Which is the top online shopping service for plus-size bodies?
The new year is a great time to reinvent yourself for the better, and what better way to do that than through your wardrobe? New year, new me, as they say. But as a plus-sized person, clothes shopping can be a nightmare—from the wide size variations to the lack of stock to things just not fitting on your body the way you want them to.
So, I decided to try out a few online shopping services to see if they could not only master my style, but also provide me with clothes that fit my body. I signed up for Stitch Fix—a classic—which offers a plus-size box, alongside two specifically plus-size online shopping services: Dia & Co. and Gwynnie Bee.
I tested each service for three months’ worth of boxes, to give them a fair chance to get my style down. I took notes during the processes, from signup to trying on the clothes to canceling my subscriptions.
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How much do plus-size subscription box services cost?
One of the consistencies among all of the services is a monthly fee. Each subscription service had the equivalent of a “styling" fee for a stylist to choose the outfits for you. So each month, you pay a fee to have someone pick out clothes for you—even if you don’t wind up keeping any of it. Stitch Fix and Dia & Co. were reasonable at just $20 per box, but the lowest priced plan at Gwynnie Bee is $49 for one article of clothing per month—the plan I picked was $69 for two. Plus, while Stitch Fix and Dia & Co. give you five items to choose from with your $20 fee, Gwynnie Bee only gave me two for my nearly $70.
Each service offers a discount on its clothes, but only if you buy the whole box. If you keep only one or two of the items, you’d have to pay full price, on top of the styling fee you already paid. Each of the service’s clothes hover around the same prices, too—around $50, give or take. None of these subscription services are inexpensive, in any sense of the word.
Across the board, because I had to choose what size to order for each type of clothing, I was subject to size variation problems, wherein an XL in one brand would fit fine but would be too small in another. Fit-wise, Stitch Fix was the best, Dia & Co. comes in second, while Gwynnie Bee was more sporadic with its sizing—and it's in this order that I liked the services overall, from best to worst.
Stitch Fix Plus Size review
How the service works: For a nonrefundable $20 "styling" fee, you’ll receive around five items selected by a stylist each month, which you can then choose to buy (for about $50 each) or send back within three days of receipt. If you buy the whole box, you get a 25% discount off of everything. A "Freestyle" option carries no monthly fee and allows you to select however many items you want to try, and Stitch Fix holds onto a $20 per item deposit to ensure you either pay up or return the items within five days of receipt.
Stitch Fix Plus Size requires a lot of initial details to make sure you’re getting the most out of its subscription service. As you sign up, the company’s quiz asks about your preferred sizing for articles of clothing, how clothing typically fits on your body, how much you’re willing to spend for each article of clothing, and if you have kids, to keep your clothes “playdate-proof.” If you’re a Pinterest user, you can send over one of your boards to help give your stylist some inspiration while they pick out your outfits. I made a whole Pinterest board of clothes I typically go for—button-downs, quirky designs, more “punk” clothes—to give them an idea of who I am. After you’ve submitted your quiz, the info is sent to one of Stitch Fix’s stylists to hook you up.
Within a day, my stylist had some clothes picked out for me, which were sent to me for preapproval. I wanted to have as little say in the items that were chosen for me as possible, just to see if the stylists could pick out some good-looking outfits, so I signed off on the shipment.
In my first box, the five items each retailed for around $50 a piece. I received three sweaters and two pairs of pants to make up a few outfits, which turned out to be really cute. My problem? It was September. Not really sweater weather just yet, even in the Boston area where I live. I also had some quibbles with every clothing item. Despite being both labeled my usual size, one pair of STS Blue pants were a good length but too tight around my waist, while the other pair of Liverpool jeans fit well around my waist, but were too long. Despite the sizing issues, I liked the styles of them—simple black and maroon skinny jeans—both something I’d definitely wear. The sweaters were all too long for my arms, and one of them was kinda itchy—weird, because it was made of two fabrics not known for scratchiness, polyester and rayon. Overall, I still would’ve only kept one or two items from the box, namely the open cardigan sweater from Fortune+Ivy.
I went online and chose to return all of my items (because Reviewed wasn't buying me these clothes to keep), but had a bit of a shock: You only have three days to return the box after you receive it. But don’t worry, their customer support told me: “If you ever need more time, just let us know and we can extend the return date by up to 30 days.” After starting my return, I then had the option to stay with the same stylist or go with a new one for the next box. I chose a new one.
