I have found the way to survive without going to the mall! Alright, well, my husband would inform you that he is easily surviving without going to the mall. I thought I couldn’t though. I love shopping in malls. I love clothes. I even love the food court. I thought that there was no way anything could replace the mall for me, until I discovered it. Now I will never go to the mall again.
Ok, I do still shop in malls but only very rarely. Not only because I found something better (I promise I’ll reveal it in a minute), but also as a mom of a not-quite-2-year-old I need to bring him everywhere with me (you parents out there know how that goes). And no, it’s not online shopping. Strictly speaking I’m not a fan of shopping online for clothes because I prefer to touch clothing before I buy them – especially shoes. I’m talking about subscription boxes.
There are a lot of different clothing subscription companies (Stitch Fix, Wantable, and Trunk Club, just to name a few) but they all operate in essentially the same way: a stylist does all the hard work of picking out clothes for you, they ship them, you decide what you want to buy, and send back what you don’t.
There are seven reasons why I believe subscription boxes are a better option than going to the mall to buy clothing.
7. Avoiding the Mall
Since this one is a gimme I figured I would start with it. I actually love going to the mall to shop; my favorite store is Loft. However mall shopping is just not convenient anymore. My toddler can tolerate an hour or two, but as soon as he gets hungry or sleepy his patience goes out the window. A lot of people hate shopping in malls even if they don’t have small children. Malls can be crowded and noisy, and you can’t walk from one end to the other without being assaulted by vendors at kiosks. Subscription boxes allow you to avoid all of that hassle.
6. Someone Picks Clothing Out For Me!
I am not very knowledgeable about fashion. I realize clothing is almost all that I blog about, but I’m not a trend-setting fashionista that knows what the next style is going to be. I prefer someone much more knowledgeable than me send me things they think I will like.
I’m sure you’re asking yourself “but how can a complete stranger know my style and what will fit me?” For every service you fill out some kind of style survey. Trunk Club stylists will even call you and have an extensive chat about exactly what you’re looking for (although this is optional if you’re like me and prefer to avoid phones at all costs). Many companies ask you for a link to a Pinterest board (here’s mine) that describes your style, and some even provide a space for you to upload a photo of yourself so the stylists can see what you look like and your body shape. Most also have a platform for you to tell them what you’re looking for each month, like a dress to wear for a summer wedding or distressed jeans.
Then a stylist looks over your profile and all your notes, and pulls pieces from their inventory he or she thinks you will like. Once you try them on, most places have a feedback process where you can explain exactly what you do or do not like about each item. This improves the chance of getting pieces you love in your next box.
You also enter size information. Most pieces I’ve received fit me perfectly including pants and shoes. I swear the stylists are fairies that peddle magic fits-everyone-perfectly-pants. Even if something doesn’t fit, you can usually exchange sizes.
That being said, this system is not going to be perfect every time. Someone who has never met you is still picking clothing out for you, and you’re not going to like everything. However for me it beats the alternative of spending hours sifting through racks of clothes, pulling out 30 things, standing in line for a fitting room before finding out you can only take 10 items in, and then trying to keep your toddler from crawling out from under the door while you’re without a shirt and have one leg into a pair of pants. Speaking of which…
5. Skip the Fitting Rooms
Other than avoiding the obvious disaster scenario above, being able to try clothing on at home has serious advantages.
It’s very difficult to make a good decision when you spend only 30 seconds in an item of clothing. I’ve liked clothing well enough in the store, but then once I buy it and bring it home I realize there’s something I don’t like about it. This results in either a return trip to the mall or it gets shoved to the back of my closet until I donate it a year later. By trying things on at home I can spend more time wearing each piece, see what it looks like under non-fluorescent lighting and, most importantly, see how it works with the rest of my wardrobe. Lots of clothing appeals to me initially, but then I realize that I have nothing to wear with it!
Subscription boxes discourage impulse-buying and allow me to make better decisions about my clothing, so I don’t end up with a closet full of things I love, or not, that don’t work with each other. This brings me to my next point.
