This is not a paid review.
I have a hard time finding clothes to fit me. Curves are not something that many designers plan for; and since people come in ALL shapes and sizes- unless you are a Size 0, or making clothes to fit YOURSELF- you have to make do. As a plus size girl- I know that clothes are not going to fit me like I like them to. Clothes generally hug my frame like an overzealous lover, or they fit like a circus tent (usually equally as colorful). Because I have an ample amount of cleavage- anything with an empire waist will not fit me. Generally the “waistline” lands somewhere around my nipples, when it is supposed to lie gently under my breasts (and no amount of coaxing will get it to stop riding up). Because I have a decent amount of butt- I have to be careful about the pants I get. Skinny anything usually becomes low riders, and regular pants sometimes land mid calf, simply because my butt is taking up more fabric than the designer envisioned (and my legs are apparently longer than the standard size). If I go up a size (to gain butt space), I usually end up with extra fabric around my crotch, which makes me look like I’m fluffier than I actually am, OR that I have a penis. Not a good look.
As a result- I was extremely skeptical of an online service. Even if it is specifically tailored to plus size women. Buying clothes online (even for other not-so-curvy people) has been very hit or miss. My dad is the stereotypical Extra Large Tall (XLT) in men’s shirts. Anything we buy in the store that is XLT will fit him- it doesn’t matter if it’s a t-shirt or a dress shirt. You can count on XLT. Not so much online, though. Out of the four shirts I have bought him online- only two fit. And they are the same shirt – a soft almost suede-like long sleeve shirt for winter wear. The other two- a dress shirt in his favorite color, and a sweater both ran small, and he could not comfortably get into them. That’s a 50% (or 33%, if you count those two shirts as one) success rate on a very standard size is daunting.
Enter Gwynnie Bee. No- it won’t help me out when shopping for my dad, but it did have tall claims of having something to fit ME. I admit it- I was extremely skeptical. But as I hate shopping for clothes in person, and I need more clothes- I thought I’d try it. And the fact that the first month is free, is very helpful.
Gwynnie Bee is billed as a rental service. And right now- it is only available in the United States. To get the free first month- you choose the two-at-a-time plan. You pick clothes to put in “your closet”, then when it comes time for them to send you a box- they pick from “your closet” and send you clothes. You have to put at least six items into your closet to get your first box. And yes- you can buy the items if you like them and want to keep them.
Plans are as follows:
1 item at-a-time: $49 a month
2 items at-a-time: $69 a month
3 items at-a-time: $95 a month
5 items at-a-time: $139 a month
7 items at-a-time: $179 a month
10 items at-a-time: $199 a month
Obviously- it’s a better deal to get more at a time, since you are going from renting one item for $49 a month (the one-at-a-time plan) to renting one item for $20 a month (the ten-at-a-time plan). However- the free trial is only for the 2-at-a-time plan.
Please note- when you start your free trial, you WILL see an authorization on your card for the price of your plan. Don’t panic. This is just to make sure that your card is valid, and that authorization will drop off in a day or so. You will not actually be charged until your free month is done.
So I put 11 things in my closet, and I waited. (It is recommended that you keep at least six items in your closet at all times, so at least a few of the items you want will be available to ship.) I picked my clothes on a Saturday morning, and my box shipped out on Monday afternoon. It comes priority mail via the postal service, which means there is a MINIMUM of three days travel time (perhaps two, if you live near a big postal hub). I received my box on Thursday, but was able to finally inspect it on Friday.
So here’s the summary of the box system:
1. You get two items (if you’re doing the two-at-a-time plan). This is not two items PER BOX. This is two items at a time. So if you send one item back, and you keep wearing the other- your next box will only contain ONE item.
2. Yes your items have been worn by someone else. This is a RENTAL SERVICE. Just like Redbox- someone else has used the item you are looking at. However, based on the pristine condition that every one of my items have been in- I suspect that most of them have just been tried on. Or maybe worn only once. They are in EXCELLENT condition.
