To Rent or Not To Rent- My Experience with a Borrowed Wardrobe

Before 2020, never did I ever think I would rent my clothes. Clothing rentals always seemed like a cheap way to procure a prom dress or other strictly occasional items that would otherwise be worn once and vanquished to the donation heap. The idea of walking around in someone else’s proverbial shoes (or literal dress) honestly didn’t have much of a stylish (or sanitary) appeal. That is, until necessity drove me to take the plunge… 

Ahead of my husband and I moving back to SoCal from Colorado, I had spent months searching for a new job that would allow me to quit and realize our dream of coming home. After months of voluntarily reducing my hours at my old job in order to de-stress (and care for our adopted furry addition), I finally accepted an amazing offer! The hubby’s job required him to make the transition pretty quickly, and as the housing options were snapped up almost as soon as they were listed, we were pressed to move before I had an official start date. It shouldn’t be long, we can survive on one income until I start. We tried telling ourselves over and over again, but despite the clutches of the COVID-19 slowly subsiding, I was still left jobless for over two months due to administrative woes. Besides learning how to budget on one income for a house that was roughly 1.5 times our former rent, I was suddenly put on a fashion diet that left me feeling more than deprived.

Desperate times call for creative measures. I needed my fashion fix to keep up with the demands of being a starving style artist, but I could no longer afford to keep up with trends. That is, until I got an email from Bloomingdales informing me of their MyList program: a service for renting some of Bloomingdales’ most popular designer items, all at a bargain price of $149 per month. My prayers had been answered! (Or at least partially… I’ll get to that in a second.) I immediately signed up and began building my virtual closet with items from my favorite brands. I figured, if I didn’t like it I could always quit it as soon as I started working; at least I’d have new things to style in the meantime that wouldn’t break the bank!
Well, like so many seemingly perfect things, there was one major catch: with MyList, I couldn’t choose which items from my closet I wanted shipped to me when. I could only “prioritize” items in good faith that they’d send them as soon as they could. Plus, I could only choose four items at a time that I had to return all together, or else no replacement box would be sent. I was more than slightly crestfallen. How was I going to style my reasonably-priced duds to perfection when I had no idea if I’d get a box filled with 4 pairs of pants and no coordinating top? You know, beggars can’t be choosers, I told myself. Plus this was just a trial after all, right?

It was then that I realized that I had seen another influencer partner with a service called Rent The Runway once, so I decided to look into it! I had originally heard of it through friends for renting the aforementioned occasion wear, but didn’t think much else of it for the previously stated reasons… When I actually gave it a chance, though, I was pleasantly surprised. A lot of their styles were current items I had seen in new season releases, and their prices were competitive. Plus, perhaps the most tempting feature, you were able to rent exactly the items you want for your shipments (and that included accessories and bags too, something MyList didn’t offer!). I had room in our budget to try both, so I again threw caution to the wind and placed my first order. May the best rental win…

And the verdict is… In my unbiased, unsponsored opinion Rent the Runway was the service that stood the test of time. This is what it came down to for me personally:

Now, I have to say again, this is just what worked best for me personally! The bottom line is that I tried two fabulous clothing rental services that far surpassed and expanded my expectations for what you could get out of a borrowed wardrobe. The items in both services arrived clean (no off-putting scents) and in good condition (no lipstick stains thus far). Shipping was fast and pretty reliable for both. The monthly fees were comparable. They both had the added benefit, limited income or not, of allowing a dip into the fast-paced world of fashion without the bulk (financially, environmentally, etc.) of a solely bought closet. 

Even though Rent the Runway was my go-to for tighter times, as a newly-employed lady I still have the service as a supplement to my usual clothing procurement because it really does help you try more things more quickly, with less of a deficit and no real loss to you if an item doesn’t work out. It has helped me focus my hard-earned dough on the most special, cream-of-the-crop pieces to purchase for my personal collection, while still getting the versatility of an essentially unlimited virtual wardrobe for maximum styling options with very little money. It’s helped me slash my previous Carrie Bradshaw-like habits of spending more on fashion than rent, and held back my closet from flooding its banks every time I get a non-returnable shipment. All in all, I would definitely recommend experimenting with these kinds of services to see what works for you, especially if your financial goals include other things besides couture. If you’re in need of some inspo, check out a few of my favorite rental-chic looks (from both services) below! (Tap the pic to see which Rent the Runway plan is right for you!)

Xx Tabi

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