Subscription boxes are kind of the “new trend” in shopping, aren’t they? There are a TON of services which allow you to shop for clothes for yourself, your spouse or partner, your kids, your jewelry, your groceries… whatever. I personally love them because I usually don’t have time to shop, let alone the energy to pour through racks of clothes. (And I won’t even attempt it with a toddler in tow.) As much as I love StitchFix and its convenience, I wanted to try out some of the other “fashion box services.” After seeking some suggestions from fellow SFers, I came across Golden Tote.
What is Golden Tote?
Golden Tote is a Southern California based duo aimed to bring trendy, colorful clothes to the doorsteps of women, one reusable bag at a time. (Or, as I’ve seen on their BST group – sometimes, multiple bags at a time!) The Sarahs, as they are called on their website, design, shop for, and curate a boutique every month, and then pass along their killer deals to you by bulk shipping a Tote filled with anywhere from 2 to 6 items. There is no subscription or styling fee required. You just buy when you want one – or three.
How does it work?
Every 1st Monday of the month, the boutique changes, thus also changing the tote inventory. Shoppers then have a choice between 3 tote sizes and prices: a $49 tote, which includes one picked item and 1 surprise item; a $99 surprise tote, which includes up to 4 items unbeknownst to you but based on your style profile; and a $149 tote, which includes two picked items and up to 4 surprise items. You fill out a style profile indicating your likes, dislikes, and sizing info; much like SF or other services. Then you order and wait for your tote to be styled. The totes are shipped within a week or so, and depending on where you live, can take up to a week to arrive. (I am in the same state as GT, so shipping took about 3 days.)
So wow, you can get up to 6 items for $150? What a steal! Exactly – which is why they’ve catered their return policy to make sure it doesn’t come back to bite them later. Golden Tote is an all or nothing service. Did you get 5 items and love them all? Cool! But if you didn’t, or something didn’t fit, you can either return the whole tote for a full refund, or just keep everything and give away/sell/trade the items you don’t like. They did, apparently, recently begin to take back individual pieces, but that comes with a price tag.
But really. Even if you love 4 out of the 6 pieces, you’ve essentially saved yourself a shopping trip and time at the mall. And these aren’t Forever 21 quality pieces either. Brands like Skies are Blue, Le Lis, Just Black and other Stitch Fix-like brands are included in the surprise items.
For this go around, I decided on a $149 tote, plus one add on item. I selected two items from their boutique and let my stylist pick the remaining pieces. I indicated on my style profile that I was creating my Spring Capsule, my accent color was red, and that I was a working mom. Let’s check out what I received.
My stylist was “KB,” who from what I’ve read online in their Facebook group, is a kick-ass stylist. My Tote (appropriately themed for the month) included all of my pieces, plus one-add on item I chose at check-out, packed inside.
I also received two Style Cards for the items I picked from their boutique to start my Tote.
Classic Trench Coat
This was one of the two chosen items from the boutique. I really want to add a neutral trench coat to my spring wardrobe since El Niño is supposed to be dumping buckets of rain on us this season. (It’s currently coming down pretty good now.) But I know that outerwear and I have a love/hate relationship. Usually pieces like this can be too long, too bulky, too something else that doesn’t work for me. Against my better judgement, I gave this a spin.
Sadly, it’s too boxy and too long. Maybe a bit overwhelming for my little frame. (Added the GT stock image for comparison.) The material, while really soft, didn’t seem waterproof either. It reminded me of a soft suede. So – very stylish coat… if you are 5’5″ and taller. Verdict – Sell or Trade or Donate
Business Savvy Blazer in Navy (Skies are Blue)
My next chosen item was a navy Business Savvy Blazer by Skies are Blue. This reminded me of a different SAB blazer I had and then traded away because the color wasn’t right. A navy one, however, would be handy to have in my spring closet. The 3/4 sleeves are super for those with short arms, like me. It’s a knit, rather than a structured blazer, but this will work for the office when the A/C is blasting. The only odd thing was that there wasn’t a way to close or button the blazer. It doesn’t matter too much because I rarely do that, but something to keep in mind. Verdict – Added to Spring Capsule.
