The Gwynnie Bee Review: A Psychological Experiment — Month #1

My favorite dress of the month turned out to be a beautiful disaster.
My favorite dress of the month turned out to be a beautiful disaster.

Gwynnie Bee Review for Month #1:

Total items:  12 — 11 dresses, 1 top

Total worn:  11 , 1 returned unworn due to poor sizing

Total bought: 1 for $15

Plan:  3 items

Upgrades: 1 item increase for 1 month, for late shipping of first item

(Another upgrade was given in the second month as consideration for a defective dress in the first month.)

Grade:  C+

How and Why I Chose to Experiment:

I don’t usually pay attention to Facebook ads but the idea of renting a wardrobe in the same way that I used to rent Netflix DVDs intrigued me.   I’d heard of a company that offered a “super nice tie” subscription service for men and remember wishing they had something similar for women.  So along comes Gwynnie Bee, which allows a specific number of garments to be out at a time during the month, just like my old Netflix account before streaming. This isn’t completely new but their specialty is plus-sized garments, and of course plus-sized is a lot smaller these days than when I 27 and 113 pounds…yeah.

While I was intrigued by the idea, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to rent a wardrobe, even one where I don’t have to dry-clean my dirty clothes and get to try all sorts of new things I wouldn’t normally wear. I started in early October, when I was one month into a self-imposed ketogenic diet for medical reasons.   The weight was coming off very slowly, if at all, but I was feeling great and my body was changing somewhat, so I didn’t want to invest in a new fall wardrobe in a size that I didn’t know how long I’d be wearing.   Gwynnie Bee was offering a special $10 fee for the month for up to 3 garments out at a time, so I decided I could at least try it out.

I must admit that this has been a great psychological experiment for me, and I’ve had some surprises in what I’ve learned about myself and how I look at my physicality.  I wish I’d taken more photos of me wearing these dresses in the first month to share, but I’ll have more in the second month’s review.

Problems & Solutions:

Whereas I’d read that timely shipping is a problem for some people, I didn’t have any issues at all after the first item was shipped.  It really wasn’t very late but they upgraded my trial subscription by 1 item.  Every time I wore an item, I updated my account to show I planned to mail it back (in the free shipping bag, no less) the next day, and within about 24 hours of notifying them of a planned return, another item was in the mail to me and arrived 2-3 days later, so I had a steady rotation of dresses in my mailbox with no days-long delays in shipping.  While I’ve read reviews of other subscribers who griped about having to pick at least 8 items for their “closet” for Gwynnie Bee to send them something from their online closet in a timely manner, I never had that problem, perhaps because I had at least 70 items  selected as possibilities.  I didn’t have to have the absolute latest release to be happy, and in fact, I didn’t have any new releases show up in my mailbox until the trial month was almost over–something that improved greatly in the second month (more on that in an upcoming post).

One of the dresses in the first box of 3 garments did not fit well enough to wear, and I learned to pay more attention to measurements than sizes (THAT was different for me!) and to check current reviews of the item to see if others complained about having to size up or down, regardless of the stated size or measurements.  The funny thing here was that I stopped beating myself up over a size because the sizes were often very different, and at one point, I had at least 6 different sizes in my closet, depending on the brand and cut.  I’ve almost always had a physical closet of just one size at a time or thought of myself as a particular size according to how a few brands want to define me.   Hmmmmm.  I never realized that about myself.

The only really serious problem with the clothes was a beautiful brand new release, an XTwo lace dress (see photo) that was gorgeous and fit me so sweetly.  Although the point of subscribing to Gwynnie Bee was not to BUY everything I received, I probably would have bought this one to wear to holiday parties or date nights.  Unfortunately, the black dye in the lace rubbed off on my arms, legs, shoulders, hands, fingernails, and a chair I sat in.   Gwynnie Bee issued a recall and their customer service–which has been quite good–upgraded me 1 garment per plan for two weeks in my second month as consideration.

What was casual and fun for a Saturday turned out to be the basis of my Halloween costume, which was lots of fun.
What was casual and fun for a Saturday turned out to be the basis of my Halloween costume, which was lots of fun.

Surprises in Month #1:

The first surprise is one I’ve already mentioned–the idea of it being okay to wear dresses of certain sizes because size is just an arbitrary number.   I stuck to the measurement charts, and even then there was variation.  I became much less conscious in Month #1 of the size number on the label.  And yes, that is a positive effect on my body image.

I started looking at clothes as being more about the fun and just trying things I wouldn’t normally and even sizes I wouldn’t normally.   I found that some styles worked really well for me, and I never would’ve tried them otherwise.  I wouldn’t even have tried them on in a store.  Some of the dresses I really liked and liked the way they looked on me garnered nary a comment or compliment from coworkers, friends, or strangers and others that I was noncommittal about got constant rave reviews, often from men I work with who don’t usually speak to me, much less compliment me.   That makes me wonder if my taste in clothes is that left of field or if I simply have no idea of what looks good on me!

At the end of the month, I’d figured out how to make Gwynnie Bee work for me and decided to try another month.  I’m half-way through my second month, and I’ll post a review the second week of December…because the surprises get far more interesting and psychologically telling.

UPDATED:  Oh, I couldn’t wait.   Leave it to me to turn renting clothes into a spiritual experience, complete with self-inquiry.


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