I Didn’t Pick These Clothes and I Love Them

I Didn’t Pick These Clothes and I Love Them
If only there was a service that would shop for you at a reasonable price...

I receive the same few requests from readers a couple of times a year. First, requesting a print edition of Primer. (I’m considering it.) Second, an app. (Would you use it?)

But, one of the most common things I hear from you guys is you wish there was a Getup subscription service. An affordable style box, based on all of the Getups Primer does, sent right to your door. Shopping is hard, whether that’s because you’re too busy, hate shopping, or just feel ill-prepared for walking into the mall and picking the right things out of thousands of options.

I’d love to be able to offer that, I think it would be an incredibly helpful resource for everyone. The problem is, that would be an intensive undertaking.

I’d have to account for a lot of different sizes for each item, have all kinds of styles for different tastes and climate regions, maintain stock, develop an efficient and free-for-you shipping apparatus, all while continuing to develop the free content I love producing for you on the site.

To put it another way, it’s disappointingly unfeasible for me to do at this point.

But the good news is: Someone else has done it. Really, really well.

Men's Style Lab review

Everything but the watch and belt came in my box from Men's Style Lab.

Men's Style Lab subscription box
Mens Style Lab logo Excited to collaborate with Men's Style Lab on this post, get a personal stylist concierge to shop for you at http://www.mensstylelab.com. Primer readers save $25 off of their first order with PRIMER25!

What is this?

Men’s style subscription boxes aren’t new, they’ve been gaining traction in the last couple of years because traditional brick and mortar men’s clothing retailers have just completely dropped the ball when it comes to online sales. “Free shipping over $150”? Are you kidding? Amazon sent me a freaking 6 burner propane grill in TWO DAYS for FREE. And returns? I have to pay for return shipping??

To even get to the free shipping threshold, you have to order the minimum amount from ONE retailer. What if I want a pair of pants from one brand, and a shirt from another?

On top of that, it can feel impossible to keep up on current trends or knowing which holes in your wardrobe to fill with staples.

Even for me, a guy whose job it is to help other guys figure out what to wear, it can take a lot of time deciphering what’s actually stylish and not just hyped over-priced fashion.

You’ve probably come across Trunk Club before, but if you’re a Primer reader, I would bet money you’ve never used them for one simple reason. They only offer designer-level items: Their jeans can cost $250 per pair.

What I wanted was a box that was more affordable, but still had reputable, stylish brands that will last. I don’t mind paying a little more if I can feel confident that what I’m getting is solid.

And that’s exactly what the passionate folks at Men’s Style Lab provide. Brands like Original Penguin, Ben Sherman, Florsheim, Gant, Fossil, and more.

Men's Style Lab

My fav linen-cotton shirt by Slate & Stone from my Men's Style Lab box

Click Here to Check Out Men's Style Lab

They’re not just a box of stuff you receive each month like Birchbox. They’re literally a personal style concierge. It takes out all of the guesswork of dressing well, maybe:

  • you're too busy because you’re trying to make partner at work with a baby on the way,
  • you're new to style and don’t know where to start,
  • you just really hate shopping,
  • you live in a really, really, small town without many options (like I used to) where your ability to discover and try new brands is hard. (There isn’t even a Gap there anymore.)

With Men’s Style Lab, if you don’t like it, send it back for free. Doesn’t fit? Send it back for free. Love everything in the box? Save 25% on the whole thing.

Here’s how it works

You take 60 seconds to fill out their Style DNA Survey, which identifies what you love and what you need. It asks things like:

  • your age
  • which different types of personal styles you like
  • fit problems you have (broad shoulders, big legs, etc.)
  • what type of occasion they should focus on (casual weekend, night on the town, etc.)
  • and which types of items you most want in your box.

 

A style advisor handpicks 5 items based on your lifestyle and wardrobe preferences. They’ll send out your box and you get 5 days to try everything and decide what you want to keep. Send back what you don’t want for free, or keep everything and get 25% off everything in the box.

