Ask Belle Roundup Vol. II, No. Four

Aug 22, 2012

Belle,

Have you tried any of the online personal styling services like StitchFix or CakeStyle?  If so, what did you think of them?  I was just promoted at my job and it’s important that I dress for my new position, but I have no time to shop. 

Thanks!  Helen

I haven’t tried StitchFix, but I did try CakeStyle, and the experience was a major let down. 

The basic idea behind these sites is that you fill out a lengthy questionnaire about your job, your closet, your sizes, etc. and a personal shopper pulls merchandise for you to try.  She then mails these clothes to you, with a tutorial on how to style them and you keep the pieces you want and send back what you don’t.

Receiving my box was like being a kid on Christmas morning, until I opened it.  The clothes were what a person who’s never worked in a professional setting before would pick.  For example, a hideous oxblood suit paired with a shiny grey and black shirt, all belted with a skinny black belt–a color combination often referred to on this blog as the “IT Guy Special.” 

Also, it was like she hadn’t even read the questionnaire that I’d spent 45 minutes filling out.  I asked for dresses and skirts.  I received one dress and one skirt.  I specifically said NO PANTS, but that didn’t stop her from sending me three pairs of pants including a pair of trousers made from camel-colored jersey.  Gross.

Every piece in the box, without exception was too big.  This was mind-boggling since I’d provided her with my sizes and measurements. 

Bottom line, the stylist didn’t listen to my requests and sent me merchandise that was way too big. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise though since the cheapest piece of clothing in the box was over-$200.  Maybe I’ll give StitchFix a try, but CakeStyle was a big disappointment.

Hi Belle!

I have a pretty strong assortment of basic pieces for the fall season, so I’m looking to add a few more stylish items.  Could you make some suggestions for taking my closet to the next level?

Alicia

1. Juicy Couture Pyramid Cuff ($98), Charlotte Russe Jewel Cuff ($5), Studded Croc Cuff ($25) and Tahari Filigree Cuff ($65) // 2. J.Crew Majesty Peacoat ($278) // 3. Joie Christelle Sweater ($198) // 4. Max Studio Long Gloves ($98) and Peechoo Kreeberg Gloves ($548) // 5. Zara Studded Ankle Boot ($129) // 6. Alice + Olivia Tulip Skirt ($297)

Polyvore Set Here.

Big Bracelets.  A bold cuff bracelet makes a great addition to any wardrobe.  The rough, rocker vibe on the studded cuffs is great for casual attire or to lift basic blouses and dresses.  The daintier filigree bangle is good for any outfit.  These bracelets are the kind of piece that you can wear any time you need a little something extra.

A Colorful Winter Coat.  Almost everyone has a black, grey, navy or brown coat.  Why not combat the drabness of December with a pop of bold color?  This Majesty Coat from J.CREW comes in bright orange, a gorgeous berry and a vibrant green.  I also love this cobalt swing coat for $180 and this red colorblock coat for ($198).

A Cool Sweater.  Let’s face it, sweaters can be kind of boring.  You have your crewnecks, your v-necks and cardigans, not a lot interesting about those choices.  Maybe this season you should try a dolman sleeve (like above, but cheaper), a dramatic cowl neck, a sweater with studs or a sweater with sheer details. 

Long Gloves.  I love opera length leather gloves for fall and winter.  I wear them with my cape, with my winter coat or, on mild days, I ruche the sleeves on my sweater and wear them underneath.  And if you don’t want to spend more than a few dollars on a pair, I found my teal ones at a thrift store, so don’t rely on retail.

Ankle Boots.  I am not a huge proponent of ankle boots, mostly because I grew up in the rural West where these just weren’t allowed, but a lot of very stylish bloggers are making these work for fall.  So I figured, why not reach out of my comfort zone and post a pair.  If you want ideas on how to style them, Pinterest is probably your best bet.

A Leather-Detail Skirt. I cannot believe what a full-leather skirt costs! I could buy an entire cow for these prices.  The only decent-quality skirt I could find under-$300 was from AllSaints.

Luckily, a number of designers are selling skirts with leather detailing instead. The Alice + Olivia above has just a hint of leather, as does this leather trim skirt from Nordstrom.  This colorblock option from Robert Rodriguez is cool but a little pricey.  And if you’re plus-sized, this knit and leather panel version is just $78. (Lucky girls!)

Ask The Edit, Style

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  1. Caroline says:

    I found a very inexpensive leather skirt at a Marshalls/Ross type place. I couldn't believe it was real leather when I saw the price tag! I was thinking of wearing it to my cousin's birthday on Friday– do you think it's too early to be wearing leather? The temps have been a little cooler so I think I could get away with it.

  2. Belle says:

    Caroline: I think prior to labor day might be a bit early.

  3. Melissa says:

    I snagged a leather skirt cheaply, too — almost 80% off at an Anne Klein sale. The prices are crazy but it seems like they end up in sales quite a bit, so it might be worth stalking a few. I think some of the classic ones will be wearable for a long time.

  4. Tierney says:

    I actually tried Stitchfix for the first time last week, and I really like them! They're still in beta testing, so they don't have a HUGE inventory yet, but I appreciated my stylist's honesty when she sent the box. (Basically saying that she tried to fulfill what I asked for, but they didn't quite have the stock yet. If I waited a few weeks and tried again, I might have better luck.)

    I liked everything they sent me–it was all stuff I wouldn't necessarily try for myself, but I think that's the bonus of one of these services.

    They also let you specify price points for everything–so everything in my box was $65 and under.

    I posted a review here if you're curious: https://thepreppyleopard.wordpress.com/2012/08/20/stitchfix-review-plus-a-video/

    Also, we are DC friends! (Well, kind of. I'm in NoVa.)

    Tierney

  5. GoGoGo says:

    I have a pair of light fall jackets I love that are three-quarter sleeved. Would long gloves work with those?

    I never thought of that. It'd be great to be able to keep wearing them when it gets a little colder.

  6. Phoebe says:

    ugh, I had a very similar experience with StitchFix. I think I got 3 “fixes” total, and each time, they were the same. A couple things were my style, but everything else definitely wasn't. Half the stuff didn't fit. Unless they've changed, the stylist didn't do a good job of adhering to my wishes on the questionnaire. The price points were also too high for the quality of the items.

  7. T.A.E says:

    For those who are like Belle when they see the prices of a leather skirt at retail should look into suggest buying off of etsy and ebay as pretty inexpensive option.As always, knowing your measurements is key.

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