- Why you should trust me
- Who should try this
- What we like about Stitch Fix
- What we don’t like about Stitch Fix
Why you should trust me
I interviewed 16 people—bloggers, friends, and industry professionals—who have tried various clothing subscription services, including Stitch Fix, Trunk Club, Bombfell, Wantable, Five Four Club, Trendy Butler, and more. I made sure to interview men and women of different sizes, ages, and backgrounds—including parents, students, and remote workers. These people used the services for different reasons: to save time, try new styles, transition into maternity wear, and just have some fun. I’ve read most of the media reviews on these services on websites like PopSugar, Forbes, Buzzfeed, and more.
I also talked to professionals to get their opinions. Jon Shanahan, of the YouTube style channel The Kavalier, has tried a number of subscription box services and has experience in retail, so he was able to share insight on which services offer better quality for the price. (Shanahan does make money from affiliate links, and you can learn more about that here.) I also interviewed Lauren Messiah, a professional personal fashion stylist in Los Angeles. As an insider, Messiah understands how personal styling is supposed to work and explained why these boxes often fall short. After testing for this guide, I tried one-on-one personal styling, and that helped me understand why it can sometimes be worth paying more to work with a stylist you trust.
After these hours of research, I narrowed the services to test to Stitch Fix and Trunk Club for both men and women, and Bombfell for men. Eight Wirecutter staffers (four men and four women of different ages and body types) ordered boxes from each service and filled out a survey that asked questions about fit, style, quality, process, and price. I also asked staffers to pick which box they liked best.
Who should try this
If you don’t have the time or inclination to shop for new clothes, Stitch Fix can be a relatively affordable way to expand your wardrobe. After you fill out an online survey about your personal style, the service uses a mix of algorithms and personal stylists to pick out clothing that suits your lifestyle, preference, or body shape. You can also send along a Pinterest board of the types of clothes you like to help your stylist pinpoint items that match your style. Stitch Fix then sends a box of clothes that you can try on for three days. Send back what you don’t like, and you’ll be charged for only what you keep. If you don’t buy anything, Stitch Fix charges a $20 styling fee.
After using several services, we think Stitch Fix is best for people looking for moderately priced clothes—think the quality you’d find in the not-fancy parts of a Macy’s or Lord & Taylor (although you can choose higher price ranges for designer brands).
Stitch Fix isn’t for everyone. If you’re a bargain hunter and enjoy shopping for sales, you will probably find better-priced clothing shopping for yourself. If you want more personalized service, you have a higher budget, or you want to experiment more with your style, you may be happier with Trunk Club (see our review here). If you want one-on-one help, you might be better off working with an independent personal stylist.
What we like about Stitch Fix
The best clothing box service
Our eight testers thought Stitch Fix did the best job at delivering clothes that fit, matched their personal style, and offered good quality for an affordable price.
A common complaint with all clothing subscription services is that the stylists did not get the person’s style right. But Stitch Fix seemed to get it right faster with both first-time and repeat box subscribers. Of the people we interviewed, including staff members, 21 had tried Stitch Fix and 10 reported that the style was up to par. While that’s less than half, it’s still the highest approval rating of any other service we considered.
Wirecutter editor Andrew Cunningham, who tried boxes from Stitch Fix, Trunk Club, and Bombfell said, “Style-wise [Stitch Fix] probably did the best job of the three services finding interesting clothes and matching my style notes. The others were less adventurous.” Another staffer, assistant updates editor Medea Giordano, who shared a Pinterest board of clothes she likes with her stylist, was also happiest with the pieces in her Stitch Fix box. “It was obvious that the Stitch Fix stylist looked through my Pinterest board,” she said. “In the note I received with my box, she pointed out that the joggers were taken directly from a pin and could be worn with Vans and a flannel or dressed up a little more, which is exactly what I said my style was. … I like that she was able to find stuff that I could use in both ways instead of one thing for this style, one thing for that style.” Trunk Club also offers a Pinterest board option, which Giordano took advantage of, but none of the items in her Trunk Club box matched her style.
Three people we interviewed also said they liked that Stitch Fix wasn’t overly trendy. One reviewer we interviewed, Christine Rose Elle, said the service actually made her feel better about shopping as an older woman. “The shopping experience is very different when you’re older,” she said. “It feels vaguely like it’s not for you—like it’s for a younger woman. With Stitch Fix, the clothing is on trend, but you’re not going to get anything with your buns hanging out.”
Of the people we interviewed, more said that Stitch Fix got the fit of the clothing closest to what they wanted. The service offers a size range that includes plus, petite, and maternity. For women, it offers sizes 0 to 24W (XS to 3X), waist sizes 28 to 42, and inseams 30 to 34 inches. Men’s sizes range from XS to 3XL, waist sizes 28 to 48, and inseams 28 to 36 inches. Of the people we interviewed and our staff testers, roughly 60 percent thought the clothing fit was good, compared with 40 percent for Trunk Club, and 50 percent for Bombfell.
