I mentioned previously, that I had been first introduced to the new Box subscription trend from a post on Refinery 29 in April. After comparing both Tog + Porter and Stitch Fix, I had decided to go with Tog + Porter because I really liked some of the items I saw on other peoples blogs, and you could set your price point for that one. Additionally, the reviews I read of the service just raved about how awesome it was. (I suspect some of these people may have been getting incentives or free items.)
Let me start at the beginning with box #1. I didn’t take pictures at the time, but have a lot to say about the whole experience. Back in May, I signed up through their website and answered surprisingly few questions about my measurements, sizes I typically wore, and what I was looking for. They then make you set up a Skype call with one of their 3 stylists before they’ll send you your first box, so I set that up for the first week of May. For me, the call was a little awkward and incredibly short. I expected her to ask me more questions but it was very brief and felt like she was rushing to get off the call with me. At the time I chalked it up to her possibly having another appointment she needed to get to. The things we did cover were the fact that she should avoid picking bottoms for me because of my hard to fit pear shape, and I was looking for neutral toned casual clothing, and some cute patterned blouses. Before we hung up she told me I could expect to receive my first box within 2-3 weeks. Fast forward to 4 weeks later, and it finally arrived. I had been so anxiously awaiting my first box and don’t know why it took so long but I was excited nevertheless.
Then I opened the box. Inside were items that showed she didn’t necessarily listen to my requests, since she sent some pretty bright stuff when I had asked for neutral colors. Sadly, only ONE of the items even fit. The rest of it was way too small and extremely fitted up top which does not work for pear shapes. I had listed my measurements accurately and given the sizes I wear at the stores I typically shop at like Ann Taylor Loft and Banana Republic (and made a note of this on my profile). I was not familiar with the brands they send, and apparently they ran much smaller. Overall I was left feeling fat and sad that nothing fit except one solid colored rose silk blouse that I ended up keeping.
Before I could send anything back, I needed to schedule another Skype call to go over what I liked and didn’t like. The stylist ended up calling me from her car 15 minutes before the scheduled appointment which was fine since I happened to be around. I then shared my feedback with her about sizes, and she was surprisingly terse about it, suggesting that I had provided the wrong size in my information, telling me that “those” stores have vanity sizing that is way off. (Even though I declared that’s what I was referring to in my profile.) Then when I told her the belt she sent was actually too big to wear around my waist, she seemed disgusted and asked me how I tried to wear it, “did you actually try to close it?” No, I have no idea how to work these complex contraptions, how did I get out of bed today?? So I had to get up and physically prove to her on the monitor, that once the belt had been properly fastened around my waist, there was about 10 inches of excess room. She told me she didn’t think they made belts any smaller than that, and it was an impossible ask. (Well, I found one at Anthropologie a week later so it wasn’t that hard.) There was also a dress that was so skin tight I couldn’t fit it over my hips (did I mention I’m a pear shape??) and she seemed annoyed when I told her that as well. In our discussion and in my profile, I made it very clear that I couldn’t wear short skirts or dresses to work, and needed them to be close to knee length so I tried to tell her that again when she asked me if I actually put it on. Yes, I did, and it was too short and didn’t fit around my hips. In all, I think the awkward call lasted a whole of 5 minutes before she told me she’d send the next box soon after I returned everything, and this time we’d go with a size medium in tops. I again asked her to focus on neutral colored casual clothing since that’s what I’d like to wear the majority of the time.
I had read so many reviews ahead of time about Tog + Porter, and many had mentioned that it felt like “chatting with a new girlfriend”. Well for me, it felt more like being dressed down from one of the put together girls from middle school. (No pun intended.) I just felt rather deflated and sad about the whole ordeal.
Since I did like some of the clothes she picked that were just too small, I decided to try it for a second time and hoped that my bad experience was just a one off. I told her to go ahead and put my order in for the next one during our last call, which was the last week of May. Then one month passed. No box, so I decided to contact her to see what was going on. For this exchange, she had no explanation and just asked me to be patient and she’d be in touch when it was on it’s way. Two more weeks, no box. I contacted her again, and she said they were moving the main office and to be patient because she’d send it as soon as she could. Two MORE weeks, and it was now officially 8 weeks after the last Skype call, and no box. We had talked about summer clothes during our last chat, and I realized that almost the entire season had passed already with very few weeks left of warm weather here in the Pacific Northwest. Feeling resigned, I finally contacted her a last time and told her that if she thought she could get the box to me in the next few days then we could go ahead, otherwise the investment in summer clothes wasn’t going to be worth it and I wanted to cancel my order. Within a few hours, I got an email back from her apologizing and telling me that she contacted the main office and the box would be shipped that night and on my doorstep the next day. (A Saturday.) The main office then sent me an email apologizing for the delay, because when they switched offices my order fell through the cracks. (Even though I emailed twice to inquire about the status? So much for the squeaky wheel.) They offered me a $25 credit for the delay, which was nice but didn’t really make up for it.
