Friday, November 25, 2016

Friendly Reminder: Online Black Friday Sales for your favorite subscription services Start TONIGHT

Attention all Black Friday aficionados: The night of reckoning is upon us! While most stores won't be offering in-store doorbuster deals until tomorrow evening, the majority of the major Black Friday retailers start their online sales TONIGHT! specially subscription box services and hay if you ever wanted to try you luck now is the best time.

Trendy Butler 

Trendy Butler is an exclusive and diverse men’s apparel subscription service that gives members $150+ worth of men’s clothes for $65 per month.

They are offering a Black Friday special 25% off for the first month 
Black Friday special code is valid all day today all the way to Monday.
The special ends at midnight Monday!  You must use the code at checkout. 


Beauty made easy. Sample personalized beauty products delivered right your door. Stock up on your favorite makeup, skincare and hair brands at Birchbox Shop, plus get ideas and inspiration to bring into your daily routine.

For Black Friday save on everything in the Birchbox Shop, including gift subscriptions when you spend $30 or more and enter one of the following promo codes at checkout: Everyone gets 10% off with code 10FORALL, subscribers get 15% with code 15FORSUBS and Aces get 20% off with code 20FORACES. Not valid on Steals of the Day.

Checkout our review of Birchbox.

Frank & Oak

Every month, curators at Frank & Oak tap into the zeitgeist. Their mission is  simple : to bring you the clothes you crave, efficiently, affordably and intelligently.

Black Friday Sale 35% off regular-priced menswear + womenswear*
Use code: BLKFRIDAY35

Valid from November 24th 2016 to November 27th 2016. Valid only on all regular price men’s and women’s Frank + Oak merchandise at and in store. Excludes third party items. Offer valid for US & Canada. Cannot be combined with any other offer or applied to prior purchases. Terms of offer subject to change.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Stitch Fix Review

I’ve been trying out a lot of monthly box subscriptions on myself, so I decided to start one for my wife. I had heard a lot of good things about Stitch Fix, so I thought that special someone in my life would enjoy some new summer clothing.

How Does It Work?

The service begins the way they all do, with an in-depth survey of your stylistic choices, sizes, and your budgetary restrictions. My wife did that one day while I was mowing the lawn, so I missed some of the details, but she did say that she believed they got a good idea of what she is all about.

Stitch in a box
I’m a fan of the business plan Stitch Fix has conjured up. The personal stylist picks out five items per month for you to try on, which costs you a $20 styling fee. But, if you decide to keep any of the items, the $20 is credited to your account. Also, if you decide to keep all five pieces, you also get a 25% discount, which is really, really nice.

Other nice features of Stitch Fix are the personal note from your stylist and styling suggestions for all the items in your package. My wife enjoyed looking that stuff over.

My Experience With Stitch Fix

The first item in the “fix” my wife received was the Papermoon Teslow Flutter Sleeve Knit Top ($48). She really like the fit and feel of this shirt, especially the length afforded to the trunk. She is long through the middle, and most shirts she buys hike up when she moves and raises her arms. She wasn’t crazy about the pattern, but the fit was enough for her to keep it.

Next was another Papermoon top, the Magguie Lasercut Detail Blouse ($44). Again, great length and this time a solid salmon color. She really likes the scalloped and detailed neckline and the shirt is fancy enough to wear to school (she’s a teacher) and playful enough to dress down with a pair of jeans. Another keeper!

The third item was the Market & Spruce Hi-Lo Short Sleeve Tee ($44).

A very nice, comfy t-shirt for summer, but this one ran into the trunk problem I described above. And for $44, a t-shirt needs to fit perfectly.

Sent back…

Along with the shirt came the Liverpool Callista Printed Cuffed Denim Short ($58). These shorts have a cool, yet subtle pattern that make them different than most jorts. My wife loves the length of them, reaching mid-thigh, as she is “not middle school anymore.” Her words, not mine. Keep!

Finally, the 41Hawthorn Renesme Jersey Faux Wrap Dress ($78). I thought my wife looked amazing in this dress, but she didn’t like the pattern. It’s blue with a light blue line and curve pattern throughout. A little “too busy and 60’s” for her. Again, her words. Sent back…

The Verdict

So, of the first five items received, three were kept, which more than covered the styling fee.

