Sunday, July 17, 2016

Gwynnie Bee- My Thoughts

A few caveats before today's post: 1. You may be asking where the beauty has gone- it will be back, it's too hot to swatch outside. I'm heat intolerant and just going to pick up lunch yesterday took 2 hours to cool down from, for example. 2. I'm going to be talking about a service that caters to plus sized women. If your intent is to complain about women who are those sizes, please stop reading. Beauty comes in many sizes. 3. There's a personal referral link a couple of places in the post (like right here).

OK, big breath.In the earliest posts on this blog, I infrequently added in a bit of fashion to the beauty talk. I'm not looking to become a fashion blogger, but every now and then I like to add my opinion on a trend or two. In this case, I've been trying out plus-sized subscription service Gwynnie Bee for close to two months (and quite a few exchanges) and wanted to share my thoughts so far.

I used to try to hide the fact that I'm a plus sized woman. I'm not sure why- I own it, and my weight has been stable for 13 years within about 15 lbs, give or take. I'm actually healthier than when I overtrained trying to fit into a smaller size. Looking around at my family, I was born to have a body with curves, which I love. Health comes at varying sizes- and I wouldn't trade my body for a size 2, for example (no shade on size 2s, just picking a small size as an example).

I've always looked with envy at services like Rent the Runway. Enter Gwynnie Bee- which offers the same sort of model for sizes 10-32!

The Basics:

1. Sign up at Gwynnie Bee (Full Disclosure: that's my personal referral link- you get 30 days free trial if you use it, I get an account credit if you do so)
2. Fill up your online closet with 25 items
3. Stalk the mailman to bring the goodies
4. Have a fashion show at home
5. Wear items
6. Pop into pre-paid blue return bag
7. Drop off at Post Office
8. Wait for more goodness to show up at your home

I'm on the 3-items at a time plan ($99 a month plus tax monthly). In reality, you can have up to 2x your plan maximum assigned to you- once you've notified for a return, they start working on your next box while the other items are headed back to GB HQ (in OH). In my experience, this is triggered once two events happen: 1. You hit "Return notify" online and 2. USPS scans your package in.

My Experience-The Good

  • GB has a lot of unique brands, so you'll get access to things you won't find elsewhere.
  • It's a great way to expand your wardrobe and get some items for those single-use occasions (there are nicer dresses, for example)
  • I joined because I tend to wear a lot of dresses and blazers in the summer, both items that are costly to buy and I was getting tired of what's in my closet.
  • If you fall in love with something, there is an option to purchase it.
  • GB also has a members-only section where you can purchase out-of-season items at ridiculously low prices.
  • Most of the items are washable- and they put a LARGE tag pinned to the garment (photo below) giving laundering instructions.
  • You can preview what's coming, which is FUN!

The infamous blue return bag and 2 care tags I saved from GB

My Experience- The Not So Good

  • GB has a lot of unique brands, so finding your size can be rough at first.
  • The most frustrating thing is the lack of control over what items that will be coming. GB lets you prioritize items, but that's by no way a guarantee! For example, it took 4 full weeks and 6 rounds of exchanges to get a simple size down that I needed on a shirt.
  • Shirts and tops seem to be the least popular- I got bombarded with them (3 or 4 in a row over multiple shipments) despite shirts and tops being less than 10 percent of my closet. I had to remove all but 1 (the one I just referenced) to get it to stop.
  • Although allegedly I could have up to 6 items assigned to me (3 at home, 3 going back to GB), most of the time I had 1-2 items because of returns and transit times

My Experience- The Neutral
  • Some people are wierded out by the idea of pre-worn clothes. I recommend closeting items that have only 2 reviews- those are blogger previews. There's a good chance you'll receive a brand-new garment
  • I fell in love with a lot of items, so that actually could've cost me a lot more!
  • Often the price is a bit more than you'd like to pay; I'm currently sitting on a dress that I can't bring myself to return but I can't bring myself to pay $65 for! That also reduces the turnover in garments.
  • I haven't had a problem with overly-worn garments, but YMMV
  • Service might be slow if you're on the west coast; GB HQ is in OH.

What I've Tried in 5+ Weeks of Being a Member:

Hopefully this gives you an idea of the number of garments you might reasonably expect to receive.

Box #1:

Cherry Velvet Zoe Dress in Flamingo Print 
QBB Notes: This made me want to cry, as I really wanted to try all the flamingos. This was way big and really low cut on me. I tried it on and immediately put it in the blue bag. Purchase price was very expensive, IIRC.

