13 August 2015

Le Tote Subscription Service (Clothing & Accessories): A Review

As you may remember, I've been a happy Stitch Fix subscriber for a few years now (see my Unboxing Post from last January). Although I'm still a fan, I've recently discovered a couple more subscription services that I may love even more.

Today I'm going to tell you all about Le Tote (clothes and accessories), which works differently from most other subscription services. I'm a little in love with Le Tote but am clear-headed enough to recognize some of the cons. I'll describe the service, show you my latest box, and then list the good, the bad, and the tips and recommendations.

By the way, I learned about Le Tote after seeing an Instagram photo from @Heidenkind (Tasha) and used her coupon to get my first month at about half price (you can get my coupon by clicking here, which also gives me a discount).

Le Tote is a completely different kind of clothing service from Stitch Fix. For $49 a month you can have an almost unlimited wardrobe because Le Tote is actually a rental service. Sounds weird, I know. But take a minute to see how it works.

After you sign in to the Le Tote website, you will take a short quiz about your body shape and size, your style, and your likes and dislikes. Then you'll browse through their inventory of clothing and accessories, adding items you like to your closet (making up a kind of wish list). Then a stylist puts together a tote for you, taking into consideration your closet, your quiz, and your size. Each tote contains at least three items of clothing and two accessories.

Unlike Stitch Fix, you get to see your tote before it's shipped. Once your tote is ready, you'll have twenty-four hours to swap out any items you want so you can get a box that fits your current needs. Hit the complete button, and your tote should arrive in a couple of days.

When your box comes, you get to wear the clothes. Yes, you heard me. Just go ahead and wear the items. You can keep them as long as you'd like: the whole month, a few days, a week. Then place all the items in the return bag and send them back to Le Tote. You don't have to clean them -- the laundry (and sterilization of the jewelry) is on them! Oh and you don't pay extra for shipping.

If you want to buy something, just keep it and return the other items. Whenever you buy an item, you receive an extra piece in your next tote. Like most such services, you have an opportunity to rate your tote once you've had a chance to try on the clothes and accessories.

Here's what I got in my box this week (you can click the image to see it full size): A black blazer that can be worn over jeans as easily as with a skirt or dress. A green loose T-shirt (it looks almost gray in the photo). A bright dress that has more shape to it than it looks hanging up. (I wasn't sure about it, but once I put it on, I thought it was fun and bright.) Stone/agate earrings in earthy colors. (These are perfect for perking up jeans and a T-shirt.) A batik-like blouse that fits like a dream. A pink and faux snakeskin purse that matches both the blouse and the dress.

Everything fit (really!), and although I don't think I'll buy anything from this box (don't quote me on this and see tips below), I'll definitely make sure I get the blouse, purse, and jacket in future totes. All three are super pieces that I can see wearing again and again. I really like the dress, earrings, and T-shirt too and am looking forward to wearing them this week, but I'm not sure they'll end up on my must-have-again list (but you never know).

What I love and some tips
  • You can have unlimited boxes each month. Once your return envelop has been scanned into the USPS system, your stylist will begin putting together your next tote. I got four totes in my first month, keeping each one for a week.
  • If you really love something but don't want to buy it, you can tell your stylist to send it again (or you can swap it back in a tote yourself). So in theory you could wear, say, a dress a couple of times of month without having to buy it.
  • If you return something and begin to regret it, you can always buy it outright for the discounted membership price.
  • Every once in a while Le Tote puts selected items on sale, so you can buy something you were on the fence about for an even deeper discount.
  • Did I mention that you don't have to do the laundry?
  • One of my most favorite things: all the clothing at Le Tote is shown on a model, and you can view the items from front, side, and behind. This means you can see how the clothing (as well as most of the accessories) look when worn. No surprises that a shirt is too sheer or a skirt is too flouncy. I loved being able to fill "my closet" this way.
  • Le Tote subscribers sometimes upload photos of themselves wearing their Le Tote clothes or accessories, giving you another way to check out items before you add them to your wish list.
  • Although Le Tote's quiz is shorter than the one I filled out for Stitch Fix, in four boxes, there has been only one item that didn't fit me perfectly (including dresses, sweaters, shirts, skirts, and jackets). And that shirt, though a little loose, was still wearable. This is HUGE, everything really fits.
  • I like surprises just fine, but I love that I can see my tote before it ships -- just in case I want to make a swap.
  • I've discovered that my opinion of clothing and jewelry can change once I've worn an item for a while. Sometimes a shirt or skirt looks great in front of the mirror but is not so great after I've worn it for six hours. So instead of buying such a garment (like I would have with Stitch Fix or in a store), I get to simply return it.
The not so good
  • On the negative side: When you buy an item from Le Tote you pay a discounted price, but you are paying above and beyond your subscription fee. So to get a true cost, you have to take into consideration the money you're spending on the subscription as well as the price of the clothing.
  • On the other hand, unless you simply can't live without the piece, there isn't a reason to own it. You can always rent it again.
  • Although I recognized many of the brands, the quality is not high-end designer. If this is important to you, you might be disappointed. (I, however, am fine with mid-level brands for everyday garments and fashion jewelry.)
Final tips and recommendations and thoughts
  • If you're used to Stitch Fix, you'll be tempted to buy something from each box (at least I was). For Le Tote to be cost-effective, you need to keep only what you absolutely MUST have. If you aren't totally in love, then let it go and rent it again.
  • If you work outside your home or live in a city where you're out and about a lot, then Le Tote seems like a no-brainer. For about $50 a month you can have new-to-you clothes and accessories every single week and you won't have launder any of it.
  • Although I'm sure all the clothes and jewelry I've gotten from Le Tote were pre-worn, everything looked new. The quality was good, and I recognize many of the brands.
I guess you can tell that I am whole-heartedly recommending Le Tote. I have only one reservation: because I work from home and we don't go out a lot, I'm not sure whether Le Tote is going to be a good deal for me in the long run. I plan to keep going with Le Tote for now, but I'm going to have think long and hard about it over the following months.

