I have a love-hate relationship with clothing. On the one hand, I love fashion and all the ways that you can express yourself with what you wear. On the other, I hate shopping. Take my gay card if you must, but it's true. I'm a tall boy who lives in central Kentucky. A trip to the mall means wasted hours of trying on ill-fitting, generic-looking clothes. As a result of my relationship with shopping, I've largely opted to just wear the clothes I've had since college.
There are a few problems with that approach, though. First and foremost, I've been out of college for a hot minute. Some of those pieces are getting a bit threadbare. On top of that, I was a full-blown twink in college. I was 6'3" and weighed about 160 pounds. I could get away with slim-fit medium shirts. Today, I'm a 6'3" 210-pound gym rat. Between time taking its toll and my body getting bigger, I was down to about three whole outfits (and some gym clothes) that I could rotate between.
One of the benefits of the modern age is that for every inconvenient action we can take– like shopping– there's a subscription service that seeks to make the process suck less.
That's how I came across StitchFix. I saw their ads enough that I decided to give them a try. Here's what I learned.
What is the StitchFix Sign-Up Process Like?
When you go to sign-up for StitchFix, the first thing you do is take your style quiz. The style quiz starts with some basic questions about your personal tastes. They ask questions about how much you like shopping, how much work you put into your outfits, how concerned you are with being trendy, and whether you comfort or style more highly. Once you fill out this information and create your account, you're able to actually finish the style quiz.
With the style quiz, you are presented with a series of photos of outfits and you rate them based upon how likely you would be to wear that outfit. From there, you provide information about how much you're willing to pay for certain pieces of clothes and identify brands that you currently wear and enjoy. You also have a chance to indicate issues you commonly face with the way your clothes fit; for folks who have a difficult time finding clothes that fit well in stores, you know how important this is.
Once you've provided all of this information, you're invited to pay a non-refundable $20 styling fee and schedule your first fix. At first, this was concerning to me. I was afraid that I would get a bunch of clothes I didn't like and had to send back, and would be out $20 without anything to show for it. As it so happens, that $20 essentially just serves as a down payment for the service of having your outfits selected, and if you decide to buy anything, it gets credited toward your purchase. In my experience, it's worth it and pretty inconsequential, but it's good to know ahead of time.
With all of that done, StitchFix prepares your fix and ships it to you.
Were the Outfits Actually Good?
I was pleasantly surprised. I expected to receive a generic outfit, but StitchFix actually fulfilled their promise. In my first fix, StitchFix sent me several outfits that I really enjoyed. I wasn't familiar with any of the brands that they chose, but the styling and quality were exactly what I was looking for.
Everything fit perfectly. For example, in that first fix, I received a pair of black denim jeans that I would wear every day if I could. Being a tall boy who is entirely comprised of legs, jeans are tough to get right, but they got it very right. The jeans fit perfectly, looked great, and were comfortable as hell. Additionally, as it was summer at the time, I got several short-sleeve shirts and a pair of shorts that filled many of the gaps I had in my wardrobe. By request, they provided me with several outfits that could be modified or mixed and matched. I ended up keeping everything that they sent me and scheduling a second fix a few months later.
There have only been a few items where the fit wasn't superb, but even then, most of the time those pieces fit well enough that I decided to keep them. In my time with StitchFix, I received one sweater where the sleeves were slightly too short, one pair of pants that were way too tight through the butt area to be work appropriate, and one pair of chinos that is tight enough in the waist to not be super comfortable but still wearable for business events.
Having a Personal Stylist is Amazing
When you receive a fix and checkout, you're asked if you want to keep your same stylist and if you have any feedback for them. I felt bougie as hell to say that I wanted to keep my personal stylist, and I gave her feedback that I loved everything she sent, but I also wanted to be more adventurous for my next fix. Everything I received in that first shipment was very simple and checked the boxes for what I needed, but I also wanted my wardrobe to have a bit of flair to it.
My stylist was up for the challenge. A few months later when I received my next fix, it contained a few pieces that I never would have picked out for myself at the mall. And yet... they were perfect. She had selected some bonkers printed shorts and shirts that were full of colors and patterns I wouldn't have anticipated. Who knew that I needed a shirt that was printed with dragonfruit and jackfruit? Or green shorts covered in tiny, semi-phallic cacti?
They were selections that managed to understand my personal style while also challenging it and pushing the boundaries of my stylistic comfort zone. As soon as I stepped out in those outfits, I received tons of compliments and positive feedback. They are outfits that are out of the normal and draw attention without being flashy or trying too hard.
