Here’s why we aren’t sure Le Tote is a worthwhile investment (UPDATED)

UPDATE: I received a beautiful, handwritten note from Jessica at Le Tote. After she read this post and discussed it with the powers within the company, Le Tote changed their price adjustment policy. If you find a better price, Le Tote will adjust the price so that you can keep the item you already have. I’ll call that a win.

And I’ll call myself a very, very big fan. 

Now… to pull the current clothes from my loving hands so that I can pack them up for another tote. I have 2 pieces I’m considering holding onto, but really want to keep wearing it all. Then again, I could really use a new top next week…

I’m in a bit of Le Tote trouble. In August, they sent me a dress that I just loved. I knew it was something I’d want to wear, often, because it was so different from everything else in my closet, looked great, and would be wonderful for Indian Summer days this fall.

I decided to keep it. (This post contains affiliate and promotional links. Thank you.)

Is Le Tote worth it? A review of the fashion box subscription service at Julieverse

Get a $25 Le Tote credit and try out their service by clicking here.

Le Tote, a company that sends you 5 pieces for a fee of $49/month, allows you to shop and add favorite items to your “closet.” They send the five pieces and you wear them as much as you’d like for a month, then send them back when you’re finished. If you’d like to keep them, you can purchase at their “discounted” prices. If you’re finished with the clothing, you can send it back – free shipping, prioirty mail – in the shipping envelope provided by the company and they’ll send you a new box, no extra fee.

It’s a fun, great deal. It’s perfect for women who don’t have time to shop for their own upscale clothing (many of their items are found at stores such as ShopBop, Lord & Taylor, Nordstrom, Piperlime and Anthropologie many of my favorite stores) or need to wear a dress or an outfit a time or two and then won’t need it again. I’m loving it for events.

But I’ve run into a problem with their “discounted” claim. You see, these clothes have been worn before (and dry cleaned.) This is not new clothing, Le Tote is providing a rental wardrobe that has usually been rented and worn before it lands in my mailbox — maybe several times. So, I expect a discount if I opt to keep it. Not necessarily a huge discount, I recognize it’s well taken care of and still on trend and in season, so I’m not expecting 90% off. However, I am expecting Le Tote’s clothing to cost less than I can find it at the stores that sell it brand new.

And, sadly, that’s not what I’m finding.

max studio dress at Le Tote -- but we found it for less at Neiman Marcus Last Call!

The dress from August was, at the time I received it, listed at the price of $79. They claimed this cost was a discount because the retail price of the dress was $128. However, after a very brief search online, I found it was listed for $79 almost everywhere. Except Neiman Marcus Last Call, where the cost was only $51.35.we found the Max Studio Sleeveless Geometric-print Shirt Dress for significantly less at Last Call than at Le Tote

I had the dress on my body when I emailed Le Tote, asking if they’d honor the Neiman’s price. There’s no reason, I figured, for them to pay for priority return shipping, when I’d be happy to purchase the dress. But not for $79. Afterall, I had already paid $49 for my monthly membership fee. I didn’t see a need to pay the price that other stores were also charging for a dress that was rented and worn before.

Le Tote’s reply, dated August 10, 2015:

Thanks so much for reaching out! I’m happy to help. I went ahead and searched the item you mentioned, and the reason the price is lower on that site is because it is only available in limited sizing.

I appreciate you letting us know about this, however we do not price match for items that have limited availability.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions, I’m happy to help!

(By the way, as of this writing, Neiman Marcus Last Call still has the dress available for only $51.25. Le Tote has lowered their price to $64, as seen on the image, above.)

Personally, I don’t care what “limited sizing” was available, I only care about my size. And, because my size was costing me significantly less at Last Call, I ordered the dress using a code for free shipping and sent the Le Tote dress back, pausing my membership for the next month to reassess my loyalty.

In September, my membership started up again. Fall happens quickly in Southeastern Pennsylvania, and I knew I wouldn’t have much time to shop new styles before the weather changed. My first box arrived last week, I wore a piece or two, realized I didn’t love it, and sent it back to await my next box. Before the 2nd box of September shipped, I announced to my computer “stylist be damned. If I’m paying the $49 to use this program, I’ll select my own damn clothes.” So I switched out all of her suggestions and filled my box with items I really wanted to try. (I like that members are given the option to change what’s going into the package with LeTote. Members are sent an email offering 24 hours to change what’s in your box before it’s shipped.)

When my box arrived, I immediately changed into a cute cute cute top from Sanctuary. I also wore both the dress and the skirt (and may ask for the dress again this winter) and I am in love with both accessories. I considered keeping it all. sanctuary Blue Light Palm Tree Top -- we found it for less at Macy's than Le Tote

Except, I checked the prices. sanctuary m

This was the Sanctuary top. If I wanted to keep it, Le Tote would have charged me $54 (a discount off the $69 retail price.) But the top is only $36.99 at Macy’s, where their original cost was $49.99. While shipping isn’t free at Macy’s, it’s still a lower price to pay for shipping of this top, than to keep it from Le Tote. So, I returned the adorable Sanctuary top (ships free back to Le Tote) and will order from Macy’s if I decide I love it and can’t live without it.  (Note that Le Tote slightly changed the names of clothing listed on their site, making it more difficult to search Google for a match.)

