16 Fashion Subscription Boxes That Are Actually Worth It
Sure, we all miss shopping in actual, you know, shops. But currently fashion retail is shifting: Social distancing is making a carefree weekend of checking out the local boutiques with our bestie only a fond memory.
Luckily, there's been a sea change in the shopping industry that brings, for example, a box full of cute blouses, wedding season-ready dresses and on-trend (yet comfortable) shoes right to your door. Every single month. With the right subscription box, staying well-dressed can be as easy as, well, picking up a package from your front stoop. Something like 31 percent of millennials surveyed subscribe to a shopping box (with 38 percent expecting to sign up for one soon).
But how do you know which subscription boxes are filled with gems and which are a waste of money? We talked to real women to find out which ones actually pass the style and budget test. Here, the fashion subscription boxes that won’t let you, or your wardrobe, down.
1. Stitch Fix
For those who hate to shop, listen up: Here's a no-subscription-necessary selection of pieces just for you. Stitch Fix starts out with a style quiz about your preferences; after the quick assessment, you're matched up with a stylist who becomes your own personal shopper. You can send him or her Pinterest boards, inspiration photos and continue to update your preferences based on what’s going on in your life. (Getting married soon? They can send you white dresses and blouses for events. Pregnant? Switch to maternity sizing only.) Each box comes with five personalized items for a $20 styling fee, which can go toward your final purchase. With the average item coming in around $55, the quality is good for what you get. You have three days to decide what to keep and what to return—keep it all and you'll get 25 percent off of your entire purchase. Going forward, you can select your Fix frequency: Either on-demand or monthly, every other month, you name it. Because you don’t see what's in your box until it arrives, some users say that it really can be hit-or-miss, however the more information you put into your stylist’s hands, the more you’ll love what they send.
2. Trunk Club
Similar to Stich Fix, Trunk Club is a personal subscription that does the browsing for you. But the biggest difference, is that it lives under the Nordstrom umbrella. Think: Access to all the inventory, plus that impeccable customer service you know and love. Upon signing up, you'll be assigned to a stylist who chats with you to get the lowdown on your style preferences. You can send them Pinterest boards, inspiration photos and what looks best on you and send you an email of the twelve items in your box. From there, you can thumbs up, swap out and confirm shipment on all of the selections. Each box carries a $25 styling fee—waived for Nordstrom cardholders—which can be applied to your final purchase. Trunk Club advertises that most of its inventory is in the $100 to $300 range, however many users claim it’s closer to $100. You have five days to decide what to keep and what to return. But it’s worth noting that if something breaks or rips, the all-star customer service we spoke of will take care of it—no questions asked.
3. Frank & Oak
Sustainable manufacturing and responsible supply chains are part of the selling proposition at this Montreal-based subscription box that seeks to supply fashion that's beneficial for both the planet and the wearer. Sign up to receive items from their seasonal collections, including shoes, at up to 20 percent off each item. Pay for what you keep and send back the rest for free. The $25 styling fee is waived for your first box, plus you can get 15 percent off your first purchase by signing up for Frank & Oak's email list.
Anthropologie, Free People and Urban Outfitters are some of our favorite places to shop, but the prices do add up. Nuuly is a great work-around to that, since this subscription service lets you rent six items a month from the aforementioned retailers (in addition to a handful of other standout brands) for $88, with free shipping and returns, and no need to launder or repair the items before return. (And you can buy anything that you absolutely fall in love with at a discount.)
There's a wide range of styles and sizes offered by Fabletics, with new collections dropping every week. When you join the VIP club, your $50 monthly fee can be spent right away or held for you to redeem in purchases in the future. (Also, you can opt out of the fee entirely.) The best part? VIP members get up to 50 percent off every purchase, which means you'll be paying as little at $50 for a two-piece yoga or running outfit. And you get membership to the new Fabletics FIT app, which has top trainers leading you through workouts and meditations.
Four times a year, this Rachel Zoe-owned brand sends out a seasonal curated box of the sort of luxurious classics in fashion, home and beauty that the celebrity stylist is known for. It's not cheap—$99 per box, or $349 for a year's worth of four boxes—but the selects are quality. The five items in the winter 2020 box, for example, include an oversized ombre grey-and-white scarf and your choice of a black or white leather clutch bag. So, it looks like Zoe's Hollywood style just became accessible.
7. Thred Up
Love nabbing a bargain or discovering a gently worn treasure? That's the appeal of Thred Up, a subscription box that ships out 10 like-new items that are selected according to your preferred style, sizes and budget. You answer an extensive questionnaire about your sizes, favorite brands and what occasion you're shopping for. (Our favorite part was when we got to upload a Pinterest picture of our style inspiration). Then, you can buy whatever you like from the box (taking the $10 styling fee off the top) and return the rest within seven days, postage-paid.
8. Adore Me
Heading into a lingerie department or store can be overwhelming, with the super-lacey styles next to the minimalist no-wire bralettes and...there's seldom someone who can tell us where the seamless panties are. That's over with a subscription to Adore Me, where you answer questions about your preferred styles, colors and, of course, sizes. Then you have the option to receive or skip a curated bra-and-knickers set, a bathing suit or sleepwear that you can buy for $40 to $60, or just return postage-paid, for a $20 styling fee (that's discounted from your first purchase).
