I have given myself a pretty generous monthly clothing and beauty allowance (hey, work hard, shop hard, right?) but lately, I’ve been surpassing that budget. By a lot. So in an effort to reign in some admittedly frivolous spending and at Liz’s urging, I decided to try the clothing rental service Le Tote.
Le Tote is a monthly rental service where you can rent a box of clothing items. Liz recently tried it and is hooked, but let’s face it – the woman is a walking clothing hanger. She looks fabulous in just about anything. As a tall and curvy girl, clothing options can be a bit more limited.
Signing Up for Le Tote
It’s pretty dang easy. Simply go to their website and create an account. You’ll be prompted to take a short quiz about your size and style preferences, and then you get to select your monthly pricing plan.
I selected the cheapest option which includes two pieces of clothing and one accessory for $39 month. NOTE: My bank account showed a $44 monthly charge from LeTote. It wasn’t until I contacted customer service that I realized they automatically add $5 in “insurance” to your price. You can opt out by contacting customer service but you’re on your own if the post office isn’t on top of their game.
TIP: in the sign up process, they’ll ask your measurements. This is not the time to shave off a few inches. Grab a measuring tape and put in your real, accurate measurements since Le Tote measures each and every piece in an effort to predict the best fit for you.
My First Le Tote
Once you’re signed up, you’ll get an email saying your Tote has been styled. The email will include pictures of the items that will included so there’s no Stitch Fix style surprises. You then have 72 hours to either confirm your tote or swap one or all of the items for something else.
TIP: If the items you want to swap for aren’t available, check again the next day. Their inventory is constantly changing as new items are returned.
My first tote was styled about 2 days after creating my profile. In it was a maxi dress, a shirt and a bracelet. I wasn’t in love with the maxi dress when I saw it in the email, but I figured what the heck, I could always send it back and get something else.
My first Tote arrived in a slightly beat up brown box, but inside, the clothes were neatly folded and wrapped in tissue paper. Also included was a print out of the items, the retail price, and the price if I decided to keep anything, which is about 20-25% off the retail price. A paid for and addressed return package is also included.
I immediately tried everything on and I must admit, I didn’t love it. The maxi dress was a fabric that clung everywhere it shouldn’t, so it wasn’t going to be seen in the light of day. The black shirt was cute, but the off-the-shoulder style wouldn’t last 5 minutes while I was chasing kids, and with no date nights planned in the immediate future, there was nowhere to wear it. Our workplace has a pretty casual dress code, but this felt like too much. Back in the bag it went. The pretty gold bracelet was exactly what I have been looking for, and it was immediately slid into my jewelry box and has become a daily accessory because mama loves a good arm party. Le Tote will inspect your return items and will charge your card for anything that you end of keeping. This delicate gold number cost me a very reasonable $16.
TIP: Designate a specific portion of your closet to your LeTote items, including the return bag. I “misplaced” the return bag within about four hours of receiving it, and now it always goes in the same spot in my closet so it doesn’t happen again.
So unfortunately, my first Tote was a bit of a bust. I eagerly waited for my second one, which featured a dress, a blazer and a pair of gold earrings. The dress was ginormous on me, and the only way I could wear it without the giant armholes flashing everybody was by putting a blazer over it. Conversely, the blazer was a bit small and the color wasn’t my favorite, but I decided to give it a try anyways. I paired it with a neutral shell and my favorite black linen joggers and snakeskin pumps, and was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the look. However, after the sizing issues, I did go back and update my measurements since I admittedly guessed at the initial profile set up.
Things continued to improve with the third tote, which included a maxi dress, a white Lucky shirt and a silver tassel necklace. The maxi never saw the light of the day (I really need to stop requesting them!) but the white embroidered shirt was such a hit, I debated keeping it. However, one of the reasons I joined the service was to hopefully stop buying so many clothes, and with the promise that I could re-request it at anytime, back it went.
For my fourth Tote, I was planning a work trip to LA so I was looking for items that looked comfortable enough for a cross-country trip but also suitable for business. I also decided to add an extra item for an additional $9.99, because I really didn’t want to do laundry when I got back. I love the Lysse vest; however, it was much shorter on me then in the picture, hitting at my natural waist. (I still wore it and liked it.)
What I Love About Le Tote:
- Fast shipping. The minute USPS scans your return package, LeTote will start styling your next one, even if it hasn’t been received at their facility yet. This was a HUGE benefit in my eyes.
- Unlimited totes per month. I really tried to push this to see how many I could get in one month. I’d say if you really hustle, you could turn around a tote every week. However, that’s dependent on you wearing both pieces two days in a row, shipping it back the third day, and not delaying on approving your next tote.
- No laundry! If you’re only going to wear an item once, you don’t have to wash it. Hell, if you wear it multiple times, just give it the ol’ “dryer refresh” for as long as you can, then send it back and let them wash it, and then order it again.
- Price breaks on what you want to keep. If you love something, you get to keep it for about a 20-25% price break. Just send everything back except what you want to keep, and when LeTote inspects your return package, they’ll charge your card for the kept item. This is especially dangerous with accessories.
- Keep the items as long as you want. You can keep things for days, weeks or even months. You can also request the same piece multiple times.
- Ability to add on items for an extra cost. If you’re on the 3-piece plan but have an upcoming weekend getaway trip or work trip, you can add more clothes or accessories for $5-$10/item.
- Huge sales for member’s only. LeTote will “clean their closets” and offer awesome discounts to their members, with select pieces on sale for 50-75% off retail.
- Easy-to-use app and website. This is important to me, and LeTote delivers with an very user-friendly, easy-to-use and dare I say, fun, website and mobile app.
Disadvantages of Le Tote:
- Limited selection. Okay, story of my life – tall and curvy girls aren’t going to get a lot of love from this service. At 5’11”, many of the pieces were deemed too short or too small for me. It’s also not Rent the Runway, so if you’re looking for something more formal or dressy, the selection is limited.
- No styling suggestions. You’re on your own for how to style the pieces you receive.
- Out of season items. It’s hot as hell in Georgia, and Le Tote is constantly suggesting heavy knitted sweaters and cardigans to me. I’m well aware that my office thermostat is set at sub-arctic year-round, but still no need for a puffy vest at this time.
My Brutally Honest Verdict on Le Tote
It’s a fun idea and service, but will work best if you’re between the sizes of 4-12 and not tall or petite, as selection for tall and curvy women is a bit limited. In my experience, it takes about 3-4 totes to really hit your stride. As of August, I’m still a subscriber and plan on continuing on the $39 plan. I’m having fun trying new styles (even with a limited selection) and NOT having to do any extra laundry.