So Saturday arrives, as does my second box. It’s the standard medium flat rate box from the post office, and weighs a ton so I can tell they crammed a bunch of stuff in there. (12 items to be exact.) I open it and it’s just wrapped in their chevron patterned tissue paper, with no personalized note or anything, just the receipt and return label for what I don’t want to keep.
I’m still hopeful at this point so I eagerly pull out the contents and lay them out. The colors are nice, but not exactly “neutral”. I like the yellow and orange.
Here are all of the items one by one.
At first glance, I could already tell that some of these things would not work, but I was committed to trying everything on regardless. What follows are photos of me trying everything on, even the embarrassing and very unflattering ones. (I can’t believe I’m making some of these public.)
The things I decided to keep
The yellow skirt was a lovely color and the fit was okay for my shape. It was a little shorter than I’d like and I’m not sure if I could really wear it to work and feel comfortable, but maybe I’ll give it a try.
I also liked the pattern of this sleeveless top and think it will look cute under jackets and cardigans. By itself it sort of looks like a pregnancy top. At least the pattern is nice and the colors are neutral.
I probably wouldn’t have picked this black and cream top myself because it’s pretty pricey for a simple top and I usually don’t care for tunics, but this one was really flattering on and made me look skinny. (It was also a size small and I probably could have used a medium as I had asked for before. I could move my arms just barely enough to wear it and sit at a computer.)
And last, I decided to keep the necklace. It was pretty simple and I liked the gold and silver accents. So out of 12 pieces I decided to keep 4. Now to the bad and the ugly.
What didn’t work
The orange maxi had to be one of the worst most unflattering items. In addition to a really unflattering fit, the back was entirely strappy and made me look like a piece of beef all tied up for the oven. My bra showed right through the mesh of straps. I think it was tied with the cropped denim for least flattering, but here is a lovely picture of what it looked like in silhouette. I look horribly frumpy and bumpy. Shudder…
Tied for first place of the worst fitting items were the “boyfriend” style jeans. (Maybe if my boyfriend was 10 sizes smaller than me? I’m picturing Eric Foreman from that 70’s show…) They were a little loose around the waist, and so tight on the legs that I literally could not bend my knees. Also, whiskers at the hips? That is the worst choice for a person with a pear shape or more weight in their lower half. It draws attention there and makes you look even more disproportionate. Major fail here.
Then the rest of the items were just sort of “blah” or unflattering. This blazer did not have enough definition at the waist to flatter my upper half, and the white blouse was just okay, hitting at a not great spot on my hips. Also it was 49.00 for a tank like blouse which seemed really expensive for what it was.
Next up, we have the “hoochi” skirt. It was so short, it barely covered my bottom in the back, and made me look as wide as a truck. The picture doesn’t really reflect just how short this was, and I’m not sharing a picture of the back, because its just too scary and offensive to the eye.
Next was the khaki sleeveless blouse that blended in with my skin tone and made me look rather sickly. Also it was 49.00 and I felt like I could get something identical at H&M for much cheaper.
And last we have what I’m calling the “mullet blouse”. It’s extremely boring and button up in the front, and then has the crazy twists in the back. Not to mention it’s sheer and see through so I needed to wear a tank underneath so you wouldn’t see my bra, but then that shows up in the back.
Overall, it felt like my requests weren’t really heard. I still received some size small items, the items were not very casual, and they lacked the modesty I prefer for work wear. I do not have the kind of life where I’m out at the bar on weekends, or sipping mojitos on a beach with girlfriends. (What I imagined you’d do in the maxi dress if you were fabulously skinny and stick straight.) I was just looking for pieces to wear to my casual environment job, and for weekends spent shopping and running errands. To me, Tog + Porter felt less personalized then Stitch Fix. It seems like maybe they have a set of items that they send to all clients, regardless of their taste and preference and hope that they’ll just stick with some of what they see. More of a one size fits all approach. I specifically said no bottoms, and yet received capri jeans and two skirts. Also there were no personal touches to this box. No notes or anything. Stitch Fix has the outfit cards which were incredibly helpful and give you ideas for how to wear things you might not otherwise have though of. Stitch Fix had asked how much I wanted to cover certain areas of my body, and respected those choices well. I felt like they had the appropriate level of modesty and style. I don’t see myself as extremely conservative, there are just parts of my body I’d rather not expose because I’m not particularly fond of them and just feel more comfortable covering up.
For our last call (which was required in order to send items back) she seemed a lot more friendly and was apologetic about the delay. It sounds like they must be doing really well and were just experiencing a backup with all of their customers requests. She gave me some general ideas about what to wear with the pieces I kept, and I might try some of them out, but in general it was just things I probably would have tried on my own. She was suggesting adding a lot of color, but that’s something I’m trying to get away from. The people in my office just really don’t wear color. It’s mostly grey and black and jeans so I try to wear neutral outfits that don’t stand out quite so much. I still want to be fashionable, but I don’t want to draw all eyes in a meeting room.
So was it worth the 8 week wait? Not for me. This box will probably end my journey with Tog + Porter, and I’ll continue to go with Stitch Fix for now. In general it’s a cool idea, and I love getting a box full of surprises in the mail, but I think I’ll pass on Tog + Porter for now.