I’m continuing my foray into some of the more interesting internet subscription service options and whether or not they’re actually worth that monthly fee.
Mavens by Julep
The Premise: Nail polish brand Julep provides a monthly themed box of high-end nail polish and cosmetics for a fee of $24.99. Users pick from a style profile, with names like “It Girl” or “Boho Glam,” and are sent selections for that month’s theme. While you’re given a box that matches your style profile by default, you can opt to choose a box from a different style profile.
The Experience: I spoke with Meredith, a User Experience Expert in Southern California who is a big fan of the service. A self-described nail polish addict, Meredith finds that the subscription service has really helped her curb her spending without sacrificing her nails. “Last year my New Years resolution was to stop impulse buying nail polish, so I got the [Mavens subscription]. It keeps me on budget and they have enough different “packages” each month that I never feel like there’s nothing I don’t want.”
The Ruling: If you’re a big nail polish fan, it’s definitely a good service to take advantage of. Mavens used to let you skip months if you weren’t feeling it, but it seems now you must “earn” skips over the course of six months, so it is a service to be sure you want to try before going in.
The Premise: Essentially a mail-order personal stylist, Stitch Fix sends you a box of five different items for a flat rate of $20 a month. You can choose to purchase the things you like, and send back the rest. If you buy all 5 items you get a 25% discount, and your $20 style fee can be applied as credit towards your purchase.
The Experience: Both women I spoke to about StitchFix were extremely positive about the service. My friend Nina had initially been unimpressed by the quality of items in her first box, but after raising her concerns with the site, she’s been so happy with every order since that she now gets two boxes a month. I also spoke with Tanya, a wedding planner who finds her schedule so jam packed in the summer that there’s little time to hit the mall and who loves having a fashion selection sent to her doorsteps, “My stylist wrote me and said she saw on my Pinterest page that I pinned a lot of infinity scarves, so she made sure to include a cute one in my choices that month.” Nina was also impressed at the research her stylist put in, so much so that she requested that she be her stylist from now on, “I feel like it will allow her to get to know me so my boxes will get better and better.”
The Ruling: Because you only get a discount if you purchase all 5 items, which could still set you back a couple hundred bucks per month, the appeal of StitchFix has a lot more to do with economy of time than of dollars. It’s a service for the girl who has a sense of style and taste but doesn’t have the time or patience for the hunt. Plus, according to Nina, “Getting the box feels just like Xmas every time. and that rocks.”
The Premise: On the surface, LeTote offers a similar service to StitchFix, sending you a selection of clothes that you can choose to purchase and send back. The twist is that at a price of $49 a month, you receive a box containing 3 garments and 2 accessories that you can actually use before sending back or deciding you want to keep it. The “tote” comes with a mix of items you select using the site’s closet feature, and items chosen for you by a stylist. Users can get as many totes as they want per month, with free 2-day shipping both ways. There’s also a cheaper $19 a month option that does jewelry only.
The Experience: The concept reminded me a lot of Gwynnie Bee which I’d previously tried and felt lackluster on personally, and even just browsing the site for LeTote didn’t make me feel very excited. The selection of styles available on the site are very limited, and are even more so once you start searching by size. In fact, all of the items I found that I did like were sold out in the large size, which made me doubt the $49 fee would be worth it. Luckily it turned out Nina had also used the service, which she cancelled quickly. “I really wanted to love LeTote, but they honestly only sent me one bracelet I liked and a single shirt that was okay-ish. But overall, no thanks. The biggest problem is that most of the clothes are the cheap, see-through polyester junk you’d find at Forever 21, not the ‘name brands’ that were promised.”
The Ruling: If the selection and sizes were expanded, and the quality of the clothes were better, LeTote might be something I’d be interested in but right now it very much over-promises and under delivers. And considering that any clothes you purchase are only 25% off the ticket price despite having been used before you got them, simply hitting up your local thrift or resell shop would stretch your dollars a lot further, and without a monthly subscription fee.
Rye Silverman is a writer and comedian based in Los Angeles. Rye has been seen on the Fusion channel, is a contributor to the Huffington Post and runs a blog about style, pop culture, and gender called Chick Like Me.