Having someone style your wardrobe ... Check. Avoiding fitting rooms ... Check. Clothes shopping in your robe with a glass of wine in hand ... Check. The latest online shopping trend includes a variety of virtual personal stylists. The stylists are live and can communicate with you; you don't, however, typically pay for their services.
These sites and services offer free shipping and returns, within 7 to10 days. The most popular (based on Facebook "likes") are Trunk Club and Stitch Fix, yet Keaton Row, Lyon + Post, Stylit and Rent the Runway are also players in the online fashion show.
What to know if you want to dress in current trends and utilize online styling tips:
Trunk Club started as a men's club and recently added a women's division. It provides high-quality clothing and accessories, so expect a delivery trunk from your stylist to be at minimum $300. One upside to Trunk Club is their five storefronts. One is in Chicago—I'm thinking girls' trip!
Stitch Fix has a lower ticket price and high visibility on the Web. West Michigan local Melissa Conway used its services for a few months before taking a break after she kept receiving the same type of clothing. She was very pleased at the beginning, but who wants the same shirt in five different colors? Stitch Fix charges a $20 stylist fee unless you keep some of their clothing. You can also pick a range of how much you are willing to spend for each item.
Keaton Row and Stylit offer similar services with a smaller following. Keaton Row claims its average piece is $150. It offers over 40 brands and provides contemporary or premium levels of clothing, shoes and bags.
Stylit provides a personalized look from a variety of brands and stores. Then, it is up to you to click and buy directly from the external store's website. You don't pay anything for this service, but the shipping and return fees from each site vary. You receive an e-mail on Thursdays with multiple seasonal selections including an outfit, shoes, bag and suggested accessories. You then rank each "lookbook" to help further personalize your e-mails.
If you are over the trend of free online personal stylists or deep down know you have exceptional style, you should be clicking through the new site Lyon + Post or visit the popular Rent the Runway. At Lyon + Post you get to pick out your favorite looks and receive four items at a time. Their hashtag hails: farewell to fitting rooms. You can try these articles on at home and decide within one week to return. You don't get charged until you keep an article. Lyon + Post basics start at $40 and rise to exclusive brand pricing.
Rent the Runway offers a variety of services centered on you borrowing clothing. It began as a gown rental service, which is still available for 4 to 8 days. You also have the option to stop in one of their four locations to try on and rent items (Chicago included). RTR also offers a high-end clothing "borrowing" system through a monthly membership. For $139 a month, you receive three pieces or participate in their a la carte program. You decide how long you want to keep each piece. You return the times and request new outfits when you are ready. RTR is responsible for the dry cleaning and shipping for all services.
For most of these services, you can quickly click through and have a shipment on the way. Keaton Row and Trunk Club have you talk with a stylist before your first order—all of the others involve less time or communication. None of the sites require a long-term commitment. You can easily back out when your closet is full. Even if your budget is saying "no" or your schedule is restricted, you can find a site and style that fit your needs.
Our fashion options in West Michigan continue to improve and get us closer to looking as though we came out of the pages of magazines. The virtual alternatives help us look like we are walking the runways during fashion week. The convenience of having access to couture, chic, or upscale fashion at our home with the push of a fingertip is exhilarating—take advantage of these latest shopping trends.
Written by Stefani Boutelier, adjunct faculty member at Davenport University and creator of the Mama Genericana blog.