Thursday, April 17, 2014

Subscription Box Showdown: Stitch Fix VS StylingOn

After seeing a gazillion raving blog reviews, I got swept up in the Stitch Fix excitement and signed myself up. My first box was a little off mark, so even while I ordered my second box, I continued the quest for the perfect fashion subscription. I eventually stumbled across StylingOn, for which I could only find about 2 reviews. I wasn't too surprised since they don't offer the $25 referral reward that Stitch Fix does.

As a public service for the subscription addicted, I decided to face off these two services in a fight to the death, where death means absolutely nothing.


Stitch Fix
Fill out an online personal style quiz, and request a single style box or subscription. Receive 5 pieces of clothing and/or accessories hand selected for you. Try on and return what you don't want within 3 days. Provide online feedback for next box. Charged for what you keep.

Fill out an online personal style quiz. Discuss specific needs with your assigned stylist. Review multiple hand selected Look Books online and decide what you want in your box (approx 5 pieces). Charged for those pieces. Try on and return what you don't want within 10 days. Provide feedback to stylist. Refunded for what you return.

Winner: Stitch Fix

Both websites walk you through a fashion personality quiz to determine your sizing and preferences in terms of style, fit, color and (in the case of StylingOn) brand. Both purport to offer both a subscription and a one-off ordering service. I signed up for monthly boxes with Stitch Fix  but can't quite figure out how to do so with StylingOn. Luckily I can just notify my stylist when I'm ready to start a new box.

StylingOn's concept for their website is really cool, but I feel like the processes aren't really being followed and the tools only partially used. I use my phone and Kindle to navigate online, so it's really important to me that mobile sites are usable. Unfortunately, I can't get to my personal page through (I have to navigate directly to the client area login page). I was also unable to enter credit card info online. There is a Virtual Closet that I still haven't figured out how to use, and although my Look Books were posted quickly online, they were a bit difficult to navigate mobiley (you're welcome, Oxford Dictionary). Luckily, I've been able to contact both my stylist and the owner, Lidia, directly with my questions, and was able to get my box ordered without difficulty.

Stitch Fix, on the other hand, has a very streamlined, well-tested website and ordering process. I haven't noticed any glitches or deviations from what they promise.
Winner: Stitch Fix

Stitch Fix charges a $20 styling "fee" which is applied to anything you purchase in a given month. The average price point is about $68/garment. No shipping costs, even for returns.

StylingOn has no styling fee but charges $20 in shipping, not applicable to anything. The minimum costs per garment is $100.

Winner: StylingOn

Stitch Fix might be cheaper, but I still feel like I get a better deal with StylingOn  The point of this journey was to round out my newly purged closet with some higher quality pieces. I updated both profiles to request more expensive pieces, so I am willing to pay a little more if the quality is there, but StylingOn was the only one to deliver.

StylingOn offers designer brands at a variety of price points, starting at about $100/piece. A few of the labels include: Elizabeth & James, Theory, Ted Baker, Diane Von Furstenberg, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo and Stella McCartney. All of the clothes in my LookBooks were beautiful, and I wish I could have purchased everything. The prices on my pieces seemed very fair (my stylist said she was looking for sales & good deals) and I didn't locate them cheaper elsewhere.

Stitch Fix works with over 200 brands like 41Hawthorne (their own), Daniel Rainn, Kut from the Kloth, Collective Concepts and Kensie. I typically see the same brands popping up repeatedly on reviews across the web. I also know that some of the brands they carry can be found in markdown stores like Nordstrom Rack (Daniel Rainn shirts for $24.99 instead of $60). They aren't exactly the same pieces, and Stitch Fix is charging a fair price (MSRP), but knowing the markdowns I can find with a little leg work makes paying more tough to swallow. These brands are on par with most of what is already in my closet. Even when I increased my preferred price points with Stitch Fix  the brands stayed the same (actually got a bit cheaper).

Winner: StylingOn

Stitch Fix assigns a stylist, and I believe you can request a specific one that you like. A cute printed note is included in the shipment from your stylist. I can't recall the name of my first stylist.

My stylist at StylingOn is Brooke. I know what she looks like, I know her inspirations and style preferences. I even know her daughter's name and age. I'm not a stalker, although if she keeps hitting it out of the park I might become one! We've had two phone calls and have exchanged half a dozen emails. She followed up via email the morning my box arrived to get my feedback. Inside the box was a handwritten Thank You card. Brooke listens to me, understands my pain points, and shows genuine excitement for finding perfect pieces. She rocks, and we're already discussing my next box.

Winner: Stitch Fix

Both services advertise free return shipping in a pre-paid envelope, but I only received a pre-paid FedEx label in my StylingOn box. Not a big deal, but I need to find a bag to return my stuff.

Stitch Fix gives you 3 days to try on and return, you are charged for what you keep.

StylingOn charges you up front for the clothing. You have 10 days (nice!) to decide on returns. It can take up to two weeks to receive your refund.

Clear Winner: StylingOn

This is personal preference (natch - it's my review), but the StylingOn process lends itself to a higher satisfaction rate. You spend much more time with your personal shopper discussing ideas, and you review everything online before confirming what will be sent to you in your box. By the time you receive your box, you're mostly confirming fit and quality, whereas reviewing a Stitch Fix box is a bit of a crap shoot. I love the element of surprise with Stitch Fix, but StylingOn was definitely more on target.

Out of the 5 pieces in each of my two Stitch Fix boxes, I kept one. Box 1: a pair of jeans (see review here). Box 2: a bracelet (which I didn't really want but didn't want to lose my $20).
Collective Concepts Spectra Fit & Flare Dress
The hubs said this added 40 lbs so...

Under Skies Jasmine Blouse
UGH - awful shape for the girls
Bay to Baubles Rhinestone Bangle
Not my favorite but I can mix & match
Mia Melon Paloma Cutout Jersey Top
Mildly Ok, but I own better
Olive & Oak Alvah Hi-Lo Blouse
This was a better fit, but nothing special
Of the 4 pieces I requested in my first StylingOn box, I kept a Theory black silk shirt and a Joie chambray button up shirt. A beautiful black Helmut dress didn't fit quite right and a feather cuff bracelet wasn't quite as bold as I was hoping, but I still loved those two pieces and it was painful to send them back.
Feather Cuff Bracelet
Pretty, but snags and not statement enough
HELMUT by Helmut Lang Dress
Couldn't pull it off
Joie Chambray Blouse
In love with this lightweight top!
Theory Black Silk Shirt
Beautiful & expensive feeling

I seriously didn't plan to have them each win 3 categories - I HATE ties! I refuse.

In terms of price, convenience and tools, Stitch Fix has the edge. In terms of what is more important to me: personal touch, quality and overall satisfaction - StylingOn wins hands down. So I'm calling the ball - THE WINNER IS STYLINGON.

Obviously it's a matter of personal taste, and I totally understand why so many women love Stitch Fix. If they carried more of the style I was looking for or could better dress my shape, then I never would have strayed. I did and I liked it; StylingOn now has my heart and my wallet.

1 comment:

  1. You should checkout also, you can chat with their stylists directly for free, and they show who is online at any given time. they seem to be like a mix of polyvore and stitchfix


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