Stitch Fix: an easy way for busy women in science to get a style fix in the New Year

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Scientists often view fashion as a frivolous concern, but studies indicate that a person’s attire can significantly influence self-confidence. In a popular 2012 study from the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Adam and Galinsky found that doctors performed a memorization task significantly better when wearing their white coats. Dress to impress, indeed!

Self-confidence increases when you feel attractive and professional, and clothing is an easy way to get you one step closer. Stitch Fix—a by-mail, personal styling service for women based in South San Francisco—can help.

When you first sign up for Stitch Fix on their website (, you are asked to fill out an extensive survey about the types of styles you typically like to wear. Romantic? Bohemian? Preppy? For those who want a more detailed picture of their style, Stitch Fix also encourages users to link to a specific Pinterest page that will give a more comprehensive idea of what they like. The survey also includes important questions like: what type of clothes you are looking for (Work? Date night? Casual?) and what price range you are most comfortable with. The cheapest option is “the cheaper the better,” but pieces often range around $40 to $70 for tops and about $70 for bottoms. They carry a variety of sizes (currently sizes 0-14) and styles, many from small designers that can only be found in boutiques.

Once you fill out the forms, you pick a date for delivery, which is about two to four weeks in the future. After your order is complete, you are assigned a stylist who will look at your style profile. The stylist then requests and picks out five pieces for you. (In my experience, that generally entails one bottom, three tops and an accessory—perhaps jewelry or a scarf.) The pieces are carefully packed and sent to you. Once you receive them, you have three business days to try everything on and return any items you don’t like in the included pre-paid USPS bag. If you like all five items, you get a 25 percent discount on the entire order!

There are many reasons why Stitch Fix is perfect for busy women in the lab and in the clinic. The most obvious advantage is that it allows you to get a fresh batch of clothes without having to spend time trying on pieces in the store. Instead of schlepping over to a local boutique, you get to avoid the stress and receive a box of pieces pre-picked and sized for your personal style.

Stitch Fix also helps you if you’re in a style rut. There were years in grad school when I bought only T-shirts and ratty jeans on sale, convinced that finding and buying nicer clothes took too much time and that the expense wasn’t worth the inevitable bleach stain. With Stitch Fix, you can request only tops if you’re afraid of bleach stains, or keep your requests as low-cost as possible. But by getting a Fix, you let someone else help you find new, fun and professional looks.

The only drawback may be that after you establish that sense of style, Stitch Fix can lose its edge. After using the service a couple of times, I developed a better idea of the styles and pieces that I wanted to find and began to feel disappointed by the familiar styles I got in my Fix. I’ve seen people get the same pair of pants multiple times, each time in a different shade. For some, that feels uninspired, but others may still appreciate their increased options.

Another thing for lab workers to keep in mind is that many tops may be made of synthetic material (based on cost—synthetics are much cheaper than silk), which is a potential hazard in the lab if you work with open flames. If this is the case and you still want a Fix, you can request only natural fibers, like silk (which can be expensive), cotton or wool.