I’m not stylish, but I do like my T-shirts soft, my sweaters cozy and my jeans to not be scratchy — all of which is hard to know when shopping online.
Some online retailers have found ways around that, offering free returns to get shoppers to take a chance and click “Buy.” Others have opened stores to let people feel the fabrics and try on the clothes.
Amazon has another solution: Prime Wardrobe, which sends a box of fashions to try before you pay, basically bringing the fitting room home. It ships up to eight items and users are charged for whatever they don’t send back.
It sounds a lot like Stitch Fix, Trunk Club or other services that send clothing in a box. But there are differences: There are no stylists with Prime Wardrobe, so you’ll have to pick out your own shirts or skirts. It’s not a subscription, so there’s no monthly commitment or additional fees — although you need to be a Prime member, which costs $99 a year or $12.99 a month. Prime Wardrobe also lets you mix men’s, women’s or kid’s items in the same box, which may be useful for families who want to avoid the mall. And accessories like shoes, jewelry, purses and hats can be tried before buying, too.
The service has been rolling out to users slowly. Amazon says it is still available only to those who are invited, but it recently gave access to more Prime members, including me. So I tested it out.
Finding which clothing qualifies for Prime Wardrobe can be tricky, since it’s limited to certain designers as well as specific colors and sizes. Browsing is simple, since Amazon set up a section within its site for the service, but it’s easy to get lost when you see something you like. A Goodthreads T-shirt, for example, was available for Prime Wardrobe, but when I changed the color and size I could no longer add it to my box, even though I could still buy it for $12.
Amazon says selection varies and that it’s adding more items to Prime Wardrobe.
Despite the designer and style limitations, there’s plenty of choose from including well-known brands like Adidas, Calvin Klein and Levi’s. But Prime Wardrobe tends to push Amazon’s own clothing lines, which often showed up first. I fell for it: I added an Amazon Essentials jacket and sweatshirt, since I had been meaning to give its brands a try. The other stuff I added to my box: A Ben Sherman polo shirt; Joe’s Jeans pants; Arnette sunglasses; Adidas sneakers; and two leather jackets — one from Cole Haan, the other by Calvin Klein. Altogether, my box was worth nearly $900.
Don’t expect Amazon’s speedy shipping for Prime Wardrobe. It can takes as much as six business days, Amazon says, because it aims to ship in as few boxes as possible. I received all my items in a week, which comes to five business days. Plan ahead if you’re looking to try on outfits for a specific event.
After trying on everything in my box, I decided to keep the $66 Adidas sneakers and send the rest back. Some items didn’t fit right, or I didn’t like the style. I logged into Amazon’s site and selected which items to return and which to buy. A free shipping return label was included in the box, and the box itself had a sticky strip. I dropped the giant box off at a UPS store.
THE BOTTOM LINE
It’s nice to get a box of clothes that I could try before committing. But the most useful part of Prime Wardrobe may be the accessories. I can see myself using Prime Wardrobe to test neckties to match a suit, try on shoes to make sure they fit, or pick out sunglasses before a vacation.
Contact Joseph Pisani at http://twitter.com/josephpisani