Tired of shopping for clothes? A subscription service may be the perfect solution

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Tired of shopping for clothes? A subscription service may be the perfect solution
Image Credit: Gwynnie Bee
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It’s been about six months since I first decided to try the “size 10 and up” clothing rental company Gwynnie Bee. And like many things one could get hooked on, the first time was free. Gwynnie Bee is huge on promotional offers and their biggest and best is the first timer’s deal of a full 30 days at zero cost.

Free clothing – what could be better? Knowing that the normal price of a month’s subscription is $79, and not being one to miss out on a deal, I dove in and started stocking my virtual “closet.” The closet is the core of Gwynnie Bee’s system and keeping a full closet is one of the keys to making sure you’re getting the most out of the Bee. Clothing is listed on the website with pictures, descriptions, and helpful – although sometimes snarky – reviews to assist you in picking the garments you’d like to try. Once my closet was full, I giddily sat back and waited for my first package to arrive…. And to help you share my previous sense of anticipation, I’ll take a moment now to explain some more details on how Gwynnie Bee works.

How it works

Gwynnie Bee’s structure is a system of renting clothing, wearing it, returning it, and then renting some more. They’d prefer that you don’t clean the clothes prior to returning so they can use their own special, gentle system to keep the clothes looking good (a total bonus for those of us who hate doing laundry and hate paying for dry cleaning even more). Each time a box of clothing arrives, it comes with a pre-paid return shipping bag to return the clothing to Gwynnie Bee when you are ready.

gwynnie bee clothing rental how to save on clothes

Once you have the garments at home, you are offered the option to buy them at varying discounted prices – but are under no obligation to purchase. They have monthly subscription prices that vary depending on how many garments you’d like to have out at a time. The free trial is a “3 garment at a time plan” and when you sign up for the trial, they will require your credit card so that they can automatically roll you into a paid month after your free trial has ended. So, if you only want the free trial, make sure to pay attention to the date your trial ends so you can cancel before your paid subscription starts.

Subscription options range from 1 – 10 garments out a time and are priced accordingly:

  • 1 garment at a time = $35 a month
  • 2 garments at a time = $59 a month
  • 3 garments at a time = $79 a month
  • 5 garments at a time = $99 a month
  • 7 garments at a time = $129 a month
  • 10 garments at a time = $159 a month

Read more: 9 ways to slash spending on clothes

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My experience with the service

My first box of clothing arrived about five days after I signed up and stocked my virtual closet. Out of the three garments I chose, only two fit, and I only really liked one. I immediately put the two losers in the blue bag to send back. I wore the one winner the very next day and blue bagged it the day after. I think prompt returning is really important to get your money’s worth with Gwynnie Bee. They also have a section on the website that allows you to notify them of your returns so that they can start prepping your next shipment sooner rather than later.  Based on my consistency of notifying them of my returns, and the inconsistency of speeds on my following shipments, I have suspicions it might not really make a big difference. But, I’m a big fan of following rules, so I continue to do it.   

The key to getting the right sizes

The next box came about five days after I mailed the first garments back, and I went zero for two with that one. Back in the blue bag the clothes went, and I went back online to restock my closet. My next box was a loser too. I just wasn’t getting the fit right, and I was thrown off by every piece of clothing being sized very differently. It was then that I noticed the sizing charts that are posted alongside each garment. 

Read more: 2 ways to get prices so cheap you’ll think they’re misprints!

I’ve never used a size chart before, so I followed their guide to take my measurements and started paying more attention to the chart and the reviews (which often say if something runs big or small) before adding clothes. 

Bingo! My next box was a hit, and I liked and wore all three garments before returning them. However, by this time my free month was coming to an end, and I just didn’t want to start a $79/month habit, so I went ahead and canceled my subscription. I thought that would be the end of my time with the Bee… But just when I thought I was out…

They keep pulling me back in

I quit Gwynnie Bee cold turkey after my free month with really no intention to rejoin. Then the emails started — promotional offers that seemed to get better the longer I ignored them. At first the offers were light — COME BACK TO GWYNNIE BEE AND GET 10% OFF YOUR FIRST MONTH — to which I laughed — NOPE! I don’t need a $70 a month habit any more than I need at $79 a month habit. 

Read more: 9 items to always buy used

But my laughter lightened about six weeks later when the offers finally hit a tipping point for me – COME BACK TO GWYNNIE BEE AND GET 50% OFF YOUR FIRST 2 MONTHS! Well, I started thinking… maybe I could afford a $39 a month habit… for just two months anyway. I re-joined, intending to stay for only those two months of half price, but about two weeks before that offer was set to expire, I got a super special bonus email from Gwynee Bee – ENJOY 2 EXTRA GARMENTS EACH MONTH ON US for two months!  Whoa.  So I rethought the situation yet again and figured, well, if I’m getting five garments at a time for the price of 3, then I’m still winning, and maybe I’ll just stay on till the end of that bonus. … And that bonus is about to end — so quitting is back on the table…. Although, I just got another garment upgrade offer from them so who knows…maybe my dad was right, and I’m just not a quitter.

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The good, the bad and the ugly    

Good 

  • Always having something new to wear and getting to open what feels like a present all the time.
     
  • Not having to find room in my closet for new clothes since I return them when I’m done.
     
  • That smug feeling that you are doing something environmentally conscious by sharing clothes with others and hopefully creating less waste.

Bad

  • Getting excited about clothing in your closet that may never come since what is sent to you is solely based on availability.
     
  • Paying a new monthly bill.
     
  • That bad feeling of what you are doing may be bad for the environment since you are constantly getting disposable boxes in the mail and not putting your money into local businesses.

Ugly

  • The company’s quality control is not perfect. On occasion, I’ve gotten a dress or two that should have been taken out of circulation instead of mailed out. Also garments with pilling of material as well as missing belts are a common complaint on the website.

For more ways to save, check out our Deals & Savings page!

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