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Amazon Prime Wardrobe: How to use Amazon's dressing room

You can try on clothes before you buy, though it doesn't replace going to the mall -- yet.

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In the era of online shopping, buying clothes comes with a special dilemma. Do you go to the mall to try on clothes before you buy them? Or do you buy them online, try them on at home and then return them for a refund?

Both have their flaws. Shopping centers are usually crowded, there's often a limited selection and going into a fitting room can feel like a nightmare. Online shopping comes with shipping fees, return shipping fees and sometimes even restocking fees.

Amazon is trying to solve all of those problems with Amazon Prime Wardrobe. You fill a box with clothes, shoes and accessories, it's shipped to you for free and you don't pay anything up front.

You try on everything in the comfort of your own home and send back what you don't want.

Sounds awesome, right? For the most part it is. But there are a few drawbacks. Here's what I learned from trying out Amazon Prime Wardrobe.

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It's not a subscription service

Unlike a clothing subscription service like Gwynnie Bee, which sends you clothes that you can wear and return for a monthly fee, whatever items you keep with Amazon Prime Wardrobe you pay for and keep. Gwynnie Bee does allow you to purchase items they send you, though it's main selling point is giving you a constantly rotating wardrobe.

Amazon Prime Wardrobe also differs from online personal stylist services like Trunk Club and Stitch Fix, which send you curated boxes of clothes that you get to try on before you buy. Your personal style influences what they send you, but you do not pick out the exact items that come in your shipment.

With Amazon Prime Wardrobe, you choose exactly what you want Amazon to send you to try on.

Prime members only

Like many perks on Amazon, Prime Wardrobe is reserved for Prime members only.

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3 item minimum

Maybe all you want to try on is a sherpa-lined denim jacket before you actually buy it (speaking from personal experience). You're going to have to pick two more items to add to your Prime Wardrobe box before Amazon will ship it.

You can select up to eight items per Prime Wardrobe order.

Some exclusions apply

The most frustrating part of Prime Wardrobe is that, for a lot of items, not all sizes and colors are eligible for Prime Wardrobe.

Over and over when I was browsing the site, I'd come across an item I liked that had the Prime Wardrobe label. But when I clicked to the product page and selected my size and/or preferred color, it was not eligible for the program.

From the customer side, there doesn't seem to be any reason or explanation for why some sizes are part of the program and others aren't.

Screenshots by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

The selection is vast

Despite the size woes I mentioned above, the Prime Wardrobe selection is quite large. You can shop major clothing brands, like Levi's, Calvin Klein, RayBan and BCBG, as well as Amazon's own clothing brands Daily Ritual and Lark & Ro.

No free two-day shipping

With Prime Wardrobe, the usual free two-day shipping you get with Prime does not apply. Once you build your box and submit your order, you'll get your items in four to six business days.

You get 7 days to try on

With Amazon Prime Wardrobe, you get one week to try on everything and send stuff back before you are charged. If you keep the box past those seven days, you'll be charged for everything in it.

According to Amazon, the try-on period starts once all of your items arrive. My entire order arrived in one box, but it's possible you'll end up with separate shipments.

You still have to check out

Before you pack your unwanted stuff to send back, you'll need to complete a checkout process through Amazon's website or mobile app. You mark off what you want to keep and what you don't, and then pay for your items with your credit card on file.

On the seventh day of your try-on period, you have until 11:59 p.m. PT to complete that checkout process or else you'll be charged for your entire order.

Returns are really easy

The return process was delightfully easy -- even more so than sending normal purchases back to Amazon.

There's a prepaid return label included in your Prime Wardrobe box, and the box has adhesive strips to close it up. Pack up your items, seal the box and affix the return label. Then just bring it to a UPS store or drop-off location.

1 box at a time

You can only make one Prime Wardrobe order at a time. Only once you've completed the checkout process on your current order can you start another one.

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