Fun with Fashion: My Rent the Runway Unlimited Review

As a Canuck, I don’t get Rent the Runway here, so when I was in Houston, Texas for a week in February, I took the opportunity to test out their RTR Unlimited program. This subscription lets you rent 4 pieces per month, with shipping, dry-cleaning, and insurance included. I’ve rented a dress through RTR Reserve (one-time rentals) for a wedding in the past, so I was familiar with the company’s process.

I own a tightly edited wardrobe, so renting clothes during this trip was my chance to really have fun with fashion and wear things I normally wouldn’t buy. I asked readers to vote on some different options via Instagram Stories, and I found it interesting how divisive some of my choices were. Unfortunately, the pieces that would have really taken me out of my style comfort zone, such as this pink faux fur jacket, were not available in my size during my rental period. In the end, I was content with my final four picks. The garment bag was waiting for me when I arrived at my Houston hotel, and luckily, every piece fit.

Here’s what I rented in order of favourites:

1. Opening Ceremony Jacket

Coming from the Canadian cold, I brought a puffy winter coat with me, but Houston was having spring weather. Renting this Opening Ceremony Landscape Quilted Patchwork Jacket ($595 retail) saved me the headache of trying to pack a spring jacket or a heavy sweater in my carryon.

This is my favourite piece because I got to wear it every day, and I felt really good in it. The cut is flattering, the pattern is fun without being too crazy, and I’m a bit obsessed with anything ’70s inspired. Even though it’s rented, I immediately felt as if it was mine, and I was tempted to buy it. (You have the option of keeping anything you rent at up to 80% off their listed retail price.) Ultimately, I decided not to be rash and reassured myself that I can always rent this again if I want to.

Also wearing:

Outfit 1: Everlane Wool Square Turtleneck in Navy (see it with other outfits); 3×1 Cropped Boot Cut Jeans (see it with other outfits); belt from Leather by Mike (see it with other outfits); secondhand Maiyet Mini Peyton tote from eBay (see it with other outfits).

Outfit 2: Vintage handkerchief from Mama Loves You Vintage in Toronto; old denim shirt.  

2. Vilshenko Jumpsuit

How fun is this Vilshenko Peony Dot Jumpsuit? This cotton/silk number retails $1045, and if I owned something this expensive, I’d probably reserve it for special occasions. Since it was a rental, I enjoyed it as casual daywear, as I would jeans and a T-shirt. It’s more comfortable too.

Also wearing: Castaner Pink Campesina Espadrilles (see them with other outfits); secondhand Maiyet Mini Peyton tote from eBay (see it with other outfits).

3. DVF Romper

This Diane von Furstenberg Blue Gingham Printed Romper ($368 retail) is really cute, but if I bought it, I probably wouldn’t wear it enough. I’d rent it again for vacations in hot places though. This is silk, so it’s nice leaving it to RTR to handle the dry cleaning.

Note that for this particular romper, I needed to use a bobby pin to keep the top in place to avoid any wardrobe malfunctions.

Also wearing: Angela Roi Cher ToteSaint Laurent Bold 1 Sunglasses (see it with other outfits).

4. DVF Maxi Dress

I’m afraid I played it safe with another Diane von Furstenberg number, the New Yahzi Maxi Wrap Dress ($468 retail), although the print is a bit bold. This jersey maxi is really comfortable and flattering, but I felt like the newest cast member on The Real Housewives of Miami.

Also wearing: Angela Roi Cher ToteSaint Laurent Bold 1 Sunglasses (see it with other outfits); Sydney Brown Heels (see them with other outfits).

THOUGHTS ON RTR UNLIMITED

If I lived in the States, I would continue subscribing to RTR Unlimited, at least for another few months, to play around with their stuff. They have endless options, and it would be fun to continue trying different clothes and accessories without committing.

At $159 + tax per month (no contract), it can get expensive, unless you’re the type to spend more on clothes each month anyway. They currently have an introductory offer of $99 for the first month. To be able to rent these four pieces with the combined value of $2,476 at that price was pretty sweet.

The majority of the brands they carry are not super high end, but still quality designer items you would find at Saks or Nordstrom. If you’re renting pieces that would typically cost $200-$400 each to buy, the value still works out in your favour. Rent the Runway does have a cheaper subscription service called RTR Update, which offers fewer brands—200 as opposed to Unlimited’s 450. You still get 4 pieces per month, but you have to keep them for the whole month instead of having the option to swap something out immediately if it doesn’t suit or fit you right.

For the right fit, the customer reviews and photos, as well as RTR’s size and fit notes, are very helpful. Renting things like pants can get tricky, so I didn’t take the risk this time.  If I hadn’t packed heels, the DVF maxi dress might’ve been a little long for me, so consider the length of the item as well.

I’m comfortable with wearing clothes previously worn by others (vintage, anyone?), so if you want to rent clothes, you obviously need to be as well. Some of RTR’s items will show more wear than others. The jacket and the Vilshenko jumpsuit I rented definitely feels worn in, but the clothes were all clean. RTR owns the nation’s largest dry cleaner and their spotters should get every stain out. If not, they have good customer service, so you can always call them up to sort things out.

Everything comes in a black garment bag, and each item inside is separated in plastic garment bags. When returning clothes, be sure to return the plastic bags too, as they recycle them. Returns are easy. Just place the return label in the outside pouch, lock the bag up, and drop it off at a local UPS store. In my case, I simply left the bag with the hotel and asked them to give it to UPS the next time they come in.

If you want to make a conscious effort to rent ethically-made items, I see that they carry AMUR, Tome, Rachel Comey, and Mara Hoffman.

RTR UNLIMITED is great for those…

– weaning off making impulse purchases and fast fashion.

– quick to fall in and out of love with the clothes they buy.

– playing it too safe with their wardrobes and wanting to take risks without committing.

– pregnant or dealing with fluctuating weight.

– who want to round out their capsule wardrobes with fun pieces.

– who hate going to the dry cleaners or spending extra time caring for mid to high-end clothes.

– who want to rent clothes for work as well as for nights out and special occasions.

– who want to wear different outfits every weekend.

– who need seasonal clothes they’re lacking for vacations or work trips.

For a long-term review of RTR Unlimited, as well as some tips on getting the most out of the service, I found Styles for Thought’s post really helpful.

Photos by Swish + Click

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