Are Clothing Subscription Boxes Really Worth It?
How Stitch Fix, Le Tote, and Fabletics Compare
It seems like the perfect setup: you sign up, input your payment details, then wait for your monthly box of clothing—perfectly curated for your body type and personal style—to be delivered to your door. You’ll save money because you won’t keep the things you don’t love, plus you won’t be tempted to buy the random sweater or new pair of shoes at the mall.
Will you actually save money, though? Here we explore the most popular clothing subscription boxes, outlining the costs, the extra fees, and even the billing procedures to determine if these boxes are really worth it.
One of the most popular clothing subscription boxes, Stitch Fix offers options for women, men, children, and even maternity. To set it up, you simply fill out your style profile, which includes details on your personal style, what types of clothing or accessories you’re looking for, and your desired price point.
Then, you schedule your “fix.” This can be a one-time delivery, or you can set regularly scheduled shipments varying from every two to three weeks to every three months.
The stylist fee for Stitch Fix is $20 per shipment, which can be applied to any item you choose to purchase from your box. But, if you choose not to buy, you lose that $20. Prices for men's and women's clothing items range from $25 to $500, while kids’ items start at $10 per item. This may be a bit of a budget-buster for some. If you choose to purchase everything in your Stitch Fix shipment, you get 25% off the items, in addition to the $20 stylist fee credited toward your order.
Let’s say each item in your box costs $55. For a standard box of five items, that’s a total of $275. But buy everything and get 25% off, plus an extra $20 off from the stylist fee you already paid. This brings your total down to $186.25. Not bad. Also worth mentioning: shipping and returns are free.
Le Tote has a slightly different model. Instead of sending your items for purchase, like Stitch Fix, this service is more of a “rental,” allowing you to choose the items you’d like to receive in your monthly tote, wear the items as often as you like, then either return everything or choose to purchase an item (or all of them), for up to 50% off retail.
The pricing structure is subscription based: It’s $59/month for a regular membership and $79/month for a maternity membership. Shipping and returns are both free. If you choose only to rent your clothing, this option can definitely be cheaper, since you’re getting to wear all the items in your tote for the $59 monthly fee.
While the service doesn’t say exactly how many items are in each tote, let’s say there are five items. That’s a $13.80 rental fee per item. The costs of this service can definitely increase if you choose to buy the items in your tote.
Although Le Tote doesn't have a personal stylist setting up your box, you can customize your rentals by offering feedback on each box you receive.
For the athletically inclined, Fabletics is a monthly membership service that offers discounted workout outfits for its members. Founded by celebrity Kate Hudson, Fabletics has gained notoriety in recent years for its stylish workout options for both men and women.
For $49.95 per month, you become a VIP member. This cost goes toward your outfit for that month, which includes any item or two-piece outfit of up to $80 that you choose.
Want to skip that month? Log in to your Fabletics account by the fifth day of the month, choose ‘Skip the Month,' and you won’t be charged. Each outfit is worth around $100 at retail, the company says, so VIPers get around a 50% discount. First-time VIP buyers get $25 off their first outfit, making their first purchase a mere $25. While the value may be there, one has to ask: How many workout outfits do you really need?
While using clothing subscription boxes may or may not cause you to spend more money on clothing, there are three things to consider when deciding if they are worth your money:
- Don’t be tempted to buy an item you don’t like or that doesn’t fit well to achieve a discount through the service. You won’t end up wearing the item and will have wasted that money.
- When buying clothing, you should always ensure that what you’re spending is in line with your monthly budget. If you’re a big spender, you should have a larger budget allocation for clothing. If you tend to wear the same items over and over again, a smaller amount is fine.
- Keep in mind that these subscription box-based companies make a profit on monthly membership costs, stylist fees, and recurring payments. Companies that use the subscription sales strategy bank on consumers not being on top of their monthly billing, or forgetting to cancel service altogether when they no longer use it. Keep up with your monthly subscriptions and cancel ones you aren't using—or use an app like Trim to do it for you.