Subscription-based services are nothing new, but they seem to have had a bit of a resurgence lately. From food, fashion, to lifestyle, there is likely a subscription-based service out there for your interests. For me, Rent the Runway is one I’ve known about since my early college years. After trying out the service for 6-months, I’m sharing whether or not Rent the Runway is worth it. Keep reading to find out:
- The different packages available
- My experience using the service (pros and cons)
- Whether or not Rent the Runway is worth it
Rent the Runway’s Cost and Services Available
If you’re unfamiliar with Rent the Runway, the concept is fairly simple. Rent the Runway is the happy-medium between maintaining a reasonably sized closet and trying out new trends. Regardless of the option you choose, you literally “rent” clothing or accessories for a limited amount of time and return them afterward.
How Rent the Runway Works
Much like any online website, you can browse renttherunway.com and add items to wishlists. When it’s time to rent, you can access your wishlist for easy shopping and add what’s available to your cart. Rent the Runway will then ship the items to you in a reusable garment bag and provide a packing slip for easy, free returns.
- Add items to your bag until you hit the 4-item limit
- Receive your order within 2-3 days
- Return with the preprinted shipping label
In between receiving and sending the product back, you’re free to wear the items as much as you want. The Rent the Runway team handles dry cleaning, so you don’t have to worry about doing laundry before mailing the pieces back. They also arrive on RTR branded hangers, making it easy to keep the pieces separated in your closet if you choose to hang them up within your wardrobe. Pretty simple, right?
How Much does Rent the Runway Cost?
The price structure varies depending on your plan. Ultimately, there are three Rent the Runway subscriptions available and one “come as you please” option.
- RTR 1-Swap – $89/month for four pieces
- RTR 2-Swap – $135/month for eight pieces
- RTR Unlimited – $159/month for an unlimited amount of items
- One-Time Rental – 4-day or 8-day rental, price varies by product
You can also pause for one month if the timing or budget creates a challenge.
1-Swap, 4 Pieces
Formerly Rent the Runway Reserve, the 1-swap option costs $89 per month for four pieces. The swap refers to how often you can switch out one of your four items due to it not fitting or just not working out. Of course, you have to swap within a specific timeframe of receiving your order, but it’s there as an option so you aren’t stuck with an unwearable item.
With the 1-swap plan, you’d visit UPS once per month to return your package. Anything in your order can be purchased permanently for a discounted price. If you love a piece but don’t want to purchase it, you still have to return it at the end of the month. From there, you can always rent it again in the future.
2-Swaps, 8 Pieces
Rent the Runway’s 2-swap option is the newest package available. Essentially, it’s doubling the 1-swap plan for less than double the price. You still rent 4 items at a time, but you can rent a total of 8 pieces each month for $135 and swap twice instead of once. This means you’d visit UPS twice per month to return your 4-piece packages.
The Unlimited Plan
The unlimited option is the most expensive and also the most versatile plan available. For $159 per month, you can rent as many pieces within the month as you like, still only holding on to 4 items max at a time. There isn’t a restriction on the number of swaps or the length of time you can hold on to an article. If you love a piece in your first delivery and don’t want to purchase it, you can keep it for as long as your subscription is active and just rotate the other three slots with new arrivals. How many times you have to visit UPS is entirely up to your return habits. You may find yourself there every week, or you can avoid it altogether.
The one-time rental isn’t tied to any plan. Whether you’re on a monthly plan or not, you can shop individual pieces and rent them for either 4 or 8 consecutive days. I used this option in addition to the 1-swap plan, so I’ll briefly touch on it when I talk about my experience.
My Experience with Rent the Runway
As mentioned earlier, I decided to try Rent the Runway because my budget allowed for it. I had honestly forgotten about the service for several years, and it crossed my mind only after growing tired of the same clothes in my wardrobe. I wanted to branch out, but I didn’t want the commitment of having new pieces cluttering my closet.
For 6-months, I paid $89/month and rented four items at a time. Here’s what I loved and disliked about the service.
- I got to try new trends without commitment and discovered new brands that generally wouldn’t have crossed my radar.
