Over the last two years, I've heard a lot about Stitchfix. Described as a service that, "makes shopping fun, effortless and empowering for busy women on the go," it intrigued me. I don't have a lot of extra time to shop for myself. I usually end up having to take the kids with me and it quickly turns into a miserable experience for all of us. Convenience was't the only factor, however. The idea of inputting a style profile and having an "expert styler" hand pick clothes for me sounded amazing!
I have a lot of work to do with my wardrobe. I have several tops that I've worn once or twice and don't particularly love, but feel the need to keep for a "rainy day." Though I consider them semi-casual and I love wearing them, I admit I have an abundance of dresses. I am also severely lacking in basic casual attire, so in my notes to the stylist, I asked for casual tees and a few items I could dress up or down depending on my mood.
After receiving two fixes, I can say that it's just not for me.
There were certainly pros:
- The website is simple to navigate,
- the style profile is extensive
- the convenience factor is great.
- I even kept one of the items I received-a flowy, maxi skirt. (something I would've steered away from on a rack, but turned out well through the stylist)
- The clothes simply didn't fit me well. I am 5'0 feet tall with a large bust and small waist. Based on the size guide, I selected XS tops and Size 2 for bottoms, which is what I normally wear. The reviews said that the sizes were pretty true to form. Perhaps they are for a taller person or a slightly different body type, but it didn't work for me. The tops were HUGE and extremely billowy, giving me a less than flattering silhouette. Both pairs of jeans I received were a little too big as well. When I cancelled my account, I received an email from Client Support stating that they're still in the process of acquiring petite-friendly vendors. This may be good news for any fellow petite women looking to try Stitchfix in the future, but I simply don't have time to wait around.
- I didn't realize when I signed up that they keep your $20 styling fee, even if you don't like anything from that month's fix. I understand that they need to pay their stylists, but losing money on top of a disheartening selection doesn't seem particularly fair either.
- I don't feel that the style of the clothes I received matched what I was asking for, and when I did find something I liked, it was too big. (They don't carry anything less than an XS)
- Some of the clothes weren't seasonally appropriate. I received these boxes towards the end of Spring/beginning of Summer. Still, I received two pairs of jeans and a sweater. Both fixes, I felt like half of the fix was wasted on clothes that I wouldn't be able to wear for the next several months.
If you plan to sign up in the future, just know that it may take a few fixes to get the kind of items you're looking for and will love. Ultimately, Stitchfix is a gamble I'm just not willing to bet on. I'll have the hubs watch the kids from now on so that I can create my own perfect wardrobe and use that $20 styling fee to treat myself to lunch while I'm at it.
I do not write this to malign you; to pin the good for the actions of the bad. I have good male friends, an amazing male mentor, a supportive brother and a loving husband. I have been aided in times of need by men. I was rescued from an attempted abduction by a male. I am grateful for the many good men out there.
I am writing to you, because we need your help.
You see, it's impossible to turn on the news without seeing yet another story of a violent attack on a woman. A runner going out for an afternoon jog. A girl walking to a friend's house. A female heading to her car in the parking lot. A woman asleep in her own bed.
We are not safe anywhere.
I read the comments on an article about the victims who were jogging in their respective towns when they were taken, and it all read more or less the same. Seemingly well-intentioned people who honestly believed that if all women carried a weapon on their being at all times, that we could simply avoid this. As if that was the point. The responsibility laid firmly at our feet.
If you commented this way and truly believed this, then we have more work to do than I once thought.
Every day that I go out into the world, I am forced to worry about my safety. Every day, I am ogled or honked at or loudly talked about by men from all socioeconomic and racial backgrounds. I have walked through a parking lot with my children and had men three times my age undress me with their eyes. Some of you may say, "What does that even mean? That's completely subjective." To you, I say, "If it's never happened to you, you'll never know exactly what that feels like." But I can tell you that every woman I've ever met has.
I have been followed. I have been harassed. I have been grabbed at and "accidentally" brushed against and was even almost abducted once. I was 10 when the harassment began. 11 when the grabbing began. 18 at the time of the attempted abduction. Followed at 23. I could go on.
Every night that I spend alone, I am forced to worry about my safety. Are all of the windows shut? Vehicles locked? Garage put down? Women all over the world as I write this are double checking their locks and laying in bed awake because they think they heard a strange noise in the dark. They are being given pep talks from their husbands about how to use the gun in case there's an intruder while they're away. They are being reminded about the need to take a self-defense class.
In magazines, I read about the ten most unsafe places for women. Number two is a parking lot. Every place on the list in fact, is commonplace.
I have never seen such a list for a man. I know that I never will.
It is not lack of knowledge about keeping ourselves safe in the world. We have been trained since childhood to move cautiously, always on the lookout for potentially dangerous situations. Nor is it a gun issue or a running with friends issue or a location issue.
The real issue, the one thing that most women are saying to themselves and each other as they hear of another attack is: Why do I have to live this way? How is that fair?
We shouldn't and it isn't.
