Back-to-back black-tie weddings caused me to take a closer look at one time rentals vs buying discounted designer apparel. Take a look at Rent the Runway, where to buy designer brands for less, and rental clothing competitors. Get the answer to “Is Rent the Runway Worth It?”
Have you tried Rent the Runway? I first tried RTR 6 years ago when I was pregnant with twins – only I didn’t realize I was pregnant and I had to put on two pairs of Spanx to get in the dress. While this blog post has nothing about being the mother of twins or wearing twin Spanx (pun intended), it does provide a little insight on how to find the perfect size dress (or clothing item) for your special occasion.
In addition to finding the perfect dress for an occasion, there are other options to find more than the perfect dress. While you might have tried renting a dress online before, you might not be aware of a monthly clothing rental service too. With a Rent the Runway Membership, you can find outfits for any occasion including weddings, work, weekends, travel, and more. If revamping your closet for a month isn’t your cup of tea, give Rent the Runway a short try and rent designer clothing for a few short days during a special occasion.
How does Rent the Runway Work?
Rent the Runway is a rental clothing company that allows you to try on and wear designer brands. The online boutique includes stylish clothing connecting consumers to high-end top brands. Their business model focuses on helping women to stay up-to-date with constantly evolving fashion trends — without breaking the bank or repeating their outfits.
When renting clothing, your rental window can be as short as 4 days or as long as a 30-days. The online designer store includes many popular brands including Tory Burch, Farm Rio, LoveShackFancy, Mac Duggal, and more. Rent the Runway clothing is sent straight from the warehouse to your home and includes a pre-affixed return package for an easy-peasy designer rental service experience.
How to find your perfect size
One thing I love about Rent the Runway is the sizing. I can (humbly) enter my weight, height, and typical size and compare myself to others. This gives me a review and photos of how the dress looked on them. I can see the shape and height of other women and know how something might fit me.
As we all know, clothing size can vary greatly by designer and region. For example, UK fits much differently than US versions. To find your perfect size, when you find the ideal dress read the Rent the Runway reviews. Many individuals share their experiences with their rented dresses (items of clothing) – you might even find a few of my reviews online.
Once you find the item you want, click the reviews or customer images. Sort the feedback by sizing that matches yours. Simply pay attention to your height, weight (be honest), and chest size. Then find similar women who have rented the same dress you are looking at. This quickly helps you realize if the item is true to size, runs small, or runs large.
This is my favorite thing about this website. Shopping like this cannot be done on T.J.Maxx, Nordstrom, Dillards, and other online dress stores I typically use first.
Take a look at my personal Rent the Runway sizing experience. By paying attention to the sizing, I knew I had to rent a size 14 Borgo de Nor Lemonade Margarita Maxi dress for a wedding rehearsal. M typical size is 6/8. In fact, the same designer has another dress that doesn’t run this large and it would have been better for me to go with a 6/8 – talk about confusion. This is why Rent the Runway reviews for each item are important.
Now that you know you have the ability to find the perfect size brand name clothing, let’s talk about renting brand-to-consumer items. To learn more about the rental process, take look at one-time rentals and memberships.
Rent the Runway One Time Rental
Rent the runway has short window items. This can be as short as 4 days or as long as 8 days. With a one-time rental, you can select a delivery date 1-2 days before your plans. With one-time rentals, to help make sure you get an outfit that fits, a free backup size is included in every order. Once you have chosen your items, the Rent the Runway rental bag will arrive at your door. No need to leave your house (except for your special event.)
Consider short-term clothing rentals for special occasions including:
- Rent the Runway prom dresses
- Rent the Runway cocktail dresses
- Rent the Runway wedding guest
- Rent the Runway homecoming dresses
For these special occasions, individuals often want a one-time use. In this case, buying a dress can often be a waste of money. Plus designer clothing vs warehouse clothing is quite different. Either you spend a little and the item doesn’t fit great. Or you spend a lot for a three-hour event.
Rent the Runway’s Collection Includes Popular Brands:
- Ienna by Mac Duggal
- Badgley Mischka
- Adam LIppes Collective
- Donna Morgan
- Lilly Pulitzer
- Ulla Johnson
- Veronica Beard
- FARM Rio
- MISA Los Angeles
- Sea New York
- Tory Burch
… and more!
Right now, code GETDRESSED with give you 20% off trying this one-time service.
Feel like a million bucks for only a few short dollars.
Rent the Runway Tip: If you have your eye on a specific, must-have dress for a one-time occasion, go with the one-time rental. You can schedule the date of your rental and ensure you have the perfect dress during this open window of time.
