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My First Foray Into Renting Clothes, With Rent The Runway And Here’s How I Felt About It

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In the name of “buying less” we are trying to figure out how to make fashion posts that are less “sell, sell, sell” and more ideas, trend spotting, or reviews. Does that mean we aren’t going to try on and shoot fashion posts with new clothes? Nope. We have a business to run, but we are very happy to promote companies that make dressing up and having fun with fashion more sustainable. So I finally tried Rent the Runway and partnered with them on this post. I thought RTR was mostly renting fancy dresses for cocktail or black-tie occasions. Ultimately a great way to wear a beautiful dress that is typically too expensive for the number of times you would wear it. And it’s still that, but they now have an unlimited monthly program that I tried out.

I chose to rent 4 high-end pieces by some of my favorite designers and I get to try them for a month for $159 ($39 for anything additional) and it was SO MUCH FUN. You can rent them for the month or send back early and trade them out for different pieces. And with the unlimited plan, you can get multiple shipments per month. As in, you could wear something once and send it back to get a new piece if you’ve had your fill of it or it didn’t work out. Also to get you pre excited, RTR is giving all of you probably the most solid deal ever to try it out if you are curious. They are taking off $200 of your first two months of the unlimited plan by using code: RTREMILYH. Ya, I know, it’s good.

So today I’m going to show you what I rented (all styled out) and list out the perks I realized by using this unlimited rental program. I was skeptical. Renting clothes seemed not for me, but it was FUN.

Emily Henderson rent the runway review2

1. You get to rent classic pieces from your favorite brands that are high end, but low impact.

Like in the home, I splurge far more on statement pieces than classics. These days many affordable brands can make a decent denim dress so it’s not where I would spend $600-$800 EVER, but sure I want this one because it is special. I’ve loved the brand Marni forever, and this dress is awesome and classic, but simply put, not worth the retail amount to me. But to be able to rent it for a month will scratch that itch, and make me feel good being in such a tailored high-quality denim dress. Then I’ll try something else next month.

Emily Henderson rent the runway review3

But back to this great dress. The stitching, pockets, zipper, and two-tone denim make it pretty darn special and as you can see it has tiny arms and a really great tailored shift bodice. While this dress is timeless, I don’t have an office job (not really) so the added “personality” is great for a shoot or a special meeting. Plus it’s really nice not to have had to spend a lot of money on it.

Emily Henderson rent the runway review4

2. You get to indulge in a current favorite designer/s.

You know that I love Ulla Johnson, but I’m on a Ulla diet right now. Not a strike. Not a fast. Just abstaining for a while and shifting resources to more important things (kid’s college fund, vacations with Brian, should I get braces?).

By renting I also got to try some of her other pieces that were a bit riskier (like these pants) which aren’t in stores near me. They were NOT GOOD on me, but that dress sure is pretty and kinda like the winter version (because it’s full length:)) of my favorite more summer-y dresses.

Emily Henderson rent the runway review5

Speaking of Summer…

Emily Henderson rent the runway review6

3. You can try riskier trends… go outside your comfort zone a bit because there is a HUGE variety in the inventory.

I love Mara Hoffman otherwise I wouldn’t have risked renting these high waisted floral pants but we all LOVED THEM. I almost wore that outfit to the Goop Lab premiere party but feared it was drawing a bit too much attention. I may have to re-rent these in summer because goodness, these are happy pants.

Also because of what I do, I do need more “photoshoot” clothes which I’m extremely picky about – no small busy patterns (but yes to patterns), no head to toe simple black or super dark outfits (doesn’t pop on camera and often sucks the light and washes me out), and has to be flattering without being tight. I’m not a model, I struggle to find clothes that I feel look good on camera – thus forgiving patterns and fun proportions are where I spend my fashion budget.

Point is – it’s nice to have something new for an occasion or shoot, but not commit to it financially for the rest of my life.

Emily Henderson rent the runway review7

4. You can save on seasonal items that you don’t need year-round.

I really wanted to try this sweater from Alexa Chung but I can never justify expensive sweaters living in LA (thus justifying more fun dresses that I can wear year-round). So I rented this sweater, hoping that by wearing it I would be transformed into her, perfect messy brunette curly hair and all (she started a hair revolution, that chic lady).

