Wearing high-end designers and the latest trends on a daily basis is not a reality for most normal people. Also who wants to invest in fast fashion where the trend is bound to die and live again in another decade or two. Popping up to somewhat serve this need are rental companies for clothing. I decided to sign up for Rent the Runway (RTR)’s monthly subscription on a whim, when I received a discount in the mail. RTR has received a lot of clout in recent years with its premise of renting expensive dresses and accessories that you’ll only wear once for special occasions but they’ve also grown another department to service those who want to rent unlimitedly. I wish this existed when I was in High School, but instead I have gowns I’ve only worn once still hanging up in my closet at my parents. RTR’s Unlimited option is a monthly subscription service that includes renting any three items at a time, you can return any at any time, and keep for as long as you’d like, as long as you continue paying the monthly fee.
Anyway I had received the discount from RTR for my birthday and thought that I would use it on the Unlimited subscription since I had always been curious and why not take advantage of the discount? To my dismay though the promotion’s small print listed that it could not be applied to the Unlimited service – go figures! While browsing in their jewelry section for what I could rent, I came to the realization that to rent one thing in order to use the discount wasn’t worth it, especially with the added cost of shipping (with the monthly subscription service you pay no shipping, essentially its tied in with the cost). Eventually, after sleeping on it, I subscribed to Rent the Runway’s monthly subscription without using any discount.
It’s been three months later and I’m still subscribed, but am I sold on it?? Ehhh… kinda. It hasn’t entirely won my heart and the monthly cost just seems sooo not necessary for what you receive in the end. In these three months of service, I’ve received a handful of items that I never worn and shipped back either due to sizing, fit, or style. And then I received a small handful of items that I considered maybe buying. In total, I’ve had 28 items shipped to me through eleven orders. The average amount of time it took in between sending back to when I received the next order was about four days. Here’s how each item panned out.
First order: a Shoshanna coral red cold shoulder blouse, never worn because the weather didn’t permit and wasn’t feeling the style too much; a Karen Zambos coral shift dress, super cute but never worn because was too large; a See by Chloe caramel buckle shoulder bag, worn! I was determined to wear one of the items in my first delivery. I wore the bag on and off for a couple of days. The feeling was nice to be have a high quality handbag in my possession without having to incur any type of astronomical expense.
Second order: a bright red Alexis flowy tiered bell sleeve blouse, worn but not super enthusiastic over it, but perhaps this was because I was extremely hung over the day after my birthday. Next item, an Erin Erin Fetherston shirt collar dress, worn; a Theory blue work dress, worn. No issues with either, both were cute and wearable, and I received lots of compliments.
Third order: Stylestalker pinstriped dress, never worn – extremely cinched at the waist, impossible to put on aka not true to size; an Erin Erin Fetherston floral dress, not worn – 100% polyester and long sleeved, could not breath in it, and overwhelming/distracting; a Rebecca Taylor sleeveless dress, not worn – the top part of the dress was meant to be fitted but the seam of the breast was an inch, if not more, below my actual breast.
Fourth order: a white Marissa Webb sleeveless ruffled dress, worn and very cute, but it was also frayed throughout. At this point I’ve realized that RTR’s items are heavily dry cleaned – makes sense being its a rental service, but being consistantly thrown into dry cleaning I think has taken a toll on some of their clothes. I know for my clothes that are dry clean only, I don’t take them in to get clean after light use. Next item: Alexis Bittar gold crystal choker, worn several time and kept for a few weeks – got multiple compliments and my ex-boyfriend actually wanted me to buy it; an Erin Erin Fetherson black floral grid collared sleeveless dress – worn and would wear again.
Initial thoughts in my first month: you can bet on receiving a lot of compliments if you find something worth wearing.
Fifth order: a Corey red shift dress – not worn because too short for comfort, if I raised my arms the entire dress would come up. I seriously wanted to wear this dress too; I thought the concept and design was great, but the fit was awful. Balenciaga sunglasses – worn and ouch, they hurt so badly because they were too large and would slip down my nose it bruised my ears! For these two items I actually wrote reviews on them because of my disappointment.
Sixth order: Derek Lam Crosby eyelet top- worn and would wear again because it fit great and black & white is a basic staple in my wardrobe; a Rebecca Taylor cognac vegan leather skirt – yes, worn! This skirt was actually an item I gave serious consideration into buying and I think I may be still considering it.
Seventh order: Dannijo crystal choker, worn – simple, easy, good quality; Sachin & Babi floral off the shoulder top, not worn – the “sleeves” on this top were attached by thread to the top and it was overall too much for casual wear; a Theory striped pin skirt – worn, Theory is one of my utmost favorite designer because of their great selection of petites, and they’re colors are practically 90% monochromatic, so this was practically a safe bet.
Eighth order: Rebecca Minkoff romper, worn and lots of compliments from strangers. This was actually my first romper that I’ve ever wore. It was nice to try something new, and something that I wouldn’t have normally bought. A Cooper & Ella blue stripe tier top, worn and super cute – it fit like a glove.
Nineth order: Badgley Mischka simple black skirt, worn but nothing too exciting or new; Cooper & Ella black blossom blouse, worn but nothing too exciting here either; Corey candy ribbon romper, worn – again with trying out the romper style, this was fun to wear trying something not so typical or expected. The back was honestly so cute; it opened up and buttoned up at the top.
Tenth order: Mara Hoffman blue Aztec dress, worn and so comfy – I considered buying it (pictured above); Equipment blue cheetah shirt dress, worn – I loved this dress especially in the humidity, 96 degree weather here in Philly.
Eleventh order: Yigal Azrouel camo drop waist dress, not worn and wow what a disappointment – way too long and at the retail price of $1k I was expecting something a of better quality; Free People bell sleeve top, not worn but wanted to wear/love it for it being a light weight linen, however the sleeves turned me off to wearing casually.
Overall experience: I wore 19 of the items and did not wear 9 of the items. I think the service is nice, and would have been something I would continue if my lifestyle required me to dress up more but my life is more on the casual side. My work environment is business/smart casual, and my weekends are pretty laid back type of casual rather than the getting dressed up and wearing designer clothing. I think if there is a new style that you want to test out like rompers and bell sleeves this could be a great resource to test those waters without having to invest in a trend that may be short lived. With the cost of $139 a month, I think my money would be better spent elsewhere. With $417 spent in total and nothing to show for it but past distant unmemorable memories of what I wore to work and happy hour, I will be cancelling my membership.
Something worth noting that I noticed pretty quickly was that all the items were dry cleaned, which had a distinct smell. I wouldn’t say the smell was bad or too pungent but it was noticeable detergent type smell. Additionally, I felt like some of the items were on the delicate side where dry cleaning could jeopardize its condition.
Side note: This wasn’t my first time using Rent the Runway, I’ve rented from them before three years ago for a rehearsal dinner (I was a bridesmaid so I had a dress already for the wedding), I rented an Elizabeth & James cocktail dress and a sparkly clutch. When you rent a dress, there’s an option for additional sizes is not included in the monthly subscription service, I think that’s great. However with renting a gown or dress, it’s not that simple for people on the short side. If I had owned that dress, I would have had it hemmed an inch.