A review of Ann Taylor’s Infinite Style from someone who’s living it:
I signed up the day I got the email, October 26th. I’m not new to the rental world: I was one of the first members of RTR’s Unlimited program (for everyday wear as opposed to party dresses) and love the concept. I was especially happy about Ann Taylor launching a program for a few reasons:
1. They’re one of the few labels that always fit me, with little to no alterations needed.
2. They carry lots of business casual and business formal workwear, which is exactly what I’m after. And (with a few exceptions) I really like their styles.
3. Playing Ann Taylor Shopping Bingo has gotten old. Something listed full retail today is on sale the following week at half price plus another 60% off. And final sale to boot. Being able to try things before I buy is a big perk of this program for me. Before you say “just go to a store, silly!” – the nearest one is over two hours away. Not an option.
4. I get bored with the stuff in my closet, and buying buying buying isn’t a good answer. This is a (relatively) inexpensive way to constantly hit the refresh button. It’s also a good way to rock a trendy piece and not be stuck with it when it’s not trendy anymore!
As I mentioned, I joined on 10.26. I am writing this review on 11.15. So far I have received three boxes containing three items each, with a fourth on the way. I have received blazers, sweaters, dresses, jeans, blouses and trousers – all items I “prioritized” except one. I bought one item (the jeans), wore one item (a black dotted tie-neck blouse), and sent the rest back for various reasons.
Infinite Style asks you to ‘closet’ items, and you’re asked to keep a fully stocked closet so your next box can ship without delay. Surf their site, see items you like, choose your size then click ‘add to closet’. From there you can decide whether to prioritize an item or just leave it and have them send it whenever. So far AT has honored 8 of 9 of my priorities.
The available clothing items are updated every ten days are so and are styles found on their retail website. Right now it’s only clothing – no accessories, which is too bad because I love their jewelry.
Shipping is FAST. Like Amazon fast. I think they’re shipping from OH or IL, I’m in ME, and I have my boxes in two days. Everything is beautifully packaged in tissue. A large Tyvek bag with a prepaid return label is enclosed for when you’re ready to ship everything back.
Some of you have expressed concern about the cost, $95/month. I’ve already received nine items for that $95 and my month isn’t over yet. I’m okay with the rental cost because:
I’m not stuck with final sale items I hate or don’t fit.
I’m not paying $8.95 for shipping on each order.
I’m not buying an item at $X yesterday only to find out it’s selling for $Y today (which happens to me all.the.time!)
Some of you expressed concern about wearing “used” clothes. Based on my experience so far, AT gets an A+. Everything has been meticulously clean with no strange smells, stains, or damage. I partially attribute this to being an early subscriber and there’s a good chance everything I’m getting is new, but also because I believe them when they say laundry is a huge part of this operation and they’re determined to get it right. Also – if you’re still skeeved out about it, most of AT clothing is machine washable so you can wash it yourself before wearing. (FWIW, the laundry part is where Rent the Runway lost me. A few too many items missed the cleaner…)
Purchasing rental items at a discount. This part brings me back to Ann Taylor Shopping Bingo. Yes, you can purchase your rental items at a discount. It varies from 50% to 70% off retail, and I have absolutely no idea what parameters they’re using to figure out what garment gets which discount. But…
This is where you need to get crafty, and sharpen your pencil.
Of my last nine items, all but two were on sale + extra % off at the retail site. Infinite Style’s “sale” price is a percentage off full retail. The retail site price is markdown + discount. In the case of my seven items, it would’ve been in my best interest to buy retail – even with shipping factored in – on all seven items. The savings was that significant.
I can’t say if this will be true of every item. Naturally, if it’s a rock-star item and you adore it and it’s going to sell out, don’t wait to play Shopping Bingo – buy it! Those of you who shop Ann regularly, though, know this doesn’t happen too often and most items have the full range of sizes when they go on sale. Something to think about, though.
So far there aren’t many.
I don’t like that the three items are a package deal, all or nothing. Keep all three or send all three back. RTR Unlimited allows you to have three items out at one time, but you can shuffle those items as you wish. With RTR if I want to keep a dress but send back a blouse and a blazer, I can – and they’ll send me two other items of my choosing to bring me back up to my allotment of three. I hope AT reconsiders this as they move forward. The shuffling is what makes it fun and keeps things fresh.
I also wish they’d open up their entire retail collection to Infinite Style. At present it appears only part of the merchandise is being offered thru Infinite Style. Another thing I hope they’ll reconsider as they move forward.
It would also be nice if their website had an icon or some other doodad to let you know what items you’ve already closeted, so you don’t add them twice. RTR has the heart icon to let you know you’ve favorited an item; I’d love to see IS do the same.
In summary, so far I am very happy with Infinite Style and would recommend it to anyone.