The ads on social media touting the latest clothing subscription boxes certainly are appealing, especially for those who always like to look on point or don’t relish an afternoon at the mall.
In fact, for fashionistas, a clothing subscription box might seem like the answer to their prayers: A curated box of clothing and accessories that is delivered straight to their door every month.
If you’re intrigued, you wouldn’t be the only one. The growth of subscription boxes, including those that also sell food, pet, entertainment and beauty products, has exploded in recent years. Between 2014 and 2018, online visits to subscription box company websites rose nine times, according to a report by Hitwise, a data collection company.
In the clothing category, popular companies include Stitch Fix, Le Tote, Fabletics, Wantable and Frank and Oak. Monthly costs start around $50 and can go way up from there. Real Simple recently looked at some of the most popular ones.
But will they really save you time and, even, a little money?
Do you really need the items?
Probably not, some experts say. Less can be more when it comes to your closet.
A packed closet full of clothes you haven’t worn in years can make it trickier to land on the outfit that’s perfect for whatever occasion you’re dressing for. If your closet already is full to the brink, it may make more sense to clean it out now than sign up for a subscription box that will only pour more pants, shirts and dresses into it.
On the other hand, if you’re starting a new professional job that requires a more formal wardrobe than you have right now, it might be worth considering a subscription box.
Do you have a hard time sticking to a list?
If you always head to the mall to get a pair of pants and come back with pants, along with new shoes, a dress and toys for the cat, then a subscription box may be something to consider. If your budget allows you to cover the monthly cost of a box, you may end up saving some money because you won’t have as many opportunities for those impulse buys.
How much would you normally spend on the item?
Some subscription boxes tout their lower costs, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to do a price check before you buy. Do the math to determine how much you’d really spend on each subscription box item and calculate whether you could get similar items at a lower cost at other online retailers or stores near you.
How easy is it to return items or cancel your subscription?
Shopping online always comes with some risks. Will you like what arrives in the box? Can you easily return it? Are you stuck with a monthly bill that will be tricky to cancel now that you’ve signed up for a subscription box?
Before you sign up for any plan, do your research. Find out whether you can order boxes by the month or if you must sign up for a minimum number of months. Also, look around for reviews of subscription boxes to find out which ones have the best return policies.
Does it fit your budget?
Spending $50 or $100 a month to get new clothes shipped to your door might sound like a great deal. But is it actually? That adds up to $600 to $1,200 per year on clothes. What’s more, in some cases, you’re only getting a specific kind of clothing within a box, such as athletic gear or work clothes.
If that’s something you can afford and you’ve properly vetted the company, it might be a great deal for you. But if you’re focused on reducing your expenses, it might be best to sit this trend out.
The team at CESI is committed to helping you make wise financial decisions and to helping you understand how to get out, and stay out of debt. For a free debt analysis, contact us and find out how we can help.
Consumer Education Services, Inc. (CESI) is a non-profit service provider of comprehensive personal financial education and solutions for all life stages and for all of life’s milestones. Our goal is enhanced economic security for everyone we serve.
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