How to Buy Clothes This Fall

People say this to me all of the time: “Oh my goodness! You look so cute!! Adorable!!! Where do you get your clothes?” Well, maybe people don’t say ALL of those things to me. Maybe I sort of hear in my head infer the parts about cuteness and adorability. (And, really, can a 58-year-old grandmother be cute and adorable? Discuss.) But I do get asked a lot/frequently/every day occasionally where I buy my clothes. I lean toward believing it’s because I find some great things rather than the possibility that the folks asking are horrified by what they see and want to avoid similar style disasters. Toe-may-toes, toe-mah-toes. Anyway, (this is the point, husband John Pitts, where you need to look away and PRETEND YOU’RE NOT HEARING THIS) I buy clothes a lot/frequently/every day occasionally through online subscription boxes and surprise bags. These services and boutiques are fun, convenient, almost always usually pretty much cost-effective and bring back that old-fashioned thrill of getting packages in the mail — an essential human need that Amazon understood early on. (Aside: Does anybody remember getting free thank-you gifts when Amazon first started? Like a coffee mug, maybe? Or did I make that up?) Because many folks haven’t yet discovered the joy of buying clothes this way — and I know this because they look at me as if I have coffee stains all over my pants and cookie crumbs all over my face when I try to explain the concept — I want to share some of my favorites.

Oh, wait. I do have coffee stains all over my pants and cookie crumbs all over my face. Carrying on …

First is StitchFix. Based in San Francisco and started by a Harvard Business School student, this is a true subscription box. Sign up, fill out a questionnaire, choose how often you want to receive Fixes and then sit back DSCN3097and let fabulousness arrive. Each box has five items — you can ask for all clothes, all accessories or a mix. You’re charged $20 when each Fix is shipped. When your Fix arrives, you try on the items, play with them, ask friends’/sisters’/spouse’s advice, etc. Return what you don’t want in the self-addressed stamped mailer and pay for what you keep, minus your $20. If you don’t keep anything, SF keeps your $20. Some things to know:

  • Think of StitchFix as Netflix for clothes. In fact, SF snagged the former Netflix chief analytics officer to help refine its system of matching items to clients. 
  • StitchFix stylists are the ones who “curate” (“pick/choose” in online shopping-speak) the Fixes. They’re part-time folks working from theirDSCN3098 own computers near SF warehouse centers in California, Texas and Indiana (more warehouses reportedly on the way). This means that SF stylists are just like us — trying to balance work with fixing dinner, running errands and catching up on HGTV. They are my heroes.
  • Your SF stylist picks your items based on your style questionnaire, feedback from previous Fixes, comments/requests made in a note you can DSCN3099write before each Fix, the Pinterest board you’ve linked to your questionnaire, available inventory and whatever the algorithm says you’ll like. Obviously, this beats my system — hurriedly grabbing whatever’s cheap, doesn’t add 20 pounds and hides cookie crumbs/coffee stains.
  • There are a few SF secrets and hacks. For example, SF will match lower prices for same items online. And the price match works for everyone receiving that item in subsequent Fixes. Also, while you don’t know what you’ll receive until you open your Fix, you can sneak a peek by clicking on “Checkout” when your account shows shipping notification. Also again,DSCN3100 you get a discount if you buy all five items. This leads to the most fun/aggravating part of SF-ing — buying, selling and trading. Often it works out, especially if you like three or four items in your Fix but not all five, that because of the discount it’s cheaper to buy all five instead of only the ones you like. But what to do with the items you don’t want? Savvy SF-ers sell and trade online. It’s a brisk secondary market that helps you upgrade your wardrobe AND makes you feel virtuous for helping others do the same. See? Win-win.

Disclaimers:

  • I’m an admin on one of the most popular Facebook SF B/S.T groups. You don’t have to be a SF customer to join. There also are groups for specific sizes, one for teachers and other B/S/T groups. But ours is the best.
  • If you want to try SF, use this link. It will bring you wonderful magical luck and other good things. No, that’s not true. But it will give me SF credit in my account. You can do the same once you sign up. Yeah, I know, referrals veer dangerously close to the ugly underbelly of multi-level marketing, but since this involves only cute clothes, I think we’re safe.

Next in this South by South Style series on buying clothes online: Golden Tote, or Why Does My Blouse have Upside-Down Bears on It?

Remember — “Southern” isn’t a place. It’s an adjective.”

South by South StyleSouth by South Style focuses on Southern style in fashion, food, entertaining and decor. All opinions expressed are my own because, sadly, nobody else will admit to them. I’m not paid or compensated or sponsored or affiliated by anyone for anything — although my husband wishes I were.