1. Shopping

Here it is: A highly skeptical, non-gushing Stitch Fix review

Modeling the Stitch Fix skirt I purchased, roiling with ennui.
Modeling the Stitch Fix skirt I purchased, roiling with ennui.
Published Mar. 18, 2016

We've had an insane amount of love for Stitch Fix on this blog. Even in life outside the blog, I've been hearing nonstop praise for the shopping service. It's like, when everyone is standing around a table of cheesy crab puffs talking about how tasty they are, how long are you going to hold out?

I finally tried it. I knew the stuff was pricey, but I was really trying to be open minded, hoping I'd get something that felt worth the money. And I was excited about the prospect of having someone else pick out my clothes, always a helpful exercise in refining your style.

Well. With no intention of taking away the joy this service has brought some very good friends, I'm about to inject some cranky sobriety into this conversation. I will attempt to stay diplomatic as Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Let's see how it goes.

A quick refresher. Stitch Fix is a clothing subscription service. You answer a ton of questions about your size and style. You can offer extra guidance, ask for specific types of things. Katie, for example, asked them to never send her jewelry. Our friend Brittany told the stylist she wanted to experiment with printed pants. I sent along a link to my Pinterest style board, but didn't say anything else specific, curious what would show. You agree to pay a $20 "styling fee," which they promise to knock off the price of whatever you decide to keep. And a short while later, a box of five items appears at your doorstep. You then try the stuff on and decide what to keep and what to send back.

These are not photos I would normally post. I had worked all day, gone to dinner with my family, caught french fries my baby nephew tried to hurl on the floor. My ponytail died a grisly death. I am lit like a perp in a holding cell. My cat is in the background, judging me. But, it has to be done.

(Note: My box was supposed to come on a Friday, but did not show up until Tuesday. I'm not picking on Stitch Fix for this, because mail is mail. I'm just letting you know to build in some time in case you need the stuff for an event.)

Here, I'm wearing some pink jeans ($88!!!!!!). The color was fabulous and they fit well, but I felt kind of lumpy in them. If I don't put on a pair of $88 jeans and immediately feel like I could fight crime, I'm not interested. Also, I already have a pair of purple jeans from Express that I like better. The black top was cute, and I'm always in the market for tops, but it was sheer and required layering and also did not thrill me. Not for $44.

Next, I tried on a blue lace overlay skirt. This was a nice skirt. It fit very well. "Oh, that's a nice skirt," my boyfriend said. "Yeah, I like this skirt," I said. It was a nice skirt. The skirt was nice. We all liked the skirt. Even Countess, that shade-throwing cat, seemed to like the skirt. Nice skirt. The only problem was, this skirt was $74. I looked at the label, it was made in China from a whole bunch of polyester and nylon. As I may have mentioned, it was a nice skirt. But $74 nice?


I really cannot with this one. The price didn't even matter anymore. I felt only despair. I don't know why anyone would send a 5-foot-tall woman a horizontal striped tunic. Was I being trolled? I felt physical anger. This top is a tool used in abstinence-only education. This is a Sexless Horse Blanket. This is what your high school secretary gives you out of a box in the closet to "cover up" when you wear spaghetti straps to school. This is the Heart of Darkness.

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I have some stripes on my Pinterest board, because I like patten mixing as a concept. I guess that is what the stylist was thinking with this? Am I complicit? Does she get a pass, or should she have known this wouldn't flatter a person with my measurements? I'm so confused. Hold me.

There was also a necklace, which I forgot to photograph. It felt extremely light and chintzy for $28. I was like, lolno.

Let me now outline a series of thoughts I had while deciding what to keep.

In college, back when people still bought CDs, I worked at a corporate music store in the mall. Our CDs were overpriced. People would walk up all the time, angrily clutching, like, a Tori Amos album, going, "I can get this for $10 at Best Buy. Why is it $18 here?" I had my answer down pat. "You're paying for the convenience of being in the mall," I would say. "You can definitely go over to Best Buy and get it for less, if you want to drive over there." More often than not, people would grumble up to the register and buy the $18 CD, then pop over to Sbarro for a slice.

I'm not against paying for convenience. As grown people living in a society with a free market, this is something we must do. Sometimes you need to pay $18 to park in the garage near your hotel instead of finding an alley 54 blocks away. Sometimes when you are in your thirties, you need to spring for a separate hotel room and not bunk on the floor with five friends, because you are too old for that. Sometimes you buy two $8 glasses of wine at a nice restaurant even though you know the bottle is $8 at Publix. I have done all these things. But it's always a choice.

That is how I feel about Stitch Fix. Anyone who has spent any time around clothes KNOWS the stuff is overpriced. But you're lulled into a situational sense of value. Because this box is in front of me, and because my choices are limited, and because it was sent directly to my house, I am willing to pay more than it is actually worth.

I'm not saying the quality is terrible. I'm saying it's apparel I could get at any number of local boutiques, or at the mall. It's wholesale fashion. Be real honest, and ask yourself, if any of these Forever 21 crepe blouses showed up in that box, would you know the difference? Let's not forget that time someone got a pair of shorts with a $24.97 Nordstrom Rack tag on them.

So, if I'm willing to pay for convenience in general, why not do that here? The bottom line is, I like shopping. I like hunting for deals (this is Deal Divas, after all). In the case of clothes, I am willing to take the proverbial ride to Best Buy and get Boys for Pele for $10 because I know I can save. And shopping is a creative outlet for me. I like putting outfits together and feeling the satisfaction of styling myself. Not everyone does. Not everyone has to.

So, if I really had nothing to lose, I would have looked at the clothes, said, "Not worth it," and sent the whole box back. But I had paid the $20 styling fee. If I didn't keep at least one thing, I would be out $20. Now, logically, I understand that paying more money to save $20 makes no sense. But I also didn't want to leave this experience not only empty-handed, but in the hole. So, I picked the item I liked best. It was the blue lace skirt for $74.

"But it's really only $54 when they take off the fee," friends said.

This is an argument I summarily reject. Little imaginary elves did not pay that $20 fee. I paid that $20 fee. You can dress a horse up in a Homely Horizontal Quilt, but it's still a horse.

I held my breath and bought the skirt. Everything else went back. I wore it the next day, feeling kind of sullen and foolish, to be honest. Every time someone complimented me on the skirt, I explained that I really didn't want it, but bought it anyway. I was probably a real bummer that day. I would be annoyed by me. Go away, Stephanie.

At work, some of the Stitch Fix fans who heard about my lackluster experience trolled me with photos of themselves in Stitch Fix outfits, saying they would eventually convert me. What they didn't seem to understand is that I didn't have a problem with how they looked. They looked cute! The Stitch Fix clothes are cute! For the love of God, you look cute! I just felt really duped by this service, and it had nothing to do with how the clothes look (except, of course, that Striped Monstrosity Better Used To Pack Hugh Glass's Bear Wounds In The Revenant).

I honestly think Stitch Fix has improved the style of several friends. I think they're taking more chances and trying things they would never otherwise try. The clothes really do fit great. I've had several friends tell me they got pants and shorts that fit better than anything they've ever been able to find themselves. I think that is something worth paying for, and if I got something that made me feel fantastic and would even out with cost-per-use, I'd be on board.

But, as it stands, this is just not for me.

What would make it work for me? Waive the $20 styling fee, and then it becomes an honest experience in which you're not beholden to buying something because you're afraid of losing money. Or, lower everything about $20 across the board.

I went into Target the night I wore my blue Stitch Fix skirt. I saw this.

And then there's this and this and this and this and this.


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