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Trying out Tog and Porter, an online styling service with a human touch

September 25, 2015, 3:28 PM UTC
Marina Zarya, Time Inc

Today’s working women arguably have more items on their to-do lists—and less time to accomplish those tasks—than ever before. So, it’s no surprise that a host of online services have sprung up to help cross one of those items off the list: shopping for clothes.

But while that solves one problem, it raises a new one: Which company should you choose? As a young professional still building my office wardrobe, I decided to put five of the most popular online styling services to the test, all with a single goal: finding stylish, affordable workwear. What follows is the fifth installment in our series. To read previous reviews, click here.

Tog and Porter

How it works

Tog and Porter is an online personal shopping service that matches clients with personal stylists. After filling out a quick form about clothing size and budget—which can range from $250 to $3,0000—on the T+P site, I get an email from a stylist named Camilla Basse. Basse tells me that she’s based in Texas and has worked with T+P for five years. We schedule an introductory video chat meeting via Google Hangouts.

Meeting someone new via video is always a little bit awkward, and I’m anxious about having a conversation with a stranger about my style preferences. However, about 30 seconds into my chat with Basse, those reservations vanish. She’s bright and bubbly, and seems genuinely interested to learn about me and what I’m looking for. I tell her that I want business casual clothes to wear to the office, that I hate the color pink, and that I like clothing that is simple, but with interesting details.

Basse makes me feel heard and understood—though she does not share my aversion to pink. She then explains how the rest of the styling process will work: I will receive a shipment of about five items that she has picked out for me. When I receive the clothes, I am to schedule another video chat appointment to discuss what I like and dislike about each piece so that she can make my next shipment of clothes even better suited to my tastes. I can keep the clothes I like and return the ones I don’t within seven days.

The clothes

My T+P shipment includes three tops, a pair of slacks, and a skirt. First up are the Catherine Malandrino slacks ($164), which I love at first glance, but which end up being a size too big for me. Disappointed in the size, I’m still impressed by how Basse managed to meet my stated criteria of simple, but with a twist.

Catherine Catherine Malandrino trousers ($164) Marina Zarya, Time Inc

Next up are the tops. The first one is a lovely silk Creative Commune blouse ($88) that is, unfortunately, way too small. The second, a Collective Concepts top ($64) that is a little too busy for my taste.

Left: Creative Commune blouse ($88); Right: Collective Concepts top ($64)Marina Zarya, Time Inc

The third, a Bobeau peplum top ($64) is almost perfect. I love the neckline and the detailing on the shoulders. Unfortunately, it flares out a bit too much and is not flattering from the side.

Bobeau peplum top ($64)Marina Zarya, Time Inc

I share my feedback with Basse, who agrees and helps me articulate the issues with each item, noting that the Collective Concepts shirt is too “boxy” and that the proportions of the Bobeau top are off.

Finally, we move to the BCBGeneration skirt ($78), which I absolutely love. The material has a slight shine, making it a bit more interesting than a plain black skirt, and there’s a nice bit of man-made leather detailing on the hips. Unfortunately, this detailing is damaged, as is the zipper in the back.

BCBGeneration skirt ($78)Marina Zarya, Time Inc

The Verdict

While none of the clothes were quite right, I genuinely enjoyed the process of talking to Basse and sharing my feedback. She didn’t make me feel guilty for not liking things—on the contrary, she seemed determined to “get it right the next time.” Despite my initial aversion to video chatting with a stranger, I do think Tog and Porter is onto something here from an experiential point-of-view.

Although I loved working with Basse, I would hesitate to continue using the service because of its steep price tag: a $50 styling fee because it’s my first box (there’s also a fee for the second) and $25 for shipping and handling, which seems a bit much when so many sites offer both for free. While the $50 fee is waived if you make a purchase of $250 or more, the $25 is gone for good. Basse said she could probably get the styling fee waived this time around, but the thought of spending $75 on a shopping trip that could leave me empty-handed yet again is a strong deterrent.

Tog and Porter did not respond to requests for comment.

Up next: How the five online stylists in Fortune‘s series compare.

Click to read our reviews of Keaton Row, Stitch Fix, MM.LaFleur, and Stylit.

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