Rent the Runway Membership
Once you’ve chosen to rent designer clothing, it’s important to discover how you can rent top brands for less.
Do you need clothing for work? Do you have a series of events coming up? Do you want to treat yourself? Are you feeling like you deserve a closet overhaul but lack the budget… if you answered yes to any of these, then try Rent the Runway subscription service.
The Rent the Runway monthly clothing membership allows you to hang on to five items at a time. There are three membership plans allowing you to keep all five items for one month or get up to 3 free shipments a month and up to 15 brand-to-consumer items a month.
RTR makes this pretty easy with three main subscription plans.
Subscription Plan 1
- 5 items a month
- 1 shipment a month
- Rent items up to $350 MSRP
Subscription Plan 2
- 10 items a month
- 2 shipments a month
- Rent items up to $3000 MSRP
Subscription Plan 3
- 15 items a month
- 3 shipments a month
- Rent items up to $3000 MSRP
Subscription plans include all the popular designers’ brand names you get from the one-time rental but they give you more of unlimited access to your look. Grab not only designer gowns but the option of jewelry, handbags, coats, accessories, or even more clothing items to complete the look.
Runway customers can rent items for as long as they’d like during their ongoing plan and have the option to purchase any pieces they love at a discounted price.
When your rental period is up, return your items using the included prepaid UPS shipping label. With easy Rent the Runway returns, simply return the item to a UPS location with a prefixed label and packaging. You can also schedule a UPS pick-up. Easy peasy, return it immediately. They will do the cleaning.
It’s really easy to discontinue and you can cancel Rent the Runway at any time. When you cancel the service, you still can keep your clothing items until the end of your subscription period.
A Rent the Runway phone number is not necessary. You can easily cancel online within the backend of your account. During my subscription period, I found the chat feature to be very helpful. This is a real person, not a robot. You can do this by going down to Contact Us at the bottom of the www.RenttheRunway.com page. You will get connected immediately.
Chat is available:
- Monday – Friday: 9 am – 7:30 pm EDT
- Saturday & Sunday: 9 am – 5 pm EDT
When canceling Rent the Runway, make sure to return your rented clothing items before your Rent the Runway membership/trial period ends.
Rent the Runway Promo Codes
One thing I love about this website is they don’t hide their discounts. How much does Rent the Runway cost? That will vary on the rental window and value of the clothing item. However, unlike the competition, RTR is pretty blatant about wanting you to save money and see what is available to rent. To find Rent the Runway coupons, scroll down to the bottom of the www.RenttheRunway.com page. Look for current promotions under the get help column.
Find Rent the Runway discount codes for their clothing rental memberships and one-time rentals so you can give them a try.
Rent the Runway Review
I decided to give Rent the Runway Membership a try. I went with the most popular plan, getting up to 10 items a month (It was only 8 rent my runway items when started but soon turned to 10.)
Within two years our family was invited to two destination black-tie weddings. With the first wedding, my husband and I went as well as three (of our five) kids. The receipts on wedding guest attire quickly added up and I looked for any way to save money. I was pleased with my purchases for the first wedding. I did a great job of savings on a Mac Duggal Runway Dress. I found a way I could resell the dress and earn money back.
For the second wedding, I began to try the same thing of shopping T.J.Maxx Runway Collection for designer gowns. This wasn’t working. What I purchased wasn’t exactly what I wanted. For me, finding the right dress is a “you know when you know type situation.” I wasn’t hitting the home run and new buying and returning was going to exhaust my time and quite frankly annoy me, so I began to search other places.
First, I searched for my favorite brand on Google. I knew exactly how Ieena by Mac Duggal fit so guessing which size was best would be easy. As I searched Mac Duggal on sale, Rent the Runway Mac Duggal dresses were coming up quite often. I had an existing RTR account so I began to heart (or save) these dresses.
Then it hit me. In addition to a black-tie wedding guest gown, I also need dresses and clothes for multiple events in the next few weeks. This included my daughter’s high school dance. I could rent both my dress and my daughter’s homecoming dress for a fraction of the price it would cost me to buy. I decided, in this season of activities and events, to give Rent the Runway Membership a try.
I began looking at the RTR membership prices. I decided with a discount code, the middle plan would be best for me. This gave me up to 8 items a month (now 10) and it allowed me to quickly return that Rent the Runway cocktail dress (for my daughter) that I needed for a mere 24 hours.
