I love online clothes borrowing services.
While others may like subscription boxes or style curation mailings of fashion for purchase, I like to use dresses, tops, purses and earrings like library books.
Le Tote is a Perfect First Clothing Subscription Service
I have been a Le Tote customer for nearly one year and I believe Le Tote is the ideal entry level service to see if you too will become a dedicated clothes borrower. How it works is that every shipment (or tote) contains 5-6 clothing pieces and accessories that you choose from their catalog, wear for as long as you like and then you return the items and pick out new ones. If there is an item you love, you can keep it and purchase it below retail price.
The monthly fee for this constant rotation of new clothes is $49 per month for standard sizes, $69 per month for maternity. Shipping is free both ways and you are given a pre-paid USPS return envelope you can stick in your mailbox. I am a champion shopper who is always on the lookout for updating my closet and finding new things to wear to events, so for me the $49 a month is a good bargain and a great way for me to plan my style budget.
You can return your tote and receive new items as many times as you like over the course of the month. I usually kept items for 1-2 weeks and then returned for all new items, unless there were items in the tote that I loved and wore lots of times while I considered purchasing. If you end up purchasing all of the items in your tote you can earn a free month of the Le Tote service.
Here are my current at-home Le Tote items, all of which I chose myself, am wearing throughout my week and am taking some of them on vacation. I like them all and they fit well. They are nothing crazy for the fashion world, but they are all totally cute pieces for summer.
I was able to get to this happy Le Tote place as I have come to learn how the system works through trial and error since starting last summer.
Le Tote Sizing: Know Thy Measurements
Le Tote carries sizes 2 through 16 and XS through XXL, as well as maternity clothing. Some items may not be carried or available in all sizes. Those who are an 00/2, 14/16, or in need of tall or petite sizes may find that your choices are more limited than those who fall solidly in the 2-12 range.
If you are a size 14/16 – 32, get thee to Gwynnie Bee. They offer a very similar service to Le Tote and their clothing choices are gorgeous. Plus, the first 30 days are free!
I am a different numbered size in every clothing line, it seems. And one brand’s Medium may be another’s XL. In order to select the correct sizes for Le Tote, you will fill out your detailed style profile and the website app will recommend which size you should take in each item.
But I have personally found that you must measure yourself and use the individual brand size chart every time. Le Tote only lets you select one size of each item for borrowing (so you can’t try both the 8 and the 10 to see which works best, or eyeball if the shoulder in that 4 look too narrow, like when you are in a store). But if you grab a tape measure and jot down your numbers you’ll be fine.
I liked the Le Tote zip back pullover top so much that I wore it to the Lincoln Memorial and bought it to keep. At $56 it seemed high for a grey sweatshirt, but the zipper up the back was more flattering for my hourglass figure than most sweatshirts and I wear it all the time. I wore the striped 3/4 sleeve sweater to Mount Vernon with my family. Guess these tops made me feel patriotic! Or I live in DC and write about DC stuff. Whichever.
For your chest measurement, don’t use your bra size (it is too small a number for clothing size charts). Measure yourself while wearing a bra all the way around at about your heart or chest bone. For your waist, measure at your navel against your skin but don’t pull it super tight or suck it in like you are wearing a bikini in front of a mirror while taking a body builder selfie (not that you would do that, but you know what I mean.) Just stand up straight and measure your true waist. For your hip measurement measure around the widest part at your hip bones.
Then whenever you choose an item from Le Tote, open up the link that says “sizing” on each item page. If you are right on the cusp, read the reviews from other users who can provide insight as to whether it runs small or large. The user photos are also really helpful as you can see how women with similar bodies to yours look in the clothes.
So you will use three means of determining your size: the app’s recommendation, other borrowers’ recs and photos, and your own measurements. But I found that my own measurements were the most reliable, leading me to 8’s and M’s in some items and brands, and XL’s and 14’s in others, and achieving equally good fits.
I didn’t want to buy a ton of new clothes for Mom 2.0 Summit so I borrowed this Le Tote animal print day dress. It was too big (I should have measured better!) and not really my style, but it was comfortable and appropriate for the occasion. Of course, while wearing it I ended up meeting my style icon Design Mom Gabrielle Blair and participating in a BuzzFeed video that has 1 million views on YouTube and 6 million views on Facebook.
Where Le Tote Excels: Casual, On-Trend, Affordable Quality
Le Tote seems to excel in stocking weekend casual and work casual basics that can work well with items you already own, as well as items that are trendy, thus you may not feel like purchasing them for the long-haul. I personally use Le Tote for tops, sweaters, cardigans, light jackets and dresses. I usually prefer to wear my own jeans, handbags and fine jewelry because those are fashion areas in which I invest, but I change them up with Le Tote pieces. Le Tote does offer jeans by brands like Levi’s, costume jewelry from brands like House of Harlow and handbags from brands like Kenneth Cole.
An interesting printed tank to wear with your favorite black pants? A jumpsuit that you are game to try but not game to buy? A crazy clutch to punch up your standard wedding guest outfit? A cute wrap dress to wear to work because you are siiiiick of all your dresses? Le Tote is perfect for these scenarios.
I liked that the Le Tote prices are low enough that if there is a piece that you adore, you can buy it. Most items cost $20-$100 retail but you can purchase when you have them at home for about 30 percent off. But because the prices are so middle of the road, I did not get as excited about the Le Tote items as I do about pieces from Rent the Runway that I can afford to borrow but not to buy. (By the way, I also really love Rent the Runway Unlimited‘s clothing rotation service for borrowing higher-end fashion.)
I wore this Le Tote printed shift dress beneath my rain coat on a stormy fall day visiting the White House. Again with the patriotism! But here’s a confession for you: It was low and large across my chest and I thought cleavage at the White House would be weird. So I turned it around and belted it. Yes, I wore my dress backwards to the White House.
Le Tote Tip: Start with New Arrivals
A friend asked me if the Le Tote items ever look worn. I learned through experience that items off-season or further back in their categories (like the dresses on the last page in the dresses section) are more apt to have small tears, loose threads and other “gently worn” signs. However, all items I received were freshly dry-cleaned.
I recommend first searching for items in the New Arrivals section or in the first pages of each category. Often I received new arrival items with the tags still on and was the first to wear. This is great if you are looking to Le Tote to help you find new clothing for purchase; you’ll be trying brand-new, never-worn stuff and will still score that 30 percent discount.
The Verdict: Le Tote Rocks
I am a fan of Le Tote’s service for casual, affordable clothes. If you are interested in checking out for yourself, sign up via this link and get $25 off your first month, bringing your rental of 5-6 pieces at a time, as many times as you want in a month, down to a mere $24. Sweet deal!
And here is the Buzzfeed Parents Calliou video of me wearing the too large, too leopardy dress in front of 7 million people on the Internet. Choose your outfits wisely, friends.
I was a quietly paying customer of Le Tote from August 2015 – May 2016. Then their blogger outreach department contacted me and offered me three months for review. All opinions are mine. Affiliate link is used that could earn Le Tote credit. No monetary compensation received for review or affiliate program.