To Subscribe or Not to Subscribe... That is the Question

A lot of people ask me what I think about clothing subscription boxes. You know the ones, you share your preferences with a stylist and get a box of clothes sent to you each month. You keep what you like and send back what you don’t. Some of them charge a small fee, and some of them roll that fee into whatever you purchase. There are more and more options out there as these types of services continue to grow in popularity.

In true transparency, I have personally felt threatened by these as a personal stylist. I take pride in my work and in helping you to learn a lot about yourself and your sense of fashion. So at first, I was a little offended that they offered personal styling. However, I think they have their place in the industry, just as I do, and I hope the following information helps you decide which service is the best for you.

The thing I like the most about these subscription boxes is that they are bringing personal styling to the mainstream. For a long time the idea of having someone show you what to wear, put together outfits and take you shopping was something celebrities did. These services bring the concept of personal styling to ordinary people.

However, pay attention to who is styling for these services. Many of them have no styling experience. They may be in their early twenties with an eye on the trends but minimal life experience. Trust me. They have no idea about the struggle of mom jeans.

The process these services use is really interesting. I like their use of a Pinterest board and/or questionnaire to get to know your style. I use the same process to get started with my clients. Unfortunately, their process ends there. “OK you like those things, so we’ll send you these items that are a similar style.” Eventually, though, like every bandaid, it won’t be enough. You’re going to start sending everything back, and you won’t solve the actual problem, you won’t get past the things that are making it hard for you to feel confident and comfortable in your wardrobe.

Using subscription boxes is l something like talking to a friend when something is bothering you instead of going to a therapist. A friend will support you, let you talk about it, and maybe give you some ideas but they’re not going to ask you the profound and important questions that a therapist would. Similarly, these subscription services are going to ask surface-level questions and give you surface-level suggestions. You will not learn how to do the work for yourself to make a real change.

The way the stylists work for these subscription services is pretty cool. They use the information you give them, and an algorithm gives them suggestions from their inventory that fits the parameters. The stylist then tries to make the best choices based on your information. It is a neat system, but it is also limited. Their inventory is limited, which means that they’re limited in what they can send you. When you work with an independent personal stylist, you have unlimited options. While I can go to some stores with you and do some shopping, I can also tell you precisely what to look for and HOW to shop at any store you want. You can take the knowledge I give you and make fantastic choices for yourself any time you want.

Many of my clients have experienced the excitement of getting those first boxes. They then feel let down for the following months. They received sweaters when they live in Florida and too many mini skirts as a stay at home mom. They started keeping things that were “all right” but were not beneficial to them. They found they had some great pieces but nothing to wear them with when it came time to get dressed. 

My clients also told me that it made them start thinking about what WAS a good fit for them. Using these services helped them to try new things they would not have picked out for themselves. It made them think about their wardrobe and to get excited about adding new pieces to it. 

Here’s the thing, I START with a survey and a Pinterest board. Then I talk to you and learn about your life and your goals. I find out why you’re coming to me and what you hope to change. I help you identify what you like about your body and what makes you unhappy. I look at your ENTIRE wardrobe and ENTIRE life and fill in the gaps. What’s most important to you? Comfort and approachability while you’re at the park? Killing it in the board room with confidence and polish? Appearing put together and professional for clients but friendly and efficient for the PTA meeting?

After all this, I show you how to put together the perfect wardrobe. I teach you how to decide what to shop for and when. I help you understand your body and the clothes that suit you best, both physically and socially.

If you have dipped your toe in the water by trying a subscription service, I’d love to talk to you about how we can dive in and work together.