Monday, August 17, 2015

Plus size and craving a Stitch Fix? Join the club!

Hobo Mama wants you to know she's a professional blogger! Look at how professional she's being!

UPDATE: I did it! Here's my first Stitch Fix review. See how it went!

Have you heard of Stitch Fix? Assuming you're on Facebook, I'm going to say yes. It's all over the place there, with people giving out their referral links left and right (oo, oo — here's mine!), and it sounds so freaking great.

Stitch fix is a subscription clothing service. Your personal stylist sends lovely clothes to your home that you can try on sans dressing-room fluorescents. All the fun of shopping, none of the hassle … for women sizes 0-14. Ah … there's the rub. The chub rub, I mean.

Seriously, 14?! Is that all?

I'm 5'9" and fat. (That is not a pejorative, just a descriptive.) I haven't been a 14 on the bottom since my wedding, unless we count Old Navy jeans, which, let's admit, we shouldn't.

But I'm on that bubble, where I'm sometimes plus size and sometimes conventional. I often do wear size 12-14 on top, but sometimes larger, and more like 16-18 on bottom. What's a fluffy girl to do in the face of Stitch Fix discrimination?

No, seriously, what is Stitch Fix?

Ok, if you honestly haven't come across it yet, a quick overview. Any of you who know the deets can skip to the next section.

Stitch Fix sends you five items whenever you want. You can subscribe to get a monthly box, or you can schedule a fix if you need one. You're not locked in to a certain subscription schedule, which I really appreciate. For instance, let's say you need a refresher of your wardrobe as the seasons change, or you need special clothes for an event — you could order a specific Fix on such occasions. On the other hand, if you love buying clothes, you could keep those boxes coming on a regular schedule.

You work with a personal stylist who goes through your online profile and linked Pinterest board (optional but helpful) to determine what sizes and styles to send you. You get to choose what styles you're attracted to, what parts of your body you want to flaunt or conceal, what types of clothing or accessories you do or do not want to see (tops, bottoms, dresses, jewelry, outerwear, purses), what price range you're willing to consider. You can leave specific notes for your stylist about what patterns and styles make you happy and what you avoid at all costs, and after a fix, you can give feedback about what worked and didn't.

When you get a fix, you have a few days to try on your five items in the comfort of your own home and decide what to keep and what to send back, in a prepaid return envelope. (Shipping is included, which is a nice touch.) If you keep nothing, you pay a $20 stylist fee. If you keep at least one thing, the $20 fee is applied to the cost of the item(s) you keep. If you keep everything, you get 25% off the cost. The prices are full retail, which will seem steep if you're a bargain hunter (like me), though potentially worth it if you don't like to drag impatient children around to stores and crowding into the dressing room with you (also like me).

If a friend signs up for a fix through your referral link, you get a $25 credit to apply toward a fix. Everyone who joins (for free) gets a referral link, so you can try to save up some credits toward any clothing you want to keep. (I made sure to sign up through a friend's link, so I hope it went through!)

Along with your items, your stylist sends handy little look-book-type cards that show you how to put your outfit together. There's also a personal note explaining just why the stylist chose what she did.

The brands are ones I've seen at Nordstrom Rack. Stitch Fix seems to do well styling — well, I've heard it called derisively "suburban moms." Ok, whatevs. Let's say, people with a pretty conventional style but who want to look chic within their mom existence. (Ain't nothing wrong with that.) I've heard some people with more out-there styles be disappointed by the clothing, and I've heard the price snobbery go both ways: Some people accustomed to fancier clothes disdain that this super-cheap clothing is Nordstrom Rack-worthy. Others used to Target clothing disdain that this super-expensive clothing is Nordstrom Rack-worthy. Honestly, I can understand both perspectives but am just peachy with an occasional present of Nordstrom Rack clothing myself.

Beyond that, I can't tell you too much, since I haven't yet done a fix. Because … I'm not sure it's worth it at my size.

Can a size 14-16 use Stitch Fix or not?

