Gwynnie Bee Review

So trying to determine how I feel about Gwynnie Bee (referral link) is complicated by the fact that I HATE plus size clothing brands, shopping and sizing.  Trying to separate GB’s failings from the failings of the entire industry is really tough.

As a concept, GB is easy: Netflix for plus size (10-32) clothing.  If you love it, you can buy it at a discount.

In practice?  It has its flaws.  My tl;dr is this: if you’re an hourglass shape between sizes 12-18, subscribe.  If you’re incredibly adventurous with fashion, join up!  If you have a slight shopping addiction and you’re looking to curb your impulse spending, this would probably be a nice tool.

For me?  It’s all wrong.  Maybe.  I think.

My issues with GB:

  • Can’t search by style/silhouette
  • Reviews are essentially useless (I’d much rather they follow Old Navy‘s model)
  • Shipping turnaround feels like it takes a liiiiittle too long, and this does NOT encourage me to step up my subscription size
  • You MUST keep 15 pieces in your “Closet” at all times for a new shipment to go… and I had trouble doing that!
  • You get ZERO preference as to what piece you will receive next, so if part of your closet is wrong for the weather, then OH WELL
  • They’re not transparent enough about how much the piece will cost when you try it.  That’s not great for budget shoppers (but who cares about those, cater to the people who spend without thinking, I get it.)
  • Some brands don’t have size charts, or their size charts don’t match up to how pieces are actually sized (some brands tell you sizing by the numerical size 12-28, then you choose 1x-4x.  UH.)
  • I have a lot of personal style rules that I FEEL aren’t that crazy, but apparently, I’m a Unicorn Hunter.  (Nothing sleeveless, nothing too tight around the waist/lower belly.  Call me needy!)

The good:

  • They JUST rolled out a “recommended size” option that lets you compare this brand’s sizing to a brand you know.
  • They’re great at communicating when something has been shipped, when new pieces arrive, etc.
  • They really do offer some great pieces from great brands at a great discount (usually… and yeah, shouldn’t pre-worn clothing be at a amazeballs discount but hey what do I know)
  • They have like 400 tops!  It’s crazy!
  • They take feedback on the condition of the pieces, the feel of the pieces and whether you liked them directly, then seem to publish ALL reviews of clothing (and some are brutal, man.)

In one month, I tried just five pieces of clothing.  That’s shipping them back as fast as possible (usually telling them I’d shipped it before I actually had…)  I waited around a day or two on one top because doing so triggered a price change on a dress I tried.  Turns out, didn’t happen.  Grrr.  I bought that shirt and it’s MARVELOUS, but c’mon.  It coulda been cheaper.

This dress was really okay, but the fabric weight was all wrong for the time of year and I simply couldn’t tell that from the page.  This dress was an all-around trainwreck, and I should’ve paid more attention to the reviews.  I really liked this dress, but just didn’t have a use for it.  I got to try this cardigan before there were any reviews of it and WELP LESSON LEARNED it sucked big ones.

So for one month, I tried and purchased one shirt.  Right now, my GB Closet is full of cardigans and tops because I don’t know what the weather is going to be like going forward.  And I just don’t love this service.

7 thoughts on “Gwynnie Bee Review

  1. I am really intrigued by this! ( And you must know by now what a sucker I am for these type of services. ) However I’m traveling again so… again not a good time to try. I have some questions that I couldn’t really find answered on the website.

    1) How closely does it mirror the Netflix experience? For example, I used to have a 3-out-at-a-time account with Netflix and on average I turned around 3 movies a week. Is that roughly how this works out?
    2) They say they do the dry cleaning but what happens if you (gulp) stain the item. Have you now bought it?
    3) Speaking of buying, it’s not clear to me what the cost ranges are if I do fall in love with something. When I join up, will they be revealed or is that the transparency issue you mentioned?

    The 15-out-to-get-something sounds familiar. When Netflix first started it had more problems keeping up with demand so you could wait a while for popular releases. So they would send the next movie on your list … which actually made getting the new release take longer because then you had to watch and return that other movie first. My sister and I used to shared an account when we lived together and we were forever trying to game the system in order to get the movies we wanted in the order we wanted them. But the key thing here is that it was an *ordered* list and morever Netflix was upfront about which movies were immediately available and which were in short supply. I get the impression that’s not the case here?

    Still… very intrigued….