Once again, I was able to provide feedback, indicate that for my third fix I wanted a couple of business and semi-casual outfits, and then receive exactly what I needed because my stylist continuously put in the work to make sense of what I wanted and handpick outfits that met my needs. I'm now on my sixth fix, and plan on sticking with it for the foreseeable future.
How Much Does StitchFix Cost?
Back in the day when I was working as a content marketer for men's fashion brands, I would have answered a question about cost by asking if you can put a price on timeless style and unbridled self-confidence.
I don't work in men's fashion anymore. I'm a budgeter with a mortgage and a dog. I don't have the time or money to wax philosophical about the transcendence of fashion (which is probably why I shopped at Goodwill even while I was writing for those brands...).
When it comes to costs, the only fixed cost for StitchFix is the $20 styling fee. Everything else is going to depend upon your budget and your cost preferences.
Like I mentioned before, when you take your style quiz, you are able to indicate how much you would be willing to pay for standard pieces of clothing. For example, if you indicate that you're willing to pay $50 to $75 for a pair of jeans, that's the range they'll use when sending you jeans. In a standard fix, you usually receive five pieces of clothing, and so the total cost is going to depend upon what is included in your fix. In my first fix, I received fairly low-ticket items like short-sleeve shirts and jeans. In a later fix, I received a pair of shoes and some dress pants. Even though the individual items were all within the ranges I had specified, the fixes with higher ticket items ended up costing more.
That said, one of the really cool things that StitchFix does is apply a hefty 25% discount if you keep all of the items of clothing in your fix. This discount helps a lot. As a marketer, I know that it primarily serves as a way to close the deal and save StitchFix on postage to return items, but as a consumer, it's effective. This discount pretty much cancels out the cost of one of the items in each of my fixes and makes the purchase price more palatable. In my six fixes, I've only opted to not buy everything once; the one time I didn't, I had to send a pair of chinos back because they were far too tight through the rump area to be work appropriate, and they didn't have one size up in stock at the time.
Since I don't prioritize buying new clothes all the time, I space out my fixes so that I only receive a few each year. More than that and it would get quite expensive, but not more expensive than if I went to the mall and bought a few new outfits several times each year. For the sake of transparency, if I include the 25% discount
If You Do Have to Send Something Back, it's Easy
Here, I should note that returns are fairly straightforward. Each fix comes with a large prepaid envelope. Anything that you don't want to keep, you can just stick it in the envelope, seal it up, and drop it in the mail. StitchFix covers the return postage and everything. For me, the only part of this that is inconvenient is that I had to drive to the Post Office to do my return. Otherwise, it was incredibly simple and I wasn't charged for the pants I had to return.
That's a Lot of Positives. What About the Drawbacks?
Obviously, no business or service is perfect, and StitchFix is no exception.
While my experiences with StitchFix have generally been positive, I do think there is some room for improvement. For example, occasionally you will get a piece of clothing that is difficult to style with the other pieces that they've sent you. It helps that there are photos of sample outfits for each of the pieces of clothing in your individual fixes, but sometimes it feels like you receive a piece of clothing because it's close to your style but puts you on the hook for receiving another fix so that you'll have pieces of clothing to go with it.
Additionally, I'm not a huge fan of the checkout process on the StitchFix website. Perhaps I'm biased because I work in tech and am constantly thinking about customer processes and UX flows, but when you have set up a StitchFix account and go to checkout, it automatically charges the purchase to your card on file and doesn't give you much opportunity to update your payment details. For example, I received a StitchFix gift card for Christmas and wanted to apply it to a recent purchase. I went into review my fix, selected that everything fit well, and hit continue. At that point, it charged the purchase to my credit card and didn't give me a chance to apply the gift card to that purchase. I had to go into my account, redeem the gift certificate, and then wait until my next fix to actually use it.
This Begs the Question: Is StitchFix Worth It?
Yeah. It absolutely is worth it. It can be a bit expensive, especially if you receive frequent fixes, but it's a great way to refresh your wardrobe at a regular interval and discover new brands and styles that you may not have known about beforehand. As I've mentioned, I've received about six fixes so far, and I have another one scheduled for this Summer; I plan on sticking with StitchFix for the time being.
It solves some of my major challenges with clothes. Shopping at the mall, especially where I live, is inconvenient. Plus, it's hard to find sizes that work well for me, leading to a lot of compromise and outfits that don't live up to their potential.
StitchFix has really helped me update my wardrobe with exciting, fresh new pieces, and I have several new outfits that are perfectly sized, even as my body adapts to my new workout routine and gets a bit bulkier. With the discounts available and the ability to define my budget, I'm not spending more with StitchFix than I would if I were heading into a physical department store.
I would definitely recommend that anybody who wants to refresh their wardrobe or who has a specific style need check it out.