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Stitch Fix vs. Trunk Club: Battle of the clothing delivery boxes

Find out if Trunk Club's higher price really means nicer clothes.

Whether you're looking to switch up your wardrobe or you'd rather avoid trying on clothes at the store, you might have considered trying a clothing box delivery or subscription service. But with the dozens of options available, choosing the right one for you might seem daunting.

Two of the most popular clothing delivery box services are Stitch Fix and Trunk Club, both of which market themselves as personal styling services as well. Each service offers fashionable clothes with different perks. We tried both -- here's how to tell which one is right for you.

Stitch Fix

I've been a Stitch Fix user for over a year. I'm always excited when I get my box, which you can customize to come at whatever frequency fits your schedule or budget -- no membership fee or a monthly subscription required. My account is linked to one of my Pinterest boards, so my stylist can get more ideas about what styles I like, and she always leaves a thoughtful note in my box, which is a nice personalized touch. The items my stylist sends me almost always hit the mark, which can be rare if you're finicky about your clothes. 

Stitch Fix offers a fairly wide range of women's sizes -- 00-24W in stylish dresses, pants, skirts and shirts. 

In my November box, for example, my stylist picked out an Erica Taylor green straight leg pant ($78), a Pinque navy blue cardigan ($46), a burnt-orange Market and Spruce top ($58), an off-white Lemon Tart blouse ($58) and a striped 41 Hawthorn knit top ($48). I had to exchange the Market and Spruce top for a bigger size, but Stitch Fix gets your replacement item to you within a couple days. The Lemon Tart blouse and the Erica Taylor pants were a little too summery for November in Kentucky, but with a good cardigan, I decided it would still be possible to make them work. Once spring came around, I was glad I had kept them.

The total came to $288. If you buy everything in the box, you get a 25% discount (in this case $72), and the $20 styling fee also counts toward your total purchase, bringing my total plus tax to about $209. Thus, my only issue with Stitch Fix: The price isn't accessible for everyone. Yes, the pieces are designer and quality. But even at the lowest price setting, if you're used to shopping at Target (like me), putting $50 down for a single shirt can feel jarring.

Three of the items in my Stitch Fix box made a complete outfit. The others were easily integrated with other pieces in my wardrobe. Also, if I were to really love a sweater or pair of pants, Stitch Fix sometimes gives the option to order them in different colors or patterns in the app under the My Items tab. A Style Card, which comes as a physical copy in each box and a digital version in the app, shows you ways to pair the items to make outfits -- down to bags, shoes and jewelry. 

Stitch Fix also has a direct buy option called Shop Your Looks. At the top of the app, click Shop between Fixes and Style. This lets you purchase individual items-- pants, shoes, accessories-- to match the piece you already have. These can be ordered without getting another Fix. 

Stitch Fix has an app for iOS and Android that makes it easy to sign up, update your profile, check out and keep your stylist up-to-date on what you like and don't like. In addition to creating a style profile and extra style quizzes, Stitch Fix lets you link your Pinterest board to your profile so your stylist can get to know your fashion sense better. On the app dashboard, you can partake in daily Style Shuffles -- a swiping system similar to Tinder that asks if you'd wear an item or not, to better get to know your style. The app has also added an experimental Inspiration tab where you can save Stitch Fix outfits you like and leave notes for your stylist. 

Trunk Club/Screenshots by Shelby Brown/CNET

Trunk Club's affiliation with Nordstrom marks that it is a higher-end styling service for men and women. When you sign up, you create an in-depth clothing preference profile, which asks about things like your style, how you want your clothes to fit, price range, colors and patterns you hate, and more. The service offers tops and pants in petite, regular and plus sizes (XXS-XXXL or 00 to 16). Dresses run from size 00-16 and shoes range from size 3- 14.5. 

The site paired me with a stylist named Sydney, and allowed us to chat in-depth about what I wanted via a messenger feature available on the site and in the app. It was nice to be able to go into more detail or send a picture of an outfit to her. I could connect my Trunk Club account to my Pinterest board too for further personalization. After talking with Sydney, I added my payment method and a shipping address. By the next day, Sydney sent me a digital preview of the items in my trunk. I could look over the items I was going to receive for 48 hours, give feedback, and if I didn't like something, she would swap it out with something else. 

I didn't ask for any replacements, so when my trunk arrived, it was the same as the preview. Sydney picked out Wit & Wisdom skinny jeans ($68), Seychelles booties ($140), Madewell necklace ($55), Maggy London midi shirtdress ($148), Boden sleeveless blouse ($85), Treasure & Bond loafers ($80), Madewell shirt ($65), a Madewell cardigan sweater ($98), a Gibson blazer ($98), and Madewell skinny jeans ($75). 

The total cost of all 10 items in the trunk was $912. If I were to have kept all the items in the trunk, after the $25 styling fee was credited back, the total cost would've been $887 (the styling fee is waived if you have a Nordstrom credit or debit card). This is pretty pricey, and most likely makes ordering a monthly trunk not doable for the average person, as one might do with Stitch Fix or another service. However, you don't have to sign up for a subscription with Trunk Club -- you can get a box any time you want, or schedule one to arrive monthly, quarterly, or at any other interval. 

If you get the urge to splurge on higher-end items or spend that tax refund, you can select Trunks > Schedule Next Trunk. From there you can choose the time you'd like to receive a trunk or if you'd like to get them regularly. 

There are also options to get specific trunks, like the Date Night Trunk, the Activewear Trunk, the Spring Essentials Trunk and more. In addition, Trunk Club has tips under the Advice tab on things like how to mix and match items, wearing denim at work, different ways to tuck in your shirt (who knew?) and more. Under the Brands tab, you can explore more items if you were particularly fond of a brand in your trunk. 

Trunk Club ships your items with a return label via UPS, so you make returns via the UPS store. In addition, since the service is owned by Nordstrom, you can return items at a Nordstrom store, but not Nordstrom Rack stores.  

Nordstrom plans to relocate physical Trunk Club stores (also known as Clubhouses) in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Dallas and Washington, DC into nearby Nordstrom stores. The Trunk delivery experience will still be available, according to a release from Trunk Club.  

Takeaways 

The first major difference I noticed between Stitch Fix and Trunk Club was the price. Trunk Club lets you choose from three budget ranges for each item that could be in your box: $50-$100, $100-$200, or $200+. Stitch Fix offers more ranges, starting from $28-$50 or $34-$50, going up to $200+. So depending on how many items you keep, Trunk Club's lowest-budget box is typically more expensive than Stitch Fix's lowest-budget option. 

The delivery process is also different: With Stitch Fix, I can drop the items I don't want in the provided return package and stick it in the mailbox. But with Trunk Club, I have to go through UPS for returns, or to a Nordstrom store. 

In terms of the clothes themselves, while I like the flair and personality that comes with the pieces I get from Stitch Fix, sometimes I'm nervous about what I can find to match with an item. I didn't feel that anxiety around the Trunk Club pieces. I appreciated the simple, classic designs that would be easy to match with multiple things I already owned. So even though Trunk Club costs more, I felt the clothes were of high quality. It's also hard to beat Trunk Club's strong customer service.