- Higher-end brands that are typically out of budget for me were available to wear. This was a great way to figure out if specific brands are worth the investment.
- All of my deliveries arrived within two days, and RTR received my returns within two days.
- The sizing/reviews left by fellow members were super helpful. I never ordered something that had a size issue.
- Customer service was a breeze. I thought I received one item without a belt, and the swap process was super quick. (In actuality, the belt was in my bag and was just packed separately from the blouse, so I never received an incomplete or damaged order.)
- You can mix and match what’s in your order. If you want all tops, all bags, or a variety, it’s your choice! It felt like I got the most wear out of everything when I picked out a handbag, a dress, a top, and a bottom. (Accessories like jewelry or sunglasses felt like a waste of a slot, so I can’t speak to the experience with these items.)
- Clothes aren’t always available when it’s time to place your monthly order. This was my biggest gripe because there’s a small window of time to order clothes when the new billing period starts, and it’s a huge bummer when what you were planning on ordering all month is no longer available in your size.
- Heading to UPS every month does start to feel like a chore, much like any mail-related task. I live very close to a UPS store, but I could see this as an even bigger pain point if your store is far away from your home.
- The purchase price for the newer items is typically very high. To no one’s surprise, the pieces that have been in rotation the longest usually have a more substantial discount. Newer pieces were often 10% off, which resulted in a lot of returns for things I would have loved to own.
To add, I also tried out the one-time rental service prior to ending my subscription. I knew that I wanted to talk about the overall experience in a blog post, so I figured why not try the one-time service as well? As you know, I wasn’t in the “going out” mood for NYE. I still wanted to create NYE content, so I decided to look the part and order a festive outfit for a quick 8-day rental. Overall, the process was super smooth. The only drawback I have with the one-time option is how quickly the time passes. It truly is best for someone who is planning a photoshoot or attending a special occasion event. I wouldn’t recommend trying out the service for casual, everyday clothing.
So, is Rent the Runway Worth It?
Ultimately, it depends.
Rent the Runway worked for me. I didn’t crunch the numbers to get exact figures, but I know that I saved money on clothes. The 1-swap subscription fee of $89/month was the equivalent of buying 1-2 new clothing items per month based on where I shop. Between replacing worn-out staples, picking up add-on pieces for events, and purchasing trends that I love, my clothing budget was higher when I wasn’t using Rent the Runway.
During my 6-month subscription, I never felt like my wardrobe was lacking. The subscription replaced my need to go out and shop, so my original clothing budget didn’t need to be fulfilled. The only thing I found myself purchasing was shoes, and that frequency didn’t increase or decrease due to the service.
I say all that to say that Rent the Runway is worth it to me based on my needs, my budget, and my current lifestyle. (It definitely wouldn’t have been worth it when I was an undergraduate student working a part-time job.)
Why I Canceled My Rent the Runway Subscription
You’re probably wondering why I am not an active subscriber if RTR is worth it. I canceled my subscription at the top of the year because I was starting grad school and wanted one less thing to remember. I also didn’t know if I would have the time to maximize my wear time and shoot outfit photos. Basically, I needed to adjust to my newest life change and then jump back in if desired.
I can see myself renewing my subscription in the future, but I would want to try out the unlimited option and see if that resolves the limited availability challenge. While four items per month felt like an adequate amount, there were several times that I would have preferred sending back a few pieces earlier and getting something else, or extending how long I held on to a bag. My monthly clothing budget does not exceed the $159 price tag that unlimited comes with, so it wouldn’t make financial sense to renew at this time.
TL;DR? Here’s what to know about Rent the Runway:
- Rent the Runway lets you rent branded clothing and accessories for a fee.
- There are various subscriptions available, including one-time, $89/month, $135/month, and $159/month.
- Rent the Runway is worth it if you spend more on clothes than the plan’s price, and if the clothes available fit your lifestyle.
- The biggest drawback of the service for me was the limited availability.
- My biggest win from the service was brand awareness and the freedom to try trends without committing to the clothes.
What do you think about Rent the Runway? Have you tried any clothing subscription services before?
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