And the great thing that separates it from a lot of monthly boxes is, you can choose how often you need it, every 30, 60, or 90 days. Which I think makes Men’s Style Lab an incredibly useful tool. If you need to fill in holes or build your wardrobe or just like new stuff, 30 or 60 works perfectly. But if you’re just the kind of guy who needs a few new items every season, 90 days will keep you fresh without having to go shopping every time the temperature changes.

Now, like I said, I sort of “shop” for a living, so I was really curious about what my impressions would be when I received my box. I already have a pretty full closet, was I going to get stuff I already had? Am I too picky to be impressed?

My box hit it out of the park. I’m not being facetious when I say I love all 5 items that I received. If you’ve been reading Primer for awhile you can see my stylist perfectly matched my style. To say that I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement.

Men's Style Lab

Here’s what I got

When you first open the box you’re greeted with an envelope with a personal note from your stylist (who is a real person, who actually handpicks your items based on your preferences).

  • A versatile purple plaid shirt by Maker & Company, with the fit and weight to be worn casually untucked or dressed up. ($86)
  • Made in the USA dark denim by Ruell & Ray – I’ve been looking for a good pair of slimmer denim to wear with… ($123)
  • AWESOME casual wingtips by J Shoes – I’ve been needing a better pair ($144)
  • A really cool textured linen-cotton short sleeve shirt by Slate & Stone, perfect for summer ($96)
  • A Dibi tie that will work great casually or dressed up. ($36)

Everything fit great right out of the box, the only thing I had tailored were the jeans because they came in a single inseam (like a lot of higher end jeans). Those prices are with the 25% discount for keeping everything. They're on par with J.Crew and Banana Republic retail – and while you can get those two brands for cheaper if you spend the time and energy to hound sales, you're also paying for a helpful service. When you consider you're basically hiring a personal stylist, I find those prices to be very reasonable.

Men's Style Lab

Shirt by Maker & Co / Tie by Dibi / Jeans by Ruell and Ray

Men's Style Lab

MSL even puts out their own Style Guide magazine, which is really well done

The nice thing about Men’s Style Lab is, if your stylist gets your needs and style like mine did, you can continue to work with the same one over and over.

If you're a guy who wants a better way to upgrade your closet, than spending hours shopping, Men's Style Lab is an awesome solution.

Primer readers can save $25 off their first order with code PRIMER25!

Thanks for supporting the brands that support Primer!

Andrew is the founder and editor of Primer. He's a graduate of American University and currently lives in Los Angeles. Read more about Primer on our About page. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.

  • http://www.wordsofwhite.com Zack White

    Is a budget box service – like Five Four Club – worth it, or is it just over-priced, poorly fitting clothes? MSL looks promising, but those are some steep prices for a recurring service.

    How much was your entire box after the 25% discount?

    • Dennis

      Looks like $485 before any taxes…yikes.

    • Steffen Rohrbach

      I’ve tried Five Four Club for 3 months and was rather disappointed. The clothes are of questionable quality at best, and sizes are way small (all made in China). I canceled and returned most items.

    • Brian

      I did Five Four for about 9 months. Overall, it was pretty good. I mainly got button down shirts for work, along with a few pairs of pants/short and t shirts. Most of the items worked well, but a few misses, which is to be expected in a service like this.

      Like Steffen said, sizes run small, so just know that going in. If you’re in-between sizes like me (M and L) always size up. It’s not a bad option to try, at least for a few months. You can always to return anything you don’t like.

    • Matt Dodge

      I’ve been doing fivefour for over a year now, and love it. Most of my go-to’s are from their monthly packages, and at $60 a month, it’s dirt cheap compared to anything else I’ve come across.

      • browneagle44 ロベルト

        Same here-three months in, and I’ve been pleased with everything I’ve gotten so far. I wish they could be more receptive to requests, though-every time I email them and ask for a specific item, I never get it, which is a bummer, but some things, like Robert Gellar’s bomber jackets in March, make up for it.

        Overall, nice stuff at a good price.