I had plenty of items saved so I just thought I would purchase the membership and quickly add these items to my cart. They would be a few days for shipping, it would be easy peasy. I quickly found a Rent the Runway coupon savings me almost $50/month for two months. I would pay about $90/month for two months. I purchased the membership and began the process of adding my items to the “bag.”
It wasn’t that easy!
I was so mad. Seriously, it felt like everything was unavailable. In fact, in a folder of about 100 saved items, I was able to maybe get 5 items. Thank God, I could grab that high school dance dress (did no one else need a Rent the Runway homecoming dress?) This was a $300 SIMKHAI Michelle Velvet Mini dress and I knew my daughter would be excited. Okay, so that was solved but I spent another two hours shopping for myself.
I saw that the rehearsal dinner dress I was eyeing had one available but it was over four sizes too big. However, reading reviews, I realized I would need it big because it ran small. I decided, even though the wedding is six weeks away, I might need to add this dress to my bag now. In this two-hour online shopping experience, I realized it was going to be hard to quickly grab my favorites. I was initially frustrated as I had to come up with a bunch of new likes. However, after getting started with a new folder of likes it became less hard and more fun as I ran through an index of all my upcoming events.
Since I needed the cocktail dress for my teen right away, I quickly added a few other cold-weather designer-brand items to the cart for a trip I was taking to New York City. While they didn’t excite me at first, I grew to love them. They actually gave me a few fun brands to wear while I waited for my ideal black-die wedding guest dress to become available. I would pay attention to my likes to see if any of my favorite dresses popped up as available.
While I used my first (of four) orders, a Mac Duggal gown became available. I am obsessed with Mac Duggal dresses and pretty much knew my size, so I quickly added it to my next order. This dress arrived maybe a week after I used the service and I held on to the dress for five weeks in anticipation of the wedding. I feared returning the dress and it no longer being available. So once I returned my New York Items and my high schooler’s dance dress, I grab the MD gown.
I now had two dresses that I held on to and I began to switch out other items. Cold winter items turned into a few fun spring dresses as the weather warmed. Once I learned to broaden my likes, I quickly found I loved the service. I loved that I got to wear dresses that were tailored, cost a lot of money, and had amazing fabric. I was saving money instead of buying new pieces for one-time use.
The wedding rehearsal dress and wedding gown worked out perfectly. I had plenty of fun things to wear in between trading one brand-name item for another.
What I Rented
Want to try what I tried? Here is the full list of items I rented while on the membership program.
- Borgo de Nor Lemonade Margarita Maxi Dress – Rehearsal dinner, runs small
- SIMKHAI Michelle Velvet Mini Dress – Homecoming dress, true to Size
- Peter Som Collective Ruffle Shoulder Sweater – NYC vacation plus day to day
- BLANKNYC Safari Cheetah Duster – NYC vacation, church event plus day to day
- Benjamin Benmoyal Floral Long Caftan – True to size, adorable. Was too cold to wear but I wish I had time. It’s adorable.
- Trina Turk Yucca Floral Dress – I loved this. Wore it to church. True to size. Bright colors.
- Lauren Ralph Lauren Floral Tie Waist Shirtdress – So cute, wanted to hit Nantucket but wore it to church instead.
- Rebecca Taylor Camel Rose Plaid Blazer – Adorable. True to size. Dressed up with a dress and own with jeans.
- J.Crew Block Print Coral Dress – Adorable. Wore on the weekend.
- 7 For All Mankind Stripe Puff Shoulder Sweater – I wanted to buy this, so cute. True to size.
- Ieena for Mac Duggal Tie Back Floral Gown – I love it. True to size. Beautiful and sexy for a black tie wedding (but just enough.)
- Tanya Taylor Cynthia Dress – Didn’t get to wear. cute. I thought it ran bigger.
- Roksanda Anaisa Maxi Dress – Ran Huge (with a capital H.) Didn’t get a chance to wear it. Saw some wear in the collar on this piece.
Knowing I didn’t have to worry about the cleaning was a huge relief. When my daughter went to her school dance, I reminded my sweet girl over and over how expensive a dress she was wearing and to take incredible care of it.
Well, she’s 14 and she had an unavoidable stain at the end of the night. I began to panic thinking of how I was going to fix this stain. You know what… I sent it back when the stain and there was no charge for the dress for the returning cleaning. I read many reviews of Rent the Runway dry cleaning and the incredible fairy magic they have. Instead of trying to take care of it myself, I let them do their job at no added expense or charge. I was so relieved.