  2. 1.) They offer membership tiers of 1, 2, 3, 5, 7 and 10 out at a time (from $35-$159/mo) You can tell them you’ve returned the item AS SOON AS you receive it if you wish (or even before if you’re sure you’re not going to buy the item) and they ship out the next piece. They say that in theory, you can have out at one time exactly double your membership level. So if you have the 3 at a time membership, you can have 6 pieces in your hands.
    The turnaround on their shipments can be a tiny bit laggy, but I think it’s going to feel less so with a higher subscription tier. They ship from Ohio, so I would usually get a new piece within 2-3 days. It takes between a few hours and a full day for their system to trigger a new shipment, so that can put a little bit of lag. Again, with a 1 at a time subscription it feels like FOREVER, but it’s really not that long.
    Everything is shipped separately and comes with postage-paid return bags, so you can swap pieces out at your leisure.
    2.) I BELIEVE they take the item back, regardless of condition, but you may want to ask customer care about that one. I’m sure they anticipate some issues, so it’s probably not a big deal. They just seem to focus on taking the best care of a piece you can manage. If you consistently return items in a poor state, I’d imagine they follow the Netflix model and just cancel your subscription.
    3.) You only find out exactly how much they’re going to charge you for a piece after it’s been shipped out to you. I HATE this. Sometimes, people will include the price in their reviews, but the price tends to go down the longer GB has a piece, so you can’t take it as gospel.
    4.) GB makes no attempt to even hint what might ship next or what’s most available. They say the selection is based purely on availability on their end. The Closet function has a “Hold” list, so you can choose to set some pieces out of what’s going to be considered for the next shipment. You still have to have 15 pieces on the Active list. So if you have an event coming up you’d want a dress for, you could have 15 dresses on the Active list, then just Hold everything else.

    Hope that helps! If you have any other questions, I’m happy to try and answer ’em. 🙂

    • Thanks Dootsie.
      It sounds like something I should use “for fun” ( like you said ) and not really depend on supplementing my wardrobe with it. I was toying with the idea of picking up a nice dress “to rent” for my company’s Christmas party but it sounds like that would be a very hit or miss plan. I know there are other companies that rent fancy dress but the cost for those are usually as much or more than I would pay to own a dress. Granted those dresses are fancier but… that’s not a requirement for me.

  3. So guess what! I signed up for Gwynnie Bee!!

    I went for broke : 5 out at a time. Unfortunately this meant I couldn’t use the special. Also? I don’t know how to get you your “refer a friend” upgrade. ( But sounds like you might not be signed up anymore anyway.)

    I got my first shipment last week : 2 items. One is GREAT. I might buy it. The other was meh and I sent it right back. The price to buy things is very reasonable… until you remember the items qualify as used clothing. Such is life.

    Some minor annoyances:
    1) I find it taxing to keep up with the shopping! That 15-in-the-queue is no joke.
    2) As you pointed out, It would be nice to be able to search on something besides color and designer. Even just a keyword search would be valuable. If I’m looking for a “maxi dress” I will probably get some hits just looking at the titles. I don’t think I’ve ever searched for clothing by color in my life.

    But overall I’m happy with it and waiting to see how it unfolds.

    • Keeping up with the queue was SO MUCH WORK. If you haven’t already, brace yourself for when you get the notice that they’ve done a purge. One in a while, they retire some styles. So that’s three or four items off your Closet list in one fell swoop. Ughhhh. It’s encouraging that you’ve already found a piece you might buy! You’re SO right about the prices–they’re really great if no one has worn the piece before you, yet more than you’d expect to pay at a boutique second-hand shop.
      Yeah, I cancelled on it because I just couldn’t justify the price for how many flops I was receiving. But I SO got my money’s worth on the piece I did buy!

      • Um… what? A purge??

        I expected some items to disappear because they got bought out. I didn’t expect whole bunches of them to disappear! Thanks for warning me. I’m still trying to get my head around the queue, specifically this fact that I might not ever receive everything on it. Subconsciously I’m expecting it to work like Netflix : I have control over the order and if I’m willing to wait a bit I’ll definitely get my favorite next. But clothes don’t operate like DVDs. Gwynnie Bee can’t just order more of a popular item and people wear clothes more than once. So breathe deep Kathy — focus on trying different things!

        I’ve been working on the queue and it’s up to 24 now. The key for me is short visits to the webiste, every couple of days. In the last batch they sent me there are 2 pieces I definitely liked and one that’s so-so but I’m going to give it a whirl. The fourth one didn’t fit right. So … not too bad so far. Also there’s none in this batch I want to buy which is a bit of a relief because I was worried this might become Kathy’s Big Shopping Adventure! I’m not looking to spend an extra $500 a month on clothes!!

        Do you know of any other services like this? I tried googling for it but nothing was quite the same. You were either renting very fancy clothes on a case-by-case basis or they were going to send you surprises ( like ipsy ) or they didn’t cover larger sizes.

      • THE PURGE. It’s USUALLY the oldest items they have in rotation, but sometimes it’s newer pieces. They pull them and put them on shop.gwynniebee.com, so I’m guessing it’s items that have mostly sold out that they’re pulling out of rotation. Instead of just phasing them out naturally, they do it in clutches. The most items I ever saw disappear from my Closet at once was five, but in a YOU MUST HAVE 15 ITEMS OR DIE situation, that’s huge!
        Going at it in short bursts is probably the right approach. The longer I looked at it, the angrier I got with the sorting system. Haha
        I don’t know of another service like this one. Which is a shame because it seems like something everyone would want to do? Haha

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