So as I mentioned before, instead of purchasing one new (or new-to-me) item to add to my closet for January (my new year’s resolution), I decided to try a one month subscription for Rent the Runway Unlimited. If you’re not familiar with RTR, they’ve long been in the business of renting out dresses for special occasions (weddings mostly or maybe company parties). And I’m not sure when they started, but they also now rent out everyday clothing and accessories in the form of RTR Unlimited. It’s like a lending library of clothes, where you can borrow 4 items at a time with unlimited swaps (so you’re only limited by shipping times but more on that later). You pay a one month subscription fee (I paid $129, it’s usually $159 but right now they’re doing a great promo for $99 with the code FIRSTRTR) and all shipping and cleaning costs are included. I should note that they also have a plan called RTR Update which allows you to rent 4 items for one month (usually for $89 a month but right now for $69). The RTR Update plan could be good if you already know what you want to try and know your sizing, but the RTR unlimited has a lot more flexibility and if you’re experimenting with styles or don’t know your sizing very well, I think Unlimited is the way to go.
Anyway, I decided to try this service because I was in a real style rut for the month of December and January. I was getting to be uber pregnant but I did not want to buy any more clothes. I was basically living in my Gap maternity overalls from eBay and my Elizabeth Suzann Georgia midi dress, and I was getting bored. I’m not sure where I heard that RTR was renting maternity clothes, but once I discovered that I knew I had to try it out. And what a great idea too because why not rent clothes you’ll only wear for a month or two? This is exactly the kind of service that’s needed to keep our closets small and our consumption to a minimum. They have some great maternity brands including Ingrid and Isabel (not the Target diffusion but the original), Seraphine, Rosie Pope as well as a selection of maternity jeans. I wish I had discovered this sooner instead of purchasing items through trial and error (and finding out I don’t like over the belly leggings and over the belly jeans—or any maternity jeans for that matter). Though I did get to try form fitting maternity dresses (like the gray one up top) and realized I don’t like that style at all. And I got to try out several maternity dresses for my baby shower. You can search through maternity wear by trimester, which is a great way to see what they have available for your size.
I think this is also a really great service in the winter time, when you want to change up your winter coats but you don’t want to own 10 different coats. In fact, I’m thinking of possibly selling more of my coats and keeping only a couple of my favorites, then re-subscribing next winter to borrow as many different kind of winter coats as I want. This year I was finally able to try that teddy bear coat trend by renting one, and I didn’t have to feel guilty about the purchasing of a 100% plastic (polyester) trendy coat that I’d have to sell off at Crossroads when it “no longer sparked joy.” Instead I wore it everyday for 2 weeks, got lots of compliments and then sent it back to try a different winter coat. I also realized that as much as I love the trend, it doesn’t really fit in with my own simple/minimal aesthetic and it skews a bit young for me. I did however love a very simple tan Vince winter coat that’s currently on sale TheRealReal (which I’m tempted to purchase but I already wore it for two weeks and do I really need to own it? Probably not). Also if you have holiday parties in the winter, it’s great to do the RTR unlimited for one month to rent both coats and cocktail dresses!
Finally, I think if you’re wanting to experiment with your style but don’t want to buy a lot of different items (or try to get them on the cheap with fast fashion), this service is so great! I never thought I would like brown (being a mostly blue and black neutrals type of person), but I really loved the brown coats I tried. I also experimented with color and more feminine styles (a pink shearling coat! a royal blue dress!) but still didn’t like those styles. And instead of just an at home try on, you can wear it out in public and really get a feel of whether or not this style is “you.”
There are new styles added every week so that makes it fun and fresh. It feels like shopping every time you send your items in and are ready to try something new. You can “heart'“ your favorites so it’s easy to see what you’ve already picked out, and you can also filter your hearts by what’s available to rent. The RTR app is really good at helping you find what you want to rent next and the check out process is super simple. You can also review and rate items easily on the app. But just a note, using this service won’t “cure” you of your overconsumption tendencies if you you’re a shopaholic. And really, it’s just a redirection of your shopping habits, but it will help keep you from accumulating more.
The clothes come clean and freshly dry cleaned and are shipped in a reusable garment bag (good for them for minimizing package waste, though I wish they didn’t have to use those dry cleaner plastic bags but of course the clothes need to be protected in plastic like all shipped clothing). Shipping is via UPS so it’s pretty quick and easy (and all paid for by your subscription fee).
But here are some of the cons with this program:
~ Some of the most popular pieces are worn as heck. They do have a quality control survey at the end of your rental so you can let them know if you thought the item was worn out. But I can see that for their bottom line, they’re going to try to keep the clothes in rotation as long as possible.
~ Their selection of clothes need some improvement. Since they’ve been focused on party and fancy dresses for most of their existence, they have a lot of great options for that. But when it comes to their regular clothes, I would love to see brands like Acne Studios, APC, Doen, Reformation, and maybe some other higher end brands or other trendy brands (and higher end ethical brands like Stella McCartney). I don’t want to rent J.Crew, which is something I could easily buy if I wanted to. In terms of maternity clothing, a higher end line that’s not easily accessible like Hatch would be a great addition. Also because they only have one of each size of everything, sometimes the better brands are rented out all month and you never get a chance to try them.
~ Logistically with shipping times, you can only really enjoy a small number of items a month. It took about a week for turnaround (I shipped items on a Monday and got another shipment the following Monday). So I probably thoroughly enjoyed 3 items during my one month rental period: a Vince coat for 2 weeks, the teddy bear coat for 2 weeks and the Ingrid and Isabel faux leather leggings for 3 weeks. Everything else was tried on and shipped back asap. In some ways going with the RTR Update plan where you rent only 4 items for the whole month might be a better value (as long as you like all 4 items and they fit).
But overall I’m very happy to have tried this service and I think I got what I needed for the $130 I spent. I got to experiment a little, a got a baby shower dress, and I got to fall in love with some brands (Ingrid and Isabel for maternity clothes are really great!). I’ve cancelled my plan for now (which was really easy to do—it just took one email to them) since I’m going to be giving birth and I don’t see myself “dressing up” or going out very much for the next couple of months. Also I look forward to fitting back into some of my more forgiving pre-maternity clothes and getting to rediscover my own wardrobe again. But I will definitely keep RTR in mind the next time I want to try a bunch of things without accumulating new stuff! I should also mention that if you really love something you rented, you can buy it directly from them for about 50% off their retail price. But to be honest if you can find it either online on sale, through TheRealReal (like the Vince coat I like), or through eBay it’s a much better deal since the stuff from RTR gets worn a lot and it’s probably a lot more worn than if you can find it secondhand elsewhere. If you’re interested, this referral link gets you $30 off your first rental (and fyi I will also be getting a $30 off promo code for my next subscription).
Would you guys rent clothes from RTR?