In the second box, which I received a month later, everything fit well, and each item I’d happily add to my own wardrobe. Inside my box was a nice floral long-sleeve shirt from Kaileigh, a striped knit tee from Pink Clover, super skinny jeans from Prosperity, and another comfy cardigan sweater from Fortune+Ivy. Stitch Fix also sent me a pair of slip-on formal shoes from Report Footwear, but those were atrocious—they wouldn’t fit unless I unzipped the sides, and whenever I did, they were hard to zip back up, likely because they were there for decoration, not function. The grey shoes were made out of faux leather so they were very stiff and I could feel my feet starting to hurt within the few minutes I wore them. Overall, this box was the best of the three from Stitch Fix I received: All the other items (minus the shoes) fit perfectly and looked cute.
The third box was a disappointment—especially following the second. I received two shirts that were both labeled XXL, but one was too tight and the other was too big. I know that’s how sizing sometimes works, but for a company that specializes in sending you clothes that are supposed to fit you, Stitch Fix could do better. I also got these snowsuit-like pants from The North Face that were way too long, a velvety charcoal long sleeve shirt from Nine Britton, and a black jacket from Eden Society that cinched at the waist. This is by far the ugliest outfit I’d received out of all of the boxes. Individually, the shirt and jacket weren’t terrible, but when put together as an outfit, it just didn’t work. What's more, nothing in my initial wardrobe choices or what I had said I liked in previous boxes would’ve indicated I wanted ski pants.
When it came time to cancel my service, I had a little trouble finding out how. I eventually stumbled into Account Settings, then tweaked the “Manage Fix Frequency” option and went from there. Stitch Fix gives you the chance to change the frequency of your “fixes”—to get a box every two or three months, for example, instead of monthly, or to pause all fixes—or outright cancel your subscription. As far as canceling service goes, it was pretty easy to do—no extra “Are you sure?” prompts to click through.
Dia & Co. review
How the service works: Similar to Stitch Fix, you pay a $20 "styling" fee to subscribe to a monthly box, where either you or a stylist can pick out five items for you to try before you buy. You can then either pay for the clothes—which range from about $50 to $100 apiece—or send them back within five days, and you'll receive a 25% discount on the total if you keep the whole box.
Like Stitch Fix, Dia & Co. asks a lot of intricate questions during signup. The company wants to know what type of clothing you prefer to wear for special occasions, and how often you’ll need them (i.e., formal versus casual). It also asks about budget ranges and preferred sizes, and compares the general size of your bust to waist, waist to hips, and hips to bust. Once I submitted my questionnaire, Dia & Co. gave me the option to shop for five items of clothing to be put into my box, or to let an in-house stylist make the picks—but you have to pay the $20 "styling" fee either way. I chose the latter option.
My first box had five pieces and three outfits to make out of them—one was really cute, the other two were horrible. The outfit I loved: Ripped denim ankle jeans from Acela (now not available on the site) with a long sleeve tie dye shirt from Socialite. This suits my style and looked like some clothes I already own and love. I wasn’t happy with the Vivianne T-shirt dress I got—it looked like a nightgown my grandma would wear to bed (but, hey, it had pockets!). The other pieces I didn’t like were a form-fitting black tank top and leopard print pants. I specifically told Dia & Co. I don’t like girlish clothes, but they still sent me that? The leopard pants were huge on me, too.
Returning was also a hassle. I initially told Dia & Co. that I wanted to return everything, but I never heard about when I needed to return them by. Then, a few days later, the brand sent me a message saying that I had three days to return the clothes or I’d be charged for them. I reached out to customer support and they kindly gave me an extension, but normally you have five days to return your clothes after you receive your package—two days longer than Stitch Fix.
I was able to change the arrival of my second box, which I set to align with the delivery date of Stitch Fix’s box. Dia & Co. allows subscribers to change delivery dates by a few days forward or backward via its website, no questions asked. This is super convenient if you know you’re going to be busy or out of town.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t a fan of my second box, either. I got a sweater from Cameo that had a cow print on it, a white-and-black polka-dot top from Molly & Isadora, and brown leggings from Philosophy—which I believe was all supposed to be one outfit. The leggings were comfortable, but too long. The other outfit was a long-sleeve denim top from Molly & Isadora with bootcut jeans (which I also couldn't find later on the site). Definitely better than the first outfit, but not by much.
