I remember the first time I saw the 1995 cult classic Clueless, as a young teenager a decade and a half after its release. There was pizza and sodas and mismatched pajamas; iconic one-liners, young Paul Rudd and a bright yellow plaid set that I’ve been wanting to recreate ever since. Most of all there was the intense jealousy when Cher picked her outfit from her electronic closet. Though I’m now several years into my twenties, it’s still one of the coolest things ever. Enter online fashion service Rent the Runway, who has made both thirteen year old and twenty two year old me’s wildest dreams come true.
The company offers a ‘closet in the cloud’ of mid-range to designer clothes and accessories through one time rentals and monthly subscription plan. The four or eight day rentals are perfect for events, senior year I rented my prom dress (a suitably girly Marchessa Notte strapless gown for a fashion obsessed highschooler) from Rent the Runway. Their monthly subscriptions Update and Unlimited let you try out four pieces per month, from vacation worthy sundresses to evening bags for that fancy event you’re attending Saturday, to the perfect blazer to wear when pitching to new clients. Unlimited has a larger selection to choose from and you can swap out any of the four at any time during the month, maximizing your closet. Now that I am back based in the states (sadly, RTR does not ship internationally), I wanted to give it a go and for the start of 2020 they were offering 50% off the first month of Unlimited *Heavy Breathing*.
For my trial month I chose a leopard silk dress from The Kooples for all the #frenchgirlvibes, a plaid blazer from Tanya Taylor (living out those Clueless fantasies), and a green velvet dress from Saylor and black clutch from Zac Posen for an event I was invited to. One of the best features of the subscription is that you can sort the collection by what is available to be delivered ASAP, that way you’re not twiddling your thumbs for ages waiting for your clothes. When they arrived, each fit perfectly since I used their online guide for each piece. If you have any sort of SNAFU with the clothes, Unlimited lets you swap out each piece at any point throughout the month. Case in point: when making my original order I didn’t know the event had an all-black dress code, but luckily Washington DC has a Rent the Runway store in Georgetown where I could quickly swap out the green dress and find a new all-black outfit. The ladies there were so helpful, and the store had a great selection. I left with a black romper with long lace sleeves by Shoshanna.
I loved using RTR’s Unlimited and plan of keeping the service for the following 3 reasons.
Sustainability– as a blogger and content creator for fashion and travel, having unique and interesting clothes is part of my business. This is a more environmentally friendly way to source the clothes I need for content and lessen my consumption and impact. I also don’t want to perpetuate the idea that it’s good or even possible to be constantly buying new clothes, and so this service is a good option for creators like me but also anyone who wants to be able to refresh their closet regularly without paying the financial or environmental cost.
Creativity– The other half of why this is a business expense for me as a creative is that it will allow me to do more editorial and planned fashion and travel shoots. I’m excited about the possibility this brings to my visual storytelling. Already I am planning a shoot that involves a bright pink outfit (one that would be hard to justify in my daily life if I had to purchase it). In addition to fashion, it will let me create some truly spectacular travel content on my next trip, by styling my suitcase for the destination. It’s like gaining access to the closet at Vogue for all of their magazine spreads, on my budget.
Investment– I’m looking to create a more mindful wardrobe, adding luxury pieces over time to create a chic and versatile base. In theory when you pay for a designer or high level brand, you should see the pricetag reflected in the quality of the garment. Rent the Runway is a great way to try out cult designers, to see if they would be worth the investment for you personally. For example, the leopard dress from The Kooples was completely silk and thoughtfully made, having a more fitted black underskirt to keep you from having a Marilyn Monroe moment any time there was a breeze. This blazer by Tanya Taylor was also a perfect example of an investment piece and as it’s cost per way isn’t quite as sure thing as a black blazer, this is a low commitment way to experiment with a bolder wardrobe staple like a patterned jacket. Whereas the black Zac Posen bag didn’t particularly tug at my heartstrings or my wallet.
RTR presents the best of both worlds, if like me, you dream of having the effortless capsule wardrobe, and yet, also like *ahem* moi, you know yourself well enough that trying to stick to the same 15 pieces is a recipe for ill-advised impulse purchases. This service lets you streamline the clothes taking up precious space in your closet (city living and shoebox sized apartments am I right). It also lets you play Carrie Bradshaw, perfectly impractical tulle skirt and all.