Add to that the fact that my wife didn’t have to run to the mall and shop for herself, and we are both happy with how Stitch Fix worked out. We would definitely suggest Stitch Fix (Stich Fix)  if you are looking for help from a stylist. She is going to keep her subscription, and I am going to start one as well!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

ThreadBeast Review

ThreadBeast is another monthly subscription box company offering clothing to its customers. However, they have a very special audience in mind: folks who like urban streetwear. And by urban streetwear, I’m talking about clothes a skater would like.

Comfortable, casual, bopping around clothes. Perhaps even a hip-hop sort of vibe.

At least, that’s what my nephew tells me. ThreadBeast isn’t really for me, but it’s right up my sister’s son’s alley (he’s 16 years old), so the subscription I started is for him.

How Does It Work?

In order to begin our subscription plan with ThreadBeast, my nephew had to answer about ten questions about stylistic choices and his sizes for different clothing and accessory items.

Next, I had to choose a subscription plan:

 Basic… 2-3 items per month, tops and accessories mostly ($55)

 Essential… 4-5 items per month, tops, bottoms and accessories ($85)

 Premium… 6-7 items per month, same as essential, but also some premium items including denim and outerwear.

I decided to slide right down the middle and picked the Essential plan. The first box we received contained five items.

My Experience With ThreadBeast

The first one was a Benny Gold Golden State Champions T-shirt, which goes for $30 retail.

It’s nice t-shirt, black with silver logo and print. It’s advertised as being crafted from 100% soft ring-spun cotton. My nephew says it’s very soft and comfortable, so the description seems accurate. He gives this item a thumbs up.

Next was the Grizzly Griptape Garden Longsleeve Shirt, retailing at $80. Shirt is a misnomer, for all intents and purposes. It’s really a light jacket. Again, 100% cotton, olive green with the Grizzy Garden print over the entire surface of the shirt (jacket). In my opinion, it’s a really well-made piece of clothing, but my nephew is luke warm. He’s not crazy about the pattern.

The third item in the box was a pair of Grizzly Griptape ankle socks…$12 if you buy them at the mall. The socks feature the signature Grizzy bear embroidered at the ankle, and the

Grizzly Griptape stamp logo on the bottom of the sock. “Cool socks,” my nephew said, so…I’ll consider that a thumbs up.

The next item also came out of the Grizzly Griptape catalogue. The Bear Cinch Sack retails for $32, comes in black with a reflective, silver 3M Bear logo, great for hauling gear around while skating or biking (said my nephew), and also provides a bit of protection when the sun goes down (said my sister). Not a wow-inducing item, but a well-made, practical piece to go with the other clothing.

Finally, another item in the same color scheme…Joggers from Holy Couture, retailing at $40. These sweatpants (as I would call them) elicited at “oh, these are sick” from my nephew, which my sister assured me was a good thing. Apparently, joggers are all the rage.

These are a base grey with black stripes on the waist and ankle pieces. Honestly, it’s a nice pair of pants. I would wear them too.

If you’re not keeping score at home, that’s $194 worth of clothing for $85. A pretty darn good deal. However, it was the first box in the subscription, so I’m sure ThreadBeast puts its best foot forward.

The Verdict

All in all, I have to give ThreadBeast a positive review. My nephew likes all the items he received, including the shirt-jacket that was not a huge hit, but still made the cut. Both he and my sister liked the clothing enough that she is going to take over the subscription and keep it active for a while. So if you or somebody you love is into urban streetwear,

ThreadBeast ( is worth a shot.

Monday, September 12, 2016

MeUndies Review

The products for some monthly subscription box services are impossible to figure out from the name of the company. BirchBox, Ipsy, and even Trendy Butler require, at the very least, a site visit to see what wares they are peddling.

I don’t believe that is the case with MeUndies.

The MeUndies brand claims that they have the “World’s Most Comfortable Underwear,

Socks, and T-Shirts.” That’s quite a claim, and one I planned on testing.