9. Daily Look
Brands like Equipment, Rebecca Minkoff and J Brand are part of the mix at Daily Look, the subscription box that's like a stop at that chic little boutique in the cool part of town. While the styling fee for each box ($40) is higher than most in this list, that amount is subtracted from the cost of anything you end up buying. Each box contains 12 items, beginning at $60, and you can preview what will be in your box before it arrives. Monthly, every other month or quarterly, you can opt for a box that's postage-paid both ways.
This designer underwear subscription service is built around its core values—being a female-owned company, it is all about size inclusivity, with sizes ranging from XS to 4XL. And its aesthetics are elevated—the fancy selects in past monthly knickers include a gorgeous white applique overlay on black pants pair by Natori, a filmy stretch lace by Italian-made brand Cosabella, the almost-forget-you're-wearing seamless pair by Commando and a bright modern printed thong from OnGossamer. With Underclub, you simply sign up for one of two plans (the signature plan sends items costing $18 to $28 per pair, while the luxe option sends $28 to $55 pairs), and get one or two pairs of underwear sent to your home for as little at $15 per month. Members also have the option of a one-time refresh of their whole underwear drawer, when they buy a deep-discounted bundle, as well as access to an online shop where quality bralette sets and satin cami- and-tap pants sleepwear can be had for under $50.
Less is more at Urbanebox, where for $65 per month, you get two to three wardrobe staples sent directly to you. The brand asks you to fill out an extensive questionnaire at the beginning of your membership, then uses that as a guide to curate your selects from then on. Users appreciate the personal touch at Urbanebox—each member is assigned a personal stylist they can email for questions and comments about what works and doesn't. Urbanebox started as a men's clothing subscription service (it still has a men's section), so it's no surprise the women's wing of the business skews toward tailored separates and shoes. "SOOOO this isn't my first time using UrbaneBox," one woman reports. "I've never been disappointed! Especially during this crazy time. I'm super pleased with the style selection- great job, I hate shopping."
12. Rent the Runway
This subscription service is truly meant for women who love to shop and try new brands. With pages filled with designer clothing and accessories, it’s a smart choice for someone who wants to try out high-end brands without the high price tags. There are two plans to choose from: RTR Update and RTR Unlimited. Update is $89 per month and includes four pieces, while Unlimited is $159 per month and includes four pieces at a time, on a constant rotation.
Here’s how it works: You browse through the thousands of tops, pants, dresses, jewelry and more to select your favorite things. Rent the Runway takes care of shipping, returns and dry cleaning, so all you have to worry about is online shopping. Reviews from real women and stylists help determine sizing and fit before ordering, but the company is also quick to expedite a return if something doesn’t work for you. If you love an item, you have the chance to purchase it for up to 70 percent off the original price. (Think: $131 for a dress that originally cost $438.)
13. Gwynnie Bee
The OG plus-size subscription box, Gwynnie Bee has truly revolutionized the shopping experience for women who wear sizes 10 to 32. Similar to Rent the Runway, the model of the business is unlimited items that you can wear as many times as you want before returning at the end of the month. They’ll also take care of shipping, returns and dry cleaning. Choose from one to ten items per month, ranging in price from $49 to $199, respectively. (Full price breakdown here, but they also offer a free 30-day trial.)
Instead of consulting a stylist to choose for you, you are free to explore the site and “favorite” all of the items that you love, flagging a few select items as “priority.” Gwynnie Bee promises to always send as least one priority item. At the end of the month, you either send the pieces back and re-pick, or you can buy any item you love for a discounted price.
Crazy about shoes, but not able to find ongoing shoe sales to continually get the latest looks for less? That's the issue that JustFab addresses, since for a monthly membership free of $40, VIP members can select one of the new seasonal styles, or opt to skip that month. You can cancel at any time, and pivot to a high heel, say, if you're shopping for that summertime wedding. We appreciate that the flats are given as much style consideration as the heels, with luxe embellishments like rhinestones, pom poms and leopard print. (Don't worry, that's not all on the same shoe.)
15. Elizabeth & Clarke
Office-friendly suits and separates are available in seasonal collections at Elizabeth & Clarke, where you'll appreciate the clean shapes of jackets, tops and pants in black and white. Clothes like a wrap-top jumpsuit in a rayon/nylon/spandex knit and elastic-waist wide-leg pants in washable silk are deemed “unstainable” because they are treated with a technology that repels soiling and even wrinkling. Sign up for the shirt or suiting collection box, and get one box starting at $60 every season. If something isn't to your liking, you can return it for another size or get a refund.
Love fitness but tend to change what exactly that means for you each month—will it be vinyasa from an online class? Or vino from the couch? Ellie wants to be your monthly box, because for a membership fee of $40 you get to choose among 18 coordinated outfits that run the gamut from a sports bra and leggings to a pair of running tights and a jacket. Besides being able to actually select the outfit you want, you can also add on extras curated for each set. For example, for an additional $5, a running set adds a bra top to the tights and jacket. And for another $5 on top of that, you can receive workout tools like a stretch band and a reflexology massage mat for your feet. Plus, there's no commitment, hassle-free returns, and the ability to skip a month or cancel at any time.