I thought, first, I'd look for Stitch Fix reviews from plus-size ladies. I did find a few, but mostly of shorter or lighter gals. This makes sense, and what makes this sizing restriction so frustrating to me. It absolutely hits us taller women much harder. Someone 5'5" can weigh a lot more, proportionally speaking, than someone 5'9" and be under a 14. A woman my height at a size 14 would look downright thin to me. (Granted, I have lax standards about that sort of thing, for I am un-fat-phobic.)

For awhile, I was seethingly content enough to leave Stitch Fix be. (Yes, that's a contradiction. Work with me.) I was pregnant, so nothing was going to fit me. Stitch Fix didn't yet have maternity sizing.

But … now I'm not pregnant, and I've waved fare-thee-well to my baby weight, and I am sort of, kind of a 14 on top. On a good day, if my boobs aren't too engorged. Not on the bottom, unless we count Old Navy, which we're not doing, but I could specify to Stitch Fix that I want only tops, right? So I could give it a try … maybe. Should I?

I filled out my profile, just to see what would happen. (Would my computer burst into flames at my temerity?) I declined any fix items besides tops, and then I wrote a detailed note specifying that I am at the very, very edge of the clothing sizes and that certain things would not do for me: For instance, I am large of bust and broad of shoulder. Forget button-down shirts, for they will not button. I have large arms, so don't give me constricting upper-arm cuffs. I told them to do what I do and think jersey.

But I hesitated to push "schedule" and actually give it a real try. Would I just be wasting my $20?

Why is this fatty mad at Stitch Fix?

For everyone I've heard complain about the Stitch Fix size restrictions, I've heard five people chime in that we plus-size women should just suck it up and go elsewhere. Here's where I get to say why that response stinks, and why I think Stitch Fix's policy should change, pronto.

First of all, a size 14 is an average size for a woman in the U.S., so it's ludicrous that that's the top size here. It's like making shoes that go up to a size 8. Yes, that will accommodate a lot of women, but — dude, it's also excluding a ton.

I mean, Stitch Fix is about making money, right? So much money is being left on the table here. Keep in mind what I said before about tall women being more likely to be in bigger sizes. They're more keeping away the tall folk with this policy. That shoe analogy right there, for instance — I wear an 11. When shoe manufacturers go up to size 10, I get annoyed there, too. Because I have money that I want to give you in exchange for your product; just make my size, 'k?

Is it fair of a company to choose what customers to serve or not serve? It is actually their prerogative, yes. However, in this case it goes against common sense, and it's alienating a potentially incredible added customer base. By going up only ONE or two sizes, Stitch Fix could serve a whole added population.

Let's get right over the idea that fat people don't somehow deserve nice clothes or convenient subscription services, too. I'd be slightly appeased if Stitch Fix went up to at least a 16 or an 18, but wouldn't it be wondrous if they broadened their appeal by going to a size 30? It would be, yes; I will answer my own question. Would it take more effort for them to source plus-size clothing? Yes, but it would be a delightful and profitable service.

From Stitch Fix's FAQ:
"We are currently able to style women who wear sizes 0/XS–14/XL, which reflects the size offering currently available to us from the brands we carry. We are actively working with our brands to increase the range of sizes so that we can deliver great selections to more women."

People have asked Stitch Fix why they won't serve the plus-size market, and the answers given have not satisfied me. One is (see above) that they're working on it, so be patient. Yeah, ok. We're still waiting.

Another has been that they haven't sourced plus-size clothing and work only with brands that don't carry plus sizes. I find this argument disingenuous, and you know why? Because this plus-size lady has shopped at Nordstrom Rack, and I have clothing in the same brands Stitch Fix carries. Clothing that fits me! In my size! So … huh-wha??

Another argument has been that they're a small company and can't afford to carry specialized sizing. (Again, not so dang sure that a size 16 is "specialized," but oooo-kay.) And yet — Stitch Fix! You went and added petite and maternity clothing recently! Good for you! Good for the petite and pregnant population! And yet … um … that sort of shoots down your argument that you're not interested in serving specialized markets, amirite? Surely the number of fat people exceeds the number of pregnant people? And being fat's pretty long lasting, whereas needing maternity clothes lasts only a few months.

