Online Personal Stylist "StitchFix" A Fun, Creative Shopping Solution

Stylish subscription services are becoming more popular by the minute; cosmetic and beauty products are available through websites like Glossybox and Birch Box, which deliver sample-size goodies right to our doorsteps. There is a subscription service for just about anyone: crafters (Whimseybox), pet owners (Bark Box), and healthy nuts (Nature Box), to name a few. The latest entry into online shopping subscription services is StitchFix, a personal stylist/one-stop-shop for apparel and accessories.

StitchFix promises to help you "Discover your style" and presents its services in three easy steps: Create an online profile, receive five hand-picked items in the mail, and then keep what you want before sending the rest back. On spec the cost seemed reasonable (a $20 "styling fee" that is applied as credit if you make a purchase, as well as 25 percent off if you purchase all five items; average cost per piece is $75) and you don't have to sign up for a recurring shipment, so StitchFix also feels relatively risk-free.

Style Profile

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The initial key to success is in the Style Profile, where you enter the usual information: height and weight, and various clothing sizes (bras, pants, shirts, etc.). But then StitchFix asks you about your proportions (are your arms long or short? is your torso long or short?) and then asks how you feel about various styles--Bohemian, Classic, Preppy, and so on--before asking you to rate the images of sample collections of clothing. This visual approach is unusual, and lets you see the StitchFix approach to styling. You then fill in additional information on how often you dress for certain occasions--are you shopping mostly for work attire, cocktail/special occasion, casual, or date night?--and things you don't like, such as which body parts you prefer to hide, which patterns/colors/fabrics you want to avoid, and a general idea of your budget constraints.

You then link up your StitchFix account with your Pinterest account (or don't, it's optional) and schedule your "Fix" (delivery date), and the waiting game begins.

Stitch Fix Shipment

The turnaround time on this leg of the process is fast; the company delivers the shipment when they say they will (or earlier) but you have to decide what you want to keep, and return the rest, within three days. No time to dawdle!

Our inaugural StitchFix box came with two dresses, two shirts, and one necklace, ranging in price from $34 (necklace) to $118 (a printed, ruched dress that went back due to poor fit). The side-ruched dress was pretty, but a poor fit and not in a "quick trip to the tailor should do the trick" way so back in the postage-paid return bag it went, along with a cowl neck short-sleeved top ($48). Of the five items only two were sent back, and a total of $140 (including the $20 styling fee/credit) was spent. Each item comes with a tag that depicts various ways to style an item; for example, the wrap dress we kept was shown with heels and a metallic clutch for evening, and with flats and a cardigan for daytime.

Between Fixes

Once you drop the return items in the mail you have the option of scheduling another fix or waiting, but the company does ask that you fill out an online form detailing why you are making the returns (and why you liked what you kept) so that future "Fixes" are more accurate. When scheduling your next "Fix" you can insert a note for your stylist, so if you have a wedding coming up, or a change in seasons, you can ask them to keep those things in mind.

Tentative Verdict

After just one shipment, we are tentatively impressed and a second "Fix" is already on the way. Garment quality, attention to detail, accurate style assessment, and ease-of-use scores are very high, so ideally future boxes will be better and better. The first shipment received would have cost $229.50 if we kept every piece (with the 25 percent discount), which seems eminently reasonable for two dresses, two tops, and a necklace. StitchFix is a lot of fun, and great for commitment-phobic people who shy away from long-term subscriptions.

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