Subscription Addiction: Trunk Club
Clothes shopping is one of those chores that always sounds simple but rarely is. “I just need some professional black pants” you say, “how long could it take?” Three hours later you stand in a fitting room that you’re starting to think has a warped mirror surrounded by pants that have made you feel the entire range of human emotions about your ass and call it quits with no pants but two new tops and a pair of shoes. Trunk Club is one of many services that offer to send you clothes to try on in the comfort of your own home, selected by professional stylists who are, presumably, better at finding clothes than you are. What makes Trunk Club a little different is that it’s associated with an actual chain, Nordstrom, and they seem to have the most flexible options in terms of scheduling boxes. They also have Clubhouses in several cities that you can visit to get styled in person. One of these clubhouses is in D.C so I decided to do a visit first to get to meet my stylist and let her talk to me and see me in person and then see how the trunks went from there. For my visit and the boxes I was focusing on building up some professional staples for my wardrobe, I work in a very casual office but was recently promoted and wanted the option of having nicer separate available for high-level meetings. We focused on a blazer, professional slacks, and day-to-night dresses I could wear to the office and to after work events.
Because the clothes are all from Nordstrom, the prices are typical for the store. Some brands will come in around the $40-$60 range for shirts and pants, and one of my trunks had two Hugo Boss blazers that were right around $500 a piece. I took these out of the box, looked at them fondly, and put them very gently back in the box. The styling fee for the trunks is $25, but you get that discounted from anything you buy from the box. This does mean that it’s in your best interest to not get a trunk unless you feel reasonably certain that you’ll buy at least one thing in the trunk. Since you can preview the trunks online before they’re sent, you don’t have to worry too much about being surprised. And when you sign up you’ll be asked to complete a questionnaire about your size, style preferences, what features you like to highlight, favorite colors, how trendy you’re willing to go, and other information that will help guide your stylist in picking clothes for you.
You can set recurring schedules for the boxes or request them as necessary. After my clubhouse visit my stylist, Cymone, sat down with me to put together some things for a trunk she would send me of things they didn’t have on hand. A couple weeks later she let me know she’d found some pants that fit what I was looking for and wanted to send them to me. I had the chance to approve the trunk or tell her not to send it. I could also veto specific pieces before they were packed. Even after I filled these wardrobe needs I could see using this service for specific events or needs in the future. The stylists have a better understanding of what’s in stock and can focus in on exactly what you want. I do get a thrill out of bargain shopping and finding those amazing deals you can sometimes dig up (like my $5 ballgown) but frankly shopping can also be exhausting and frustrating. Taking the legwork out of it, narrowing down the options early, having them hunt for your size, and only trying on what you’re serious about is a nice experience. I tried on probably 10 different pairs of black pants through the whole process, the clubhouse visit and two trunks, and I didn’t have to hunt for ANY of them. Most of them I tried on in the comfort of my own apartment, which meant I controlled the lighting, and could try them on again after eating a big dinner to see how they fit (or didn’t) on a full stomach. That is definitely a better way to try on pants than a pile in a dressing room that just keeps making you more depressed. It also gives you the chance to pair them with shoes or other pieces you already have to get a better sense of how the clothes will fit with the rest of your wardrobe. Return shipping for anything you don’t choose is free, the return label is included when they send you the trunk.
Caveats: If you are someone who has a hard time saying no to people, definitely don’t do the in-person styling and maybe think hard about getting a trunk. If you can’t trust yourself not to buy everything they bring you, this is not the kind of service that will work for you or your budget. I’m not shy about voicing opinions and I never gave my stylist a “no” without a reason attached to it, but I also said “no” a lot. Both because I didn’t like things and because some things I did like just weren’t in my budget. This is not a time to be worried about seeming picky or fussy or particular, their job is find clothes YOU like. And keep in mind that the Nordstrom price point can be on the high side. I did get a sale item in one trunk, 20 percent off some Vince Camuto pants (I did not end up getting these pants), but if you are a dedicated sale shopper then this probably isn’t for you. If you’d like to work with my stylist, Cymone, you can use my Referral Link here. She was very good about listening to my feedback about styles, cuts, and narrowed down a virtual universe of options to find what would work for me. Honestly, I’m kind of looking forward to getting in touch with her again the next time I need something specific for my wardrobe. You can also just sign up on Trunk Club’s website and find your own stylist. It’s not instantaneous, so if you need something for an event this weekend it wouldn’t be a good option, but if you’re looking ahead or just filling gaps in your wardrobe it’s a very relaxing way to shop.