This is a big dilemma for me -- I really love the clothes, accessories, and service, but I'm just not sure if I'm a good candidate. If you have to look nice for work every day, Le Tote could be a life-saver. If you'd like to try a month of Le Tote for about half price, you can use my referral code (which will also give me a discount). If you do decide to try it, let me know what you think. I hope you fall in love too.

Note: This is not a sponsored post. I paid for my own subscription.


bermudaonion 8/13/15, 6:17 AM  

Sounds like a fun way to expand your wardrobe without really expanding it, if that makes sense.

(Diane) bookchickdi 8/13/15, 8:09 AM  

This sounds perfect for a working woman here in NYC.

Meg @ write meg! 8/13/15, 8:39 AM  

Ooh, intriguing! I actually love this idea, especially given I'm a harried working mom who has started to despise doing laundry. The $50 monthly fee seems steep on the surface, but I wind up buying new tops for work constantly . . . and only wear them a few times before I'm bored with them, and I know everyone at work has seen them for weeks on end. So. I'll definitely keep this in mind!

ChaosIsAFriendOfMine 8/13/15, 10:45 AM  

Thanks for the detailed review. I keep hearing about Le Tote but wasn't sure how it worked. I'm a stay-at-home mom so I'm not sure it would work for me in the long run either but I might try it for a month just for fun.

Vicki 8/13/15, 10:55 AM  

This sounds like a great service! Your wardrobe is constantly changing so no more trying to figure out what to wear or when the last time you wore something was.

Julie P. 8/13/15, 10:58 AM  

This is in intriguing idea! Since I live in yoga pants and don't do much outside the home, I'm not sure I'm a candidate, but I do like the premise.

rhapsodyinbooks 8/13/15, 11:47 AM  

That sounds very cool, but sort of like Julie, I don't wear much besides in-house-only clothes, so I don't think I could benefit much!

picky 8/13/15, 1:40 PM  

Le Tote keeps popping up on my Facebook feed. I'm cheap, so I don't know that I'd go for the $50, but I might try it at half price. I love what you say about getting several totes for one price each month. Very cool. It might come in handy as I try to curate my capsule wardrobe for fall.

Tina 8/13/15, 4:11 PM  

This sounds interesting, I am a recent shopper at Stitch Fix but I may check this out. If so I will sure use your coupon!

Elizabeth B 8/13/15, 9:39 PM  

I just heard about this concept recently; I knew about jewelry and bags, but not clothes. My sister is losing weight very quickly and I recommended this to her.

Amanda 8/14/15, 8:58 PM  

Whoa! Okay so I don't think I can use this right now, when I'm not working outside the home, but in a few months, I think this sounds fantastic. I'm not really the sort of person who likes dress clothes, but as an aspiring paralegal, I'm going to need them, and this will keep me from wearing the same weeks' worth of clothes every week! Definitely going to keep this in mind. Awesome!

Daryl 8/17/15, 10:40 AM  

i can see that these sort of services have a purpose but not for me ... aside from issues with fit - i am tall and thin but have long arms/wide shoulders - i would worry about damaging something i dont own ... and regardless of how clean or new the items look when they arrive .. for me, there's an ick factor in wearing someone else's clothes

Trish 8/26/15, 4:59 PM  

I've never heard of this before so I'm glad you brought it up. $50 a month does seem like a nobrainer for clothes lovers--though I'm wondering if you can skip months like you could with StitchFix. I just checked to see if they have maternity and it's coming soon...maybe in the next 18 weeks??? Ha! Again, thanks for sharing all of these details.

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