How Does It Work?

I decided to dive right into a monthly subscription plan because that saves $8 each, reducing the per-pair cost to $16.
Undies Box

Men have four styles from which to choose: boxer brief, trunk, boxer, or brief. Women have four as well: cheeky brief, bikini, boyshort, or modal thong.

I went with my mainstay, the boxer brief. Then I chose my size and color for my first pair.

You can choose from the classic Jockey pack colors of black, navy, burgundy or grey, a bold blue or purple (all $20), or patterns from the adventurous selection ($24).

You pay full price for the first pair, then the $8 off kicks in with the subscription. The monthly subscription only includes the adventurous selection, curated especially for you.

You do have the subscription choice of one or more pairs of underwear each month. I decided to start with one.

My Experience With MeUndies

My first order, the one I paid full price for, was the American Stripes adventurous pattern, which I have to say is nice looking. Royal blue with red and white stripes.

The fabric is lightweight and very stretchy, which was reassuring, but I knew the proof would be when I slid my pudding into them…

And I have to say, they are extremely comfortable. The fabric moves and stretches enough to fit me well, but is also sturdy enough to support me as I move.

Speaking of sturdy, perhaps my favorite feature of the MeUndies undie is the waistband.

Let’s just say that nobody is knocking down my door to be an underwear model, as I put a little bit of pressure on my undergarments from above. The waistband really hangs in there, not rolling over like the bands of my 3-pack boxer briefs from Walmart do.

Another great feature of these MeUndies boxer briefs is the room afforded to my special equipment. The pouch in front gives my guys room to breathe and move as necessary and also avoids those painful, near-castration episodes that occur with store-brand underwear that bunch and grab and pinch.

The Verdict

Overall, I have to give MeUndies a thumbs up. The only drawback is the price. They are a little more expensive than I am used spending on undergarments, but the comfort level might change my mind on that.

In addition, they also offer undershirts and socks, and if they are as comfortable as the boxer briefs, I might be in love. In my opinion, men and women alike should give MeUndies ( a try.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Loot Crate Review

Loot Crate is a monthly subscription company with a different spin on the type of goods they send. Most companies in this space ship clothes and toiletries and things of that nature.

Loot Crate sends products that “geeks and gamers” would enjoy.

They are partnered with titles and brands such as Adventure Time, Fallout, DC, Marvel, Halo, Nintendo, Star Trek, Star Wars, World of Warcraft and The Legend of Zelda.

The “Who We Are” statement on their website states: “At Loot Crate we offer up a unique monthly box of awesome for every fandom, enthusiast group and style. Pick your crate and get excited.”

The crates contain “The best and most exclusive licensed figures, t-shirts, home goods and more!”

How Does It Work?

The website advertises five different types of crates on the main page:

 Loot Crate – for geeks and gamers

 Loot Gaming – the ultimate crate of gaming gear

 Loot Pets – stuff for your pets

 Loot Wear – geek apparel

 Loot Anime – you guessed it, anime goods

But there are also specialty crates like Halo Legendary Crate, Firefly Crate, and a Call of Duty Black Ops III Crate, for example.

My Experience With Loot Crate

The first package I received from Loot Crate was the “Fantasy” edition. There were many claims that the advertisements the company used early on were misleading when compared to what was delivered. This advertisement seems a little more honest. Perhaps they got the message from all the complaints.

The first item in my crate was a Dungeons & Dragons t-shirt. It’s red with a decent looking D&D logo. I will get good use out of this shirt. I like it.

Next is a D&D bow tie…not a big bow tie fan to begin with, but if I were, the design of this one might devour all of my hit points. Ick.

And then Princess Bride Playing Cards. Yes… Princess. Bride. Playing. Cards. Maybe kind of cool for the older generation of geek or gamer, but totally lost on the younger generation.

The next item from the Fantasy Loot Crate was an inflatable crown, which is good for-- -if you figure it out, please tell me.

How about a Harry Potter Bag Tag? I’m a HP fan, but I don’t need to hang this on my luggage or anything. To be fair, a good friend of mine is a huge, huge, huge, HP fan. I think she’ll get a kick out of this.

