Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Blues Jean Bar Express review, April 2014

I think I may have found a personal styling service to rival Stitch Fix.

I haven't subscribed to Stitch Fix all that long, but I've been somewhat disappointed by the items I've received in my first few shipments. I'll stick with the service, partly because I've heard that the boxes get better the longer you subscribe (i.e., your stylist continually gains a better understanding of which styles you like, and which styles you don't like) and also because, as author of a blog that reviews subscription boxes, I'd be remiss if I didn't provide monthly reviews of one of the most popular services out there.

That said, when I learned about The Blues Jean Bar (BJB) Express, I decided to give it a try. The concept is similar to Stitch Fix. You provide a stylist with information about your size, clothing preferences, etc., and then receive a box full of outfits to try on. The service being called "The Blues Jean Bar Express," you can expect to receive several pairs of jeans, as well as tops and accessories. BJB Express costs only a dollar to join and, unlike with Stitch Fix, you don't pay a styling fee. You also don't pay any shipping costs. You simply receive the box, decide which items you like, pay for them, and return the others via UPS with a prepaid shipping label.

BJB Express gave me some store credit to try out its service, so with that, and some cash out of my own pocket, I went to work. When the box arrived in the mail, I was sooo excited. It was HUGE (it even had a handle!) and I could only imagine what was inside it. Then I opened it. Here was my first peek.

I loved the way it was packaged. The clothes were bundled neatly together with twine (which I couldn't wait to get my hands on and rip open).

And now here's what I received. I had eleven pieces. In some cases, the price point was quite a bit higher than it is on the items that I receive with Stitch Fix. However, a few BJB Express pieces were in line with what I typically pay for SF clothing. I'll start with the items that I kept.

1. Infinity ruffle scarf from Created New ($45)--I have about three million infinity scarves, so when I first saw this, I figured it would go on the "return" pile. Then I tried it on. It's a handmade, lightweight scarf that drapes really nicely, and the material is so soft and lovely to touch. This scarf went on the "keep" pile.

2. Leopard sweater from Blu Pepper ($64)--I'm not a "leopard-print" person, but something drew me to this sweater. Maybe the muted colors, I'm not sure, but I really liked this from the get-go. With winter ending, though, I wasn't sure I needed another sweater. I ended up putting it on my "return" pile. Then I tried it on again and posed in front of my mirror. It was cute, but I still wasn't sure. I put it on the "return" pile again and walked away. A few minutes later, I came back, tried the sweater on again, posed again, and this time I put it on my "keep" pile. That sweater kept calling (or roaring) out to me. I probably won't be wearing it until the fall, but I'm glad I added it to my closet.

3. Erin white tee from Benjamin Jay ($55)--this one was a no-brainer. I've been looking for a simple, drapey white t-shirt, and this one fits the bill. It's soft, comfortable, and will go with pretty much anything.

Now here's what I didn't keep. If I had unlimited funds, I probably would have kept the bulk of what I received, but until I win the lottery, I'll have to pace myself.

4. Woven ivory top from Blu Pepper ($60)--I kept going back and forth between this top and the leopard sweater. I didn't want to get both, but I couldn't decide between either. I tried them both on several times, asked for my husband's advice (his response was a shrug and a "get whatever you like best"), and finally decided that I would wear the sweater more often than I would wear this top. I do think it's cute, though.

5. Sit By My Fire slouchy top from Alpinestars ($74)--I wasn't a big fan of this shirt. The white portion on the sleeves is perforated and made from a leather-like material that wasn't very fun to wear. The rest of the shirt was flattering and comfortable by comparison, so I was a little bummed. If the white part had been made from the same type of fabric as the rest of the shirt, I probably would have bought it.

6. Claudia sweater from Alpinestars ($175)--I REALLY wanted to keep this sweater, but I couldn't justify the expense, as $175 is a lot of money to spend on a shirt. Plus, the material was really delicate, and because I own cats that love to scratch--I mean cuddle with--me, it wouldn't be long before the bottom of the shirt ended up looking like the top of the shirt. It was very cute and flattering, though.

7. Thin Lizzy vintage dark brown belt from Spirit Leatherworks ($60)--I never wear belts, so I knew right away that I wouldn't be keeping this, but I did try it on. It looked great and was very well made.

Now I'll start the "jeans" portion of this review. I didn't keep any of them, in part because I need to save up a bit before I can afford them, but primarily because I ordered the wrong size, so they were all just a touch too small. (This was my fault, not BJB Express's, as they gave me what I had requested.) BJB Express sizes its jeans based on waist size (e.g., 26, 28, 30, etc.), and I was too lazy to take my actual measurement, so I'll be requesting the next size up in the future. All of these jeans were cute and very high-quality. I had requested boot-cut and skinny jeans in my shipment, with mid- to high-rises and dark washes, but BJB Express offers several other styles, too, like boyfriend jeans, low-rise jeans, light washes, etc.

8. Lily high-rise boot-cut jeans from Fidelity ($185)

9. Super-skinny jeans from Henry & Belle ($158)

10. Midrise skinny jeans from Seven for All Mankind ($216)

11. Jennifer jeans from DL1961 ($175)


So, what did I think about BJB Express? I LOVED it! The clothing that I received was perfect: classic and stylish. Everything in my BJB box was fashionable now, and will be in ten years. I'm slowly in the midst of making over my closet, getting rid of stuff that I bought because it was cheap but that I've never worn, and instead carefully choosing pieces that might cost a bit more, but that I know I'll wear all the time. I think that, from now on, I'll be using BJB Express to help me do that.

BJB Express can send out boxes monthly, quarterly, or even just whenever you need an extra dose of fashion. I've requested another box for next month, because I want to try on jeans that are in my actual size, but I'll probably go to quarterly boxes after that. I'm very impressed with the service, though, and will definitely be sticking around as a customer.

If you want to try out BJB Express for yourself, head here: The Blues Jean Bar Express subscription link

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