Direct Comparison of Trunk Club and Allume (from a regular person who is not a fashion blogger)

In short: I’m a lazy person who would like it if someone else could magically pick out my clothes and send them to me. As you can clearly tell from looking at this blog, I am not a fashion blogger, youtuber or whatever, just a normal professional person writing a review of two different services for anyone who might be curious but is a little dubious of fashion bloggers because of whatever financial ties they may or may not have to the services. I tried Stitch Fix for quite a while— I liked it at first (my stylist was very good), but I felt that some of the items I purchased turned out to not be good quality, and my stylist changed and then never seemed to get me. (I also think Stitch Fix is moving closer to computer modeling, which is fine, but computers sometimes don’t get the weird quirks that only humans can pick up.) I heard about Allume while I was sort of thinking I might stop doing Trunk Club.

This is just my honest opinion of Trunk Club. It is run by Nordstrom, which made me think it would be like a personal shopper who selects from the base that all that Nordstrom sells. I live in one of the cities that has a clubhouse so I did go in for a one-on-one meeting where we tried some things out to get a sense of what should fit on me (ie, body type and sense of style), and what sorts of things I was looking for. I had done two previous trunks to the one I’m about to talk about, and was starting to think the service wasn’t for me for a couple reasons. For one, I wasn’t getting the sense that the personal shopping element of it was actually all that personal. For example, I said I didn’t want jumpsuits and got sent a jumpsuit. I said (more than once) that I don’t like things that tie around the waist, and on more than two rounds, got sent stuff that ties around the waist. And despite having seen me try on clothes and knowing my clothes size, I didn’t get the sense that my stylist understood both what I tend to like and what naturally looks good on me. I was basically already losing patience when, because there was a special event at the clubhouse, my stylist tried to schedule an appointment with me (more like they were encouraging me to get one, rather than me contacting and asking for an appointment.) I was game so I said, I’m available at times X, Y, and Z, but no morning times whatsoever. Stylist: great, I made you an appointment at morning o’clock. I decided to try Trunk Club one more time right around the time I heard about Allume, which has a different model.

I sent the same exact text to both companies and the below is what happened. This is what I asked for: “I'm looking for a few specific things: 1. opaque grey leggings (not see through and appropriate to wear as pants). leaning towards darker grey 2. pencil skirts: nothing too short and nothing that has that lining in it that's shiny and sticks to your skin 3. blouses that go with pencil skirts. (note: I do not tuck my shirts in, and I don't like stuff that is really clingy). 4. the kind of nice t shirts that you can get away with wearing to work depending on the rest of your outfit-- preference for v-necks, or scoop necks. 5. lightweight blazer that could double as a spring jacket (a neutral color that could go with many outfits) 6. I need some kind of everyday shoe/sneaker: these are shoes that I wear all the time outside of work that are comfortable for walking and are not leather (it gets very hot here.) I also wear these shoes into work, then change out to heels, so they can't be outrageous. Last year I had a pair of Toms-- they were functional but I thought they were ugly. ...”

How Trunk Club works is that you get like a draft trunk first, and you take out items you don’t like and provide notes as to why not (unfortunately I don’t have a picture of that stage.) You can decide for yourself on the extent to which the above request was met, but I also provided some notes.

trunk1.jpg

With respect to pencil skirts, in my first round, my stylist put in some that were a couple inches below the knee, which I said was the wrong length for me. She said that opening up my price point (which I think was about 70$) we could have more that were the appropriate length. The BOSS skirt above is the right length, but if you look below, all the other skirts were still pretty long. So . . . Nordstrom only has a few pencil skirts of the standard pencil skirt length . . .? The above skirt was super pricey, did not have lining, and was the right style, but ultimately I said no because of the price. The sneaker was a no both on cost and on style—it looked nearly identical to another pair of shoes that I rejected in the first draft drunk. The Halogen top did meet the criteria I put out, but ultimately I didn’t get it because it was see-through on me.

trunk2.jpg

Black top fit the bill, but I didn’t end up liking the fit. Orange top technically did, but I didn’t like the color. Leafy pencil skirt both ties at the waist and is the long length I said I didn’t want.