City Chic Roses Peplum Top
QBB Notes: This was the first garment that I purchased because I found it unique. No way would I have tried it on my own, but it's flattering, a bit low-cut, but fun. Purchase price was reasonable knowing City Chic's retail prices.

City Chic Stripe Zip Blazer
QBB Notes: I struggled with this after falling in love and kept it through 2 wearings. It's adorable, but GB's discount wasn't sufficient IMO given that it's currently available on City Chic's website. I'll just stalk and get a totally new item. GB's initial discount (which I think has to do with the number of people who are waiting, age of garment, etc) was around 10%. No thanks.

Since then, here are the other items I've tried:

Jete Flamingo Printed Tank Tunic
QBB Notes: I'm crossing my fingers, as this is supposed to be here for the second time on Monday afternoon. My regular size was huge. I'm hoping that sizing down will allow me to love it. If I fall in love, there's probably a 95% chance I'll buy because... FLAMINGOS. It took about 4.5-5 weeks to get it back between sizes despite being a priority. 

City Chic Royal Zip Trim Blazer
QBB Notes: I tried this on at home and liked it, but immediately put in the blue bag and sent back. Why on Earth is this not clearly marked as "middle of winter?!?" It's adorable, I love the style (and will thus either recloset this winter or stalk City Chic's website), and I'm glad I know what size to pick. Just not in the middle of the summer!

Yours Clothing Skater Skirt in Floral Print
QBB Notes: This is the second item I ended up purchasing from GB, partially because the price was literally irresistible and partially because this is a 3-season staple. I put this in my closet just to fill space and honestly would never pick this up in a store. Turns out it's a cute, full skirt made of scuba material that would be perfect except in the middle of summer. Fall- put it with fall colors. Winter- black and white and booties, anyone? Cozy sweater? Spring- pastels and white? Without giving all of the secrets away, I nabbed this literal staple for less than the price of NARS Creamy Concealer! So yeah... you can see why it had to stay here.

Corey Trista Dress in Flamingo Print

QBB Notes: Siiiiigh. What is it with the flamingo items being wonky? I wore this to work just before the 4th since it's pretty casual with a blazer (the sleeves are actually ties and open). It's shorter than I'm used to, and the elastic around the waist fit oddly. Still, I loved the fabric- it's just not for me. Purchase price was more than $100, which was jaw-dropping to me. One wear and back to GB it went.

Jete Ice Geometric Printed Scuba Shell Top
QBB Notes: This one didn't make it past the initial try-on. Heavy and unflattering. It's a light blue with white designs, which is a cool twist... but it just didn't look right on me. Literally back at the post office within 90 min.

Jete Arrow Printed Blouse

QBB Notes: Sigh, more shirts. This was cute but I sent it back based on the temperature. No way do I want a long-sleeved blouse in the middle of summer. Even though I have a very large chest (it would force me to get plus and have it tailored down even if the rest of me was about a size 6), no gaping. Two thumbs up on that, one thumb down on random timing from GB. I kept it about a day before deciding there was no way I'd wear it in a timely manner. 

Sandra Darren Navy Dress with Contrast Border
QBB Notes: If I could send this dress hearts and flowers, I would. My third purchase, despite it being more expensive than I'd like and GB recommending dry cleaning (tag says hand wash). Pockets! Pockets! Pockets! The boatneck also makes it completely work-friendly since there are 0 cleavage worries. This dress rocks on so many levels and so hard that I did a little dance when I tried it on. 
London Times Shadow Floral Dress in Blue
QBB Notes: I love everything about this, which is shocking since I only threw it in my closet to hit the minimum again after some exchanges. This is the item I previously referenced as stalking it since it's more than I'd like to pay (it's still $65+) but it's SO cute.  In fact, I might just go ahead and wash and wear it tomorrow again. I really do love it. 

I have 2 shipments en route to me. One, with the second size of the Jete Flamingo shirt (I wish I hadn't had to wait that long!) arrives Monday. A second, with an item I bought to test the GB sale section, has just been updated to have this inside:

London Times Full Bloom Fit and Flare Dress in Black

I'm psyched- given the lack of reviews (3 while putting this post together), knowing it's a newer item, and seeing a high purchase price (not much % off of retail), make me believe that there's a good chance that this is brand-new.

In short, I highly recommend trying out Gwynnie Bee if you're sizes 10-32. The first 30 days truly are commitment-free, and it gives you a good feel to see if the service is right for you. One of the reasons why I posted what I've had within 5.5 weeks is so you can judge for yourself.

If you'd like to try GB for 30 days free, this is my personalized link.

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