Renting my clothes?? Really?

YUP! You read it right. Before Covid-19 and quarantine, I was trying out various clothing rental programs! Not just special occasion rentals either, I was renting my everyday clothes! In other words, my jeans, sweaters, blouses, blazers, handbags – the clothes I was wearing on the regular, many of them were rentals. In fact, I rented the dress pictured above in October 2019 and wore it 3 times before returning it.

At first, I wasn’t sure. I had hesitation and questions…

  • Would the items feel clean and fresh?
  • How would the clothes fit? 
  • Could it actually save me money?
  • Would the clothes be age-appropriate?

The answers to those questions have generally been a BIG Y.E.S. Some are better (in my opinion) than others, and I’ll break that all down below.

This is what I’ve learned while renting my clothes

I’ve found I really like the variety rentals offer and the chance to try out new styles and brands. The truth is, I don’t always want to shell out hundreds of dollars on a piece I only wear a few times a year. And renting allows me to try before I buy.  And also without succumbing to fast-fashion – which can be oh so tempting, but in reality is bad for our environment.

The upside is, IF there’s something I just love so much, that I can’t bear to send back, most programs have an option to buy pieces at a reduced cost. So far though, I haven’t bought any of the pieces I’ve been renting. Wearing it a few times has totally satiated my need for new. But, I have kept a few pieces for multiple months because they were that good. And in some cases, I even re-rented a few because I liked them so much.

IMHO, rentals seem to work really well for the “frosting” pieces. The more unique items. You know, those pieces that are memorable and that you might get sick of after a few wears. But that’s often what we need to make an outfit feel special and not basic and boring.

Why Clothing Rental is PERFECT for your Post-Quarantine Wardrobe

When life literally stopped and we were all sheltering in place in March 2020, I paused my rental memberships, because if I wasn’t going out, and only wearing loungewear,  why did I need new clothes, right?

Now that things are opening up, it’s time to get dressed again. And even put on a bra. So, I’m reinstating my rentals with a few of the companies I had tried, and here’s why...

  • I am not sure what I’m getting dressed for in the next few months, so there’s hesitation to invest in new pieces (I like to look at purchases on a cost per wear basis). Rentals allow me to have fresh new items without the commitment. I might go heavy on patio chic items this summer but that might not fit my life next year.
  • The COVID 19LBS is real. I’m currently NOT my usual size (I’ve gained 10 lbs and on my 5’4″ frame that’s a full size). And I don’t want to buy items in larger sizes if my plan (hope) is that I will return to my normal size once life is regulated. Rentals allow me to get larger sizes in cute styles, from quality brands, without the long term investment, or buying really cheap pieces just to get me through.
  • Availability in traditional retail stores is low. Think about it, the entire production chain was halted with the pandemic so everything is backed up. I tried to order a pair of jeans for a client last week and they’re back-ordered until September! Rentals provide immediate satisfaction – and the expectations are different as well.
  • If you’re still working from home and need more variety in your zoom attire, rentals can fix that pain point, easy, peasy.

How does clothing rental work?

Each clothing rental subscription program has its own particular nuances, however, the way they generally work is the same.

  • For a monthly fee, you can rent somewhere between 3-5 items for as long or short as you’d like.
  • Then, return them in a pre-paid package and exchange them for new items.
  • No need to wash or dry-clean, the service does that part for you.

I’ve tried quite a few subscription services. A few were GREAT and a few were NOT. The ones that disappointed generally either didn’t have enough options to pick from or when the products arrived they felt cheap and worn out.

Here’s a rundown of the clothing rental services I’ve tried and/or researched but haven’t tried yet. As well as discount codes that offer a reduced rate for your first month or two. That way, you can test some out yourself.

The 4 Clothing Rental Services I like and Use the Most

Armoire

At first, I was attracted to Armoire because the clothes felt more age-appropriate than some of the other rental services. In other words, they carried clothes that were not dowdy, but also not so hip I felt like I was trying to be 20.

Additionally, they stock brands I know and like. Such as White and Warren, Joie, Equipment, Paige, and DVF. And lastly, the clothes arrive beautifully wrapped and feel very clean and fresh. Some shipments have even arrived sporting pieces NWT (new with tags). And possibly important to some of you, Armoire offers Maternity clothes to rent as well. Genius or what??

Packages arrive within the week AND you can select new items before your old ones are returned – as far as I can tell Armoire is the only service that does this.