The third box was probably the worst of them all. I got a red turtleneck from Gilli that was tight at the neck and, although it was very soft, it was an ugly Christmas-like sweater. I also got a mustard-colored shirt from Downing Studio, which was very transparent and had unflattering puff sleeves with frills and strings around the collar. I received a matching sweatsuit from East Adeline in my box—dark green pair of sweatpants and a long sleeve crewneck. Rounding out the box was a V-neck hoodie from Meri Skye that wasn’t my style and was a little tight around the bust. The final piece was a pair of dressy grey leggings from Premise that were both too tight and too long. None of the pieces matched each other to make an outfit, except for the sweatsuit, and although it was six pieces (one more than usual), not a single one passed muster.
When I was canceling my Dia & Co. subscription, the website showed me an item it thought I’d like and offered to add it to an upcoming box, but I continued to click through the process. The brand asks for your reasons for canceling, which you can select via a dropdown menu. To keep you on board, the company offers to get your next $20 "styling" fee waived, and the ability to choose up to three items yourself, but you can refuse. After those few pop-up hurdles, you can finish with the cancelation.
Gwynnie Bee review
How the service works: There's no stylist option here, so you pick out clothes you like and add them to your “closet.” Every month, Gwynnie Bee sends you one to 10 items, depending on your subscription level, from $49 to $199 per month. If you decide to keep all of the clothes, which cost typically $50 to $100, you’ll get a 25% discount—but you don't get back your membership fee, either as a credit or a refund, no matter what you keep or return.
Ah, Gwynnie Bee. This one is a totally different beast than Stitch Fix and Dia & Co. The service’s first question when you sign up is what size you are in other plus-size brands, so if you don’t know what size you wear in, say, Eloquii or Lane Bryant (like me), you’re kind of screwed. Just a few questions later, it asks for your address and payment info—very brash and to the point.
Unlike the others, there's also no option to have a stylist chose your items for you. You have to pick out what clothes you want sent to you, and you have the option to prioritize which ones come first (but that doesn’t mean the ones you select as “priority” will always come first). Also, annoyingly, no prices are listed up front. I felt lost trying to pick out outfits, because none of the pants seemed to coordinate nicely with the shirts.
The first box I received only had two items in it and they weren’t even among my “priority” picks—and both of the items were too small, even though I picked them in my size. I was curious about the service’s two-item box. I hadn't realized I'd chosen one of the lowest tier plans, which has two garments for $69 per month, but of course you can pay more for more clothes, up to 10 per shipment. You also have to pay extra if you keep any of the items, and how much is (finally) disclosed in the shipment when it arrives. The second box I got were clothes that I picked out on my priority list, and this time, they made for a cute outfit. I received a striped long sleeve shirt from Andree By Unit, which fit nice and loose, and the jeans by NYDJ were an attractive light-wash denim—the fabric felt a little thin but they fit me just fine. The third Gwynnie Bee box was a nice surprise. The open-shoulder tie-dye shirt from Sanctuary Clothing wasn't what I expected from the listing—I never would’ve picked out a shirt like that for myself had I seen it in person, but it was actually pretty cute. Unfortunately, the jeans by Kut from the Kloth were both tight and short on me. I didn’t hate any of the clothes I got from Gwynnie Bee because I picked them myself. The only reason I didn’t like them was for fit-related reasons but that was out of my control. Returns were easy enough, and I could've requested to exchange sizes at no additional cost, but the service keeping my nearly $70 for what amounted to a try-on fee was hard to stomach.
In order to cancel my subscription, it was a whole process. I had no option other than to call the Gwynnie Bee support team over the phone. It took five minutes to convince the representative to let me cancel my subscription. He offered me 50% off my next box, then 50% off and one free item. He wouldn’t let me cancel my subscription before my next cycle, so if I wanted to cancel before it renews, he said I’d have to call back a few days before the next billing cycle. It was a long, tedious process, and that alone would make me not want to sign up for the service again.
Which online shopping service is worth it?
Hands down, Stitch Fix is the best plus-size subscription box for me. The company has the most detailed questionnaire to get to know your style better, and it showed in its clothing choices. While Dia & Co. isn’t too far behind, I faced sizing inconsistencies there, along with with some much uglier clothes—Stitch Fix at least sent me clothes I felt comfortable wearing in public (most of the time).
With Gwynnie Bee, some of the options it sent me were cute, but I had to pick them out myself, so of course I was going to like them. My issue is with its insane styling fee of $69 for just two articles of clothing—for that reason alone, Gwynnie Bee is the one I least recommend. I would even go so far as to say, steer clear.
All told, if you're willing to gamble with $20, giving Stitch Fix or Dia & Co. is worth a try if you’re plus-size and want some help picking out a new wardrobe.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.