I realized that cleaning after each use does wear on some of the dresses. This was the case for the Roksanda Anaisa Maxi Dress. while I didn’t get a chance to wear it, I noticed the collar was losing a bit of coloring from use. This is a $1,300 dress so I would expect better r- would you eve imagine a $1,300 dress in your closet, by the way?
In summary, I found many of the most popular Rent the Runway Gowns are hard to acquire within the RTR membership. However, there are plenty of other items to replace that favorite. Many are just as cute. If you have your eye on that one item, the membership does give you a membership perk – take an extra 25% off all reserved rentals if you want to reserve a dress for a 4 to 8-day window. This Rent the Runway savings applies automatically at checkout.
If you have some time to watch availability, then you are good to go. For example, if you have a wedding in March, start the service in February with at least two return windows. This will let you request the dress as soon as one of your favorites becomes available. Or, you can also have a large selection of dresses instead of your eye on one item. This is what happened at my black-tie wedding. The dress wasn’t my first choice but it worked out in the end and I am really pleased with my choice. A slit down my chest was quite daring but since I was limited on favorites, I took the plunge and loved going outside of my comfort zone on a wedding destination vacation with just my husband and me.
So is it worth it?
When I first tried the designer rental subscription, I told myself “I will never do this again” because I could not get my #1 dress choice. This changed quickly as I realized how many other items they had and I began to open my eyes to so many pretty brands. I began to get so many compliments on the items I was wearing. In fact, not one item did I wear and not get a verbal like. I loved the items so much and so did others.
I wanted to keep the service for longer than I did. I kept the service for two months. The reason I stopped was I am a sweatshirt and sweatpants type of girl. If I needed everyday workwear or attended fancy occasions often, I would absolutely continue this service. In fact, the next time my daughter has a dance, I would love to try the service another month and have fun with a few cute items (In honor of her special occasion, of course!)
Next time I have a fancy wedding or upcoming event I will (in this order)…
1.) Find the best solution by buying from T.J.Maxx Runway and reselling on Poshmark & thredUP when done. Why rent, when you can own is my initial thought.
However, if I can’t find my ideal dress at a discount or need a lot of outfits, I will…
2.) Get a two-month period of renting designer clothing weeks in advance.
If I don’t need a lot of clothing…
3.) I will do a one-time 4-day rental with a free UPS return.
Make Rent the Runway your own. All of these options are ideal based on your own needs. Ask yourself…
- Do you need something immediately?
- Do you have time to wait for that ideal item to become available?
- Do you need more than one item?
- Do I want to gift myself a month full of fun clothing?
Seriously, Rent the Runway rentals have been worth it, and such a lovely way to try out new brands without breaking the bank.
Rent the Runway locations
Are you ready to shop Rent the Runway? Can I shop in person if online shopping is intimidating? If you live in a larger city, you used to be able to shop and return in person at one of the Rent the Runway luxury stores. However, Covid crushed this realization.
Popular places you could shop/return designer fashion brands were…
Rent the Runway Flagship Store NYC
Rent the Runway Dallas
Rent the Runway Chicago
Rent the Runway Bridgeton
Rent the Runway Miami
Rent the Runway Nashville
Rent the runway Greenwich
Rent the Runway Austin
Rent the Runway DC
However, all RTR locations are permanently closed. This was disappointing for many but exciting for others who took advance of the Rent the Runway sample sale.
Since closing all of its flagship locations, RTR returned its focus to investments in digital. This made it fair for everyone as the time, hours, and inventory are equally shared. It also made renting the runway returns a uniform process for all. Returning from multiple US locations to digital stores only created an equal
playing shopping field for all. Everyone can shop pre-loved designer clothing with their online Rent the Runway Brand Consignment shop.
Rent the Runway on Amazon
One benefit of digital is RTR sample sales were no longer. Instead, you don’t have to live in a major city with a flagship store. Now everyone has access to Rent the Runway Clearance Sale and the “buy now” button (for those that don’t want to rent.)
In addition to buying used brand-name clothing off the Rent the Runway website, you can also buy from Rent the Runway when you shop on Amazon for Rent the Runway items. The Amazon Fashion resale option gives you the option to buy things from your favorite brands on one of your favorite websites.
Give Rent the Runway a try or try the competition. Questions about Rent the Runway vs. …? well Rent the Runway’s competitors include Nuuly, Armoire, and Fashion Pass. Let us know your experience and favorite place to rent designer clothing. I researched all three places before beginning with RTR. I still find the original place to be the best. RentTheRunway appears to be much more transparent than the places that opened after the original store.
So…. Is Rent The Runway Worth It? You let me know! I have found the clothes were fun and covered many of my event needs.
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