Typically a monthly rental with Armoire is $149/month. But if you use this LINK, you will get TWO MONTHS FOR $99 TOTAL!

I rented this sweater from Armoire in January! To buy retail, it is $195.

 

Rent the Runway Unlimited

Of all the clothing rental companies, Rent the Runway might be the one that you’re most familiar with. And possibly what you think of when you think clothing rentals like gowns for weddings. However, with the RTR Unlimited program, you can rent everyday clothes, gowns, outerwear, handbags, and more. As well as maternity if that’s the stage of life you’re in.

The pieces I rent from RTR Unlimited tend to be higher-end, more designer pieces. Such as Victoria Beckham, Tanya Taylor, Ba&Sh, Proenza Schouler, Derek Lam. For me, they’re pieces that I might not splurge on to own but that adds a lot of interest to my wardrobe.

Typically a monthly rental with RTR Unlimited is $159/month. Use this LINK and receive $30 OFF any of their monthly plans.

 

Both the sweater and coat are from RTR Unlimited!

Nuuly

This program is with the Urban Outfitters group. While I originally thought it skewed a bit young for me, I was wrong. Brands like Anthropologie, Farm Rio, Carolina K, Love Shack Fancy, Free People, Yumi Kim, Citizens of Humanity, AG Denim, Zadig & Voltaire. It’s perfect for the patio chic life I think summer 2020 will entail.

The Nuuly rental program is $88/month for 6 items (the most I’ve seen in a program). With this link get $10 OFF your first month.

Yumi Kim dress on The Wardrobe Consultant
Yumi Kim Dress available thru Nuuly

Infinite Style by Ann Taylor

If you like Ann Taylor’s clothing and want to spice up your work wardrobe, this rental is for you! Many of the options on the store’s main site are available to rent here.

Most importantly, if you’re PETITE, much of Ann Taylor’s petite collection is also available to rent. In fact, this is one of the few that have petite clothing as a rental option. I liked it but didn’t love this program. There was not enough ability for me to personalize what I was receiving for it to be of value to me.

Typically a monthly rental with Infinite Style by Ann Taylor is $95/month. Use this LINK and receive $25 off. 

This tie-neck blouse is a wardrobe staple. I own this one, but it’s available to rent on Infinite Style by Ann Taylor.

The Other Clothing Rental Services I’ve heard About but haven’t Tried Yet.

Vince Unfold

While I adore the VInce aesthetic, I’m not quite sure I’d find enough variety to justify the $160/month charge. I think Vince is great as Cake but not necessarily as Frosting. If you’re a diehard Vince gal – here’s a link for $30 off your first month.

Rebecca Taylor RNTD

Similarly to Vince, Rebecca Taylor is a single brand rental service. However, Rebecca Taylor is known for floral, feminine pieces that have an edge. So I could see trying their rentals out because they would add some oomph to my wardrobe. Use this link for $60 off your first month.

My List at Bloomingdale’s

I briefly joined this clothing rental program. The plus is that there are many items to pick from because it’s a department store. But like the Ann Taylor program, what arrives in your box is a bit of a game of chance. And all if the items need to be returned at once. Use this link to try My List at Bloomingdales for $99 (regularly $149)

Le Tote

I tried Le Tote a while ago and was very disappointed, the products were very worn out and pilled. And they had a musty smell. Kind of what you’d imagine in a bad way about rentals – so I canceled right away. If you’ve tried it and I just had a fluke bad experience, please let me know!

All of these Outfits Have at Least ONE RENTAL

Jacket rental from Rent the Runway
Jacket rental Rent the Runway
Top rental Armoire
Sweater rental Rent the Runway
Dress rental Armoire
Top rental Rent the Runway
Dress rental Rent the Runway

Have you tried clothing rentals? Do you love it? Hate it?

Are you willing to give it them try? Please share with me any feedback you have from your own experiences as well as any questions.

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Photo: Molly Nook

Author

Cleveland-based personal stylist and fashion blogger.

5 Comments

  1. I have used rent the runway for special events- even my daughters wedding 3 years ago. I love that they will send you an additional size and a back up. I tried Nuuly. Their selection in larger sizes 12/14 is horrible. Things were never available. I was super disappointed. Now I’m done with those companies (Anthro, Free People, Urban) because of their racial profiling. Just my 2 cents. Thanks for a great blog post, Hallie!

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