Ever trawled the clothing rails on the high street and wished you could afford your very own personal stylist to help you make sense of it all?
Well, thanks to online personal styling company Stitch Fix, you can.
Founded by Harvard Business School alum Katrina Lake in 2011, the styling service has reinvented the shopping experience by using a clever combination of human judgement and data science to deliver tailored fashion recommendations.
Fill out an online survey on the Stitch Fix website and one of the company’s team of personal stylists will hand select and send a box containing five items of clothing. You pay for the ones you like and return the rest at no cost, with a £10 styling fee redeemable on anything you keep. Keep everything in your box (or ‘Fix’) and you’ll receive a 20 per cent discount on the lot. It’s similar but different to a subscription model, in that you select the frequency at which you receive Fixes, and in order to receive a box on the reg, you must opt in, not out.
Not only is the service a great way to shop your favourite high street labels like Whistles, French Connection and All Saints without leaving the comfort (and safety) of your home, but they’ve also got several smaller indie labels on the books, plus more luxury labels like Baum & Pfergarten, Hugo Boss and Paige. The contents of your box will be tailored to your size, style preferences and budget and anything you return will be noted by sophisticated Stitch Fix algorithm and your stylist, so that the clothes in your next box are bound to be even more perfectly ‘you.’
Since launching into the UK in May 2019, Stitch Fix has amassed more than 30 million unique data points from shoppers, through its interactive Style Shuffle functionality which allows customers to rate (thumbs up or down) various styles of clothing. Not only do these ratings help Stitch Fix’s expert human stylists learn customer’s style preferences, but by aggregating and analysing the data, Stitch Fix has been able to identify clear patterns in fashion tastes by county, demonstrating that how Brits dress is influenced by where they live. Want to know which region matches up to your personal style? Take the fun County Capsules quiz here.
As we gradually – and tentatively –emerge from our locked down life, we face a uniquely complex dressing scenario. Many of us have become so accustomed to comfort that any part or full-time office attire must be looser-fit and slouchier than ever before. In fact, according to Google, searches for loose summer trousers are up 60 per cent since lockdown began, while searches for elasticated waist shorts and floaty dresses up 110 and 70 per cent respectively. That coupled with London’s newfound love of cycling, means we’re all on the hunt for hardworking cycling-friendly wardrobe staples that will bike us breezily from kitchen desk to office and back.
In order to help them navigate this sartorial minefield, three Evening Standard journalists trialled the Stitch Fix service in order to get a wardrobe refresh.
Here’s what they thought…
After months of padding around my house in leggings and comfy t-shirts, my gradual return to the office has left me with two big questions: firstly, where the hell is my oyster card, and secondly, what did I wear before all this?
With shop changing rooms still closed (though I was never a fan, too much strip lighting) I found the Stitch Fix online styling service a useful way to outsource my minor back-to-work wardrobe refresh. The five-minute questionnaire was pretty straight-forward, inviting me to swipe through a series of looks – Tinder-style – eliminating the ‘never-wears’ (in my case that’s a bodycon dress or anything yellow) and suggesting favourite fabrics and silhouettes.
The final selection, when it came, was nicely tailored to my tastes – barring a pair of black wide-legged jeans that didn’t fit or flatter my shape. The pieces did nudge me outside my comfort zone slightly, but in a good way – I would have dismissed the floaty Baum Und Pferdgarten dress and pearl button cardigan by Just Female in a shop, but trying them on at home made me realise they were something I could pull off. That said, it’s a little dangerous falling in love with something before checking the price tag – at £309, the dress isn’t cheap.
Would I use the service again? Even if the shops do re-open, the process was so quick and easy I would definitely consider it.
As someone who often waits until the eleventh hour to get out of bed and start getting ready, having a back-to-work wardrobe to refer to would be a massive help for the morning rush.
The data inputting process for my Stitch Fix selection was very thorough, asking me to detail every measurement and every desired clothing item to suit different occasions. Pieces that I liked from the box included the the high-waisted Won Hundred jeans which were a perfect fit. I struggle with picking out the right size jeans even when I’m literally on the shop floor, but these were bang on. I also really liked the texture and loose fit of the blouse, and the cashmere jumper will likely become one of my Autumn go-tos.
I would have loved to see items with a bit more of an edge to them however – as nice as the more feminine pieces were, my personal tastes lean more towards androgyny and over-sized fits.
Overall, Stitch Fix boxes seem like a great way to forego the hassle of sorting though high street racks, both for those who are still reluctant to venture out to the shops and for those – who like me – are just a bit lazy!
I’m an incredibly picky shopper, so I felt initially sceptical about whether an online service would cut it, but the clothes Stitch Fix sent were scarily in line with what I’d choose myself.
The whole process was super simple and easy to understand, and the comprehensive online questionnaire was a breeze to fill out. While I have no special occasions coming up (thanks Covid) I like that you can let the stylists know if there’s a party or wedding that you need an outfit for.
When the clothes arrived I was pleasantly surprised by how well they fit and even the odd item that wasn’t quite my style, still fit just fine. Most of the clothes easily slot into my smart-casual work wardrobe and match up with loads of things I already have which is a big plus. The jeans were also spot on despite my eternal struggle to find ones that fit well. One of my favourite things is that it’s a great way to discover new brands – and also styles which I’d never think to pick up in store (hello snakeskin print blouse!)
The only downside is the trek to the post office to return the unwanted items – but I’ll take that over trawling through stores any day.
All you need to do is sign up, fill out your Style Profile and book your Fix for just £10. Refer a friend and you’ll both receive £15 credit.
Visit stitchfix.co.uk to get started
By Chloe Street