I've also been told by people in regular sizes who use Stitch Fix that we complainers should go elsewhere. Well, guess what? There isn't an elsewhere. There might be, someday, but there isn't right now, not that I can find. The only possible alternative is Gywnnie Bee, which is like a Netflix for plus-size clothing. It's literally a rental service, in which you pay a monthly fee to wear a certain number of items in sizes 10-32. It sounds interesting, and I wouldn't mind trying it, but: I find it very pricey, and I've heard it's also not great for girls on the plus-size bubble. (Dang it, what does work for us?!)

Should you stay tuned for a Stitch Fix review?

I thought I'd put it out there: Are any of you on the size 14/XL edge and had a successful Stitch Fix? Should I bite the bullet and schedule a fix? Where are my tall, chubby friends at? Do the clothes tend to fit small or large or Goldilocks-right?

No matter what your particular size, would you be interested in seeing a pictorial and video review of a Stitch Fix box? I could try on the offerings and show off just how well they do or do not fit.

Because I love the idea of Stitch Fix, but I don't love the reality that my body is just a weensy bit off their limited sizing.

If your body fits their mold or you want to be adventurous along with me and give it a try anyway, please consider signing up through my referral link at no cost to you in case (a) I decide to schedule a fix and (b) anything in it actually fits me! I really could use some new fall tops, since, after a closet purging, I'm down to, um, three.

UPDATE: Be sure to head over to my first plus-size Stitch Fix review to see what fit!

Photo copyright taz + belly; text and styling added


Tree Peters said...

that is interesting. They're really missing a huge opportunity because I think many (many) plus size women would be even more inclined to try something where they didn't have to go out and shop...
Sounds like a business opportunity for someone to step into...
I'm very curious to hear/see what happens if you do try it. I wanted to see you in an outfit.
The whole thing is still a bit too confusing to me.
Of course, I'm sized out of this market anyway, but if I were below a size 14... I think it would be a while before I got tired of going shopping on my own.
I only have one 8 year old so I have hours of potential freedom each day.
Bet that's hard to imagine, huh?

Laura said...

I think the problem is that mathematically there is more variation in plus sized people, weight can be distributed in orders of magnitude more different ways (at least this is what I have learned in my sewing pattern drafting research), thus it would be harder for the stylist to know how to fit the client and result in more returns, and more expense. But when I rule the world there will be easy-to-find clothing to fit everyone. ;)

Lauren Wayne said...

@Laura: Please start ruling the world!!

Lauren Wayne said...

@Tree Peters: It is hard to imagine that freedom. :) Eventually, though…

If you like to shop and have the budget for it, you might really like something like Gwynnie Bee, because of the variety it offers.

I totally agree with you on the missed opportunity. Plus, for plus sizes, we often have to go to specialty shops or check over and over again in the small selections at other places; having a decent selection shipped directly to the home would be such a tremendous bonus.

If I end up doing it, I'll be sure to put up lots o' pictures of the outfits, unless they're so small they're indecent. ;)

Jill said...

I'm frustrated by this, too. I'm giving gwynnie bee a shot (free month-what can it hurt), but I'm on the bubble-so we'll see... The math tells me that I can buy a helluva lotta clothes for the $1000/yr that GB costs. SF averages out to $55 per piece, so I don't see a lot of savings by fixing.
What's a gal to do? Heading out to Old Navy, I guess.. ;)

Stephanie said...

I got one last month and it went pretty well. Most of the bottoms I own are a 12 or 14 and most of my Gap/Oldnavy tops are a L though sometimes I get an XL for extra room. I told stitchfix in needed size 14 and xl. My ego prefers too big to too small. I kept 3/5 of my fix. I got a striped top that fits beautifully, a pair of jeans that are comfy (at a store I might have tried the 12 as well I'm a bit worried about how they will wear), a fall jacket that is great, a dress that was both too short in th torso and too tight (almost 5fth 10 with big boobs so no big shock), and a lace sleeve knit top that worked everywhere but the arms where it was a smidge tight. All and all I was pleased and am doing another fix. I'm not sure if that helps or not but I am tall and while I wouldn't say fat I'm also decidedly not skinny.

rachel said...

