Rent the Runway: Subscription Clothing Service Review

Rent the Runway is a subscription clothing service that offers one time rentals (outside of the subscription) as well as a monthly unlimited plan.  I’ve used both services for a few years and I’m ready to give you a full honest breakdown of my experience.  I’m not in any way affiliated with RTR, I just use the rental service so much that I can’t possibly write a fashion blog without sharing this with my fabulous readers.

Rent The Runway One Time Rentals:

How long can I rent the pieces?

4 or 8 days.  You will pay more for 8 days.

How much does it cost?

Each rental is individually priced.  You will likely pay more to rent a $2,400 Vera Wang dress than a casual $100 dress.  That said, the dress I’m thinking of is $215 to rent, which is not bad for a $2400 gown I would never buy.  Most of the time, I am nowhere near renting a $2400 gown, so the rentals are definitely cheaper, but I wanted to give you an idea of what you could rent if you wanted to.  How many times do you get suckered into buying a dress that’s “formal enough,” but “on sale” and you justify it with those reasons.  Wouldn’t it be better to cut your budget in half and not have a closet full of dresses you’ll never wear.  I even let my bridesmaids rent their dresses.  It was cheap and they didn’t have to commit to an expensive dress.

What is style pass?

Style pass is a subscription for $65/month that includes one 4-day rental plus free shipping and insurance.  You can skip months and your credits roll over to your busier months.  You have to commit to at least three months out of the year though.

 What kind of stuff can I rent?

You can rent dresses, coats, jewelry, bags, pants, blouses, just about anything.  When you check out, RTR even suggests add-on accessories as well as items for purchase like fashion tape.  The suggestions are based the outfit, loose plunging neckline and you may plan to run out for fashion tape, but it’s so much more convenient for it to come with the dress.

How long will it take for my items to ship?

For a one time rental, you have to choose the dates, so RTR can guarantee delivery.  Your item will arrive on time, or the website won’t let you choose it.

Have you ever had a problem with an order?

Yes, of course.  Things happen.  A few times, I’ve had the dress I wanted get returned damaged by the renter before me.  RTR contacts me immediately to find out what I want done.  They contact me by email, but I’ve had much better service by calling in to speak to a stylist.  They really want to make it right when something like this happens and when I talk to a person on the phone, I can usually get them to overnight a dress of my choice as a replacement if there’s any danger that the dress won’t arrive in time.

What happens if I damage a dress I rent?

No worries.  That’s what the insurance is for.  I’ve never damaged a dress, but my friends have had wine spilled all over them at events and sent the dress in as is, without consequence.  No dry cleaning is a huge bonus!

How do I know if the dress will fit?

One time rentals come with a back up size, so you get two dresses in the sizes of your choice.  Dresses also have stylist notes that have fit recommendations.  Renters also share photos of themselves with reviews.  Each renter fills out their profile info and most people allow viewing of that info for sizing.   For example, I can look for reviews of a dress I like by women under 5’2″ with an athletic body type.  Usually there are enough reviews for me to tell if the dress will likely work for me.  If there aren’t enough reviews, I look to the stylist notes.

Unlimited Rental Q & A:

How does it work?

You get three items at a time for as long as you want.

Ok, but how long do I get to keep each one?

You get a new item to rent by sending one back.  Sometimes I like a purse I rented and I want to keep it for a month, but I send the other items back after I wear them.  It’s a one for one deal, but you can trade them in as often as you want or keep them as long as you want.

How much does it cost?

$139/month.  BTW, that $2,400 Vera Wang dress is included in the unlimited plan, so it only counts as one of your items.

What kind of stuff can I rent?

You can rent dresses, coats, jewelry, bags, sun glasses, pants, blouses, just about anything.  There are even a few athletic clothing options on the unlimited program.

What if I love it and I don’t want to give it back?

Then buy it!  The rental items can all be purchased while you have them, making a spot in your unlimited account open up for you.  If the item is brand new to the rental rotation, there will be a small discount offered.  I’ve bought things for a discount that still had the tags attached.  Rentals that have been in rotation for a while are up to 75% off.  There is a standing clearance sale on RTR through the unlimited program if you want to browse clearance items.

How long for my items to ship?

It depends on where you live.  If you’re around the corner from an RTR store, your rentals will typically show up faster.  Plan for a week from when you pick out your items online.   I plan ahead for trips, starting at about a month out.  The unlimited plan has less inventory.  I could fall in love with a dress and find that another renter holds on to it for a while.  I start shopping and leave a space open with plenty of time for trips.  The unlimited program is the way to go for longer vacations because I don’t have to worry about keeping items too long.

What happens if the dress comes back damaged?

I have the same issues with unlimited as I do with one time rentals as far as dresses coming back damaged.  The downfall to the unlimited program is that there isn’t a guaranteed delivery date, so if you planned your timing tight, you may not get the dress you need.  Again, I have found that calling and talking to a stylist works well.

Before my trip to Italy, one of the dresses was held up in QA for a while.  My shipment was taking longer than usual to be sent out, so I called in.  The stylist said they were holding on to all three items to send me when the one dress was available.  I got her to expedite the QA dress when it was ready and send the other two pieces in time.  That probably wouldn’t have happened if I waited until the very last minute to check on the order.

Do I get a second size with the Unlimited plan?

No, not unless you used two of your items on the same dress.  I read a lot of reviews when I’m concerned about the fit of an item.

Unlimited Vs. One Time

Why do you use both programs?

I like that unlimited is a revolving door of continuous clothes.  That’s exactly what I use it for.  It’s harder to plan for specific events due because the items don’t come with a guaranteed delivery date.  There’s also more guaranteed stock in the one time rental section.  There have been times that I’ve been waiting for an outfit in the unlimited program that is unavailable in my size, but I check the pay as you rent section and the dress is available in my size for one time rental.  I use both programs to guarantee I get the dress I want for important events.

What about your pending “bump,” still going to be able to use RTR?

While RTR doesn’t specifically carry maternity clothes, it is maternity friendly.  In the “body type” search criteria, you can select “bump friendly” dresses.  There is also a selection of recommended dresses separated by trimester.  I love that women post photos in their reviews, so I can compare bumps and see if the dress will work for me.  I rented my dress for a wedding later this month!

Sounds like you’ve had some issues with both programs, do you recommend RTR?

Yes I do.  You have to go into it with the idea that this is a used clothing game.  Sometimes women are going to damage a piece and you might have to go with a second choice.  RTR has great customer service and I feel like the people at RTR care about my experience.

I’m Sold Now What?

Visit the Rent the Runway and choose your plan!

My Favorite Rentals:

Do you do any clothing subscription programs? Comment below. I’m interested to know if anyone uses Le Tote for maternity clothes.

The Luxicon

Kate Thakkar

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