How about a 4GB Game of Thrones thumb drive? Is that even enough memory to store the text from all the GoT books? Doubtful. And the design makes it difficult or even impossible to insert into some drives. Couple that with the GoT magnets-- - wait a second, aren’t we supposed to keep computer-type stuff away from magnets? Something a geeky company should know about. Maybe that’s why the magnets are so cheap. They were

FAOA (falling apart on arrival). And no terrible crate would be complete without an advertisement. Included was a Ninjak #1 DLC Comic. At least that’s what it was called. It was not much more than a come-on to purchase the comic in the future.

The Verdict

You can tell this by now, but I am not a fan of Loot Crate ( There are other experiences like mine chronicled on the web. Some of the merchandise is good quality, but most is too cheaply made to be considered a collectable. Not to mention the fact that the product selections are all over the place. D&D, Princess Bride, Harry Potter, and Game of Thrones…

Save your money folks, and buy a quality piece of memorabilia from your favorite movies or games.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Honest Company Review

The Honest Company is an online subscription site that claims to deliver “honestly safe, effective essentials for family and home.” It is co-founded by actress and mother, Jessica Alba.

The FAQ page answers the question of why they chose the name The Honest Company and their response is no surprise. First, they wanted to remain “free from fraud or deception, truthful” both in what they put in their products and how the business works behind the scenes.

Next, they effort to be “genuine, real.” It’s not a big company looking to make money at any cost, but instead a business run by parents for parents, with the best interest of families in mind (not to mention the environment and animals).

Finally, they want to be “respectable, praiseworthy” to the point that you want to tell everybody you meet how great the company is.

They produce and distribute all of their own products, which are “painstakingly” tested for both effectiveness, safety, and environmental concerns. None of their products are tested on animals, and The Honest Company has signed PETA’s Statement of Assurance to guarantee that.

How Does It Work?

The Honest Company offers several bundles to its subscription customers: Diaper and Wipes, Essentials, Health and Wellness, and Organic Infant Formula and DHA. They also offer a discovery kit which is full of samples and only costs the price of shipping. It’s a good way to check out the company without any commitment.

Some online research reveals that folks by and large like The Honest Company, both because of its product line and its business model, including their mission.

However, the proof is in the pudding, so I decided to give The Honest Company a shot. I started with the Honest Company Essentials Bundle, which costs $39.95 plus tax. Included are your choice of five personal care and cleaning products. All of the included products are natural and non-toxic.

In general, the subscription bundles will ship every four weeks unless you pick another frequency. This is easily adjusted in your account information.

My Experience With The Honest Company

The first two items in my bundle were honest shampoo and body wash. The sweet orange vanilla is advertised as “perfectly gentle,” and the dreamy lavender as “ultra calming.” Each container retails at $9.95.

Both scents are pleasing. The lavender is the scent you get from stuff in purple containers in the cleaning aisle at the super market. Sweet orange vanilla is more like creamsicle than a fruity orange scent. Both are gentle and effective soaps. I like them.

The next two items were the honest bath cleaner and honest glass and window cleaner, both retailing at $5.95. A lot of people think you need harsh chemicals to clean your bathroom effectively, but The Honest Company dispels that myth. The bathroom cleaner not only makes things shine, but also smells nice. The glass and window cleaner does a great job as well, without leaving behind any residue.

The last item included in my bundle was the honest toilet cleaner ($5.95). It also shined up the old commode, and did so without the aid of ammonia, bleach, or hydrochloric acid, and smells great without help from synthetic fragrances.

Additionally, The Honest Company ships its products in recyclable packaging, and uses materials made from recycled goods as often as possible. And a portion of every purchase is donated to a family in need.

The Verdict

All things considered, I am a fan of The Honest Company ( I would recommend their subscription program to anybody who is concerned about the ingredients used to make the products their family uses, their effects on the environment, and those who want the convenience of home delivery.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Men’s Style Lab Review

Men’s Style Lab is a concierge shopping service whose name I’ve been hearing a lot of lately, so I decided to investigate.

