New Virtual Styling Services Deliver Handpicked Wardrobes to Your Doorstep

Need new clothes but have no time to shop? An online service has you covered.

A smattering of the colorful, office-appropriate options that arrived in the author's Cakestyle box. Photograph by Erik Uecke.

Many women in Washington suffer from too-busy-to-shop syndrome. Luckily, there’s now a service for that–and it requires only 15 minutes in front of a computer.

Virtual styling, a new approach to personal shopping in which customers fill out an online survey and stylists mail them a hand-picked selection of items based on their answers, may be the solution not just for busy women but for those who hate to shop.

Of the services I tried for this article, Chicago-based CakeStyle is my favorite. Two weeks after I filled out a 21-question survey about my sizes, tastes, and needs, a cardboard box arrived, neatly packed with chic pieces of clothing and jewelry from such labels as 3.1 Phillip Lim, Theory, and Kate Spade. There’s no charge for the shipment–you pay only for anything you keep. Two more things I loved: CakeStyle threw in a metallic belt as a gift for trying the service, and a video my stylist filmed suggested outfit combinations.

Though I hadn’t spoken to the person pulling my clothes, she nailed my request for arty, office-appropriate pieces that could also be dressed up for a night out. Sifting through the box, I felt as if I were on a dream shopping spree. My favorite brands, colors, and cuts were all there. I knew she and I were on the same page when I pulled out a bright-orange pencil skirt by Rachel Roy–a near carbon copy of a J. Crew style I had already been wearing for months. Surprisingly, most everything fit.

CakeStyle ships quarterly, although you can opt to receive new boxes more frequently or less.

“We wanted to find a better way to get busy women out the door in the morning,” says the company’s CEO, Cecelia Myers.

Considering that my new wardrobe arrived at my door, I’d say she’s on to something.

This article appears in the May 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.

Sarah is the Editor-in-Chief of Washingtonian Bride & Groom, and writes about weddings, fashion, and shopping. Her work has also appeared in Refinery29, Bethesda Magazine, and Washington City Paper, among others. She is a Georgetown University graduate, lives in Columbia Heights, and you can find her on Instagram at @washbridegroom and @sarahzlot.