I love it. My stylist friend Suzanne doesn’t (see stories). We broke up and she moved out from next door, but I have a fun sweater to wear for a month while I mourn the friendship. The wool of the sweater catches my tears, so very little cleanup!

Emily Henderson rent the runway review8

5. You can get that serotonin rush from shopping without guilt.

I love the Amo jeans I bought last year, very much. So when I saw this silhouette (notice the top of the waist and NO RIPS) I wanted to try it despite my general hesitation of high waisted pants on me. The only downside to these jeans is that Brian’s dad can no longer make his monthly joke about “when I am going to get a job that pays enough to buy jeans without holes.” He’ll have to come up with new material, likely something about puffy sleeves.

Emily Henderson rent the runway review9

I’ve already worn these jeans 3 times and they are no longer in stores, so I couldn’t have tried them on to know how great they are.

Emily Henderson rent the runway review10

6. Lastly and most importantly – You are being more sustainable.

I understand that the most sustainable thing to do would be to wear the same 10 things for the rest of our lives or only shop at thrift stores or vintage. But honestly, that is a hard reality for a lot of us mostly because of time and availability. Fashion is one of the ways I express my creativity, and it has become a fun hobby this year. So this unlimited program made it really easy to shake up what I was wearing, without paying retail pricing. Then after I’ve worn it a few times it simply gets mailed back, returned to the inventory for others to rent instead of in the back of my closet for a year (or worse), and then later potentially end up in a landfill.

So yes, my first rental experience was FANTASTIC.

A few extra tips:

  • If you have an occasion in a month or even further away, plan ahead because if you are trying to do something for say next week you’ll have less inventory, obviously.
  • Listen to the sizing recommendations. I thought my size was pretty standard, but on a few things RTR suggested that I size up, which I appreciated.
  • If you are doing the “unlimited” plan, make sure you select that before you start shopping. This way you are shopping from all the unlimited options. Their entire inventory isn’t included in the “unlimited” plan, but certainly a lot of it is.

All in all I thought that the inventory had so much variety, with a lot of my favorite designers. It came quickly in a really nice black bag (all on hangers) and yes, they cover insurance, shipping, and dry cleaning.

Again if you guys are interested and want to try it out you can get $200 off your first two months of the unlimited plan by using code: RTREMILYH. It’s honestly their best offer ever so this would be the time to give it a go.

Thanks to Rent the Runway!

 

*Photography by Veronica Crawford

**This post is in partnership with Rent the Runway but all words, designs, and selections are our own. Thanks for supporting the brands we love that support the blog.

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[…] post My First Foray Into Renting Clothes, With Rent The Runway And Here’s How I Felt About It appeared first on Emily […]

Rach

Best fashion post from you since ever. Such inspiring pieces and style. The best I have seen you look. A grown up but still full of personality Emily.

Liz

“A grown up but still full of personality Emily.” Exactly what I thought. Especially the Mara Hoffman outfit. It looks so great on you, Emily!

Mallory

I used RTR for a European vacation to prevent me from buying new clothes fire the trip that I wouldn’t wear back in chilly SF. I took two beautiful floral dresses, a cream linen jumpsuit and a great bag. Best idea ever.

Kathleen Stephenson

wow, its a GREAT idea for a vacation. That I could justify. Regular life, I don’t think I could but Emily certainly is selling it!!

Kelsey Konz

As a RTR customer since 2014, I wanted to rent some pieces for a European or South American (Argentina) vacation but you can only rent for 8 days. When I go overseas, it’s definitely longer than 8 days. I remember even emailing customer service regarding shipping to Europe if you were going to be gone longer than 8 days…as delivery eats up 1-2 days to have it arrive before you pack and go, and they said they, I guess obviously, don’t ship to or from Europe or other countries. How did you manage?

Dena

You look stylish and pretty in everything!! I do loooove those flowery pants so much and the jeans and black poof sleeve top the best!! I think this is a genius idea and it always feels good to do something sustainable! It feels more interesting to open up your fashion posts to different ways of buying clothes! I think we need a full report on your next door best friendship “person”!!