The first noteworthy feature of Men’s Style Lab sets it apart from most of the you-don’t-have-to-go-to-the-mall-to-get-clothes companies out there (like Fashion Stork and Trendy Butler) is that MSL is not a subscription service. You contact them when you need clothing, and they deliver a curated package of clothing to your door.

You get some different choices when you sign up, starting with who you are…”Least fashionable guy in the room,” “busy professional with no time to shop,” “partner of someone who needs help,” to name a few.

How Does It Work?

I selected, “interested in trying a personal stylist,” because I’ve been, well, interested in trying a personal stylist. I actually do pretty well in the clothing arena, but I’ve been curious to know if I can up my game with a little help from a professional.

Next, I had to pick from different looks that represented my style. There was “casual,” “functional,” “professional” and “creative.” The casual and creative resonated with me, so I chose those two.
Then, on to things I wouldn’t wear, with choices that included “stripes,” “bright colors,” and “slim fit jeans.”

I whacked bright colors and slim fit jeans…they’re just not my style.

There was also an open-ended section in which I could make any specific points and requests. Also, I got to chat with my personally assigned style advisor, and during those two opportunities, I let Men’s Style Lab know that I wanted some sharp-looking outfits to wear out for the evening. I’m not a clubbing or bar-going type of guy. I’m more of the bookstore, coffee shop, out to dinner, gallery-opening sort of fellow, so I was looking for outfits that would dress me for those type of occasions.
What I found appealing about this particular concierge service was that the prices were supposed to be reasonable--- in the range of a Banana Republic ---for the average man.

My Experience With Men's Style Lab

The goods
My style package contained a blazer, a pair of jeans, a pair of slacks, two button-downs, two sweaters, and four pairs of socks. The clothing was packed such that the shirts and sweaters and socks were groups as outfits that went well together. Honestly, it was a pretty cool presentation.

And the clothing was very nice. The combinations pushed my style sensitivities to the limit, especially the socks. But that was good, and what I was looking for…something new.

Like a lot of these services, you are afforded five days to try things on, then you must send them back or buy them. In order to get a 20% discount on the clothing, you must keep all of it. Every single piece. Otherwise, you have to pay the list price for all of the outfits.

Furthermore, if you send it all back, you have to pay a $25 styling fee. I understand that they can’t be doing all this work, picking things out and shipping it off without making any money, but it makes the service a little less appealing overall.

The Verdict

All in all, I have to give the Men’s Style Lab a negative review, but with certain provisions. The negatives for me were the prices and the amount of clothing that you need to keep to earn the discount. For a service that advertises itself as affordable to the average guy, this isn’t really acceptable.

Nor is the $25 style fee. Again, I understand why they have to charge it, but if I am on the fence about the service and able to style myself to a large degree (as I am), it’s enough to make me look elsewhere for clothing.

But, if you need fashion help and you’re looking to keep all the clothing you get to build a wardrobe, Men’s Fashion Lab (  might be for you. However, all in all, it’s not for me.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Carnivore Review

Carnivore Club is exactly what it sounds like it is: a monthly subscription box club delivering meat to its constituents.But not just any old hunk of animal protein… “handcrafted cured meats from top artisans,” who hail from around the world. Their website also claims that even similarly titled meats in their collection will never be alike because the products are derived from “the individual recipes of each cured meat savant.”

How Does It Work?

The monthly boxes are themed around a producer who specializes in a particular style of cured meats. For example, French Charcuterie, Spanish Chorizo, or even South African Biltong.
Carnivore Club makes an effort to use only artisans who “purchase ethically treated animals, employ humane slaughtering practices, use locally sourced ingredients and have a passion for making exceptional products.” This ties Carnivore Club to several other monthly subscription box clubs in that they try to practice sustainable, philanthropic, or animal-friendly business habits. Frankly, it makes it easier to type in the old credit card number when you respect the company for the mark it leaves on the world.

The club offers three subscription plans: monthly, bi-monthly, and quarterly. It is also possible to buy a trial, one-month membership for an additional $5 to try things out.A final word from Carnivore Club…The cured meats can last on the shelf for at least a month, but they recommend refrigerating their products to maintain the highest quality for its consumers.