Men, you may think we're being paranoid or that it doesn't happen with the alarming regularity that it does, but I urge you to really look within. Visit your mother, your sister, your cousins or aunts or best female friend. Ask your spouse. Let them tell you what they've endured. It will shock you, but it will also open your eyes to the injustice of what we face. Once you're done listening, the next step is action. Have a conversation with your father, your brother, your cousins, your uncle, work colleagues, your fraternity, your best male friends. Share what you've learned. Ask that they listen with open hearts. And no matter what, never ever stop fighting beside us. Help us change the current rape and victim blaming culture. Women deserve to live in a world where they don't incessantly have to fear being the next attack.
It was never about how best to protect us. It will always be the fact that we need protection at all.
The last week and a half was undoubtedly the worst of my life, thus far. I passed the days in a small hospital room with my dad, the news blaring from the television mounted on his wall. My mom and step-grandmother took shifts during the day, running home only to wash and change clothes. They spent each night lying by my dad's hospital bed, watching over him. It was last month that we were told his lung cancer had returned. It was only last November that we had celebrated the defeat of his first bout with it. It was a few weeks ago that I sat in the living room with him, tears welling in my eyes at the thought of another battle that he looked at me and said, "Don't you worry Jenny. I'm going to be there to dance at the boys' weddings." He said it with such conviction that I almost believed him. It's been only six days since we were forced to say goodbye and walk out of the Intensive Care Unit with little more than our memories.
Perhaps he would have made it through had it not been for the hospital he ended up in a week and a half ago, but that's another story for another day.
To add insult to injury, I was also in a car accident. My sister called to tell me that he was taking a turn for the worst and I needed to get down to the hospital. A distracted driver, a woman who pressed the gas pedal rather than the brake, slammed into me with such force that I careened into the car in front of me. I was just about at a stop, so you can imagine how violent the impact was.
Three days later, we had the service. It rained every day that he was in the hospital. Vicious storms popping up in the afternoon, with lightning that crackled across the sky, thunder that shook the building, even hail. It rained at the service too, but quietly. A signal that the storms of the week were coming to an end.
Another chapter closed.
It's been tempting to think of everything that went wrong. To feel angry at all that's been lost, at all we've been forced to endure in this family over the years. It's hard not to feel that it's outrageously unfair, to point to something or someone to blame for it all. And trust me, there are some viable candidates.
But sitting here in the wake of it all, I choose only to think about the beauty I witnessed amidst hardship and tragedy...
Like the boys getting to hug their grandpa one more time before he fell unconscious.
All of the laughter in that hospital room in the days before he died.
Recording "the tornado" with my mom and the way it cheered us all up even when we were sad.
The musical therapist who stood with her guitar next to the hospital bed on the last day that my dad was conscious and played him one of his favorite songs, "Walk the Line" by Johnny Cash. The way he closed his eyes and listened to the music, absorbing the quiet melancholy of her voice.
How she tracked him down in the ICU on his first day of life support to play the song she learned especially for him, because she couldn't play it two days prior when he was still conscious.
How I'm certain he appreciated and heard it anyway.
When I called my sister just after the car accident, sobbing so hard I could barely breathe, my only concerns being my boys and that I wouldn't make it to the hospital in time for my dad. My brother heard and raced over to be with me at the scene of the wreck. How he made me laugh through my tears and helped me make sure the boys were okay in the backseat.
That I didn't end up missing my chance to say goodbye. He powered through until the next day when I could be there.
The group texts to check on each other.
The outpouring of love and support from friends and extended family.
Times like these serve as a reminder that you have to be strong and fight like hell to keep the good close. You never give up. You can't. Because there will be tragedy. There will be death. But there will also be love. There will be birth. Renewal. There will be life. And as imperfect and scary and downright heartbreaking as it is sometimes, it's worth it to be here to experience even a fraction of the power of good. Of kindness. To experience love in its purest form. All that comes after isn't merely pain and you should never buy into the fallacy that it does.
The story doesn't end here. It just keeps going. And often, it's better than you could ever have hoped for.
Light and cheery:
Thinking about l-o-v-e
Singing around town in the car:
annnnddd, last but not least. so good.
*Several years ago when I first began blogging, I asked a few of my favorite people to tell me what their twenties had taught them and share it with the blogosphere. The old site has long been taken down and replaced with this one, but the posts still live on over there in my archives, so I decided to dig some up. Enjoy!
What have my 20s taught me?
At 21 I returned from serving as an LDS missionary in Japan and headed off to the University of Western Ontario. I was working hard and excited about the coming decade. Western is a prestigious university and I was going to be a doctor. Growing up in a large religious community meant that marriage prospects were good. So career, marriage and a boat load of kids were the foreseeable future for this proud Canadian. By the time I turned 30 I was living in Charleston, South Carolina in a marriage that was collapsing under the weight of my first wife’s personality disorder. (Don’t ask; just know that she has been diagnosed several times in several psyche units as an Anti-Social Personality Disorder), my teaching career was stillborn and I was beginning the effort to hold on to my kids.
