"But I don't have anything to wear!" We all get tired of opening our closet door and seeing the same worn items staring back at us. One solution to this perennial dilemma is to rent your clothes, if only for a season.
You’ve probably rented a dress for a wedding or other formal event, but have you considered renting your summer wardrobe? With new trends arriving every season, how can a girl keep up? I personally don’t own the linen pants or cashmere sweater needed to perfect the coastal grandmother aesthetic for the summer. I’ve learned that renting your wardrobe introduces you to some threads with benefits.
The Benefits of Renting My Clothes
Last year, I succumbed to the ads stalking me on every browser and app and signed up to rent my clothes. My husband, the investment professional, was skeptical of the cost-benefit analysis, but the rental rate was within the bounds of my monthly shopping budget so I scrolled, selected, and eagerly awaited that first box.
To start, many rental services have more items than you have time to scroll through – an item to fit any style. It’s the perfect opportunity to be daring and try that silhouette you’ve been too afraid to invest in. Think puffed sleeves, wide-leg pants, or an oversized blazer. Or maybe you’re more curious about expanding your color palette. Neutrals are staples, but renting allows you to cycle through some brighter hues without worrying if it’ll look the same on you in the winter when your summer tan fades.
One of the best parts about renting is that you get to wear brands you might otherwise not be able to afford. I tallied up the average retail value for the months that I rented, and it came out to $944 for six items. The most expensive piece I rented was a $495 ski suit, which brings me to the next benefit – renting to meet rare, but necessary, wardrobe needs.
I’ve never skied before and wasn’t all that giddy about jumping on a chair lift until I realized that I could rent a daisy-covered ski suit to make my tumbles down the slopes at least fashionable. If you have a one-off adventure coming up and are missing the requisite clothing, rent it! I also did this for a trip to wine country because none of my dresses felt romantic enough for the rolling hills.
When you’re ready to send your box back, you can buy what you like. Many rental sites allow you to purchase items you rent for a discounted price.
The Drawbacks of Using a Rental Service
I won’t pretend that there aren't any drawbacks to renting your clothes. I found that there was high demand for certain items that I wanted to rent. For really sought-after items, they were rarely available in my size.
The amount of inventory available to rent is almost a drawback in itself. I had to limit the amount of time I spent scrolling and have some intention with what I wanted to try out. One feature that helps mitigate the daunting volume of clothes you can rent is the filtering tool that can narrow things down to the neckline or weather appropriateness. I also found the ability to save items for future renting in a virtual closet helpful in avoiding the endless scrolling.
Another drawback is sizing. Since it's not like online shopping where you can return sizes until you find the one that fits, you have to be diligent about reading reviews to help you pick the right size. I never had any items that were unwearable due to sizing, but there were a few times when I would have liked things to fit better.
You might feel a little weird about wearing clothes that have been worn by others. To my surprise, I received many items with the retailer tag still attached. For the items that were not new, the site I used described their cleaning methods, and the garments never felt like they were coming off the rack of a thrift store.
Timing is also everything when you rent. If you want to have items for a certain event or vacation, you have to account for shipping and possible delays. Also, if you rent at the turn of a season, you may not get as much wear out of certain items as you had hoped. I rented a jacket in October, but unfortunately, it was only cool enough to wear it one day that month.
Picking the Right Option for You
Now it comes down to picking the right service for you. Luckily, there's a variety to meet any style, budget, or wardrobe need.
If you’re the girl wishing she was front row at fashion week, then Rent the Runway may be the best service for you. They offer various membership tiers ranging from four to 16 items at a cost of $94 to $235 per month. They advertise two-day shipping and machine learning technology to predict what styles fit you best. RTR has designer styles that even Instagram influencer Anna Page borrows.
I rented with Nuuly, a member of the URBN Brand. Unlike RTR, Nuuly has one membership level of six items for $88 per month. In Nuuly’s closet, you’ll find the effortlessly chic styles of Anthropologie alongside the more youthful styles of her younger sister, Urban Outfitters. Nuuly might be a good option for women transitioning to more mature styles who aren't quite ready to give up their miniskirts.
If the thought of scrolling through countless pages of clothing overwhelms you, try Armoire, which touts personalized closets based on a 5-minute quiz that narrows down your selection based on your style, lifestyle, and preferred brands. Their plans range from four to seven items for as low as $79 per month. They also offer an unlimited plan where you can rent six items at a time and swap them out as many times in the month as you’d like for $139 per month.
These are just a few options in the expanding category of clothing rental services. Pick a service that blends or expands your style, at a price comparable to what you’re spending on clothes monthly, and evaluate your wardrobe needs before choosing to rent.
Renting convinced me that I needed to jump on the pilgrim dress bandwagon, polka dots do make for a “pretty woman,” and straight-leg jeans are more flattering on me than skinny jeans. We all grow bored with our closets at some point, so rent your clothes for a season. It will infuse some life back into the items you’ve fallen out of love with, and it allows you to test out where you want to take your personal style before you make the investment.
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