Back to Business Blazer – Gray
My add-on item was this 2nd blazer. An add-on item is an additional chosen you can add to your tote at a super discounted price. I have been looking to replace the gray, Kristah ruffle knit blazer I received in a Fix shortly after I returned from maternity leave. I have worn that gray blazer down to the seams, so it’s time to retire it. This was a killer deal as an add-on ($40) and it’s a structured blazer. Nice microfiber material and comes with a button closure. If I had known the trench wouldn’t work out, I would have just chose this instead. Verdict – Added to Spring Capsule.
Le Lis Ribbed Skirt – Gray
Now on to the surprise items. Again, starting with the items I didn’t care for that much. The Le Lis skirt wasn’t really labeled anything on the packing slip other than it was a skirt. It was long, so I assumed a maxi skirt. The problem is that it was nearly the perfect length, if not a little short, to be a maxi skirt on me. Maxi skirts are ALWAYS too long on me.
It was also very confining. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t wear my garter and insulin pump on my leg. My Dexcom transmitter is obviously sticking out. It was also not very forgiving. Since it’s a knit, every single flaw and bump showed up. It also gave me a bad case of “mom butt.” What the heck is this thing?
Turns out it’s a mid-calf pencil skirt. Oooh. And quite obviously too long. Nope. Verdict – Traded.
Le Lis Polka Dot Blouse – Blue
This shirt was perplexing. In theory, I do kind of like it. It’s a chambray-like material that’s light enough to transition into summer. There are tie sleeve details. It can be dressed up or down. Belted or tucked in. There is a very small printed detail to give it some more interest.
It just seemed a bit big. I realize I’m a bit of a challenge because I am in between sizes. But, for a fit like this, I would have preferred to size down. But, GT’s stock of x-smalls are limited, so this could be as small as I could go. So, I’m torn on whether to hold on to it. I may save this for a future trade. Verdict – Not sure. Maybe a gift or sell.
Skies are Blue Floral Top
This was the one item that I could snag in x-small. Probably a good idea since it’s a similar blouse shape to just about every one I’ve received from Stitch Fix. Roll tab sleeves. Fun floral print. Heavier cotton/poly mix, which is a nice change from the usual lot I get – which is generally an almost sheer poly. Definitely spring worthy, but not really in the Spring Capsule color scheme.
But, it is cute when styled. Great for casual Friday or a coffee date with M. On the flip side, I’ve apparently snagged a unicorn piece for some of the ladies in the BST group. So even if I don’t decide to incorporate it, I should have no trouble selling it. Verdict – Keep, with reservations.
Gilli Dotted Dress
This was probably my favorite piece of the lot. It looked really odd coming out of the box (it’s runched on one side), but looked and felt great after I tried it on. This is probably what I’d consider a day to date dress. As it’s styled now, it might be a little too fancy for the office, but I can throw a sweater or blazer on over it for during the day. The skirt will accommodate my insulin pump and garter just fine. The dots are magenta. All in all, a good pick by KB. Verdict – Keep this, damn it! It’s Hot!
Final thoughts on Golden Tote – I liked the value of the items I received for the money I paid. Even if two items were definite “nos,” I essentially paid around $27 for each item. That’s highway robbery – and especially useful if you like to change your closet out every season and keep up on current trends.
Selling and trading items has been a bit tricky this last month, only because there seems to be a ton of inventory in the BST group, and not a lot of buyers. That’s been making this less appealing to me if I can’t get rid of the items I don’t want.
For things I’d like to see improved – maybe more descriptive labeling or a stylist note or something included in the tote to allow the stylist know what she why she picked something. (Or to clarify what an item actually is. Like the Le Lis Skirt.) That’s something I do like about StitchFix – their little bit of communication can help make a difference in how you feel about a piece.
Will this work for me and Capsule Wardrobes? Probably not. Especially if I’m trying to keep base pieces for neutrality. (Though, my pre-capsule self would be all over this!)
But, if you want to try it out, I highly suggest you sign up and fill out a profile. They are releasing the March totes and boutique on Monday, March 7th (yes, in two days!) at 9 am PST. You can catch a few (all?) spoilers on the Golden Tote Instagram or their Tumblr page.
I will probably sit out this month just because nothing in the preview really fit my style, but if you are into the BoHo look, I highly suggest you check it out.
*Disclaimer – yes, there are some affiliate links up there and I can get a small credit toward my shopping addiction if you sign up and order a tote/fix/whatever. I, however, wrote this review for funsies and received nothing in exchange for it. So obviously, all opinions are mine.