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How Stitch Fix helped take the work out of shopping for me

This personalized styling service made updating my wardrobe a less stressful experience.
I hate shopping but I love finding new clothes. Stitch Fix’s personalized styling service made shopping more enjoyable.
I hate shopping but I love finding new clothes. Stitch Fix’s personalized styling service made shopping more enjoyable.NBC / Vivian Le

After graduating college in 2021, it became apparent that my wardrobe was in dire need of help. I had spent the 12 years prior in a school uniform and only owned a handful of t-shirts from college clubs or trendy pieces purchased in a panic. As I entered the workforce, I knew I needed to diversify my wardrobe. Despite getting my first big job at a product recommendation site, I kind of hate shopping. When I do manage to drag myself to the mall, I find that clothes never seem to fit right, or only fast fashion trends are available (a category I’m less enthused about than my Gen Z peers). My mom — equally exhausted by my fruitless trips to the mall — is a loyal Stitch Fix user, so she gave me a gift card to the online personal styling service.

I had previously tried the online thrift store ThredUp’s now-defunct non-personalized Goody Box service shortly before it ended. The Goody Box gave you ten random items in your size, and I loved that I just had to click a button to get quality clothes to try on. My mom convinced me to try again with Stitch Fix, which sends people five items for a monthly rate of $20, but unlike the Goody Box, the clothes are tailored to your specific taste.

After creating my account with Stitch Fix, I took their 15-minute styling quiz. I answered questions about my typical size and how clothes in other name-brand stores tend to fit me. I also provided details about what types of clothes and accessories I was looking for (mostly workwear and casual attire), color and pattern preferences, and how much I prefer to spend on different items. After that, I placed an order and hoped for the best.

Stitch Fix

Stitch Fix offers personal styling services for men, women and children across a wide variety of items from accessories and jewelry, to business casual wear, to athleisure and more. After taking a style quiz and placing an order, you receive a box with five items to try on and potentially keep, or return. The service offers clothes in sizes XXS to XXL and in maternity, petite and plus sizing as well.

Each box costs $20, and should you keep any of the items, that $20 goes toward your purchase. After receiving your box, you have three days to decide what you want to keep or return. Each box comes with five items to try and my boxes usually include a range of dresses, skirts and shirts. As I ordered more boxes, the stylists curating the box began to hit the mark more and more with items I like, plus a few adventurous pieces to expand my wardrobe.

Stitch Fix is not an automatic subscription service, which I appreciate. You can set up your boxes to arrive monthly, bi-monthly, or just order one when you feel like it. Since I’ve been actively looking to expand my work-wear wardrobe, I’ve decided to order a box monthly, but once I’m no longer looking to shop, I can keep my account but stop the automatic delivery.

After trying everything on, I have the option to keep, return, or exchange the items for a different size. When checking out, Stitch Fix prompts me to offer feedback about each item — how it fits, what I liked or didn’t like about it, what I thought of the price and more — as well as leave a note for the stylist about the overall order, if I wish. The box comes with a prepaid return USPS bag that I can put my returns in and drop off at the post office. Out of the eight total items I’ve kept, I’ve only had to exchange one for a different size.

My main criticism of Stitch Fix is that most of the items are a little pricey for my budget; though I work full-time, I’m a part-time graduate student, so most of my income goes towards tuition. A $50-60+ dollar shirt can be a stretch for me, but with Stitch Fix, what you lose in money you gain in time, considering all the items are shipped right to your door. I’m also a picky shopper, so when I do decide to invest in a pricier item, I trust that it will last me several years.

With a Stitch Fix account, you can also shop their “Freestyle” section which features Stitch Fix garments and clothes from other brands, instead of a curated box. Instead of having a stylist put a box together, you can just shop and order what you like.

Stitch Fix also offers a feature called “Style Shuffle” where you can log into your account and a prompt will present you with an outfit and ask “Would you wear this?” A simple yes or no will teach Stitch Fix’s algorithm what you like, which will help your stylist when it comes time for them to put your box together. There is also a space that presents you with full outfits that you can “pin” to your profile like a Pinterest board. With each outfit you pin, Stitch Fix gives you space to write a quick blurb for your stylist about what you liked about the outfit.

The time I used to spend “window shopping” online, I now spend engaging with these playful prompts. The curated experience has shown me that I gravitate towards simplicity — tame patterns, clothes with more of a timeless feel, and practical bags and shoes — something I would not have learned browsing through thousands of options at a mall or online.

Other clothing subscription box services to consider

If you’re looking to try out a styling service or clothing subscription box to take the work out of shopping, we’ve rounded up a few other options for you to consider before making your first order.

Wantable Style Edit

Wantable offers multiple plan options for subscriptions, like the Style Edit for day-to-day wear, the athleisure-oriented Active Edit (which is the only one that offers a men’s edition), and the Sleep and Body Edit. For whichever “edit” or plan you prefer, Wantable requires you to take a 10-minute style quiz so they can get to know your preferences before curating the seven pieces in your box. Each box costs $20, and similar to StitchFix, the subscription price goes toward any items you end up keeping. You have five days to try on your items and ship your returns back. Wantable also offers an online store within its subscription model, where you can request specific items for your stylist to include in your box.

Rent The Runway

If you prefer to try out the latest trends, but don’t want a closet full of clothes you’ll only wear once or twice, you might be better suited for a clothing rental subscription. Rent The Runway offers a monthly subscription or one-off rental shipments at a time, depending on your needs and interests. You can subscribe to a 4, 8, or 16-item per month plan, though each plan comes in shipments of four items at a time, so the 8 and 16-item plans mean you will receive multiple boxes per month. Rent The Runway will take care of minor damage (stains and tears) for you. You can keep your rentals for as long as you want, and you can purchase an item if you fall in love with it.

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