3. Trust the sizing. If you tell them you are a size 16, and they suggest that you are a 1X for one item, but a 2X in another item, TRUST IT. Since all designers size things differently- the Powers That Be behind Gwynnie Bee have structured the website to take this into account. You will fit most items in the size they recommend. Sure- there will be a few items that don’t fit, but you can tell them this when you return the item. If they have the next size up or down- you can request that one instead. I have only had ONE item that did not fit, and I suspect it is because of my breasts. The sleeves fit fine and the shirt came down to the appropriate waist area- it was just tight around the breasts.
4. Your subscription includes cleaning, so you CAN send your item back dirty. This is perfectly fine as they will clean it, and then put it back into rotation.
5. If something happens to one of your items (you snag a sleeve, or spill something on it), you will not be charged. Normal wear and tear is expected. Now if you cut a huge hole in it, or burn your initials in it with a lit cigarette- expect to be charged.
6. A postage paid envelope is included in every shipment, so you can return items with ease.
Once you are a member, you also get a chance to buy items that other members have returned (at a discounted price, of course). These are past season items that are probably so limited in size and availability, that it is probably easier to put them on sale, rather than keep them on the website for rent. I have not bought any of these items yet, but I have every confidence that those items will be just as good of quality as the ones I have received.
– I joined this service at the beginning of May, which means May was my free month, so I’m in month two of paying for this service. New items are added often, So far- once or twice a month; so I can usually keep my closet well stocked. It’s advertised as a rental service, but I use it more of a try-it-on-before-you-buy-it kind of service. If it fits me and I like how it looks on me- I’m going to buy it and keep it. I see no reason to just walk around wearing something that I’ll eventually have to send back.
– You are treated the same during your trial month, as during a paid month. I have seen absolutely no difference in service, which I think is awesome. This means, when you return an item- they send your next item(s) out as soon as they receive the one you return.
– I was initially turned off by the price. Why pay $50 a month for two items? And if I want to keep those items, I can get them at a discount, but not free? However, having also subscribed to a different service for plus-sized clothing- I am increasingly comforted by the reliability of Gwynnie Bee.
-I like being able to choose what I’d like to get. See- with other services, a STYLIST chooses your clothing, and you get a complete surprise box every month. With Gwynnie Bee- you are your own stylist. They simply send you what is available from your closet (and you choose what to put in your closet.
-Please be aware of seasons, when you are choosing what to put in your closet. The long-sleeved items are mixed in with the short sleeved, and they will send you whatever is available. So I have a jacket and two heavier dresses that I LOVE, but can’t wear yet, since it is still the height of summer here. Choosing Priority can also help in this instance- you can choose to place priority on certain items, and if they are in stock, in your size, they will ship next. Just remember to keep updating your priority items.
-The desktop website is horribly slow. Hitting the Get Started button, or the Log In button will often leave you waiting and waiting. Also, if you want to look at more information on a garment- you will be stuck at the loading screen for 15 minutes or more. There are ways around some of this. The best way is to load the website on your mobile device. Tablets and phones must access a different server, because I have no problems at all with looking at the website on my phone. If you absolutely MUST look at the website on a laptop or desktop computer, go to the Shop (https://shop.gwynniebee.com/) and login there. Then hit the My Closet link to get back to the main site. Your login will carry over, and you will be able to add new clothes to your closet. Just don’t click on more information for any item. There is also a Gwynnie Bee app, which is available both in the Google Play store (for android users) and the Apple store (for iPhone users). The app is MUCH faster than the website, so if you want to just go that route- I would recommend that.
So, if you choose to try this service, then I appreciate you trying it through my link. [Click here] You get points for various things like adding clothes to your closet, buying items, or having a friend join, and you can use those points to discount the price of items even more, so that’s a bigger incentive to give it a try, right?