Box of meaty goods!
A quick poke around the internet reveals mostly positive reviews, which include praise for the products as well as kudos for the entire presentation. I think these reviews can be taken at face value because somebody who would subscribe to a monthly delivery of fine cured meats probably knows something about this type of delicacy. The fact that the meats are highly regarded says a lot.
But, it’s always best to give these things a shot for ourselves, isn’t it?

 My Experience With Carnivore..

My first monthly subscription delivery ($50) arrived in a cool cardboard box, decorated to look like a cutting board. Inside, the meats were individually wrapped, and a brochure introducing this month’s supplier sat on top. The brochure also included information about the different meats included.
My box was supplied by Charlito’s Cocina, producer of fine Spanish cured meats. Carnivore Club also included some hints as to how to couple the meats with appropriate cheeses.

The first cured meat selection I tried was Chorizo Seco ($18 purchased individually), which is made with pork and seasoned with sea salt, paprika, and garlic. The texture of the product is sensational. I thought the flavor was above-average at best, and I willingly admit that is probably as personal palate thing. I would eat it again, but I might not go out of my way to do so.

Next, I tried the Cerveza Seca ($18). This selection is dry cured with fermented brown ale and seasoned with fleur de sel. I really enjoyed this cured meat. The beer added something both unique and familiar to the flavor. I would gladly eat the Cerveza Seca again.The third cured meat product I tried was the Salami Picante ($18). It is also dry cured, but this time with chiles, which provide a zap of heat. I also liked this selection, but the spices would limit my consumption to every once in a while.

Finally, the most expensive ($20) of the four cured meats from Charlito’s Cocina was the Trufa Seca. This is also dry cured, and the sausage is not smoked. It also gains the deep, almost earthy flavor from the black truffles and sea salt used to make it. I have no doubt that this selection is well done, but I do not like truffles, so the greatness was lost on me.

The Verdict....

Overall, I give Carnivore Club a positive rating, but not a raving review by any means. I think the products are high-quality, and the presentation is top-notch. But even at a reasonable $50 a month (total value was $74), do I need four artisan cured meats around the house? Especially given the chance that I might not care for the ingredients or flavors of some of the products. But again, still a modest thumbs up for Carnivore Club ( for delivering a high-quality product at a reasonable price.

Fabletics Review

Fabletics is the line of fitness clothing co­founded by Kate Hudson, who is a well-
known actress and daughter of Goldie Hawn. The mission of Fabletics is to motivate and support women to lead healthy and active lifestyles, and do to it with an eye for fashion as well.

My daughter purchased a pair of leggings and a sports bra from the website, and was very pleased with the style and quality of what she received.

However, there is quite a conflict raging on the internet about the legitimacy of the
monthly subscription plan offered by the company and the customer service they provide.

How Does It Work?

Back to my daughter...She was lured in by the 50% off the first order, and probably the cool Kate­Hudson­workout commercial. She didn’t read the fine print (nor did I) that said she would be charged $49.95 each month unless she signed in and elected to “skip” the month.

She was charged for three months without ordering anything. All is not lost, however, as she has three store credits for those months, which she can use to buy three outfits at any time.

It is this stipulation ­­­the month “skip”­­­ that has people choosing sides on the web. There are thousands of people who have complained about the sly way that Fabletics hooks people into a subscription plan.
Package of my clothes

Case in point...When I asked my daughter about the subscription plan as I prepared to write this piece, she said Fabletics doesn’t have a monthly subscription plan.


They do. I should have looked into it more closely myself (as my daughter is 17, and this is on my nickel), but I didn’t.

There are some people who refute the claims that others were tricked into the monthly subscription plan by saying it was quite clear that folks are signing up for such a program, and that it is pretty darn easy to log in and click “skip” before the 6th of each month.

In my brief scan of the website, I didn’t quite find this all­ important “skip” button, or link, or whatever the heck it is. And, unless it is the 6th of the month, isn’t always before the 6th of the month?

UPDATE: I did a little more poking as I write this, and I’ve found that the skipping and/or canceling needs to occur between the 1st and 5th (inclusive) of each month if one wishes to not get charged for the month.