I'm in the exact same height/weight/proportion boat as you and I've actually had pretty decent success with Stitch Fix...I absolutely did specify no bottoms though. They sent me a pair of jeans one time and it was laughable. And that was when I was on the lower end of I think the key is getting matched with a stylist who gets you and who listens. I've had the same stylist for over a year and I still have a few misses per fix, but I've only sent the whole thing back one time out of about 18 fixes. I do well with cardigans, kimonos, knit tops (because boobs.), jewelry, bags....I think it's worth a shot, even if you just do it once because it is SO much fun getting a surprise box. Honestly, I think I like the surprise better than some of the clothes ;)

Jo R said...

Loved the blog! Well said!!

Lauren Wayne said...

@Jill: Yeah, the math is kind of a bummer. I'm trying to learn to enjoy a few pieces I really love vs. a lot of items that are so-so — but, then, that depends on finding those few pieces that I really love!

Lauren Wayne said...

@Stephanie: You're giving me hope! Though you're smaller than I am on the bottom for sure — I haven't worn a 12 in donkey's years. ;)

Lauren Wayne said...

@rachel: Yes, I think just the idea of getting fun things to try in the mail is such a nice surprise. I like the thought of having a single stylist who gets to know you — that would definitely make it more hit than miss over time.

Krystal J said...

There are so many people frustrated with the fact that they have expanded into Maternity & Petite over such a niche market as Plus Size. There is Gwynnie Bee but you lose the personal styling aspect that Stitch Fix gives you! There is a new company that is similar to Stitch Fix they are an online personal styling service for women size 10 and up. YourStyleCompass ( maybe you want to look into them and see if they might be a better fit. I know a couple of people who have tried them and so far so good. I know they give a free trial so it doesn't hurt to try.

Gisele Vermette said...

I just found "Dia & Co." They are a styling company that specializes in sizes 10 to 30! Its $20 that they applied to the items you end up buying. Then you get a discount if you buy all the items. Check them out if Stich fix doesn't do it for you.

Tiffany said...

I'm a size 16 bottom xl to 1x top and I do stitch fix. They aren't always great but I've gotten some winners!

Melissa Hodge said...

I am 5'10" and a size 14 on a really, really good day. I've just packed up my third fix to send back, and I probably won't be receiving any more. I feel like they're styling for someone much shorter, thinner and younger than me and not paying attention to my profile. Apparently they send out accessories, such as bags and jewelry, although I have yet to see one in a fix. It's frustrating, because I love the concept, but the reality has been extremely disappointing.

Jessica White said...

Agreed. I'd love to give them a shot, but it's a no-go with the sizes. I have tried Gwynnie Bee, which is nice, but the problem with them is that you don't have a stylist. You just add a bunch of stuff into your "closet" and they send it at they're really no help with finding things that you may overlook.

MiChal said...

I've gotten about 4 shipments from Stitch Fix. I'm 5'10" and wear an XL in most things. While I've loved almost all of the items sent to me, more often than not they are too small for my curvy body. It's been very disappointing. I'll stop by the post office today to return all but a shirt from my recent, and sadly my last, Stitch Fix. I've had the same stylist since the beginning, and she did a great job.

Lauren Wayne said...

@Tiffany: That's good to know! If I feel I'm ever solidly a size 16 bottom, I might try it.

Lauren Wayne said...

@Melissa Hodge: That really is disappointing.

Lauren Wayne said...

@Jessica White: That makes sense — I do like the stylist aspect.

Lauren Wayne said...

@MiChal: That's definitely disappointing. So much of fit depends on how it fits your particular body, so maybe they need to branch out to more brands, too.

Annie Pfeifer said...

It's like we are the same person!!!!!! I am also 5'9 and just had a baby Dec 2015. I feel the same about Stitchfix. I have gotten about 5 fixes, but only kept one thing from each (kind of so I wouldn't totally be throwing away $20). But I do like the things I've kept... most of them were maternity items, so they were generously sized.

I too am on that bubble, and it sounds like we have pretty much the same exact body type. Would I like to lose some baby weight? YES. But would their stuff even fit me if I did?? Probably NOT.

I like the concept, but I too wish they would expand their sizes. Are there really not any other companies that do this for extended sizes???

Kristalong0425 said...

I skipped the stitch fix and tried out Dia & Co. Same concept but geared specifically towards us fuller figure gals. Check it out!

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