Thursday, June 19, 2014

{Outfit) Black and White with Le Tote + Review

You've seen me share quite a bit of Le Tote on the blog these past few months. This outfit is actually the last of it for a while, so I thought it only fitting to do a mini review mixed into this all Le Tote outfit.

So what exactly is Le Tote? I think my friend, an engineer of all things and the one who actually introduced me to Le Tote, described it best when he said Le Tote was like Netflix for clothing. And it truly is. For a monthly fee of $49, Le Tote will send you a "tote" full of three articles of clothing and two accessories. If you find you're not into the clothing, you can do an accessory tote for only $19. Simply wear what you like, for however long you like, and once you are done with it, ship it back and within two business days you'll have a brand new "tote" sitting on your door step. No need to wash whatever you wore, Le Tote does it all for you.

To start, you fill out a survey regarding the size of clothing you typically wear, and then pick through some styles that you like. This helps give Le Tote an idea of what things you may or may not want to wear. If you have any kind of restrictions, like I do, all you need to do is email them (and they are super responsive to emails) and let them know and they will exclude those from your totes. Rarely can I wear anything with an elastic waist due to my short torso and I'm allergic to most fashion earrings, so I contacted Le Tote and asked them to exclude those items. There were a couple of slips here and there, but for the most part I was able to wear everything that was sent. If you find that you've fallen in love with a particular item, there is an option to purchase. I honestly don't recommend doing this unless you feel as if you cannot live without said item. Their purchase price is pretty darn expensive and, in my opinion way over priced--especially given the fact that essentially the item you are purchasing is used. I did purchase a couple of items from Le Tote, but not without serious consideration.

In total, I've done about 6 months worth of Le Tote's service. I started last year and did about three months before taking a break (mostly to the holidays and the fact that I wanted to spend my monthly fee on sales). I did another three months earlier this year, and just put my account on hold for a few months. The first three months were paid for out of my own pocket. These last three were courtesy of Le Tote due to a contest I won over the holidays. When I initially planned this review, months ago, I took photos of everything I received. But I've realized that there wasn't much a point to it. Le Tote has changed, and continues to change, so much in this past year that their inventory isn't even close to what it was when I started.

Which, is really the point of all this. Le Tote specializes in fast fashion (though they throw in some good ol' closet staples too). The idea is to stop wasting money on trend items and just let them cycle through your closet like you would a rental movie. And true to the fast fashion world, items don't tend to stick around for very long on Le Tote.

What I loved:

The customer service. Really fantastic customer service. Any time I've had to email Le Tote, I've received a response within 24 hours, if not sooner. I mentioned earlier that there have been a few slips here and there, but Le Tote always made it up to me by including an extra clothing item or accessory in my tote.
The constant improvements made to their website. When I first started using Le Tote, you couldn't rate your items. If you didn't like something, or it didn't fit quite right, you had to email them to let them know and they would make a note in their system. Since then, not only can you rate items based on style and fit, you can ask for your favorites to be recycled into a future tote.
The quality of products I received. Sure this is fast fashion, but it isn't crappy fast fashion. These aren't the same items you would find at Wet Seal or Forever 21. A good majority of the items I received were really nice, high quality pieces. Brands range from French Connection to BCBGeneration to Sanctuary. They even have ModCloth brand favorites like Tulle, Esley and Sugarhill.
Sense of style. And the ability to pick things you like and have them show up in a tote relatively soon. They constantly update their stock to keep up with the different seasons and trends. I found that my totes meshed well with my current closet and I rarely struggled to pair a Le Tote item with something that I owned. There's been many a times where a tote showed up just in time to complete an outfit (like this day)

What I would like to see improved:

Limited colors and variety of styles. Whoever does the buying for Le Tote has a very strong sense of style and it definitely comes across in the items that are available. Personally, I do I love what is available, but I feel a lot of it is a bit restrictive. I also felt like I tended to get the same colors over and over again (not that I have an issue with blue or mint or black :P).
❤ Turn around time for the totes. Yes, they promise 2 day shipping and they do deliver on that. But its 2 days for them to receive, and then another 2 days for you get the item. Since there is tracking assigned to each package, I'd like to see their serviced up to where once a package
Quality check. I'm glad to hear that Le Tote is picking up speed and becoming popular, but I felt like during my last three months quality checks had gone out the window. One item I received, was completely warped and unwearable. Another had a huge snag it in it. I realize they are trying turn around totes out as soon as they receive them, but it does no good if you can't wear the item because it was damaged.
Pricing of items. I am a bit hesitant to list this one because I'm not sure if their high pricing is on purpose. I'd imagine if everyone was purchasing their inventory they would have a hard time keeping things in stock. But I do feel like $100 for a used dress, BCBGeneration or not, is a bit absurd. When they first started they had flat rates for items: $50 dresses, $30 other apparel, etc. This was before they started introducing the higher quality brands, and even back then I thought the prices were a bit high.

If you decide to keep an item, I recommend doing a good deal of research. Some of the items available, you won't be able to find by brand name, but they do show up on places like ModCloth, Ruche or Tobi. Collective Concepts is a brand that frequents all of those sites and is a favorite of Le Tote (as well as Stitch Fix if you're interested in brand new items). The more notable brands will be easier to find, but Le Tote tends to purchase a lot of past season items so more often than not, you might not find what you are looking for. Also, if you do keep an item or two from your tote, your next tote will include an extra item for free. And if you loved everything and kept your entire tote, well shoot, Le Tote will give you one month free!

I made two purchases during my time with Le Tote. Both of these purchases were in the recent three months, when, unfortunately for me, their clothing selection became much more my style. My first purchase was a fantastic buy. This Search for Sanity skirt is amazing and a steal at $48. It fit like a dream and is quite possibly the softest faux leather I have ever encountered. This brand sells at Nordstrom and even when this item clearanced out at Nordstrom, it was for around the same price. The second item I purchased, pictured in today's post, was not such a smart idea. I have been looking for a pair of comfortable lace shorts for quite a while, so when these Olive + Oak shorts popped up in my bag, I knew I wanted to keep them. I would have been okay paying the $49 price for the shorts, had they been brand new. I admit I got caught up in the fun and kept these without doing a more thorough inspection - though I really wish I had. The crochet is a bit stiff from being washed incorrectly and I would not have kept them if I had noticed that sooner. However, I will say that I have worn these shorts more than a handful of times since then, so in a way they were a smart keep, and I may or may not be contemplating purchasing them in the cream color.

All in all, I was really happy with my Le Tote experience and I do plan on picking the service back up after the wedding. It didn't really help reduce the amount I spent on fast fashion (lets face it, I don't think anything will help with that), but I did gain a finer appreciation for nicer quality clothing and basics. Since ending my service, I have found that I've been struggling with my daily wear when it comes to tops and am now in search for simple, quality pieces to add to my collection.

If you're interested in giving this a whirl, just click here (referral link) to sign up! Let me know your thoughts if you do decide to sign up.

Vintage Denim Jacket (super old - similar)
Le Tote Art Deco Blouse
Le Tote Crochet Olive+Oak Crochet Shorts (white version here)
Madden Girl Oppal Gladiator Sandals
Rebecca Minkoff Hudson Moto Mini in Minty


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