What should I wear?

That has to be one of the most stressful four word sequence in the English language. As my public speaking career took off, I faced the issue of a schedule that outpaced my wardrobe.

Although I’m a financial educator and my brand promotes being financially fabulous, I enjoy looking my best (and people expect it). I learned about Rent The Runway when a former colleague shared that the gown she was wearing to our annual gala was rented from there. When I found out they had an unlimited program I rushed to sign up.

Wearing a RTW dress at a January speaking enagagement.

 

Here’s how the unlimited program works:

1.You rent three designer pieces at a time. “Designer” ranges from Kate Spade to Marni, you won’t find premium designer brands such as Alexander Wang or Chanel. You can choose from clothing and accessories such as handbags and necklaces for work, weekends and beyond.

2.The clothes are delivered directly to your door (or office) in a cute garment bag. You can hold onto them for as long as you want but the longer you hold onto them the less value you receive from the membership. I try to keep items no longer than a week so that I’m at least receiving 6-8 pieces a month.

3. When you’re ready for a new item you send 1, 2 or all of your pieces back. Just place them back in the garment bag, affix the prepaid label and drop it off to a local UPS location. You will receive an email notification when your items are returned to the RTR warehouse and you can select new pieces.

In the event that you find pieces you really love, you can use an exclusive discount to purchase the item(s) for a fraction of the retail price. Once you do, a spot opens up to rent something new.

Currently the membership is $139/ month and it covers shipping, dry cleaning and rental insurance. The membership renews automatically monthly, but you can cancel without penalty anytime.

I’ve been using RTR Unlimited since March 2016 and here are a few pros and cons I’ve identified after utilizing their service for more than a year.

PROS:

It saves me money.

Considering I rent approximately 6 pieces a month that is roughly $23 per look. While rental clothing value ranges, the average item I rent is valued at $350. If I purchased each of these looks, the monthly expense is approximately $2,100 a month.

It saves me time

Since I can literally shop from anywhere and the items are shipped to me, regardless of location, it saves me time and stops me from picking up random items while exiting a retail store. Plus the shipping time is exceptional, sometimes next day depending on your local courier and your proximity to the New Jersey warehouse. I live in LA and it generally takes two working days for my items to arrive and to be returned to the warehouse.

They have a wide variety of options

They have a wide variety of options, whether you’re in search of a weekend look or a formal look. I haven’t rented the Nike workout gear and don’t plan to anytime soon, but I was all over the fur coat option that I rented this past winter.  I occasionally rent items for vacation but typically rent for studio tapings, media appearances, speaking engagements, and work related matters.

It’s easy to write off on my taxes

My first year in business I ran into a few issues writing off the clothes I purchased for appearances. RTR has made it so much easier and I successfully wrote them off this past return.

They have amazing customer service

There have been a few times where pieces didn’t arrive as advertised or they fit poorly and I was in a bind. It was easy to contact customer service, make a selection, and the replacement was sent overnight to my destination.

On set in a RTW jumpsuit

CONS

Shopping online is tricky

It’s hard to know how something will fit until you put it on. Since they use a variety of designers all things aren’t cut similarly one designer may fit you perfectly and another designer could be completely unflattering. And sometimes it’s not the sizing but the cut is just plain ol’ wrong for your body type. I try to shy away from things that are too tight or too short and given than I’m a slim woman with curves, I’ve run into a few things were complete no go’s and sent them right back to the warehouse.

You have to wait for shipping

Unlike when you walk into the store and take your items home immediately, you have to plan for shipping time. So if you have an event on Friday and it’s Monday, you should get your order in ASAP just in case you need to find another option.

Clothes Can Display Signs of Wear

I have received a few pieces with evident wear and tear based on popularity within the RTW community. Most recently I received a dress where the top portion was supposed to be white but was actually a light grey due to the extensive dry cleaning. I also received a dress that had clearly been overstretched. This is rare but has happened and I rely on the reviews from the community to gauge item quality.

They Don’t Always Have Your Size In Stock

I’m not sure how many sizes of each piece they order. I’ve fallen in love with items only to find they were unavailable in my size when I added them to my shopping cart. This can be extremely frustrating and they do not currently have a waiting list option to alert you when the size is back in stock.

It Won’t Fill Your Closet

I am able to use RTR to supplement my wardrobe but there are basic items that I prefer to buy and keep in my closet.  They don’t have jeans or shoes on the site and basics such as tank tops, tees, etc. You can’t build your entire wardrobe around it. While I save money monthly, I can’t say that RTR has completely eliminated my need to shop elsewhere.

Presenting a finance workshop wearing a Kate spade dress from RTR

In Conclusion

Is Rent The Runway Unlimited perfect? No, but it’s pretty awesome. You can tell they put a lot of thought into their processes and systems and it operates efficiently. I don’t plan on cancelling my membership anytime soon and the next time you see your favorite fashion blogger posing for pictures, keep in mind that she too may be wearing a piece from Rent The Runway Unlimited.

Want to give it a try? Get $30 off your first order!