Stitch Fix strikes a good balance between quality and affordability, like what you might find at Macy’s. Prices for adult clothes range from $50 to $200 per item. “The quality of the clothing doesn’t make it feel like you’re getting ripped off—it’s clearly higher-end stuff,” said reviewer Kristin Hillery. “It’d be pretty expensive to fill your whole closet with Stitch Fix pieces, but maybe the idea is to only buy a few things you truly love wearing and stick with them.” At $20 for the styling fee, which is credited if you keep anything, Stitch Fix is a relatively low-cost way to give personal styling a try.
We also found Stitch Fix’s returns to be relatively easy. You put everything you don’t want into a prepaid envelope and drop it off at the post office (or schedule a USPS pickup). By comparison, Trunk Club requires scheduling a UPS pickup, and we had to drop our Bombfell returns at a FedEx location.
If you’re a harried parent, you may also appreciate Stitch Fix Kids boxes. It’s the only service of those we tested to offer styling for kids (sizes 2T to 14). Prices for the clothes start at $10, and Stitch Fix Kids boxes come with eight to 12 items of clothing.
What we don’t like about Stitch Fix
Many people who disliked Stitch Fix didn’t think it was far worse than any other service, they just seemed to dislike the idea of clothing boxes in general. There were a few specific complaints about Stitch Fix, though.
The company offers fewer “extras” that get people excited. Where Trunk Club offers more personalized styling, brick-and-mortar locations, free alterations, and the ability to link your Nordstrom card to your account, Stitch Fix’s only added amenity is a slightly cheaper styling fee. Because there’s less interaction with a stylist with Stitch Fix, you don’t really feel like you’re getting a personalized experience when you fill out your online profile, the way you do with Trunk Club. That said, Stitch Fix stylists got it right (at least for fit) about 62 percent of the time. In general, Stitch Fix seemed to offer “safer” pieces that people were more pleased with. Overall, most people we talked to (95 percent) rated Stitch Fix as at least “okay” in terms of fit.
Some of our testers found Stitch Fix’s prices high for what they got, especially when the clothes were made of synthetic, “cheap” fabrics. Senior staff writer Lauren Dragan said she liked the fit of a pair of jeans she received, but she was skeptical about quality. At about $90, the jeans were primarily made of rayon, polyester, and spandex, with only about 30 percent cotton; she was concerned the fabric wouldn’t hold up well over time. “The fit was spot on, and the color was nice, and they did look cute,” Lauren said. She didn’t think the quality compared to what she could find shopping on her own; she ended up finding a pair of Lucky brand jeans off the rack for $15 less that were made of what seemed like higher-quality fabric (87 percent cotton, the rest polyester and elastane).
The cheaper fabrics didn’t bother all of our testers, though. “A couple of the dress shirts were only okay in quality, but the price on them was low enough ($50 to $60) that the quality was in line,” said Wirecutter writer Chris Heinonen. I had a similar experience when I tried the service myself. I had to increase my price preferences on the website to get clothing that was only slightly better quality. Since the time of testing, however, Stitch Fix has added over a hundred new premium brands, like Kate Spade and Theory, which might mean better-quality boxes, but the brands are available only if you select a high price on your profile.
Since Stitch Fix sells the clothes at the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, there’s always a chance you might find that same item deeply discounted elsewhere. If you do find an item cheaper within seven days of delivery, Stitch Fix has a price-matching policy (only hitch: the item can’t be on sale). (For comparison: Trunk Club will only match to Nordstrom.com and Bombfell does not price match at all.)
Finally, Stitch Fix has a short try-on window of just three days, which may not feel like enough time. “I was so nervous that something would happen and I’d end up getting charged for the full box,” said Giordano. You can adjust this to five days on the company’s website (the same try-on period Trunk Club offers).
Cat W, owner of Mary Martha Mama, email interview, August 11, 2017
Christine Rose Elle, life coach, phone interview, August 9, 2017
Deidra Riggs, speaker and author of Every Little Thing: Making A World of Difference Right Where You Are, phone interview, August 7, 2017
Jim Jacobs, president of Focus Insight, phone interview, August 7, 2017
Jon Shanahan, owner of YouTube channel The Kavalier, phone interview, July 18, 2017
Kelli, owner of YouTube channel ItsJustKelli, email interview, August 4, 2017
Kristin Hillery, contributing editor, InVision App, email interview, August 10, 2017
Lauren Messiah, personal fashion stylist, phone interview, July 18, 2017
Pete Gosselin, owner of YouTube channel skiwithpete, phone interview, August 8, 2017