        • browneagle44 ロベルト

          here’s that same bomber, in the green version:

    • Brendan

      I did Five For and hated it. Really cheap quality. I should have expected that for the price. By then the only thing you can do is return for a different size, so I was stuck with an awful, cheap outfit, and no chance of return.

  • Derrick DeBenedetto

    Love the idea and that this service exists. Also, I would absolutely use a primer app. And I would absolutely NOT use print editions of primer (just not a magazine guy).

    • http://www.primermagazine.com/ Andrew

      Thanks Derrick! What would you like to see in the app that the mobile site doesn’t do?

      • Serafin Nunez

        Article and sale notifications…

      • Derrick DeBenedetto

        That’s a great question because the mobile site pretty much has everything. I like the idea of having notifications for sales and articles (as Serafin Nunez suggested). I also love the interactive guides you’ve done in the past for various topics (style, maps, skills, etc.) which I think could be done in a very creative way within an app (sorry I don’t have any creative suggestions).

  • Peter Rivera-Pierola

    So true about Trunk Club… Used it once and was in complete sticker shock. MSL sounds cool, but I’m finding I need very specific items these days. I’ve been using Cladwell to build a capsule wardrobe and honestly, it takes most of the thinking out of it. It tells me what items are missing, and even prioritizes what I should buy next depending on the season and my style goals/needs. They’ve even added outfit inspirations (which could use some help from Primer!).

    I’m at the stage where I have most of what I need, and only buy something when it’s time to replace/upgrade something. If something new goes into my closet, something old must come out.

  • Benjamin Smith

    I am all about looking great, in very well made clothing, but I will never be able to justify $400+ for one outfit.

    • Rt1583

      Do you buy all of your clothes as one outfit combinations?

      • Benjamin Smith

        I guess i should have said i cant see spending that much money on clothing unless im getting a wardrobe out of it lol.

  • rogun

    I can see why a subscription service would be helpful to some men. In the right situation, it would be helpful to me and I’d probably love it. But I’ve always found it a little odd that someone would pay someone else to dress them, when style is such a personal thing, that’s so reflective of everyone’s personality. It would be useful to me for trying out new brands, but that’s about it.

    I would be interested in the other requests, though. As I’ve mentioned before, Primer is the magazine I always wanted while subscribing to GQ and other men’s magazines. Therefore, a magazine for nicely dressed men who wear “normal” clothing, rather then a big advertisement for weird designer clothing or no clothing at all. Primer has articles that seek to inform and improve my lifestyle, rather then articles written by gay men pretending to be male chauvinists. I have the internet, so there’s no need for my men’s magazine to include scantily dressed women (I hear other men’s magazines do that much better, anyway).

    I normally have zero interest in shopping apps, but considering how much I love the outfits assembled by Primer writers, a Primer app does pique my interest. In other words, a shopping app mostly of clothing that works for me might be useful.

  • http://Batmannananana.com/ Caesar Merlin

    is this a sponsored post?

  • TJ

    I don’t mind shopping so I don’t really see a need for these services myself but I can see why people might like them. I do like the idea of the free shipping though, that is one thing that I’m hoping to see more companies offer. You know I remember Megan over at Style Girlfriend did a box at Quarterly for a bit. It had items she hand picked that she thought her readers would like. Maybe you could do something like that?
    By the way, I wouldn’t mind a print edition. You could print it on some nice, thick paper like you see some of the higher end men’s magazines do (Gear Patrol) comes to mind. It could be the kind of thing I wouldn’t mind having sitting on my coffee table alongside books. Maybe print it 2 or 4 times a year? I don’t really see the need for an app unless it could fill a gap that the website isn’t providing.

  • Marco

    Hi Andrew, the shades you are sporting in the last picture look pretty cool. May I ask who makes them?

  • Jacob

    $500 bucks for one !? wow! no thank you! I will just keep following you here for ideas Andrew! You prove over and over again that its possible to take an identical outfit and get it for less than a hundred bucks with similar or on sale items. Appreciate your personal effort and work here on the site! thanks!