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Are Clothing Subscriptions Worth it?

I’m very interested in learning more about eco-fashion and all the new ways to be more conscious of my consumerism. I kept hearing about clothing rental services but I just couldn’t quite grasp exactly how that would fit into my lifestyle. I decided that testing a service out was the best way to decide if it would work for me, so I joined Nuuly and Rent the Runway while I enlisted blog contributor Lauren Moreno to try Armoire. 
September 2021
Are Clothing Subscriptions Worth It?
Are Clothing Subscriptions Worth It?

Some studies like this one say that because of all the back and forth shipping and their carbon footprint, rental services are not good for the environment. I think there are a lot of factors to consider like the materials, the number of wears, and the fact that you may have ordered something for this purpose anyway. While I am interested in that study’s findings, I am also a little skeptical.

Rent the Runway
Rent the Runway

Amy’s review of subscription service, NUULY

I had heard good things about Nuuly and I often see things on Anthropologie that I like so I figured this could be a good aesthetic fit for me. The price was reasonable and there were a lot of brands that I could see from looking through the App that I liked but are often more expensive than I would normally order which seemed like a perk.

However, once I actually subscribed I found that a lot of the items that I liked were not actually available at the time or in my size. I found 2 items that I was excited about and the rest were kind of a bummer. I actually found it really difficult to find 6 things I’d want to rent. Some of the items were clothes I had liked a few years ago, but have gone out of style a bit. I figured since I had already signed up for it I might as well try it to see how it went. 

I ended up renting a Free People printed blouse (which was the first piece I ended up wearing). The fit was cute and it was a color I wouldn’t normally wear but it was flattering and easy to pair with jeans. I also got two Love Shack Fancy tops, an Innika Choo embroidered dress, Carolina K dress, Paul & Joe Sister dress. The dresses were a little difficult, one didn’t fit, and the fabric on the other two surprised me so I ended up wearing only 1 of the dresses which was a little disappointing.

Part of a subscription is the ability to purchase items at a discounted rate, however, all of the items I received were heavily worn. When I considered the age and quality of my choices, I felt I could purchase the same items at a better price and quality from Poshmark or other resellers if I wanted to have one of those items in my wardrobe. 

I ended up sending everything back and canceling my subscription. I was disappointed in the service, and I definitely would not try this one again.

However, there are two points that I’d like to call out. I think this could be a good service for anyone who lives away from a major city and wants an affordable way to try out new brands. It could be a good solution if you want a dress for a special occasion, but want to spend under $100 but still have a high quality and unique style. Even though one of the dresses didn’t fit, I did have 3 options so if I had an occasion to wear the others I think I would have found more value in the service.  

Complete Rating (scale of 1-5) 

Clothing choices/style: 1 
I was unhappy with the choices, mostly casual compared to some of the other services out there, a lot of casual blouse options, lots of fun patterns

Ease of use: 5 
Easy, the app is easy to use and it was easy to get set up

Cost/value: 3
I thought the price was good and accessible, but I wasn’t happy with the product offering

Best for: Dresses for casual occasions - think a casual work event, family event, or casual special occasion where you want a unique day dress

A review of subscription service, Armoire

Curious if another service might be a better experience, I enlisted blog contributor Lauren Moreno to try out another company I had heard about – Armoire.

AV:

What sparked your initial interest in trying Armoire?

LM:

Armoire features some higher end designers that I love (like Joie) and I thought it was a great way to try those designers out without the hefty price tags. I also tend to purchase staples that I know I will get a lot of wear out of, so I liked the idea of being able to try out different styles that I normally wouldn’t risk buying.

AV:

Can you share your rating of Armoire?

LM:

Complete Rating (scale of 1-5) 

Ease of use: 5 
Setup was pretty easy. It started with a quiz asking me what I liked and didn’t like, which resulted in a curated collection of items I could choose from. I didn’t see anything I loved in that assortment, but it was pretty easy to explore the rest of the site. 

My 7 items came in the mail pretty quickly, in a reusable mailer which I was happy about. However, all of the items arrived heavily wrinkled.

Clothing choices/style: 3 
I did spend some time picking out items because I didn’t see much that jumped out at me right away. For my first box, I wanted to focus on summer/fall transitional pieces. 

I received a golden blouse that I loved (it didn’t fit), a black Joie wrap skirt (I had been looking for an item like this), a taupe jumpsuit (again, something I’ve been considering buying), a tan wrap blouse (it didn’t look as good in real life) and a pair of wide leg jeans (I definitely do not need to buy any more jeans).

Cost/value: 3
The total cost was $69 for seven pieces, which is their introductory offer. Typically, you receive 4 pieces for $69. I thought the cost was fair, but when I realized how few of the pieces I actually wore, it didn’t feel like a great use of my clothing budget.

Best for: I was really impressed by their outerwear assortment, but it’s still too warm for outerwear so I didn’t choose any. I’d definitely like to try again when it’s cooler and I can try out some of their beautiful coats and blazers.

A review of subscription service, Rent the Runway

I’ve had the App on my phone for ages (like YEARS)...and have often considered RTR for special occasions but in the last 2 years I haven’t been to any - so my interest was on hold. However, this fall I’m moving back to the city during the weekdays and have a wedding to attend, so I thought it would be a good time to test this service out.

Complete Rating (scale of 1-5) 

Ease of use: 5
The setup is incredibly fast and easy. There were so many brands that I loved, but their robust filters (especially for body type) made it easy to find items that I wanted to try. 

I received 4 items with the plan I selected and they were available very quickly. They all arrived on hangers with plastic dry cleaning bags over them and folded in an interesting garment bag that zipped up. I was impressed. These are typically the kind of garments that wrinkle easily, but the packing really protected them. I wasn’t thrilled about all the plastic, but it did seem like the best way to protect the garments.

Clothing choices/style: 5 
Picking items was really fast - they carry a lot of brands I love like Dodo Bar Or, Warm, Ulla Johnson, Tanya Taylor so there were lots of great choices. They also have capsules broken out with different occasions and you can filter by body type so it was easy to find things for what I have planned for the month. I Selected a Carolina Santo Domingo bag that I love, an Ulla Johnson dress in a fun mustard color, a printed skirt by Warm - a style that I had thought about purchasing but wanted to test out whether I’d really wear it, and a fun floral printed Dodo Bar Or dress for going out to dinner.

Cost/value: 3
They have 3 plans, I selected the 2 shipments/month option where you can rent 4 items at a time with full closet access. Although I don’t really know if I would want to be shipping things back and forth so much, I did want access to the higher end brands. The items in the basic closet focus on casual and workwear pieces that only go up to $350 retail value. With the plan I picked, I unlocked access to items with up to a $3,500 value. The quality is dramatically different and you can rent high end evening wear with this plan.

Best for: I think at $135/mo it’s a good deal if you want to have the thrill of trying on something new and having a beautiful dress to wear for a night out or occasion. I think that, especially for a wedding or event, this is a great option since you can try 4 high quality dresses at home for a fraction of what you would typically pay for a dress for an event. It’s definitely a high expense to add to your monthly clothing budget if you also shop a lot. But this seems like a good fit for me since I’m trying to shop much less these days – especially for dresses which I don’t wear as frequently. If anything, it might actually help me decrease my monthly shopping expenses.  

Have you ever tried a clothing subscription service? Let us know about your experience in the comments, and if you have continued to utilize the service after your initial trial.

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