I tried Nordstrom's personal styling service to update my fall wardrobe on a budget - here's how it works
- Trunk Club is a Nordstrom-owned styling service that helps make the process of building your wardrobe a little less overwhelming.
- After taking a short quiz, you'll be paired with your personal Trunk Club stylist who will work with you to create a "trunk" filled with items that fit your style and your budget.
- You'll get to see and swap items before they ship, which is a big plus. You'll only pay for what you keep, and you can choose when to order your next trunk rather than committing to monthly deliveries.
- After testing it out myself, I think Trunk Club is worth trying if you've ever struggled to put together outfits, or you're simply too busy to shop for yourself.
Shopping for clothes and putting together outfits is a necessary part of life, but it's not always an enjoyable process. No wonder all of Silicon Valley's CEOs resort to wearing jeans and a T-shirt every day.
While retail therapy is a real thing for some, spending hours on end drudging from store to store or surfing the internet without ever getting a chance to try things on is more of a nightmare for others.
In recent years, many clothing subscription services have popped up, claiming to be the true solution to the woes of traditional shopping. The concept of receiving clothes you like on a regular basis without having to put any thought into it is great, but they often miss the mark.
However, Trunk Club, the Nordstrom-owned styling service, is a refreshing take on assisted online shopping. Rather than locking you in with a long-term subscription and sending you random pieces generated by a computer algorithm, Trunk Club pairs you online with a professional stylist to work with you to build your wardrobe based on your individual wants and needs.
With warm weather in our rearview, I gave the service a try to add a few new pieces to my fall wardrobe. I discovered many benefits of the service, with affordability being one major perk, since you can adjust it to only include items in your budget, and you'll only pay for what you decide to keep.
Here's what it's like to use the Trunk Club styling service:
1. First, take the style quiz to help your stylist learn more about your preferences and sizes.
The quiz includes simple questions about your style during the week and on the weekend, how you like your clothes to fit, specific issues you usually have with fitting (like broad shoulders, muscular arms, or even a round stomach), favorite colors, and brands.
During this step, you'll also list all of your clothing sizes and choose how much you typically spend on tops, bottoms, and shoes, so your stylist doesn't pick pieces out of your budget.
2. Get paired with your personal stylist and chat about your style
As thorough as the style quiz is, being able to chat with your stylist gives you the opportunity to provide additional information about your style, make suggestions on what you'd like to see in your trunk, or ask any questions you might have about the overall process. I got paired with a stylist named Briana, who was personable and took the time to learn more about me.
Personally, I've never needed the help of a stylist to shop because I'm very much into fashion, and because finding quality menswear brands is a big part of my job. But my experience with Briana was overwhelmingly positive. She was open to my suggestions and worked with me to build a list of items to include in my first trunk. Being able to chat with an actual person makes Trunk Club a lot more reliable than taking a quiz and hoping they send you stuff you like, which is the process for most other clothing subscriptions I've tried.
I suggested we keep everything casual since I dress the same during the week and on the weekend, and not to include any shoes since I have so many already. I also asked to see lots of long sleeves, pants, and other styles for the fall season.
3. Take a look at your trunk suggestions before they're shipped out
You'll have a chance to see what your stylist put in your trunk, approve the items you like, and decline the items you don't want. To help your stylist choose better items and make the process for future trunks easier, you get to give a quick explanation of why you're not interested in the specific pieces. Whether you own something similar, hate the color, or anything else, your stylist will make note of it so you won't keep getting those product suggestions.
I declined a lot of Briana's suggestions because I owned similar styles (not because they were bad picks), but she did a great job filling in the gaps for my final trunk. You will be charged a $25 styling fee, but it's credited towards items if you make a purchase and is waived if you're a Nordstrom cardholder.
4. Try on the items in your trunk and only pay for what you keep
A few days later, my trunk arrived in the mail with 10 great items to choose from. I had five days to try on everything and decide what to keep. I was trying to stick to about a $250 budget, so I couldn't keep everything even though I liked a lot of what was included.
Some of the items I had to send back included button shirts from Bonobos and a jacket from Patagonia. Although I ultimately didn't keep those, my stylist's suggestions were spot-on, considering I already like and wear both brands.
In addition to my budget for the trunk, I wanted to take the opportunity to try brands that I've never worn, so I decided to keep the Threads 4 Thought Long Sleeve Henley ($48), the Faherty Luxe Heather Knit Organic Cotton Henley ($98), and the 7 Diamonds Brushed Twill Pants ($88).
I paired the Faherty henley and the 7 Diamonds pants with a pair of "Bordeaux" Air Jordan 7s to create a simple, casual outfit.
5. Sending back your trunk is free of charge and hassle
Each trunk comes with a prepaid return label and tape to ship it back. All you have to do is put the items you don't want to keep back into the trunk, tape it shut, slap the label on the box, and drop it off at your nearest UPS location, Nordstrom store, or schedule it to be picked up by UPS.
6. Leave feedback - it's important for your future trunks
The final step of the process is to leave feedback on your overall experience and the individual pieces you return. Even though it takes an extra few minutes, you should be sure not to skip this step because it'll help your stylist better understand what you like. In turn, you'll spend less time going back and forth with your stylist and you'll have fewer items in your trunk that you don't want.
7. How to get started on your next trunk
Trunk Club does a wonderful job of giving you inspiration for your next trunk. If you're dressing for a special occasion or preparing for a new season, you'll be able to read through some editorial guides on what to wear, and you can message your stylist to start putting together another trunk.
Unlike subscription-based styling services where you're locked into receiving a new box every month whether you want it or not, Trunk Club is completely customizable. You can start creating a new trunk immediately, set up recurring trunks at whatever interval suits you best, or completely pause the service when you're not looking to buy any clothes.
Other useful information about Trunk Club
- If you're a Nordy Club member (a Nordstrom cardholder), you'll earn three points on every dollar spent at Trunk Club. Your points will go towards earning your next Nordstrom Note. The $25 styling fee is also waived if you pay with your Nordstrom card.
- You can receive a $50 credit when you refer a friend to your stylist and they spend their first $50.
- Trunk Club has Clubhouse locations in six major cities around the country, where you can shop in-person with a stylist and take home your clothes the same day.
- You can get alterations done at Nordstrom stores or Clubhouse locations. You'll have to option to have them shipped back to you or you can pick them up.
The bottom line
Overall, my first-time experience with Trunk Club was very positive, but I realized that the service isn't for someone like me who already loves fashion and is familiar with the menswear landscape. Trunk Club is definitely best for people who don't have the time, patience, or know-how when it comes to putting together a wardrobe or shopping for work clothes.
With that said, Trunk Club was one of the best experiences I've had shopping online for clothes. I loved that you only pay for what you keep and you can choose when to receive a new trunk. For those reasons alone, most people would benefit greatly from using Trunk Club.
If you value or rely on the opinion of a fashionable person to make purchases, then Trunk Club is how you'll want to shop. The time spent chatting with your stylist, trying on pieces, or leaving feedback on the items you returned won't feel like an unnecessary waste of time; it's constructive and helpful.
Finally, If you're a Nordstrom Cardholder, I'd recommend trying Trunk Club regardless of how confident or comfortable you are with putting together good outfits by yourself. With the styling fee waived, it essentially becomes a more personalized and curated way to shop Nordstrom's impressive catalog of clothing.
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