I gleaned this information from the complaint of a woman who needed to return an outfit because it didn’t fit. She noticed she was charged another $49.95 and was subsequently told by customer service that she needed to deal with these things between the 1st and 5th of the month.

Logging in each month between the 1st and 5th to “skip” is one thing, but having to deal with returns during that time frame as well is a little ridiculous.

Furthermore, there are many stories of customers who find it very difficult to cancel their membership. One woman reported that her credit card company had to step in and recalled charges and blocked any future ones as well.

The Verdict

All in all, I recommend not getting involved with the Fabletics ( brand of fitness wear.

My daughter loves the clothing she received from the company, but the hassles associated with the monthly subscription ­­­including not even noticing that we were involved in a subscription plan are enough for me to give them a thumbs down.

Sure, it’s buyer beware on these types of things, but do you really want to do business with a company that makes you jump through hoops to get any satisfaction? I know I don’t...

Monday, August 29, 2016

Ipsy Review

Ipsy is a monthly makeup and beauty subscription plan in the same vein as Birchbox. For $10 per month, Ipsy sends out either full or sample-sized versions of various beauty products in an effort to help you find your new favorites.

And they send them in a cute makeup bag…

While I guess I can appreciate the aesthetics of that purse-sized zip bag, that’s really the review from my daughters, age 15 and 17. I’ll venture a guess that most dads both don’t wear makeup and aren’t well-versed in vanity-mirror-area lingo, so, as a dad, I am depending on my daughters to help me with this review.

How Does It Work?

The subscription process begins with the obligatory subscription plan survey---de rigueur in this product space because these companies need to know about you so they send products that are useful and meaningful. Otherwise, people would be canceling left and right. Nobody is going to pay for a box of stuff they have no use for, no matter how convenient it is to pick it up off your front porch.
Anyway, I had my daughters take the quiz together, and luckily, they are toned and colored and hued similarly (go genetics and heredity). I saw questions like, “What is your skin tone?” and “What color are your eyes?”

The questionnaire also got into what type of looks are they trying to create (Hip/Edgy, Sporty, Professional, Worldly…to name a few).

Next, my daughters were shown pictures of stylists and asked which ones they relate to most.
Then came questions about their comfort level with makeup application and how adventurous they are with trying new products.

Yay for Make up! 
And then (yes, there’s more) which brand would they like to try (from what appeared to me must have been a rather exhaustive list of makeup brands).

Next, what kind of makeup products do they like? Mascara? Blush? Lipstick? Etc.

Then, what kind of skincare, haircare, and nail care products? Mask? Exfoliant? Serum? Etc.

And then…Where do you shop? Target? Sephora? Etc.

Yes, there’s still more…Skin concerns? Redness? Wrinkles? Acne? Etc.

And finally, a description of their hair…Needs volume. Extreme Curl. Etc.

I listed all of that because I wanted to paint (nails? No…no) the picture of how thorough Ipsy is. 

They really make an attempt to provide their customers with both value and products they can use.

My Experience With Ipsy

Here’s what my girls got in their first cute makeup case…

A full-sized Mellow Cosmetics Baked Eyeshadow in Plum (retail price $8). The gals said they loved the color and the way the eyeshadow had a “low-key shine to it.” I’m going to interpret “low-key” as subtle. Needless to say, they loved the eyeshadow.

Next, bareMinerals Gen Nude Matte Liquid Lipcolor in Swag (2 ml, retail value $8.30). It looked pink to me, but the girls said mauve. We all agreed that it smelled like chocolate cake. Back to the girls: this Swag color went well with the Plum eyeshadow, and would work well in various other makeup situations.

The next products were Shray Queen Bee Mask and Shray Ms. Amazing Mask (retail value $6 each). The Queen Bee mask was made with honey and designed to treat acne and redness. My older daughter tried it and liked it, especially the fact that it only requires ten minutes to do the job. She has things to do…

My younger daughter tried the Ms. Amazing mask and enjoyed it as well. It hydrates just like the Bee Mask, and has a nice fragrance as well.

