No time to shop as a busy mum? Would an online styling service work for you?
Stitch Fix aims to takes the stress out of shopping for work or weekends. How well did it work for one working mum...
Before I became a parenting journalist, I worked in fashion. There was a time when I would spend hours trawling my favourite high street stores for the perfect outfit, and I always thought that would continue after becoming a mum. The truth is I ended up in leggings and a sweatshirt just like everyone else. Being a new parent is so all-consuming I barely had time to shower, let alone pick out an outfit or keep up with trends. I just didn't have time to shop. My body also changed after a baby and a pandemic, and I found myself losing confidence in my own personal style.
Heading back to work as an editor at MadeForMums, trying to return to some semblance of "normal" life, I found myself – for the first time ever – completely at a loss as to what to wear.
Step forward Stitch Fix, an online styling service designed to take the stress out of finding the right outfit. Sound too good to be true? I gave it a try to see.
What is Stitch Fix?
Stitch Fix is an online personal styling for women and men. You answer a few questions about your style, your body type and your lifestyle, and a Stitch Fix stylist will choose a number of items tailored to those answers. The clothes and accessories are curated from 150 brands, including some exclusive in-house labels, and they're sent straight to your door in your size. You'll receive 5 items in each fix. You simply try them on, decide which ones to keep, and pay only for what you love.
Is there a fee?
It will cost just a £10 styling fee to book a "Fix", but that can be credited against any purchase you make, so if you buy just one item valued over £10 from each package, the styling element is free. You save 20% if you buy all 5 items from your fix. You can also specify the price bracket you normally shop in, so the choices fit your budget.
How does Stitch Fix work?
First stop is the style profile, a short and straightforward quiz about you and your style. I was impressed with the breadth of the fit questions, which didn't just ask me what my size was, but asked about lengths, jeans sizes, and preferred cuts and necklines. I was also asked to rate some outfits and say whether I'd wear them. The survey even asked me if I was a parent.
I tried my best to be 100% honest in my answers, resisting the urge to knock an inch off my jeans size for vanity, or choose high heels when I've barely been out of trainers in 18 months. There was also a text box to give any further details to the stylist: here I explained that I'd lost confidence in my ability to dress for my body type, and lost track of my own personal style after being stuck at home for so long.
More like this
Is there any long-term commitment?
There's no subscription required. You can book a one-off Fix to see if you like the service, then have the option to set up automatic deliveries ranging from every two weeks to three months. You don't have to buy any of the items in your Fix, and you'll be given 7 days to decide before sending them back. You can even request an extension to that 7-day window if you need it.
What is the package like when it arrives?
My "Fix" arrived by courier in a medium-sized box, and inside the clothes were folded and rolled into two cylinders, which were wrapped with brown paper. Although it looks a bit strange compared to what most of us are used to, it meant none of the clothing was wrapped in unnecessary plastic packaging, which really impressed me.
Anyone who's spent more than 5 minutes looking at travel tips on Pinterest will also know that rolling the clothes also minimises creasing, and my items definitely looked fresh when I unpacked them.
What did you think of your items?
My 5 items were: a green dress by Boden, a pair of jeans by &et, a maroon jumper by Mauvette, a black jumper with hearts by Sugarhill Brighton and a polka dot jumpsuit by Saturday. My first impressions were really positive. The stylist understood the brief in terms of finding things that would work for both workdays and weekends. I also felt like they had definitely paid attention to my preferences and chosen items that would work for my body type, in prints and colours I liked.
In fact, if you want an idea of how well they understood my style, the maroon jumper was actually almost identical to one I already own. Stitch Fix does offer the opportunity to preview a larger selection and choose your favourite items so you can avoid things like this, I just preferred the surprise of not knowing which exact items were coming!
How well did the items fit?
Shockingly, each and every item that was sent fit me really well. I was very honest about my size and none of the items in the package were particularly tailored or form-fitting, but I was impressed that even the jeans were a good fit. I have bought so many jeans online that have had to be returned or resold due to ill fit, but these were great, and they kept their shape even after 3 or 4 wears, despite having quite a lot of stretch.
The Boden dress was probably the least successful item of the lot: I just felt that it wasn't quite the right shape and length on me, and I had to keep readjusting the waist because the bodice was quite long. I asked in my fix for items that would work for the office and this was definitely appropriate for that, I would just normally go for something a bit more boho. The jumpsuit, on the other hand, was a real surprise, something I wouldn't pick up in a shop that I loved once it was on.
How did they cater to you as a mum, specifically?
I wondered what the "are you a parent" question would mean in terms of the garment choices, but as I opened up the package I noticed one thing straight away: they were all easy-care. None of the items were dry-clean only, none were fabrics that crease easily, and none were light colours that would stain easily.
I really appreciated this: with a toddler to wrangle and a full time job, I definitely don't have time to iron everything perfectly or deal with complex laundry routines. The focus was on easy-wear jersey and dark machine-washable knitwear that worked for my lifestyle. I also felt there was a nice mix of workwear and weekend wear, bearing in mind I work in a casual office where jeans are acceptable.
How well did the items work with your existing wardrobe?
I have a lot of green, black and purple clothing already so the colour choices coordinated quite well with what I already own, but also with each other. I put the heart jumper with the jeans for a day working from home, and wore the jeans again while working on our buggy track at The Baby Show.
I struggled a bit more with the green Boden dress, as it had navy in its print and I wear a lot of black. However, with ankle boots and a black jacket, it felt a bit closer to my personal style, and worked for lunch with friends as well as a smarter day of meetings in the office.
The maroon jumper looks good with both animal print and velvet, goes really well with neutrals like my trench coat, so that feels like a piece I would wear a lot, especially as it's quite light so it can be layered up.
Did Stitch Fix work for you?
I felt like the stylist did a great job and I would definitely recommend the service if you dislike shopping, or if you don't have the time you'd like to trawl through online stores to find the right item. I felt that even the basic questionnaire helped to get me a good mix of products, but you can really personalise your experience by continuing to rate items, or by altering your profile at any time. You can also give comprehensive feedback on the items in each Fix which will also help to fine-tune the experience if you use it frequently.
My fix included 3 out of my 5 items from Stitch Fix's own brands, and I really liked all three. For jeans to fit first time round – especially on a curvier figure – is a bit of a miracle so I definitely give them kudos for that. Overall I was really impressed and I think the £10 styling fee is really affordable for the time and effort it saves you.
Is there anything you wished you'd known before using the service?
This really is a personalised service, not an algorithm-driven selection, so it takes a few days for your stylist to do their work and you'll need to be patient when it comes to receiving your package. I'd also say that the overall choices seem to sway towards the classic / timeless, so I'd recommend making sure you really think about the ratings and what you say in your questionnaire if your prefer a more edgy or playful look.
I'm in, where do I go?
Fill out the questionnaire at Stitch Fix to get started. The site currently carries sizes 6 to 18 for women and S-XXL (waist 28-38) for men.
Six big family moments that matter – and the products that make them easier to navigate
These products from John Lewis & Partners help support the memorable moments of family life.