Julie P

I agree, this is the best fashion post you’ve ever done. Ever. You look great, the clothes are fantastic etc! You’re right BTW – I’ve definitely found that by getting your clothes somewhere other than regular retail it frees you to take risks and try new surprising things.

If I might suggest a collaboration you might be interested in – Poshmark, the Real Real, and ThredUP are all online gently used clothing stores. Lots of good designers, lots of on-trend items. I particularly like ThredUP because they photograph and measure all their own clothing but it’s still at an excellent price point. Plus you can order Goody Boxes where they send you 10 pieces you pick and you try them on for free. It’s a lot less time consuming than actually going to consignment stores etc. I buy almost everything used except basics and underwear, and get sooo many compliments.

JP

LOVE ThredUp

Kate

ThredUp is the best. I ordered pants and they actually fit! That almost never happens.

Carolyn

This is a GREAT idea. I have been trying to buy exclusively second-hand for myself and my kid and have been loving ThredUp and Poshmark. I love the Goody Boxes (I just wish they had a better maternity selection!) and it would be AMAZING to see a Goody Box-type collab between EH and ThredUp. I feel like ThredUp doesn’t get the respect it deserves because the photos are sometimes not amazing, but I understand given their price points and the sheer volume of clothing they move every day. It would be great to see stylish influencers like EH raise their profile.

jp

Super cute outfits … i wish you could be kinder to yourself (and by extension all of the rest of us) and stop stressing about how you’re not model thin. It makes me feel less-than every time I read how you worry about how you look on camera.

Samantha

This is always the first thing I check on Saturday morning and I love all these looks! I am sorry to say that I had an unlimited RTR subscription for a few months and did not have a great experience. 1) the selection available for the unlimited rentals is much more limited than that available for one time rental (which is way more expensive); 2) they often didn’t have my size in stock – when I was looking for four styles to rent, it was pretty common for me to have to go to my fourth or fifth choices. I often just got a bunch of random stuff; 3) it can be a challenge if you often need things altered (obvs). I’m short, so most pants and lots of dresses didn’t work; and 4) the clothes often arrived looking very worn and with odd smells. I would love to see some improvements, because it is an awesome idea.

Elisabeth

I had the same experience with RTR Unlimited. They never had what I wanted in stock when I needed it. I still love renting from them for special occasions, though.

Tala

Same experience here with RTR unlimited (the original version is great for specific events). Never, ever got my first choices. Often only thing available in my size was out of season. Watch out for prints with white — white parts were often dingy (all white items were generally fine). I love the idea, but in practice, it doesn’t work great. And in no way do I mean to be snarky because it certainly isn’t Emily’s fault, but it seems influencers get a little bit of VIP treatment to make sure they get their picks.

Carolyn

I had a similarly not-great experience with RTR–can be hard if you work in a corporate/office environment and need business-y clothes since their selection was mostly party or at least attention-grabbing items.

Kris

I love the beautiful layered necklaces! Where is the chunkier gold-linked necklace from?

MJ

Yes I too love your necklaces and have the exact same question — where is the extra-large variated gold link chain from? Thanks so much!

Jo

One more for the necklace sources please and the puffy sleeve black top. You look amazing !!

Samantha Zutler

Ditto! I’ve been looking for one like that!

Beks

Shipping clothes back and forth multiple times per month is hardly sustainable.

MCsilvertooth

I was thinking the same thing.

Kelly

They also have a bunch of physical drop off locations if you live in a metropolitan area.

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Roberta Davis

I’m surprised they had that many- but I checked for my sizes (I put in 2 sizes). They had 2 dresses and 2 necklaces available. That was it. Such is the plight of someone bigger than size 14.

I love that denim dress on you! I would try to make something like that for myself, if I could sew!

I do agree with other comments that shipping things back and forth may not be the answer, sustainability-wise, and I wouldn’t want “odd smells”. Since I’m old and not thin, I guess I’ll have to stick with my old lady routine of wearing the same few things forever and ever.

