Holiday Finds: How to Rock a $1,000 Dress on a $100 Budget
Let me start this post by saying that I’m not a one-and-done kind of girl. I was raised by wholesome, conservative, Midwestern parents. We vacationed at the same lake cottage every summer. I pretty much only got new clothes twice a year as a kid: Christmas, and the start of the school year. For the latter, I had to outgrow the previous year’s outfits and wait until the first day of school to wear the new stuff. So… commitment is in my DNA.
But that all may change.
Perhaps it’s a rebellion against my conservative upbringing, but I’ve become a hopeless fashion flirt. I’ll fall in love with a classic tweed pencil skirt one minute, and before you can say ADD (Atelier Distraction Disorder) I’ve fallen head-over-4-inch-heels for a hot little leather miniskirt with grommet detail. I’ll have a passionate affair with clothes in fiery red, when a sultry blue catches my wandering eye…but only until a feisty sunflower yellow starts popping up on my favorite shopping sites and beckons me to show it some love.
In other words, I have commitment issues.
Enter: RENT THE RUNWAY
Luckily, a service called Rent the Runway understands me. For a monthly subscription fee (the amount varies depending on just how deep your commitment issues run), you can wear it all…and give it back. No hurt feelings. No “why don’t you wear me anymore?” No yawns. RTR offers literally thousands of swoon-worthy fashion affairs – from work wear to street styles to black tie glam. It’s like entering Carrie Bradshaw’s closet with Samantha Jones’ level of relationship commitment.
You can do a one-time rental for a special event – perfect for that office holiday party or wedding. Or, you can subscribe. The base plan ($69/month) lets you choose 4 items per month. On the $159/month* Unlimited Plan (my choice) you can have items shipped to you, 4 pieces at a time, to keep for as long as you want, and then swap out for new items.
It’s so easy, it’s almost sinful. You simply select your items by browsing the RTR website, and the little fashion-date elves ship them out to you right away, in a bag complete with a return shipping label. Your styles arrive clean, pressed and on a hanger, ready for you to rock. Once you’ve shared your magical time together, you say your goodbyes, put those pretties back in their bag, slap on the pre-paid return shipping label and send them on their way via your friendly neighborhood post office. No need to clean the clothes – the elves take care of all that back inside the RTR Magic Closet. In a few days you get to do it all over again. It’s not just clothes, either – RTR has designer handbags, jewelry, sunglasses – everything a self-respecting fashionista needs except shoes (um, yeah - rental shoes would just be icky.)
I first learned about RTR from another fashion blogger, Steph, of the Borrowed Babes. I had a black tie destination wedding to attend, and I didn’t want to drop $1,000 on a gown with which my cheating fashionista heart would only share one luxurious evening. So, RTR had an introductory special, and I figured I’d give it a try. Not only did I get to pick out a stunning black Badgley Mischka strapless gown, but I picked up 2 designer dresses and a romper to round out my order. Everything arrived promptly, in pristine condition, and I got gobs of compliments on every style I wore that weekend. (The fact that my runway-worthy wardrobe was all a rental was my little secret – shhh.)
I’ve kept my subscription, and have rented several chic work outfits, a knock-out dress that I wore to give a conference presentation, and a few edgy items that were fun to wear but that I would not have splurged on, as purchases.
All-in-all, I’d say RTR is a winner for us fashion shape-shifters with limited closet space (and budget) to satisfy our craving for new style experiences. We can sashay from one cute outfit to the next with nary a backward glance. And, if I truly find a soul mate among my many fashionable dalliances, I can turn it into a long-term relationship by purchasing that item at a consignment price – mighty nice!
If, like me, you struggle with fashion fidelity (or you just want to rent a $1,000 dress for less than 100 bucks for a special holiday event) – give RTR a try! Here are my tips and important things to know:
1. If you do the once-a-month plan or a one-time rental, be very careful to ship your item back by the return date in your agreement. If you don’t, you’ll pay major late fees.
2. If you’re not sure of your size, you can request a back-up size of your item at no additional charge on some rental plans
3. RTR pretty much requires you to review the items you wear before you can place a new order. That can feel a little cumbersome - but it really is helpful when making your own selections – because you have a lot of real-world fashionistas like you to give you a very accurate idea of how the item feels, fits and looks on a variety of body types – super valuable!
4. * The Unlimited Plan is advertised as $159/month, but I actually get charged $179/month on my subscription, so I think this needs to be clarified. I assume the extra $20 goes toward cleaning and shipping, but just want to point that out.
5. If you’re renting for a special occasion, order early – especially at busy times of the year like the holiday and wedding seasons. RTR carries a ton of styles and multiple sizes in each, but it’s a popular site and things do become unavailable. You can search items by availability – it will save you time, and disappointment.
6. Several major cities have RTR bricks-and-mortar stores, so you can rent and return items that way, if you’re in town.
7. You can cancel your subscription any time up until the next automatic payment, but make sure you time your final order so that you have the opportunity to wear the items & return them before the cancellation date. If the items aren’t returned, you’ll get charged for an extra month.
Have you ever tried a fashion rental service? If so, which one? Let me know what your experience was in the comments below!