I Rented Clothes for a Month Instead of Buying Them—and Saved So Much Money

If there’s one party trick I excel in, it’s being able to spot and detail practically every item of clothing someone is wearing—from the brand down to the price (and I could probably also tell you if it’s on sale). This skill tends to come with the territory as a market editor at Who What Wear, where scouring every cool product on the internet is part of the job. Last month I eyed a gorgeous Self-Portrait floral dress on a co-worker, and when I lavished her with compliments, she whispered with excitement, "It's Rent the Runway!" I had never used the designer clothing rental service before and only really associated it with renting gorgeous gowns for fancy weddings, but when my colleague insisted I try the unlimited membership for a month (think unlimited designer items, free shipping, and no dry-cleaning), I quickly took her advice and signed up.

This is from a gorgeous Israeli designer I discovered through Rent the Runway. I wore it on vacation in Italy.

As someone who spends an average of $300 to $500 a month on new clothing from mostly affordable fast-fashion stores, such as Zara, Mango, and H&M, and around $50 a month on dry cleaning bills, I thought it seemed like a no-brainer to try Rent the Runway’s unlimited membership. Not to mention it seemed especially helpful since I'm a full-time fashion editor (and a time-deprived new mom) who is constantly attending press events and meeting with PR and fashion companies as well as wanting to keep up appearances while working at a fashion-forward company… with very limited time to actually shop.

I’ll also be the first to admit I’m guilty of buying a trend-forward piece, taking one or two pics on Instagram, and then casting it aside for another new piece in a vicious fast-fashion cycle. In an effort to be more sustainable and add more variety and quality items into my day-to-day wardrobe, the act of "borrowing" clothes from the Rent the Runway seemed nothing short of sartorial bliss. It would take my wardrobe to chic new heights, save me money and time, and cause less harm to the environment in the process.  

I got a crazy number of compliments when I wore this chic Rosetta Getty asymmetric top to work. Super chic to pair with slim jeans.

Here’s a quick rundown of how it works: For $159 a month, Rent the Runway unlimited members can borrow up to four pieces of clothing and accessories from a designer-laden library of thousands of items (which includes designer bags, clothes, and jewelry). Subscribers can keep the pieces for as long as they want, and if they can’t bear to part with something, they can buy it, generally for about half the retail price (which definitely proved very tempting). Every single item goes through a cleaning and sanitation process, so it arrives at your doorstep like new.

This plaid Free People skirt fits so perfectly, is great for fall, and was not too pricey, so I actually ended up buying it.

Dressing for work is work. I found the Rent the Runway service not only incredibly handy (the perfect strategic solution for a professional working woman wanting high-quality outfits) but also wonderfully freeing. After choosing the items I was going to wear that week, it freed up my mental space to focus on important matters at work and at home. And while it still takes a little time to pick and choose the pieces you want on the site, the great part is it only takes a couple of days to arrive, and it's easy to return the items (with a free shipping label), which immediately frees up spots to choose more chic pieces.

This effortless jumpsuit was a weekend winner for a birthday brunch.

The selection of designers that Rent the Runway carries is vast, and caters to every sartorial taste. I particularly loved the more contemporary brands available—from Tibi to Nanushka, Rejina Pyo to Reformation. I’m hoping the brand keeps adding more to the list, especially emerging designers as well as heritage brands (it would be rather nice to rent a Chanel It bag for a weekend!).

Nanushka's leather separates are trending hard, and this was perfect for fashionable desk-to-drinks work events.

I saved an immense amount of time, money, and worry about what to wear using the Unlimited service, which at this stage in my career and life is an absolute godsend! I also got plenty of Instagram action from my buys without the guilt of buying-and-tossing in a fast-fashion cycle. It has made me feel like a more conscious and sustainable shopper and moreover has provided fresh inspiration for my day-to-day wardrobe. I've also loved wearing great quality pieces by high-end designers such as Victoria Beckham that I would never usually be able to afford—how's that for democratizing fashion?

Scroll below to see more great pieces I rented through Rent the Runway's unlimited service.

A cool sweater cape by Draper James nails one of fall/winter's hottest trends. Perfect for the cozy season ahead.

I love the fact you can rent an of-the-moment It bag for a fraction of the price. This Rejina Pyo purse took my outfit to new heights of chic.

This houndstooth coat was the perfect option to get into the fall spirit as the temps are starting to cool. We all know outerwear can get pretty pricey, so renting is a great option to save money in this area.

I absolutely love Tibi and while I've never actually bought anything from the brand yet, renting a piece was the perfect way to experience one of its pieces. The number of compliments I got on this chic scarf sweater was absurd. I paired it with an equally cool A-line skirt from Tory Burch to finish the look.

While I love renting statement pieces to add to my basics, I'm also a fan of minimalist staples, such as this cozy cardigan from J.Crew, a chic option on crisp weekends. 

You can never have too many chic work dresses. I got this one in this season's trending lavender hue and paired it with a cool brown mock-croc bag.

I loved the quality, silhouette, and drape of this Victoria Beckham skirt. It's ideal for the office and work dinners.