Presents from Strangers

Have you heard of this not so new but still startlingly American phenomenon of paying a total stranger to send you presents? You can do this for all sorts of products--makeup, dog treats, clothes, arts & crafts, whimsical house items. The way it works is that you sign up for the service, and add some specific details about your skin and hair coloring, your likes and dislikes, the size of your bra. For Stitch Fix, you give them all of your measurements and choose colors you like and dislike and take this little quiz that gives you options of sets of clothes in certain styles--like, one that's termed romantic because it has lacy blouses and floral prints, or "classic" which includes polo shirts and khaki pants and an anti-choice button. You also say generally what you want to pay for certain items, though there is no range option for 0 to $20. Once you've filled out your style sheet, a person in this company picks out five items of clothing or jewelry for you and then sends it to you. You try everything on and decide what to keep and what to send back, free of charge. The package also comes with a little note from your stylist that says something like, "Hi Aimee (no comma)! I picked out the Pirates of Penzance black stretch pants for a Friday night date. The Wrinkled Fleur de Lis Off the Shoulder T-shirt is good for on the go, and the Crushed Cranberry Swinging Skirt will be perfect for a shot gun wedding. x0, Brittany."
They offer this other incentive--if you buy all five items, the entire order is 25% off. That's not totally true though, because each month, you pay a $20 "styling fee" prior to your order being shipped out. So, even if you buy all five, it's 25% off minutes (or plus?) the $20 you've already paid. You could opt to just buy two things or one thing or none, but whatever you do, you will be paying $20.
You still might feel like you're getting a deal though, because the $20 comes out the week before, it's already lost money that you won't get back, so that $58 white T-shirt with the tiny pocket costs $38 at checkout which is somewhat more justifiable if you ignore that you're really paying $58 for a shirt you could buy at Target for $10. It took me about six months to realize this automatic $20 deficit. Buying nothing results in paying $20 for the fun of opening a box of clothes that you don't really like or that don't fit (note to Brittany: pant and shirt sizes vary by brand and cut). In the ten times I have done this so far, I have never bought nothing. Even if I only sort of like one of the items, I buy it, because I don't want to lose the $ I've already spent. This is why I have a magenta tie dye shirt hanging in my closet like a unwelcome step cousin. I think there have been four times that I've bought all 5, even if I don't love every single item, because I'd rather pay $190 for five pieces of clothing than full price for two items that total $110. Keep in mind that math is not my strong suit, so please intervene if my logic is faulty. I mean, I know it's faulty, but usually, I do like all of the pieces and love maybe two. No, not true. I usually love maybe two items, like two and tolerate one.

But I will keep doing it. Because it's nice to get presents, even if you're paying someone to choose them for you.