The next product in the bag was a full-sized Trust Fund Beauty Nail Polish in No Filter (retail $15). My girls said it went on really well, providing great coverage after one coat. And the color, although neutral, was a pretty, light lilac.

Finally, also included was Not Soap, Radio Joy Inducing Hand and Body Lotion (20 ml, value of $1). Smells like lemon meringue pie to me. The girls said it absorbed well, didn’t feel heavy and greasy. They went through the trial size lickety-split. 

The Verdict

The box had an overall value of $44, which is amazing for a $10 subscription, especially considering that my daughters liked every single product. Definitely a thumbs up for Ipsy ( I’m going to get a subscription for each both girls, instead of making them share one.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Frank & Oak Review

So just what is Frank and Oak?

Frank and Oak is yet another monthly men's subscription company which offers a monthly delivery of clothing for a regular subscription price. I never realized just how many of these there were until I started checking out their services and writing reviews.

The Frank and Oak brand reports a manifesto which begins with the following questions: “What will you do today? How will you outfit the day? Will you rise to your ambition? Will you follow what instinct stirs?”  It’s pretty catchy and inspirational, I guess. Later on, the manifesto tells me that “Today can transform, if you choose it.”

And finally, as if you have some sort of obligation to live up to their styles: “Don’t just dress up. Step up.” Furthermore, they advertise a purposeful style which will serve you equally well in “the boardroom, the bar, or brunch,” personalized service (24/7), and shared experiences through the “events [they] throw and the stories [they] tell.”


The company is based in Montreal, Canada, and the styles and schemes all tend toward a rustic, outdoorsy vibe. As such, the monthly subscription service is called The Hunt Club --- I mean, Elevate…which isn’t a monthly subscription service at all. Things have changed quite a bit at Frank and Oak over the past few years. They’ve opened several stores and even have had their fashions included in several runway-type shows.

How Does it Work?

So here is how the Elevate program works…A one-time annual fee of $20 provides access to Frank and Oak’s exclusive member benefits. Those benefits include free express shipping (2-4 days), free returns, and a 5% store credit on every purchase.

Frank and Oak then offers high-quality clothes at affordable prices. They are able to do this because they cut out the middle man. “We are the designer, retailer, and manufacturer.” However, the next area in the “how-it-works” explanation says that the membership is limited, 100% free, but access is dependent on availability.

There seems to be some sort of transition happening within the company. So the best way to figure out what is going on is to give them a try…

My Experience With Frank and Oak..

The Elevate program comes with a 90-day free trial of the above member benefits. I signed up and they sent me a box of items to try on, keep (and pay for) if I liked, or return (for free) if I didn’t. It was now that I learned about the “limited access” to particular products. They only produce a limited number of their particular styles, creating a buzz for the hot items, and encouraging customers to visit the site often so they don’t miss out.

Some of the items I was hoping to receive in my order were not available. Kind of a bummer. I did receive some nice looking clothes. A cool pair of distressed jeans, a white, light-fabric button-down shirt, a grey tweed jacket, and a green and blue, horizontal-striped knit tie. Honestly, it’s a pretty freakin’ sweet looking outfit, straight off of some northeastern college campus in the fall.
However, the shirt did not fit well. It was uncomfortable through the chest area. I don’t have a model’s build (thin and long), so in order to get a good fit around my midsection, I’d be able to fit two of my necks up top.

The jeans fit pretty well, but still tended to drop a little as I moved. Again, not cut for a guy like me. The jacket fit was reasonable because I could wear it open, but buttoning it was not much of an option.  I dig the tie.

The Verdict.....

In reading up on the history of Frank and Oak, I’ve learned that they’ve made some strides in the right direction as far as their business model is concerned. It’s nice that you get a crate of clothes to try each month, but even though the return shipping is free, it’s still a pain in the neck to deal with that trip to the post office each month. A trip I know I’m going to take because I don’t have the right build for the Frank and Oak cut of clothes.

All in all, I have to give Frank and Oak a negative review, especially if you are an average dude on the way to a dad bod. If you’re built like a fashion model, this might be right up your alley and I encourage you to check them out at But if that’s the case, you probably work for a clothing company already and get your stuff for free.