It was a dark and stormy night when I finally realized that the spare bedroom I call my closet was completely out of control. It had grown into a living, breathing monster that threatened to swallow me whole every single time I stepped inside.
Feeling overwhelmed, I tossed, donated, and gave away at least two black garbage bags full of clothes every single week for an entire month until I could finally manage to open the door and walk inside safely.
It's currently very neat and nice, but now I have a different problem: If I want to keep it this organized, I can't ever introduce one single solitary new item into the mix. The rails are at maximum capacity, and I don't have another spare bedroom lying around that I can annex for additional storage. No new clothes? Ever? I was crushed.
Then I happened to read about a company called Le Tote, a subscription-based fashion service that bills itself as the Netflix of fashion. Instead of always buying something new, Le Tote will simply rent you an unlimited amount of clothes each month. No storage needed!
You gain access to the site via your email address or Facebook account, note your style preferences and sizes, then go shopping in their stock — filling your virtual closet with any and every item you could possibly envision yourself wearing. (Le Tote carries groovy brands like French Connection, Sanctuary, Kensie, BCBG Generation, BB Dakota, House of Harlow, Splendid, and more.) Right now the service deals in women's clothing only — in straight sizes XS to XXL, but the idea of menswear and plus sizes is most definitely on the table.
This service is basically what every single celebrity on earth does in order to ensure they're never seen wearing the same thing twice: Borrow dress, wear dress, be photographed in dress, send dress back. My Le Tote subscription instantly turned me into one of the chic babes I dress on the regular. (Sadly, costume babes are sort of the worst dressers — when you spend all your time thinking about other people's clothes, your own tend to suffer.)
Once you are a member, Le Tote ships you unlimited "totes" of clothes each month for a flat $49 — with three garments and two accessories in each box. You wear everything they send for as long as you want, shove it in a pre-paid return envelope when you get bored of it, and get another box full of new items within two days. They take care of the dry cleaning and then put the items back into rotation for another Le Tote member to try.
Yes, fair warning: If the idea of wearing clothes that have been lightly worn and then scrupulously dry cleaned skeeves you out, this may not be the service for you. But I've gotten some of my most prized pieces at a local dry cleaner's annual "orphaned clothing" sale, so the thought doesn't bother me in the slightest — and everything I've received from Le Tote has been fresh as a flower.
If it turns out that you really love something they send you, just don't give it back to them! It then becomes yours. (Prices for each item are on the site.) For $49 a month, you've got an endless fountain of cute clothes delivered right to your door without the drama of ever having needing the space to store anything. (Plus they tell you how pretty you are every single time they send you something.)
Getting random clothes that I've previously picked out sent to my house (which is the current default setting, but Le Tote is testing a version where you get to specify exactly what you'll receive from your closet) has been sort of eye-opening. It's caused me to new try things that I wouldn't have spent money on in the store, and it's exposed a giant hole in my overstuffed closet: That I actually don't own any proper shirts or blouses — just an endless parade of skater T-shirts. (Yes, seems that even this celebrity stylist could use the help of her own personal stylist.)
So far, I've loved wearing everything Le Tote has sent, and I always take the time to rate how everything has looked and fit — and I've noticed that what they send in my follow-up boxes has been tweaked ever-so-slightly based on my taste and sizing issues. (You are assigned a specific stylist that oversees everything you get sent, so they can adjust things as needed.) And if you see something on the site that you just can't wait to get in your box, you can buy it instantly, like this crazy adorable peplum top, which retails for $114:
Le Tote is a true service, not just an online vendor. They are always on the lookout to make the customer experience as fab possible — which is evidenced by the fact that they are constantly throwing fun events for members, like the Valentine's Day party they just had in Los Angeles that I attended.
My most recent tote arrived last Friday, and nestled inside along with my rental items was a free love token from Le Tote to me: this adorable arrow necklace, which retails for $18 on the site. It's really rare to be appreciated as a customer these days, and now they've made a fan of me for life.
The idea of renting clothes instead of owning them was literally insane to me the first time I heard about it, but now I'm hooked. I don't think I'll ever go back to buying every single thing I ever wear, and really, neither should you.
Let's be Facebook friends.
I wrote a book: 'How to Get Dressed: A Costume Designer's Secrets for Making Your Clothes Look, Fit, and Feel Amazing', available now for pre-order.