trunk3.jpg

Skirt: wrong length, ties at the waist. V-neck T- fits the bill, but ultimately I didn’t like it. About the leggings.. I did end up buying these, but I found the legging convo to be weird. These weren’t dark grey (charcoal), which I mentioned in the draft trunk—the stylist said there were only so many grey leggings, and I said I was open to leggings of all colors, as long as they were super comfy and opaque. No other leggings were offered. Did Nordstrom . . . not have any other grey leggings or leggings at all? You be the detective: I can wear two different sizes, neither of which is particularly weird, and a quick search on Nordstrom’s website (narrowing down by only one of my sizes and to grey) shows four pages of results. And I was open to other colors—the point was to find the perfect summer legging.

trunk4.jpg

Blazer is more standard than lightweight (ie, I would wear something like this in the winter, but not the spring or summer—I had mentioned that it is insufferably hot in DC in the summer). I said no because of that and it fit weird. The Vince Camuto shirt I liked and purchased.

So overall, I don’t think Trunk Club hit the notes I wanted particularly well. Also, and I can’t really prove this, but from visiting the clubhouse and seeing the computer system they used (in addition to the legging thing), I got the impression that they did not have the whole of Nordstrom’s stock to select from. For example, once I said I was interested in a wedge in a particularly common style, and when we looked on the system they didn’t have anything like that. So maybe Nordstrom’s selection is a lot smaller than it looks like at the brick-and-mortar store, or they are using a different base to select from . . . ? Not sure.

Allume works differently. It’s similar in that you fill out a style profile, set your sizes and price points, and that you pay a styling fee. I gave them the same exact text of what I was looking for, and was matched with a stylist. Based off what you say, they create a lookbook, (three sets of looks) then you get a 30 minute texting appointment where you explain why you like or don’t like the items in the lookbook, then they revise the lookbook based off what you say. I liked how the lookbook was organized in terms of three different sets of looks (pencil skirt looks, comfy casual, and blazer looks). Each set had complete outfits within it- like tops, bottoms, jewelry, shoes, and bags— this was particularly helpful for someone like me that isn’t good at putting looks together and needs someone to do it for them. The total number of items in all looks is 35. For our feedback session: in my draft lookbook 1) she put in pumps, which I said I liked from a fashion perspective but actually never wear (she asked me if I wanted replacement shoes instead and I suggested booties), 2) I said the leggings she presented were expensive but I was willing to try (she said she would try to find cheaper options), 3) I pointed out that I like my pencil skirts to hit at the knee or above, 4) I said I wasn’t interested in purses, 5) I mentioned that I don’t like things that tie at the waist 6) I said I was on the fence about the casual shoe but that it was probably in the right direction (I did not feel that about either Trunk club shoe). I didn’t take pictures of absolutely everything but the below gives you a sense of the draft lookbook.

allumegroup.jpeg

This is an example of a complete look they put together—which I liked—and the image is used for a header of multiple other items fitting within that look, like the items below. When I told her I was leaning away from jewelry in favor of clothes, the revised lookbook had no jewelry in it.

allume1.jpeg

I actually liked all of the above and ordered them all except for the Ann Taylor skirt. Stylistically it’s exactly what I like and is the type that flatters me, but it DID have a lining.

allume5.jpeg
allume6.jpeg
allume7.jpeg

This is an example of the text they give you describing the different looks. I liked this because the stylist clearly reiterated what it was that I was looking for, which told me that they listened.

allume3.jpeg
allume9.jpeg

After the initial lookbook, she included a cheaper legging option, and added a bootie.

So, overall I liked Allume more from a styling perspective, and I would do it again. One caveat: remember that Allume is not a store—it’s a styling service, and that is the thing they are selling. While you do order the items you selected via their website, the company is essentially acting as an intermediary between you and multiple other stores. Some may find this annoying because your order will come from however many different companies, which could mean separate shipping fees, and separate returns. In my case, some of them charged no shipping and some did. While this did create more legwork when it came to returns, ultimately it didn’t bother me: the stylist is essentially locating things for you and you’re ordering them, which is basically the same as you shopping online by yourself (well, except you have someone doing the locating for you). I also felt that the spread across stores included some good deals from stores I never think to look at (Neiman Marcus Last Call, Saks off 5th) and stores I haven’t heard of. In comparison to Trunk Club, where pretty much everything I bought was full price, while with Allume, a significant share of items were on sale. Trunk Club does have the convenience of all items being sent to your house in one package with no shipping cost, and no return cost— that’s one really fundamental difference. In fairness to Trunk Club, the experience may vary by personal stylist, or perhaps what city your in.