Le Tote Review II

Friday, October 16, 2015

Le Tote is a clothes rental company that mails you items to wear.  It works like this: for a monthly membership fee of forty-nine dollars, you can be sent as many boxes of rented clothes as you like. You are sent one box at a time and may keep it for as long or as short of a time in that month as you like; once you return a box a new one is sent out.  In each box are five items- usually a mix of clothing and accessories. When you sign up, you fill out a style profile, and also are encouraged to go through Le Tote's stock of clothing, adding items you like to your  digital closet. The items you are sent are then a combination of items from this digital closet and those a stylist thinks you will like based on your style profile and your other clothing picks.  


Now that you know how it works in theory, want to know see how the reality of it shakes out? Quite frankly, I loved my latest Le Tote Box. You can see which items I got above. I've been interested in this trend of bows at the sleeves and though renting a shirt would be a good way to know if I'd like the style or not, which is where this dark blue shirt comes in. Its made of a heavy crepe fabric, and, as it turns out, I didn't like the bows, which swing every time you move. But that's the nice thing about renting the clothes- you can try a trend before committing to a purchase! Plus, my other four items more than make up for the first shirt. This relaxed fit baseball tee is so comfortable. I paired it right away with the necklace. Together they gave the perfect combination of tomboy and effortless chic. The bracelet is from Kate Spade and fit my wrist perfectly. I imagine it could have been a disappointment to someone with bigger wrists, but I am in love. My students all commented on how much they liked the bracelet too, and seven year olds are harsh dress critics. Lastly, this emerald shirt got not one but TWO unsolicited compliments from The Boy through out the day when I wore it. TWO comments from the husband. Just sayin'. That's cool.

Yet, when I first tried Le Tote a few months back I was getting boxes that were pretty hit or miss; as you can see in my first review here. What changed? Basically, it took those first three boxes to learn  what to do- and what NOT- to do if you want a great Le Tote Box. But as my love for this latest box shows, I lived and learned. But you don't need to make those same mistakes. Here's what I learned about using Le Tote services:

 The company gives you a lot of control over what you get sent. Use that do your advantage.  There are two separate opportunities for you to really have an impact on what you get mailed- and no, I'm talking about the style profile. While it may be of some use to a stylist, it is still a bit vague, and, quite frankly, Le Tote really stocks items geared towards a certain aesthetic. No, the real two opportunities to make sure you get items you like is to stock your digital closet well, and to customize you box.

Your digital closet, made up of items you have "added to your closet" by clicking a heart icon, is where most items you are sent are pulled from. Le Tote recommends having about 30-40 items in your digital closet. Personally, I only have 23, but they are all items I'd be excited seeing in my next Le Tote. So Tip one: Curate Your Closet.  It can be easy to get overwhelmed and click-happy with so many choices.  Keep your closet to items you think you'd actually wear and use. Renting clothes can be a great opportunity to try styles or trends you aren't sure of, as my bow-sleeved shirt shows, but filling your closet with a ton of those sorts of items might result in getting a box full of items you aren't sure you like. Second, when curating,  make sure to look at the measurements of all items.  Le Tote has items from various brands, and their sizing can vary greatly. Don't assume you are the same size item to item. They provide a sizing chart for most items, and also share the measurements of the models. Use this information. No matter how cute it looks on the model, if it doesn't fit you, you won't like it.

So, the stylists will pick items from your closet, and possibly some similar items they think you'd like. Once all items have been picked, you get an email alerting you of this fact, and inviting you to "customize your Le Tote." Basically, you can look over the items they are planning to send you. If you don't like an item you can swap it out with another item. And you aren't limited to swapping only shirts out for other shirts or dresses for other dresses! They allow you to look through all items they currently have in stock (i.e. the items that are not currently  out in other people's Le Tote; the items in the warehouse). My original Le Tote had a dress that was not from my closet, and that I knew would not work for my lifestyle. So, I swapped it out for the emerald shirt The Boy likes so much. Score! It is so nice to feel like you have final say over what is getting mailed to you, and it shows the company's commitment to trying to get customers what they want.

Once you get the clothes, you can keep them for as long or short a period as you want. When you're ready to send them back, there's no need to launder. Le Tote takes care of laundering all returned items before they are borrowed again. Le Tote provides a prepaid and labelled mailing bag for returning the rented items.  The membership is considered on-going, but it can be paused or cancelled at any time. So, unless you state otherwise, once they get your previous Le Tote items, they will prepare and send another box for you.

But what if you really like an item and it breaks your heart to see it go? There are two options. You can let the company know you would like them to resend a piece. Or, if your love is too strong to part with the item at all, you can buy it. To do that, you simply don't pack the item back in the mailing bag. Your account is then charged for the piece when they get the return package. Le Tote does pull from many popular brands. The advantage of purchasing through Le Tote though, rather than the brands themselves, isn't only connivence (though it is nice the item is already there with you). They do provide a slight price reduction, as you can see with this picture.  Even with the price reductions, most accessory items seem to range from twenty to seventy dollars. Most clothing ranges from forty to a hundred fifty, depending on brand and type of clothing. All the shirts in my box hovered around forty five dollars, for example. If you choose to purchase the entire contents of your Le Tote, you are also given a free month's membership. It should be noted that membership credits, such as you would get from buying all of a box's items, are for paying for being a member only, and that credit cannot go towards purchasing  other items.

Once a box has been returned, you can evaluate it, rating the item for both fit and style. This information presumably also helps stylists in picking items for you in the future. You also have the option of uploading photos of you wearing the item in question. Le Tote then allows other members to see these photos on the item's page, so they can see how items look on real women, instead of just models.

Overall, I really loved getting my box, and I'm half-tempted to go ahead and buy some of the items.  It does require more effort on your part than a service like StitchFix does, in order to get a good box, but I love all the input a customer is allowed to have, and found their website easy to navigate when giving that input. The monthly membership fee can feel high, since I could buy a clothing item to keep for that price. However, the novelty is nice, especially for my work wardrobe! What about you? Would you- or have you- ever tried renting clothes from them?  (If so, this link will get your $25 off of your first box! )

4 comments

  1. Love this in-depth review! I haven't tried Le Tote, but I really like the tops you have pictured :)

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    1. I'd be very curious to know what you think of Le Tote. You always bring up very good points when you review services like this :) Granted, it IS a more expensive service considering you don't keep the items (or, you pay separately for them), but using the link does give twenty-five dollars off the first month, and I think it is kind of fun to do every so often to spice up wardrobes.

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  2. This is such an interesting idea! Could you tell that the items sent were brand new? Or was it obvious they had been worn? I'm just curious to know how they are keeping up with the laundering and Quality Control (e.g. what happens if someone totally ruins something then sends it back - are they inspecting every item to ensure things don't go out with flaws? It sounds very labor intensive!).

    The emerald green top is very cute - I'd be tempted to keep it too. Are you going to do a post showing your Le Tote items?

    -Rebecca
    http://mn2nz.wordpress.com

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    1. Well, the items don't feel worn or old, though I couldn't say for sure they aren't older.... I have a feeling Le Tote probably gets their stock of garments and accessories bought up pretty steadily, despite being "rented," so maybe things only go out to a few people before being bought. As you say though... It does seem somewhat labor intensive.

      If an item is damaged, the costumer is either charged (not quite clear on if they are charged the full amount for the garment or just partly?) OR you can also purchase insurance, so if something does happen items you are protected.

      And yes- I am doing posts with Le Tote items. The last outfit post I did had the baseball T-shirt and both sets of jewelry. The outfit post going out this Wednesday will feature the emerald top :D

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