That’s right, I said teaching career. Part way through the third year of my BSc, I realized that I did not want to be a doctor at all. I loved to read. English was my best subject by far all through high school, I had enjoyed teaching in Japan, I had always tutored people…I want to be a teacher, NOT a doctor…an English Teacher! That epiphany came in three steps as I was on the way home from class. A series of convolutions meant that that decision would take three years to lead to a teaching certificate and then four more years to get a green card to be able to work in the States.
Why the States?
Well, right wing politics worked against nurses and teachers in Ontario at that time and jobs were scarce for both my wife and myself. South Carolina burns out teachers so fast that teenagers can work as substitutes the September after they get their high school diplomas (no, seriously!) so they always need teachers, and Canadian trained nurses can get a job anywhere in the United States. We devised a five-year plan to work and pay off our student loans and then come home to Canada. On 1 July, 2007 (exactly eleven years after we moved to South Carolina), divorced and burnt out (see above for how South Carolina burns out teachers) I brought my two kids home and moved in with my parents in Niagara Falls, Ontario.
I’m now forty-five years old. I am remarried and have four kids.
I work in a hotel and have been a DJ since 2002.
My lovely wife is an angel, by the way.
What does all this have to do with what I learned from my 20s?
Remember that little phrase from the first paragraph?
“The foreseeable future?”
I got married in my early twenties and that ended in disaster.
When I met my current wife, I was avoiding relationships so diligently that I would have worn a hazmat suit had there been one to ward off romance.
I started DJing to make extra money and now it is an integral part of my life.
Fluency in Japanese has gotten me more jobs than my MA from the College of Charleston.
I no longer teach.
I was NEVER going to go to med school. I’m just not that smart.
I’m still Mormon, still Canadian, and I’m still a father. Other than those three things, no one who attended my first wedding would recognize me. I know that because when I run into my friends from those days they don’t recognize me.
In my early thirties had you asked what my 20s taught me, I would have told much of this story and answered that I had learned little more than disappointment. Perspective resulting from still another decade and a half of surprises, though, has changed the main lesson of my twenties into something less bilious. There is no foreseeable future, there is only preparation and acceptance. Everything in my life, intimidatingly brilliant kids, angelically kind wife, failed career aspirations, zero free time, bench-pressing 250 lbs in middle-age, a six-month old premie growing fat and happy, baldness. I saw none of it coming.
Jennifer, our hostess, knows that one of my favourite poems is The Road Not Taken.
I taught it every year, every semester, every grade - because it is so poorly taught that it leads people into a false sense of individuality. For me the most important lines are these
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
See that? I get one path and can only see a little way along till it bends beyond my perception. It is NOT foreseeable. The road chooses you as much as you choose it. Education, fitness, spirituality, frugality, hard work are how we plan to get the things we want out of life, but, truth be told, they guarantee nothing when it comes to our expectations. That hard truth can lead to fear and bitterness, which is what I had thought my 20s taught me when I was thirty. The deeper truth, though, is that bitterness and fear come from those very limited and brittle expectations - if the future is not what I think it should be then God, the universe, kharma, etc have failed me or, at the very least, I have failed. The destructive responses available to me include, but are not limited to, sitting down to give up, looking in foolish envy at the roads other travel, sabotaging the efforts of others, fantasizing aboutthe roads I didn’t choose so long ago, or drugs, or alcohol. or ....
Or I can learn, adapt, and grow.
I love this quote from Bruce Lee. It clarifies for me how I might accept life as it comes and still remain essentially me.
Don't get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.
The water stays water, but it experiences every circumstance because it is not brittle. I could go on, but that would simply multiply words without deepening understanding. I will add this little tidbit, though, by way of warning. Jennifer asked for my input because I am WAY past my 20s so I should be able to say something deep. Here it is. If you reread this, you will see that I learned nothing from my 20s until my late 30s. Please be wiser than that.
Last weekend, I finally received my long-awaited birthday present. The hubs had only been hinting at it since before my big day. Things like, "Oh, it's not coming on your birthday." "It'll be here sometime before the end of April." And my personal favorite: "I don't actually know what it is."
When the pink and white Pop Sugar Must-Have box arrived on my doorstep, his "hint" suddenly made sense.
I present unto you, my gifts! Well, some of them. What I love about the Pop Sugar box is that they seem to thoughtfully curate and send items that you don't necessarily know you need until you get them. Those vintage salt and pepper shakers? Perfect for my informal dining table. Hand cream? I wouldn't have thought to buy it for myself, but now I can't imagine not having it. This one has such a beautiful fragrance and makes my hands so soft! I even like the paint-tube style of it.
This firming night balm is lovely and stands in perfectly for my usual night moisturizer. I'm told that 29 is when firming and anti-wrinkle become a thing? I'm not too worried, but it's still nice to try out.
I have 2 more boxes coming and I can't wait to see what comes up next! My favorite part is truly the surprise factor each month.
Hubs, ya did good. :)
ps-have you tried the Pop Sugar boxes? What did you think?