Friday, December 8, 2017

A Stich Fix Alternative

It doesn't take much web surfing or blog reading to learn that Stich Fix is a hot property. They recently went public and though they did not raise as much money as hoped, their stock price is up.

What is Stitch Fix?

For the uninformed, Stich Fix is a clothing subscription service.  Customers fill out an online survey and then, periodically (frequency depends on the plan chosen) they are sent a box of five clothing items and/or accessories which they try on in the privacy of their own home where they can see if the pieces go with other things in their wardrobe and where they are not being pressured by sales people.  The box includes a mailer for returning unwanted items and a $20 "styling fee" is applied to any purchase made.  

Stitch Fix has combined data analysis and a flair for fashion to make it easy for people who hate to shop to update their wardrobes and to give even those who do love to shop a chance to try something they might not have picked.  

I've never tried Stich Fix though I've read reviews online.  I have tried a competitor, Dia & Co., which does pretty much the same thing, except that Dia &Co is for plus-sized women, a market Stich Fix has just begun to serve.  I wrote about one box on my book blog, and another box here.

What Are the Plusses and Minuses?

I recently ran across yet another blog post about Stich Fix and reflected on my experience with Dia & Co. and came to a few conclusions:

  • It is fun to get stuff in the mail.  Even in this day of one-click ordering from Amazon, there is still something fun about coming home to a package with your name on it, especially if you aren't quite sure what is in it.

  • Trying things on at home, with your other clothes is more helpful than trying them on in a dressing room, in isolation from the rest of your wardrobe.  If it looks awful on you, you aren't going to want it in any case, but if it looks good, it would be helpful to know if it matches your gray pants or the blue sweater.  Yes, you can always return things, but will you?

  • The box can encourage you to try things you might not otherwise have given a second look.  One of my favorite Dia &Co. purchases is a dress I would never have tried on because it was too expensive and that style doesn't look good on me. 

  • Those boxes are expensive.  If you regularly walk into mid-priced department stores (Dillards, Macys) and buy non-sales price merchandise, then these boxes will be in your spending niche.  For those of us who shop the sale racks or lower priced stores, the prices of $50 or more per item seem high. 

Is There a Lower-Priced Alternative to Stitch Fix or Dia & Co.?

If you are looking for a subscripton box that costs substantially less than those two, well, I haven't found it.  While I'm sure computers do most of the work, reality is that someone is picking the clothes, putting them in a box and sending them to you, along with a cute little note.  While I doubt stylists spend a tremendous amount of time on any one box, the cost for them, plus packaging and two way mailing means, I suspect, that this business model wouldn't work with lower-priced clothing. 

However, I do have a couple of almost alternatives, for those of us who don't have quite as much money to spend:

  • Decide ahead of time on an amount of money or number of items and then go to your favorite store's website and order them.  Hopefully your favorite store has a website and accepts returns either in the mail or in-store.  Dress Barn is my favorite store and my last Dia Box came in at $300, so I went to Dress Barn's site and picked out $300 worth of clothes in my sizes--and was able to get closer to ten items than the five Dia &Co. sent me.  They showed up a few days later and I tried them on.  I kept two and stopped by my favorite store a couple of days later and returned the rejects (and picked up something else while I was there).

    The main advantage to this method is that you don't get things you absolutely wouldn't wear--no tulle skirts or distressed jeans for me, I'm in my 50s, I'm not 5 or 15.  The disadvantage is that there is no one pushing you to trying something you wouldn't ordinary try.  You could remedy that by some version of digitally throwing darts and ordering what you land on, even if it is a tulle skirt (shudder). 

  • Give someone you know your account information for the store website.  Unless it is somone you really trust with your money, don't give them the credit card information but let them log onto the site as you, and fill your cart with a specified number of items or amount of money.  Give that person your sizes too.  Once the cart is full, you log on and pay (and decide whether or not to peek).  A friend who really "gets" you and has great sense of fashion could both avoid the tulle skirt and find the vest you'd never look at twice--but which looks great on you and goes with half your wardrobe. 
Clothing subscription boxes can be fun, but they are an expensive way to build a wardrobe. Consider alternatives for at least part of the fun for a lot less money.  However, if you want to give Dia &Co. a try, use this link and I get a referral fee.  
Disease Called Debt


  1. Interesting business model. I'm not much into fashion for myself, but when I try to convince my wife to get something new, she often says it doesn't match her taste. So I don't really see her allowing a stranger to style her. Plus as you say, it's an expensive way to build a wardrobe. But I'll bet there are people who just love this sort of thing.

  2. I've thought all of these things about Stitch Fix and the like before--it looks fun, but the price just isn't worth it to me. I've had good success with ModCloth for returns, though I admittedly don't do it often because their clothes are expensive, too--at least for my fashion budget threshold!

  3. Thanks for your honest review. I had always wondered about such these clothing subscriptions boxes and I know really that they are too expensive for me. I do hate to shop though.

  4. Once I discovered the wide range of clothes and brands at Goodwill, I've had trouble spending more than $5 on clothes for myself anymore! Though Heaven knows I could probably use a lot of help in the styling department. haha!