find the mini sunburst necklace at a discounted price of $38. Get the details in this link

Jewelry seems to be a different ballgame. The Sunburst Necklace from House of Harlow is found to be $58-64 at most retail locations. Le Tote is charging a fair $38 to purchase the rental. (Follow this link to purchase the  necklace from Amazon for $48 in black leather.) find these LUCKY BRAND Lapis Oval earrings for a lower price than retail. Learn more on Julieverse

The LUCKY BRAND Lapis Oval Drop Earrings were $29 on both Zappos and Lord & Taylor‘s sites, but only $23 from Le Tote. They’re in my ears now — too good to pass up.  LT joa

Also in my box was a J.O.A. sweater dress. Le Tote is asking $64, stating the retail price is $88. I haven’t been able to find the dress elsewhere to compare prices. It would look great with a jacket, tights and boots this fall and winter, but I’m not ready to shop winter just yet.

This black pencil skirt has an amazing quilted texture and it's comfortable! I can only find it at Le Tote, but is the price right?

Finally, this skirt from Le Tote is listed at $68 and Le Tote is asking $54. Again, I wasn’t able to find the skirt elsewhere and, while I liked the texture to the skirt, I didn’t keep it… the $54 seems fairly reasonable for the quality of the skirt, but I have no idea if it’s a fair price compared to what I’d find elsewhere if it were still available.

So, where’s the jury on Le Tote?

Honestly, its still deliberating. On the one hand, the designer jewelry pricing is great — on par with RocksBox. But in this case, you can choose your two pieces (versus RocksBox 3 surprise pieces each mailing.) However, the RocksBox cost is only $19 per month, plus a monthly $10 shopping credit. LeTote is charging $49 each month without a shopping credit, but, again, you can select your items.Le Tote offers a new option in box subscriptions in fashion. For $49 each month, you'll receive unlimited clothing rentals. Just open box, wear, and return

The clothing has me torn, though the clothing itself has never arrived torn (wrinkled, yes; torn, no.) I’m not comfortable with Le Tote’s reply that they won’t adjust clothing prices. With the $49 monthly fee, I’m already paying more for these used items, so I do expect a significant discount below the retail pricing. There are no bonus purchase credits assigned (as there are at RocksBox) and you don’t get to take your styling fee off the price of clothing you keep, as you do at StitchFix. (Though I absolutely promise I’m happier with LeTote’s clothing and styling than StitchFix.)

But I need to remember that Le Tote is offering a valuable rental service Their goal (probably) isn’t sales, it’s providing a service. The $49 fee is a rental fee, not a styling fee. With that in mind, I need to place rental payment in a different column from cost of goods.

Still, as one who does purchase, I’m alarmed that the costs of worn clothing matches, or is, often, greater than new at stores. So, I’m left in LeTote Trouble and need to determine my purpose in using LeTote’s service: is it to buy or to rent?

Get a $25 Le Tote credit and try out their service by clicking here.

Would you rather shop than rent? Give StitchFix a try.

Join RocksBox and get your first month, free. Click here and use code JULIEMPRONXOXO.


mom of 3 and wife living in the Philadelphia suburbs, Julie is a former elementary school teacher and a Public Relations manager. She is the owner/editor of Julieverse, a merchandiser with Chloe + Isabel (jewelryverse.com) and founder VlogMom and Splash Creative Media. A marketing strategist and freelance education and parenting writer by trade, Julie attempts to carve out time to enjoy playing with her kids, PTO, cooking and exercise.

© 2015, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.

Comments

  1. says

    I am so glad I found this. I thought I was going mad not being able to find the name brands le tote indicates elswhere. Do you have any tips on how to search for garmets I’m considering keeping. I mean I’m not a jewelry person but since I statrted le tote I’m seeing pieces that I actually wouldnt mind wearing on a daily but I can justify paying $50+ for plastic or clos to it material:/ and I can’t seem to bring my self to pay nearly full price for something rented (that’s my local thrift shop is for). Any help would be great on how to search for items on other site like you have posted.

    • says

      I wish I could figure out the secret. Mostly, the brands are correct, but it takes a lot of searching through the brand. For example, if you’re searching for a necklace by House of Harlow, search “House of Harlow necklace” with a keyword like “pendant” or “long.” Then the search begins… it does take a while to find the right one, sometimes. Also keep in mind that some items are no longer available at other retailers (that’s more likely to be the case with clothing than with jewelry), especially during transitional retail seasons and post-seasons. In the next month or so, most retailers will turn over to Spring, but LeTote will still send out Winter and Fall clothing. So we’re less likely to find the clothing for sale elsewhere.

      Good luck!!

  2. Becca says

    There are two brands of clothing that I really like at le Tote. Summer and Sage & Octavia. I can’t find those clothing brands anywhere. I wonder if le Tote has their own brands or if labels are made just for them?

      • Beth says

        Hmm, the link for Summer and Sage says “coming soon.” And this is in June.. You posted this in January!

        I think Noir, Octavia, and S&S are all house brands. There are probably more, but those are the ones most prominent on the site. Gwynnie Bee also has house brands and similarly lists “retail price” for them, even though you can’t buy them anywhere other than the rental site! But it also would look strange to not have a “retail price” listed so hey.

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