It’s still fun and inspiring to see you showing lots of fun fashion ideas.

j

You look great and the clothes are fun., but just cannot get behind services like these. Once in a while for an expensive evening outfit, ok, but all the time is really not sustainable. There is the delivery to and fro, and the dry cleaning every time the out fit is worn. How long are the outfits used by the company before they are tossed due to so much dry cleaning?

Keira

Two words: clothing swap.
I host two a year and I get so much good stuff and at the same time get rid of even more stuff and with the knowledge of it going to an appreciative home. All the reminders picked up by the thrift arm of a local museum.

CK

Hi! Where is the black puff sleeve top from?! I LOVE it!

Samantha Zutler

Hey CK! I’m pretty sure it’s Ulla!

Carly

BEST fashion post ever and makes so much sense for what you do. I recently read an article that we are all going to move towards renting everything which seems like such a win win for the environment and our desire to switch things up !

erin

The mara hoffman pants/outfit! It is wonnnnnnderful and I think captures what I think your personality to be like. 🙂

Is the navy puffy sleeve top from RTR or somewhere else? It’s great.

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norine

I have been using RTR Unlimited for a couple of years now. Pro: Unquestionably, the opportunity to wear designer clothes and bags I would never be able to afford to buy. Con: Around 80 percent of the time, the designer piece I am really interested in is unavailable in my size. A lot of the very high end designer pieces get rented immediately after release and are never available, others are available out of season or after much wear by others. This is bad enough I don’t usually talk about RTR since I don’t want more people using it, which is just weird. Pro: Did I mention size? I am not at my healthiest weight, so while I work on that, this gives me the opportunity to wear beautiful clothes. RTR carries a lot in size 12 and a good selection of larger sizes. And there are a number of ways you can get real feedback from other wearers on fit that are usually accurate. Con; Minor quibble, they used to have a stylist take a picture and review every new arrival. That was great for size feedback. No more do they do that, and it is difficult to tell… Read more »

Jade

I agree, most items I want are not available and the shipping back and forth has gotten … slower? I feel like before I was a really quick return but it’s gotten longer and longer, and yeah the shipping isn’t really sustainable. I do like being able to try new things- I actually stopped RTR and am trying Nuuly right now bc found I wanted both the splurge and everyday Anthro and free people items. Good so far.

Rae

I LOVE every single outfit on you. They all look supremely, perfectly “you.” They are creative, colorful, playful but wearable.

I also get a lot of creative pleasure from clothes and choosing what to wear each day. I wish this model of rented clothes seemed sustainable to me but I just don’t see how it is. All the mailing back and forth, the frequent dry cleaning, and the likely shortened life cycle as clothes wear and then must be retired…It also continues to feed the beast of “new, new, more, more.”

There is so much creative potential in limitations. I’m hopeful that those among us who are creative can help lead a shift in our focus on fashion. There is just as much creativity in finding new ways to wear things already in our closets. The infusion of a couple of new items each year will lead to wearing things in a different way. Clothing swaps can feed the need for something new or allow for size fluctuations. Well made clothes that last can be put away and pulled out in a couple of years to combine with a new silhouette of boot, jacket etc.

L

“Wearing what’s already in your closet is the most sustainable way to get dressed.”

https://www.elle.com/fashion/a29536207/rental-fashion-sustainability/

Ally

That red print dress and the red top/floral pants look fabulous on you! Wow! You look so radiant. Had you thought true red was one of “your: colors? I would say it definitely is.

Laurielulu

Your fashion stylist friend broke up with you because you wore that Alexa Chung sweater. 😬

Gitty

No that was a joke

Elizabeth

Please share the necklace info!

Suzanne

Love all these pieces! And what a great way to inject creative, high end pieces in your wardrobe. I’m tempted to try just based on the pieces you showed. I love both the dresses! And the flowery pants are something I’d love to wear once or twice, but would ultimately live too long in my closet unworn.

I agree that a partnership with one of the online used clothing stores would be great. I’ve bought a lot at ThredUP, and they really have a range. I’ve never tried jeans, though, because fit is so much harder with pants.

