The beginning of the year is ripe for self-reflection and evaluation of the things that surround you. Come January, we begin to question our habits and possessions — are we living our lives in the most optimal way? Do we really need all of this stuff? For we shopping enthusiasts, the answer is often a hard no: we spend a lot of time agonizing over garments in stores, spending too much money, and filling our wardrobes with stuff we don’t wear. So we often find ourselves looking for a better, more efficient, and more streamlined way to shop for clothes — and the solution often exists in the form of a clothing subscription service.
Available in a variety of prices and frequencies, the “subscription” model of shopping runs the gamut; from monthly-fee memberships where customers can constantly rotate their closets (like Rent the Runway) to the “shop at home” structure where shoppers can receive boxes for small fees and pay only for what they keep (like Amazon’s Prime Wardrobe). Maybe you’re simply not a fan of the brick-and-mortar experience and want to test out clothing from the privacy of your bedroom, or you’re craving sartorial variety but lack the space, budget, and/or desire to own more stuff than you need. No matter your situation, there’s definitely a subscription service out there for you. We found 14 of them and broke them down by cost, sizing availability, and overall vibe; so that you can decide which one is best to serve you in 2020.
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Cost: Normally starts at $159 per month, but R29 readers can get $200 off two months with code “RTRXR29” through the end of the month
Sizing: Petite, standard, and plus
Brand mix: Too many to name, but current Shopping team favorites include Ganni, Khaite, Rachel Comey, and Sandy Liang
The sultan of subscription. The totem of temporary. How to describe the fashion rental service that started it all? Since launching in 2009, Rent the Runway has continued to innovate new ways to keep “the closet in the cloud” — and has a one billion dollar-valuation to show for it. With three rental tiers available depending on customers’ needs and hundreds of designers to choose from,
RED Valentino Pleated Mixed Floral Dress, $, available at Rent The Runway
Cost: $20 per box (can be applied to purchases)
Sizing: 14 – 32
Brand Mix: A host of in-house labels sit alongside affordable plus-size brands like Rachel Rachel Roy.
This plus-size focused e-tailer offers both style and activewear boxes, in addition to an assortment of covetable, off-the-rack ready-to-wear (for those not ready to commit to #boxlyfe). A quiz involving a lot of questions about size, proportion, common clothing fit issues, and lifestyle help stylists select five pieces at a time to send to customers, which they can purchase or return free of charge.
RACHEL Rachel Roy Avens Sweater, $, available at Dia & Co.
Cost: Pay only for the items you keep; $25 styling fee if the entire box is returned
Sizing: XS – XL
Brand Mix: The label’s in-house designs will appeal to customers of classic, minimal brands like COS, Everlane, and Uniqlo
Fans of the casual-but-intentional vibe will appreciate Frank & Oak’s restrained styling and low-impact manufacturing practices — the Montreal, Canada-based company is a certified B Corp that uses recycled denim, hemp, and wool (among other eco-friendly fabrics) to make their clothing. Shop off the rack, or sign up for a no-fee subscription service that will send you up to four items per month — ranging in price from $29 to $149 — that you can choose to keep or return.
Frank & Oak The Expedition Puffer in Navy, $, available at Frank & Oak
Cost: Prime Wardrobe is included with a standard Prime membership; Personal Shopper is an extra $4.99 per month
Sizing: Petite, standard, and plus
Brand mix: The typical Amazon cornucopia of labels, from the site’s ever-multiplying in-house imprints (Daily Ritual, The Drop) to classic faves (Levi’s, adidas) to the “emerging” contingent (Orolay, Verdusa).
Not only does Amazon offer Prime Wardrobe — where customers can receive up to eight items at a time and pay only for what they keep — they recently added a “Personal Shopper” feature in which members to receive a pre-curated box which they can preview before it ships. Intrigued? Our intrepid reporter Ray Lowe took the service for a spin over the summer and had lots to say — check out her in-depth review if you’re thinking about signing up.
Dolce Vita Davey Knee High Boot, $, available at Amazon
Cost: $99 – $248 per month, depending on commitment
Sizing: Standard, plus, and maternity
Brand mix: Easy-wearing contemporary brands like BB Dakota, Boden, Lacausa, Rag & Bone, and Yumi Kim
After selecting your preference for standard or maternity clothing and taking a visual “styling quiz” where you can indicate a preference for styles, colors, and silhouettes, you can browse Armoire’s tailored selection. After choosing four items, they’ll be shipped to you at no extra charge. You can swap them out with the provided pre-paid packaging. If you find yourself falling in love with something, members have the option to purchase rented items at a discount.
BB Dakota Long Sleeve Ruffle Button-Up Top, $, available at Armoire
Cost: No membership fee; $20 fee per box that can be applied to purchases
Sizing: 0 – 24W, petite, and maternity
Brand mix: Kate Spade, Madewell, The North Face, and Eloquii
This family-friendly subscription service offers a variety of sizes and brands for men, women, and kids; making this a great choice for anyone who needs to outfit every member of the household. You can choose automatic deliveries at a variety of cadences (2-3 weeks, every month, every other month, or every three months) or just order a box when you feel like you need a refresh. After completing a “Style Quiz” and receiving a stylist-curated box, you have three days to decide what to buy and what to return — with all shipping costs covered, of course.
Cost: $99 (or $349 for the year)
Brand Mix: Different labels are featured every month; previous boxes have included Eddie Borgo, For Love and Lemons, La Mer, Lorac, and Missoni Home
Rather than removing the burden of choice for harried, overwhelmed shoppers, Rachel Zoe’s monthly deliveries are mini-exercises in discovery. The longtime Hollywood stylist and lifestyle impresario has lent her curatorial skills to a mixed bag of stylish gifts from a group of luxury brands with a handpicked feel. Spanning fashion, beauty, and even home, the box’s monthly contents are usually valued around $500, and great for anyone who cherishes the unique.
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