4. Quality over Quantity
One of the major concerns about subscription boxes is the cost of the clothing. It’s true that you will spend more money upfront with a subscription box than if you were to dig through the sales racks at your favorite department store, however I would argue that the latter can be a bigger waste of money.
Cheap clothing often doesn’t last as long as higher quality clothing, so you can end up spending more money in the long run because you’re buying things to replace your worn-out clothes. You’re also more likely to buy clothing you won’t actually wear because you’re just getting it because it’s on sale. I’ve been especially guilty of this in the past. I get blinded by sale signs and buy lots of items that are “great deals” and then they either fall apart or I never wear them.
That being said, prices for subscription boxes vary a lot. Some, like Trunk Club, are supplied by Nordstrom and can have items that are upwards of $300, but they also have plenty of inventory on the lower end. Stitch Fix and Wantable typically range between $50 and $150 per item (which is pretty on par with what I would spend at Loft). If that still seems like a lot of money to spend on clothing there are still more options. Elizabeth and Clarke is a quarterly service that sends you three shirts for $60 (for you arithmophobes that’s $20 apiece). Golden Tote (which is not technically a subscription service but it kind of works like one) sends you either 5 items in a $149 tote, 3 items in a $89 tote, or 2 items in a $59 tote (approximately $30 an item). Most subscriptions even ship for free and have free returns, so in a lot of cases the clothing doesn’t end up being that much more expensive.
3. Avoiding the Style Rut
I am the type of person who picks one store and only shops there. For a few years that store has been Loft, and because of it I used to look like a walking Loft catalog. While I loved their clothes, and still do, I found myself getting bored with their style and because of that I would buy more… of their clothing. It was a never-ending vicious cycle. Each subscription box company sends you clothing from a variety of different brands, small ones that don’t have their own brick and mortar storefront. This has allowed me to mix up my look, and give me a lot more variety.
The stylists will also sometimes send you something to try that is out of your comfort zone, which can lead you to discovering something you never thought you would like. My discovery was chambray shirts. I was SO not into them. Denim belongs on your legs, not your top. Now I practically live in my chambray shirt, and have a dress as well. I also have a pair of white boyfriend jeans that I never would have known I needed before. I’ve also been thinking about getting a romper… but I’m still hesitant. We’ll see what my stylists send me! This leads me to my favorite part.
2. The Surprise Factor
For most of these subscription services you have no idea what is being sent to you until you open up the box that appears on your door step. There are ways to peek if you don’t like the anticipation, Trunk Club even sends you a preview of the trunk they put together and you can reject ones you’re sure you definitely won’t want. You can see the items that Stitch Fix and Trendsend have sent if you pretend to check out once your box has shipped. Golden Tote lets you select a couple of items but then the others are a complete surprise. I try really hard not the peek because the surprise is the most fun (and addicting) part for me. It’s like opening presents every month that someone sent especially for you – and it doesn’t even have to be your birthday!
1. There’s Something Out There for Everyone
There are several clothing subscription companies. The ones I’ve tried are Stitch Fix, Wantable, Trendsend, Trunk Club, Golden Tote and Elizabeth & Clarke. You can see reviews for all of these services on my blog. And there are others out there. There are even ones for men’s clothing. My husband has tried Trunk Club and Five Four Club, but again there are others out there.
Not into clothing? There are subscription boxes out there for just about anything now. I’ve received Ipsy and Boxycharm for makeup, Wantable for jewelry, Winc for wine, Mighty Fix for eco-friendly household items and Citrus Lane for children’s toys… oh and MeUndies for underwear (I might have a problem). There are food subscriptions that send you meals or just snacks, tea and coffee subscriptions, book subscriptions, and more.
Overall, subscription boxes are a great alternative for shopping at the mall, and have improved my wardrobe and given me a fun surprise (or five) to look forward to every month. Have you given any a try? What did you think? If you like the idea of subscriptions, why don’t you subscribe to my blog to receive an update whenever I publish a new post!
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This is not a sponsored post and all opinions and photos are my own. This post contains affiliate links. If you sign up for a service or buy a product using one of my links I will receive a small amount of compensation to help fund my obsessions.