Michelle

So appreciate the push to buy less. And love your style posts generally because you keep it all in the context of your actual LIFE. So many fashion bloggers dress like they never walk anywhere, eat spaghetti or have to sit on public transportation. That said, I still think $159 a month is a LOT to spend on a service. For you, it makes sense… and likely for any woman whose professional is strongly influencing what she wears. But I’m pushing myself to spend less on fashion, even as I stay current, and renting just feels like a special occasion or maybe short time service so you can try things. But not a great lifestyle long term.

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Jenn

Loving the idea of you in the Alexa Chung sweater at the mountain house

Looks great on you, as does everything else

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RMS

This is my first and final comment. I’m hardly an eco-warrior, but even I can see the gaping hole in your sustainability logic. I understand that you need these partners to pay the bills and that you can’t always be 100% honest about the products and services you promote. After all, the whole point is to get your readers to open their wallets. I get it. I truly do. But as some readers have pointed out, shipping clothes back and forth is hardly more sustainable than letting your unworn clothes sit in the back of the closet only to later end up in a landfill. Every time you use RTR’s services, all you’re doing is adding CO2 emissions to that process. If you had left the sustainability “perk” out, this post would’ve been just another fun fashion post. But as it is, you came across as disingenuous, which is the last word I would have used to describe you or anyone on your team. I’m probably being overly critical or judgmental. To be honest, I don’t know why this post rubbed me the wrong way so much, but it did. I’m sure I’ll get over it in time. But for… Read more »

nikepars

I’ve worn it a few times it simply gets mailed back, returned to the inventory for others to rent instead of in the back of my closet for a year (or worse), and then later potentially end up in a landfill.
https://arkabazsazi.com/

Lee

Yes you absolutely do sound overly critical and judgmental. But then you’d hardly be unusual these days in our “always looking for something to whine and moan about” era.

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elisabt

I do loooove those flowery pants so much and the jeans and black poof sleeve top the best!! I think this is a genius idea and it always feels good to do something sustainable
https://elisabt.ir/

sabtfori

Plus you can order Goody Boxes where they send you 10 pieces you pick and you try them on for free. It’s a lot less time consuming than actually going to consignment stores etc. I buy almost everything used except basics and underwear, and get sooo many compliments.
https://sabtfori.ir/

sabtorotbe

I love the idea, but in practice, it doesn’t work great. And in no way do I mean to be snarky because it certainly isn’t Emily’s fault, but it seems influencers get a little bit of VIP treatment to make sure they get their

https://sabtorotbe.ir/

Sophie

Did you actually broke up with Suzanne over the sweater? I hope no 🙁

I am not a fun of that sweater (it’s a euphemism) either.

Otherwise, the red color suits you marvellously and all pieces look superb on you, great choices.

Kelly

LOVE EVERYTHING!!! You look great in all the pieces except I have to agree with Susanne about the sweater 🤣
Can you link everything including shoes?

Megan Baker

Love all these outfits!
Can you please share the chain link necklace info?

Susan

Oh gosh. Really fun outfits and you look fab but all that unlimited shipping, delivery, dry cleaning — this cannot possibly be “sustainable”. Did anyone run that by a pro? Did a quick google search and found this: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.elle.com/fashion/amp29536207/rental-fashion-sustainability/

Suzanne

Thanks for sharing this article. I was also thinking that the shipping back and forth is not sustainable, and I didn’t even consider the dry cleaning. The more thought I’ve given this makes me realize this is a specialty service for people in careers where the “need” a few special outfits a month. Emily talks about her shoots, and I’m sure there are women in other careers where there is pressure to have a stylish new look regularly. Ideally, we’d move away from this “need” for variety, trends, uniqueness, and newness, but unfortunately, there’s still pressure on women to maintain a look. Perhaps, we can kindly ask the influencers to start leading the way, in which case, we need to also look at a new economic model for society.

crcr

I ADORE the red dress!

Emily, I’m an adult in braces and also a dental assistant. Having my teeth straightened is one of the best self care choices I have ever made. It’s a worthwhile investment in your health. Please feel free to ask any questions you may have. I’ll check back in a few days. xoxo

kai

I agree, the clothing is the best that you have featured and looks lovely in an understated way that perhaps is the mark of quality. You effortlessly pull off each look. Yes, where is the chunky gold necklace from??

