If you’re in North America and Facebook detects that you’re remotely interested in clothes, you’ve probably come across ads for the Frank And Oak monthly subscription box, and hovered over it, wondering if it’s really worth it.
There’s no subscription fee and you can opt out of a certain month, or unsubscribe completely at any time for no cost whatsoever. You can also return any items you don’t want within 30 days for a full refund (they’ll even pay shipping), and they’ll only keep a styling fee of $25 if you return everything. This means that if you received nine items and only keep one, they won’t charge the extra $25.
On top of that, all their materials are sustainable and ethically sourced from around the world, everything is recyclable (including the tags), and their clothes are very practical and made to last. Considering the horrid effects of the fast-fashion industry (looking at you, H&M), Frank And Oak know where it’s at.
Anyway, back to the box…
My personal style can be a little out there – I don’t hold back when it comes to glam makeup, fancy (thrifted) skirts, and giant platforms. This can (and has) resulted in some unwanted attention in the past, so when I move to a new city, I like to check out the fashion trends so I know what to expect. Knowing I was moving to Quebec in a matter of weeks, I decided to subscribe to the Montreal-based fashion box to see what French Canadian style was all about.
Here’s what happened.
Frank And Oak Style Plan: A Review
After drinking the proverbial Kool-Aid and clicking on a <gasp> Facebook ad, I arrived at a beautiful-looking website and was asked to pick from the men’s box or the women’s box, and place a range of style preferences (preferred patterns, whether I liked casual, classic, or creative styles, colours I’d never wear, sizes for different items of clothing) and what I would usually spend on shirts, dresses, pants, ect. I chose the cheapest in all areas.
Everything was very visual – I was asked to select a range of preferred outfits and items from images, and knew exactly what I was selecting at all times. It was an easy process and I felt confident about my choices.
Two days before the box is due to be dispatched, I would get an email to preview the box and confirm the items.
It should be noted that if you don’t confirm or decline the box for that month within two-days, the box is automatically confirmed, your credit card is billed, and the box is shipped.
I was road-tripping around Jasper, Alberta with no internet, and had no idea the email for my first box had arrived. Three-days flew by and, low and behold, when I got back and realised more than $300 had been billed to my credit card for clothes I’d never seen before, I immediately contacted Frank And Oak to explain the situation.
Surprisingly, they were extremely accommodating. Since the box preview fell over a long weekend, they hadn’t shipped mine yet and happily gave me a refund.
Crisis averted, and I was looking forward to actually being able to preview the next month’s selection.
I was living in Montreal by the time box two came around, so I was super-excited to take a look.
The previews come with nine stylist-selected items already in your box, with a price on the top right-hand corner of the page. You can thumbs-down any items you hate and never want to see again, then refresh to see new items in their place.
I wanted to see allll the options (maybe there were ones I’d like better if I kept going?), so I kept thumbs-downing things to see what else they had, and then eventually I ran out of options, the price dropped significantly, and I couldn’t go back and thumbs-up anything I rejected.
I used the chat function to ask a human if there were any more items, and some new ones popped up, though because I look terrible in pastel colours, I had to reject more and the number of items diminished again. I ran in to this problem a couple of times.
Eventually someone at Frank And Oak told me they might be adding more items later in the day, so I waited.
When I got back to the preview screen, most items I wanted were sold out and the cost of the box was hovering at around $200 for what I perceived as less items.
Since none of the items I really wanted were available, I decided to skip that month and wait for the next one.
Third time lucky, right?
The email came, I previewed the box immediately and liked way more items than I had the previous month. Win! I thumbs-downed a few odd colours that would make me look like I had liver failure, but kept most of them, including some jeans, a scarf, a fluffy navy sweater, two black dresses, some 40s-style tweed pants, black boots, and a few other things.
For the first time in three-months, I hit ‘confirm’ and almost immediately got a receipt. It cost $224, but for nine items, it looked like a pretty good deal. So far so good! It wasn’t until I got the shipping notice that I realized what was actually going on.
You have to confirm the items you want to keep by clicking on the image. There’s no thumbs-up button to do this, you just have to know to double-click the items you want. I didn’t do this on any of the items, so the top three were automatically confirmed for me, and the shipping notice read that I was only receiving three items for $224, rather than nine.
One item was a $70 scarf (to put this in perspective, the last scarf I bought was $1 at a garage sale) and I tried really hard not to think about it.
Because I’m living in Montreal, impressively, the box arrived the next day. There were indeed three items in the box and, I have to say, they were beautifully folded and packaged.
what was in my box
The first item I picked up was the $70 scarf. It was a deep red, finely woven, and thick enough to withstand a Canadian winter, but not chunky. It was stunning. I was floored. The picture above doesn’t do it justice.
I’m a traveller so I usually thrift clothes, or buy cheaper ones, so wearing brand on the higher end of the scale was an experience I hadn’t had in a while.
The sheer quality of everything was a nice surprise – it’s something I didn’t even consider, but it made deciding what to keep astonishingly difficult. All items were extremely well-designed, and made from soft and wearable materials that had a nice weight to them – something fast-fashion labels just don’t have.
The black dress didn’t look all that remarkable from the outside – it looked like a few other dresses I’d seen on racks everywhere for years. It was shorter in length and sheer with small buttons down the front, but didn’t feel like it would blow everywhere in the wind or cling to my tights on cold days.
The sweater was thick and warm. I think I was imagining something slightly oversized when I saw the preview because I’m small and things usually look big on me, but it was surprisingly fitted with room underneath for layers, and sat just above my hips.
On top of that, everything fit perfectly.
Is It Worth It?
The thing with subscription boxes is that they’re meant to be great value. I’ve signed up to a few beauty boxes in the past, and have received quite a few items for a seemingly low cost, so I assumed this would be a similar thing.
While you do save around 20% on each item with the Frank And Oak Style Plan, for regular humans who work for a standard wage in Canada, it’s not cost-effective. What I didn’t realise upon signing up is the more you ‘confirm’ to your box, the higher the price goes. For example, I added a Thinsulate snow coat recently and, with three other items in the box, the cost of the whole box jacked up to more than $500. Sure, you’re getting a discount, but it’s not a huge one.
All in all, if you’re happy to spend a little more on quality, durable and sustainable attire that will last, then yes, the Frank And Oak Style Plan subscription box is totally worth it.
If you’ve been gawping at the cost and can’t fathom spending that much money on only a couple of items, then maybe it’s not for you, but I wouldn’t rule it out. Signing up is a risk-free process – you never pay for anything you don’t want, and if you proceed with the box and don’t like any items when it arrives, it’ll only cost you $25. If you can part with $25 or more for the sake of curiosity, then I’d give it a try.
At the end of the day, I probably wouldn’t have picked out any of the items I received from a rack in a store, which is kind of the point of investing in a stylist. In that capacity, it’s a fun and interesting thing to try.