Then life got more complicated. Your chosen career began to dictate parts of your outfit, and sap a lot of the time you used to spend at your favorite shops. Shoe comfort ruled the day.
Maybe you had kids. Kids who’d rather climb to the top of everything in sight and eat Superman ice cream with you than watch you shop.
Somewhere along the way, buying clothes became a hassle, even though looking put together still mattered to you.
Let’s face it, teaching in “the outfit,” something awesome that feels really comfortable and looks good and doesn’t get in the way, is kind of a big deal. But it’s not easy to accomplish.
For me, once I had children, shopping became a giant headache to be accomplished each season in twenty harried minutes at Ann Taylor Loft while my kids played on the nearby playground with my husband in random weathers. I wanted to be there but I didn’t. And I was almost never that thrilled with what I brought home. Half the time whatever new thing I thought looked nice didn’t actually go with anything else I had. I didn’t have time to research trends, and I needed clothes that would be comfortable in my everyday life anyway.
The same reliable old favorites dominated for a while. I couldn’t find any jeans I liked. I ordered shoes online, and they sort of worked. Mostly.
Then the Instagram feed over at Stitchfix caught my eye, during one of my Teachergram rambles. And I listened to Guy Raz interview the founder of Stitchfix on the How I Built This podcast (which I love). I was intrigued. And I began to wonder, what if someone else did my shopping for me? Someone who actually knows how to shop, and has time to do a good job? For me?
When you sign up for Stitchfix, a clothing stylist chooses five items for you and sends them to your house through the mail. You decide what to keep, and what to send back. It seemed easy enough.
I asked around, and heard from other educators that it takes a little while to get your Stitchfix groove. Maybe a few boxes. So I tried to set myself up for success. Which wasn’t too hard.
Here’s how to do it yourself. Because, as you’re about to read, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s totally worth it.
1. Set up your Style Profile
Go to Stitchfix, sign up and fill out your Style Profile. This is your chance to tell them your sizes, how you spend your days, where you like to shop, and how you like things to fit. At first I let this intimidate me, not wanting to dig up a measuring tape for all the details, but then after a few weeks with the tab open I decided just not to bother. Which was fine.
2. Take a few of their quizzes
Stitchfix has these little quizzes you can take to help them get to know your style better. Presumably, when you thumbs up or down an item of clothing, it all goes into their database about you. Plus, it’s pretty fun. You can take the general style shuffle quiz, but they also have ones for footwear, handbags, jewelry, etc. Plus, the quizzes give you little peek into the kind of clothes they have, so if you see something you love, you can mention it to your stylist in your note.
3. Write a good note
This is probably where most people go through the biggest learning curve. When you first start Stitchfix, you might be tempted to fill this note with general information like I did. “I have red hair… I like blue/green… I like to be comfortable, etc.” This is all well and good. But sooner rather than later, you want to be specific. “I’m looking for fall sweaters in jewel tones that aren’t too tight and have interesting necklines” beats the heck out of “I’m ready for some fun fall items to wear to work.” Unless of course you’re looking for a total surprise in your box. Lately my notes have been super targeted, asking for beautiful dresses for an event, or a big set of cozy sweatshirts and athletic pants to wear while out with my kids. You can also reference specific clothing items you’ve seen on the Stitchfix Instagram and ask for similar pieces. It’s easy to drop the date of their post and say you liked the yellow shirt with eyelet lace, etc.
So once you’ve set yourself up by filling out your profile, taking some quizzes, and getting specific with your stylist, you can set up how often you want to receive your boxes (which you can always change later). If you do them every other month you can work with the same person over and over. Which is nice. I had to pause my box once while on a trip and I lost my regular stylist, which was frustrating. But I did end up finding a new person that I liked quite quickly.
So what’s inside when that cute little box finally arrives? Well, your stylist chooses five pieces they think you’ll like. Then they put in a note to you as well as these rather adorable little outfit design cards to give you ideas for what to wear with what they sent.
Stitchfix has also started putting up a shop-able version of this outfit card concept on your Stitchfix profile, so if you pick out an item and feel like it’s missing some surrounding piece, you can buy it later through your Stitchfix “shop” feature. This new feature has free shipping on anything you select, no stylist fee, and free returns. Possibly, I click into it way too often, as it refreshes with different ideas all the time.
But back to your box. You get to look through, try things on, match them up with what’s in your closet (isn’t that nice?), and decide what to keep. As long as you keep one thing, you don’t have to pay the $20 stylist fee that comes with getting a Stitchfix box. After five boxes, there’s never been one that I didn’t want something from. But you could also let friends browse a box if there was one that didn’t hit for you. One of my teacher friends took a very cute drapey yellow sweater that I showed her from my last box – I knew she’d like it.
Whatever you don’t like, you stick in the envelope that’s in your box and send back within three days. Then you hop onto Stitchfix online and let them know what you’re keeping and what you’re sending back. This is another chance to give them some details about your style and fit, as you share what you did and didn’t like in your box.
And poof! You’re done shopping! Though this post may have taken you a few minutes to read, once you’re actually up and running on Stitchfix, writing your stylist note and then checking out every couple of months is really a matter of ten or twenty minutes. And it’s much more fun to look forward to than trying to find time for a crowded mall – unless of course you really do have time for a crowded mall, in which case, sure, that’s fun sometimes too with the right friend. (Here’s looking at you, Lindsey).
For me, Stitchfix has been a pleasant answer to the annoying question, what am I going to wear tomorrow? I’m about to get my fifth box, and so far I’ve received my favorite blue jeans and my favorite white jeans, my favorite go-to t-shirt, my favorite soft sweater which I wear both as a shirt and pajama layer, and the nicest dress I’ve ever owned. Which I requested when I was speaking at an event but then decided to go casual and am now saving for some future fancy wedding. Also, the shirt I chose when I needed to take some professional photos last year.
The only thing I don’t like about it is that nothing is ever on sale. But I was able to set my price points when I registered, and the things in my boxes are usually in the same range that they are regular price at my favorite stores.
Not bad, Stitchfix. Good, even, if you’re not from the land of understated compliments, Minnesota, like me.
Here’s my Stitchfix link. If you find you like what you see, as I have, and sign up for a box, we’ll both get $25 off our next purchase. Not too shabby. I’m not generally a big one for affiliation on this blog, but in this case I’m happy to share a company that I really enjoy. They’ve solved a problem for me, and I hope they can do the same for you.