If a year ago you told me that I would be renting clothes one day I probably would've rolled my eyes or laughed. I had heard of clothing rental subscription services before but never really understood the appeal.
That was until last April when I was heading to NYC for a conference. A Facebook Live and photoshoot were added to my trip's itinerary and I was totally unprepared (mentally and wardrobe-wise).
Dani wasn't frazzled at all, she just told me to Rent the Runway. (If you're not familiar, Rent the Runway allows you to borrow clothes for a fraction of the price rather than buy them.) I was hesitant to spend money on clothing that I couldn't keep but I decided to give it a go. It would be cheaper and a whole lot easier than shopping for two new outfits in a crunch.
I ended up spending around $90 for two dresses after applying a promo code for my first rental. (If you're trying Rent the Runway for the first time, you can use promo code FIRSTRTR for a 20% discount as well.)
Filming our Facebook Live wearing the Blue Magnolia Cut Out Dress by Parker
Together the blue Parker and black Joie dress I rented retailed for just under $600. I loved that I was able to get two quality pieces for under $100 bucks — and since I was wearing them for press, I was glad to give them back.
I'm not against the double wear but there are certain occasions (like taking pictures for your website or attending a friend's wedding) that make an outfit less desirable afterward. I also hate clutter and share a closet with my boyfriend so I try to be mindful of how much wear a clothing purchase will truly get.
That one-off rental ended up being my last Rent the Runway purchase for a while. But then Dani started using their Unlimited membership and my interested was piqued again.
With Rent the Runway's Unlimited membership you can rent as many items as you want (up to four pieces at a time) for $159/month. You can choose from dresses, tops, bottoms, outerwear, bags, and jewelry. Shipping and dry cleaning are included in the monthly fee and you can pause your membership at any time (skip one to three months).
Taking photos for press wearing the Black Cyndi Dress by Joie.
The end of my 2017 was packed with work trips, vacations, and weddings. Since I live in Florida (where it is usually somewhere between 70 and 90 degrees), I have zero cold-weather clothing and my everyday style is super laid back (usually leggings and t-shirts). With more trips to NYC planned and events that would require real adult clothing, I felt like RTR's Unlimited membership might save me from spending thousands of dollars on winter gear and fancy dresses.
I signed up (using a promo code again, of course — FIRSTRTR will also get you your first month of Unlimited for $99) and ended up using it for three months! Right now I'm on pause because my lifestyle has reverted back to leggings and t-shirts (not complaining) but having access to unlimited clothing while I was traveling to different climates and attending special events was the best thing ever.
Obviously renting clothes isn't for everyone but if you feel like you're spending a lot of money on clothing trying to keep up with your ever-changing schedule, a rental subscription service might be for you. To give you a better idea, here are six times when Rent the Runway's Unlimited membership can save you money on clothing.
At a wedding in Tennesee wearing the Blue Veronica Dress by Parker with a Sondra Roberts clutch.
If you're in your 20s or 30s, you always have a wedding to go to. Between the actual I do's, rehearsal dinners, bridal showers, and bachelorette parties you can easily go broke — even without spending money on things to wear.
If you know someone that has used RTR, it was probably for some type of wedding-related event.
Unlimited makes attending weddings even easier because you can rent multiple outfits and accessories to put together unique, complete looks for a flat monthly fee.
The dress I wore above retails for $348 and the bag is $238! For $159, I rented this entire look and two tops to wear around town that weekend — plus, whatever else I rented that month!
In just the past few months I went to Mississippi, Tennesee, New Jersey and New York. Like I said, I live in Florida where we have one season so my wardrobe is definitely not prepared for fall or winter.
Since I've been traveling so much lately, being able to rent clothes that are a little bit warmer and climate appropriate has been super helpful. Especially when you look at the cost of knits and outerwear. A new coat can cost you a few hundred dollars. Rent the Runway has a great selection of outerwear so I've been able to avoid buying seasonal pieces that I would only need a handful of days a year.
3. Special Events
My closet is not overflowing with evening gowns, nor do I want it to be. So for those random occasions when I really need to bring my A-game, I'd rather just borrow the fancy $500 dress. Rent the Runway's claim to fame is definitely their evening wear. Prepare to gush over intricate Monique Lhuillier gowns and chic ensembles from Badgley Mischka. For formal and black tie events, renting clothes is the ultimate solution.
At an outdoor concert wearing a Free People White Lace Off Shoulder Top and a Chloe backpack.
4. Trying Trendy Styles
Fast fashion is a death trap for your finances. Trends are always changing and fast fashion pieces are priced perfectly so you consider them low-cost purchases.
But a twenty dollar shirt here and a forty-dollar romper there can really add up. Especially when those items start deteriorating after a few washes (cheap often means bad quality) or go out of style so quickly! I'd much rather wear that cute trendy item once or twice and then send it back.
5. Beating Baggage Fees
As more and more airlines become fee happy, travelers are slimming down to the necessities. I recently flew Spirit because the flight was close to $150 cheaper than the next option. But their basic fare comes with no extras and you even have to pay for your carry-on if it's bigger than a backpack (i.e. no rolling suitcases).
I wasn't mad though because I actually love Spirit (you can't beat the prices and my flight is always on time/early) and was eager to test one of Rent the Runway's Unlimited features: sending your clothes to your destination.
I packed a backpack with the essentials (undergarments, a pair of pajamas, jeans, and a “just in case this doesn't work out” dress) and had my RTR selections shipped to my destination.
On this trip, I was going to NYC, so I had my items shipped to their Flagship store and picked them up once I arrived in the city. I was able to wear my items, trade them out for new ones a few days later, and then drop off my final pieces at the UPS store. I flew back to Florida with no dirty laundry and no baggage fees.
Being able to ship your rentals to your destination is so convenient and often cheaper than packing a suitcase.
If you are going somewhere that has a physical RTR location (currently NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, Topanga and Washington D.C.), you can ship it directly to the store and pick it up when you arrive. The benefit of this is you'll probably feel more confident that your rentals will arrive on time — and if something doesn't fit/look right, you can swap it out for something else right in the store.
When you're traveling somewhere that doesn't have an RTR store, no problem — you can ship to your friend's address or the hotel you're staying at.
I'm not pregnant, but if I was I'm pretty sure that maternity clothes would not be something I'd want to spend money on. How frustrating to buy something that you'll only be able to wear for a few months?
Rent the Runway also offers maternity clothing, which I think is pretty genius. Since your body is constantly changing while pregnant, how nice to just send your clothing back when it doesn't fit anymore. They have options for work, everyday, and special events. Their collections even incorporate some non-maternity pieces that would still be flattering with a baby bump.
My personal experience with Rent the Runway's Unlimited membership has been pretty great and I plan to use it when I need it and pause it when I don't. Renting clothes has not only saved me money but some highly coveted space in my closet. If you want to try it for yourself, remember to use promo code FIRSTRTR to get your first month for just $99.
Have you tried RTR or another clothing rental subscription service? I'd love to hear what you think about renting clothes.
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