked a striped sweater.  Because, you know, I didn't have any striped clothes in my closet yet.   In my tote, I received a sweatshirt, a ridiculously awesome striped maxi dress and two tops that didn't fit, which I gifted to friends.  I did the tote a second time, getting a vegan motorcycle jacket and a chunky sweater.  I received an okay striped dress, two striped tops,  and two tops that didn't fit that I gifted to friends.
Verdict:   It was okay.   I was forced to try new things.  However, I received even more striped items, which was not helpful for getting me out of my comfort zone.  The bonus items were hit or miss and both times, I ended up only being able to use 4.  I probably won't do this again unless there were two items I really loved (or one for the smaller tote) and spend money on things I want.

Next, I tried Elizabeth and Clarke.  They offer a quarterly subscription where you pick 1 ($30), 2 ($50), or 3 ($60) shirts.  You get to pick the shirts from a limited selection.  Returns are allowed.  For my first subscription, I picked these shirts:
Shirts I now own

Verdict:  Do it.  The shirts were super cute and really wonderful quality.  Since I got 3, the price was really reasonable.  I wasn't as wowed about the next selection (which I'll get in a few weeks), but they are definitely out of my comfort zone, which is great.
Shirts I'll receive in a few weeks

Next, I tried Stitch Fix.  Stitch Fix will send you 5 items upon request or monthly.  It costs $20 for the box, plus the cost of whatever items you want (you get to subtract the $20 from the cost of the items if you keep something).  You get to tell the price you want items to be at (up to $150 for pants, etc.) and fill out a style quiz.   You return the things you don't want.  The first time I tried this, I kept one item.  The second and third time, I kept all five, though I would have kept four for the second box, but it was cheaper to keep the item, since you get a 25% discount if you keep all five items.  The fourth box, I kept nothing.  Each item also comes with a card showing two looks you can create with the item.  

Style card
Look at me, following instructions!

Verdict:  Do it.  Though this last box was a total bust, they have mostly sent me things that looked great on me and worked with my wardrobe.  

And finally, I tried Keaton Row.  You fill out a style profile including budget for certain types of items, they match you with three stylists, and you pick one.  The stylist will put together several looks or find certain items (jeans, shoes, etc.) and build you a personal catalog upon request.  The catalog includes items from Nordstrom, ShopBop, or Asos, and have free shipping and returns.  There is no cost unless you buy something.  My first stylist fell off of the face of the earth, but my second one, Ophelia, has been fantastic!
Part of my lookbook
Verdict:  Do it.  It's the least risky of the services I tried, and it was super easy -- basically online shopping, but curated personally for me.

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