Every once in a while I walk into my closet with the goal of wearing something other than the same, reliable clothes I wear every other day of the week — jeans, a top of some kind, and comfy sneakers. There’s nothing wrong with my go-to outfit, but it gets boring. Even if the only place you go is the grocery store, sometimes it’s refreshing to wear something a little stylish, you know?
But what inevitably quells my instincts for sartorial creativity is the fact that I just don’t own anything trendy. I’ve leaned into this phase of my life where I’d much rather be comfortable, and the idea of going shopping to find a whole outfit that would appease my urge to feel fancier is too daunting.
The solution, as it turns out, could be as simple as signing up for a clothing subscription service. Scads of them exist, each specializing in any fashion subset that you can imagine. Whether you are looking for athleisure wear, suits for work, or just a casual closet update, there is a subscription service for you. We’ve tried to narrow it down to the top five options, and broken it down to help you pick the best one for your clothing and lifestyle needs.
How Clothing Subscription Services Work
If you’re new to the idea, here are the basics of how clothing subscription services work. Most companies require you to fill out a questionnaire when you sign up in order to establish a baseline for your style preferences, your sizes, and a budget range you’d like to have. (Every company has a different focus, so their ability to adhere to these preferences will vary accordingly.) Then a box with a certain number of items will be selected and shipped to you. You then have a window of time to try the items on and decide whether you’d like to keep them or not. Most subscription services will have a stylist fee (or something similar) per box, and if you choose to keep something that fee usually goes towards your purchase. If you don’t like anything in the shipment, you simply return the items and forfeit that fee.
How to Select the Right Service For You
There are three things you need to consider when selecting a clothing subscription service:
1: What is your budget?
2: What is your style preference?
3: How frequently would you like to receive shipments? Regularly? Quarterly? Upon Request?
The thing about these subscriptions is that while they save you time and effort, they aren’t always the most cost-effective means of building your wardrobe. When selecting a service, pay close attention to the styling fee (which is usually charged per shipment), whether they cover the cost of shipping when returning the items you didn’t want, and any membership fees they might require (and if so, is it really difficult to cancel?)
- Most of the time the styling fee is about $20-$40 dollars and will often go towards any merchandise you end up purchasing. This is an easy cost to absorb if you like the items they’re sending you, but if you get consistent duds then you’re just throwing money away.
- Many companies include a question about preferences for a budget range in their initial questionnaire. Make sure you are honest about how much you’d really like to pay per item, because they will inevitably send you things at the top of your range.
- Be wary of membership fees, as they often indicate a business plan that is factoring in that subscribers rarely buy items after the first few shipments.
2. Style Preferences:
Do a bit of research before subscribing, because there are literally hundreds of options that will vary widely on what they provide. There are subscriptions for underwear, for businesswear, athletic gear, accessories, sustainable fashion — you name it, there’s likely a service. Click through their website, look at their photos, peruse merchandise if that’s an option, and read the reviews. Ideally, you will eventually find one that fits your aesthetic and doesn’t have a comment section filled with complaints about fabric quality.
Then, the absolute most important aspect of starting a subscription is to be detailed and provide as much information about your style preferences as possible. Clothing subscription companies will rely on either a personal stylist (as in, a person) or an algorithm to determine the things that you get sent. The more information you give them, the higher the odds that you will actually like what they send you. And remember: it becomes a total waste of money if you consistently don’t like what they pick. (That said, be patient if the first few boxes aren’t total wins: sometimes it takes a few tries to really nail things down.)
Most subscription services have realized that not everyone wants or needs new clothes on a monthly basis, and as such have options for how often you would receive a shipment. Some companies have a set schedule, like offering quarterly boxes, and others allow you to select between a few options.
Our 5 Favorite Clothing Subscription Services
Stitch Fix was one of the firsts in the game, and its longevity in such a fickle market is a testament to how well it works.
Budget: $20 Stylist Fee per box, which can apply to anything you purchase. You can select a range that you wish your stylist to adhere to. No membership fee or monthly subscription required. There is also a 25% Buy All discount if you purchase everything in the box you receive.
Style Preferences: Each box comes with Style Cards to show you ideas for how to put things together. Feedback is easy and highly encouraged. You can even choose to link your account to a Pinterest board so your stylist can see things you’ve liked. Available in sizes 0-24.
Frequency: You can select when you want boxes, whether that’s on a regular basis or just occasionally.
Notes: The period you have to try on clothes and make a decision is very short: only three days.
Dia & Co.
Dia & Co. is a great organization that is specifically tailored for those in the plus size category, sizes 10-32. Dia offers a varied, vibrant, stylish selection, which is a pleasant departure from most plus-size sections in brick-and-mortar retailers.
Budget: $20 Styling Fee per box, which will apply to anything you purchase. They allow budget customization with price range options. They also have a 25% Buy All discount.
Style Preferences: Reviewers say that the stylists are very responsive to suggestions and constructive criticism. The style quiz to get you started is thorough.
Frequency: Highly customizable. You can select a regular frequency or just upon request.
Notes: You have five days to make a decision on whether you want to keep items.
Stylogic stands apart from the other services because the company tries to send complete outfits — including accessories — rather than five cool items you might like. If you’ve ever had a hard time assembling an outfit, this is the subscription service for you.
Budget: Styling Fee is $20, credited towards what you keep. 20% Buy All discount.
Style Preferences: Stylogic caters to sizes 12-36, so it’s “plus-size” only. Reviews say that their stylists often nail it even with the first box.
Frequency: Customizable; can receive automatically or at your convenience.
Notes: You have a full week to make a decision on the five items in each box, and shipping is free both ways.
The first thing we noticed when visiting Fashom’s website is that their homepage featured pictures of models of all ages, shapes, and sizes. Then we read that they specialize in affordable, vegan, and ethically-sourced clothing, and we were hooked.
Budget: Free shipping, no subscription required. Their offer is to keep all five items in your first box for $95, which is a steal. There is a 15% discount offered if you choose to keep three or four pieces, 30% if you keep all five. The $20 styling fee goes towards your purchase.
Style Preferences: You are matched with a stylist based on your profile, which is built after taking a thorough quiz. Fashom prides itself on fitting all sizes.
Frequency: Boxes are styled and shipped upon request.
Notes: Fashom is a bit different than other services. You preview outfits selected for you online and then choose which items are sent to you. And, for every box sold they donate $1 to Second Chance Rescue NYC.
Nadine West has earned a reputation for curating the most affordable and casual clothing. If you’re looking for a style refresh but don’t necessarily need to look all dolled up, this might be the subscription service for you.
Budget: Each item is priced between $10-$30. There is no stylist fee, but they charge you $9.98 each time they ship you a box. This can be credited towards anything you purchase.
Style Preferences: Caters to sizes S-3X, but they admittedly “run low” on their most popular sizes, which are M and XL.
Frequency: Monthly or on a frequency that you select in your style profile — this is more of a subscription service than the others. You can skip months or alter the frequency online.
Notes: You will be charged for anything not returned by the date marked on your packing slip (and their website doesn’t specify how many days that is.)
Other Articles You Might Enjoy:
- Dressing for the Seasonal Transition to Fall
- Downsizing Your Wardrobe
- 5 Fashion Blogs for Women Over 50 to Follow