Megan

I have used LeTote for years, and I love it! It’s almost the exact same concept as RTR, just not as high-end. Like, you wouldn’t use LeTote to rent clothing for a gala. But it is solid when it comes to renting work wear, weekend wear, and fun accessories. It is also about half the price per month 🙂 Plus, they have huge sales a couple times per year where you can purchase the gently used clothing at a drastically reduced price. They also usually put a couple of the items in your box on sale for a limited time while you have them. It’s GREAT for trying new styles and giving a thorough test-run before buying. So many times I would like something I tried on in the store but then later regret the purchase because of some sort of gapping or wrinkling or stretching that I didn’t notice until I’d worn the item a bit. ALSO, if you’re having babies, LeTote does have a maternity section as well… which was so fun! And so nice to not purchase items that would only be worn for a few months.

Kat

I have a few friends who use RTR unlimited and they swear by it. I think it makes sense for people who have a lot of events to attend and feel they need a lot of different looks. For those with sustainability concerns, I would bet RTR is more sustainable compared to fast fashion, which is probably what my friends would turn to without RTR. Secondhand is a great idea (and what I do personally) but it takes a lot more time to find what you need and if it doesn’t work out, it can put you in a time crunch to get dressed for your event and put you in a position where you just go buy something new anyway.

Love the looks Emily! Especially the Marni and Mara Hoffman looks. It’s fun to see what you choose when you don’t feel like you have to justify your picks haha!

Betty

Does anyone do the math here? I just checked a coat by Line + Dot – retails for $ 179.00 and you
can rent it for 1 month for a special introductory price of $ 69.00 – that’s almost 40 % of its retail price
for one single month. Way too expensive in my book!!

Kelly

For the intro price, you can pick 4 items and ship them back as many times as you want. Let’s say you exchange once per week — 16 clothing pieces for 4.5/per is pretty great.

[…] In the name of “buying less” we are trying to figure out how to make fashion posts that are less “sell, sell, sell” and more ideas, trend spotting, or reviews. Does that mean we aren’t going to try on and shoot fashion posts with new clothes? Nope. We have a business to run, but we… Read More … The post My First Foray Into Renting Clothes, With Rent The Runway And Here’s How I Felt About It appeared first on Emily Henderson. Read More […]

milo

So cool you tried this out! I love Nuuly (Anthropologie/Free People/Urban Outfitters service) for the same reasons. Another one I’d add is that sometimes it doesn’t make sense to buy new clothes even when you need clothes to wear (if you know you’re in the process of losing or gaining weight, pregnant, going to an infrequent event with a special dress code, etc.). So while wearing what is already in your closet may be the most sustainable, sometimes you don’t have anything that fits (you, the occasion, etc.), and renting can be the best option.

Abby

These are the best pieces of clothing I have EVER seen you wear. I actually want to wear every outfit.

Amanda

I signed up for Unlimited THE DAY BEFORE this post… Crying because of the discount I missed! I’ve emailed /begged them to give my the break… We’ll see! Thank you for another awesome post!

Debraj76

I’ve been doing a RTR subscription plan for several months now, and am considering discontinuing. The inventory selection for my size (small) is very scant, and the vast majority of pieces I want are not available. As a result, deciding on new pieces each month is a HUGE time commitment. I do love getting the shipment each month, but just wish there was more availability. I have vocalized these concerns to RTR, but really haven’t seen much improvement. I’m on the fence on whether to continue…my daughter gave it up months ago. I’m concerned that RTR is promoting their service through social media, and trying to recruit more customers when they are having difficulty servicing their existing base. I would suggest anyone who is interested try it and see if it works for them. The first month was great…subsequent months not so much.

Ali

You look better in these outfits than the models in the pictures on the website. Great styling and great style Emily!

Meredith

I’ve had an unlimited RTR subscription for quite a while and something else I love about it is that you do have the option to purchase items that you’ve rented at a discount price. The items become more discounted if they’ve been out for a few seasons (obviously) and the longer you hold onto an item, the more they will discount it. I rented a piece that I kept for several months and it got marked down more and more until I finally bought it for around 65% off!

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