I Tried It: Rent The Runway Unlimited

We’ve all been there: the semester gets busy and between schoolwork, extracurriculars and trying to catch up on sleep, the social season has stacked up. All of the sudden, you have Boulevard season, formals and holiday parties to attend and nothing to wear with no budget to speak of. This past spring, I ran into this exact issue when over the course of two months I was going to a debutante weekend where I needed two floor-length dresses, a sorority semi-formal, an auction with cocktail attire and a birthday party at a nice restaurant. While I could have borrowed from friends or worn things already in my closet, I wanted to stand out and have something new.

Enter Rent The Runway Unlimited. For a monthly rate of $159/month (and just $99 for your first month!), you can enjoy the flexibility of renting out up to four items at a time for any occasion that may come your way. And let me tell y’all, it is a GAME CHANGER. I used it for two months before putting my membership on hold for the fall. No shipping charges, no dry-cleaning bills–just designer looks at my fingertips for a fraction of the cost. While I am sure many of you are at least familiar with what RTR’s usual services for individual rentals, Unlimited takes it to a whole new level.

So, is RTR Unlimited worth the monthly price tag? Absolutely. I personally saved so much money in the two months I used it, wearing a total of five looks (all at a retail price of at least $200, some way more) and trying on a whole lot more. Shipping is easy, with prepaid two-day shipping each way. Items ship in reusable hanging bags and the service reuses their plastic hanging bags if you ship them back. Dry-cleaning is included, and you can keep items for as long as you want as long as you are paying the monthly fee. Once a piece is in your possession, you can buy your favorites for a discounted price. Plus, you can cancel or pause your account anytime as long as all pieces have been shipped back. And, as always with Rent The Runway, you have access to all sorts of different clothes–cocktail dresses, gowns, work attire, jewelry, rompers, jackets and more and even petite, tall, maternity and plus-sizing. So basically, the options are endless. You better believe I will be starting my subscription back up come Boulevard season.

Here a few tips that I feel like everyone should know before starting Rent The Runway Unlimited.

1. Your cart must be full before they will ship your items.

Taking out four items at a time is a huge perk of the Unlimited subscription. However, that means they will only ship things to you when it adds up to four items in your possession. For example, to start, I chose four dresses to try for an upcoming event. I kept two and sent back the other two. For my next shipment, one of the dresses I wanted was unavailable in my size so I tried to just get one more. After calling customer service (which is great, by the way), they were kind enough to make an exception to just send the one dress since it was my first time, but I did not have that luxury beyond that. This ended up actually being a huge help beyond simply getting another dress because I got another shipping bag, which brings me to my next point. However, usually, your cart must add up to four pieces (including the ones in your possession) before they will ship you more items.

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Photo credit: Caroline Sheridan

2. Try to get your hands on two shipping bags to make returns easier.

RTR is not only a great way to get designer clothes, but it is also a super sustainable way to shop. Your items will be shipped to you in a giant zip-up hanging bag that includes your items and any accessories that go with it, along with your return label that is already paid for. If, however, you are like me and only wanted to ship some items back before getting more, the timing of the shipments could get tricky. One way to do this could be to go to the UPS store and pay for your shipping back on one item while keeping the bag at home. That way, when you order another item you will receive another bag and can use those if the timing of your events and shipping needs are too close for comfort.

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Photo credit: Caroline Sheridan

3. Read the reviews for fit details before you order.

Just as you would when renting dresses on RTR normally, check the customer reviews if you are nervous about the fit. After a few rentals, I pretty much became an expert on understanding how things would fit me just by going off the reviews from women with similar sizing to me. And, if you have further questions, customer service is just a call away and can answer any questions you may have.

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Photo credit: Caroline Sheridan

4. Be patient and have an open mind.

Not everything is necessarily available right when you want it because it may already be rented to another customer. Therefore, it is always a good idea to have multiple options, check back often, and download the app so you can check on your items on the go. Favorite items to have easy access to what you want to order next and put in your size preferences so you can see what is available immediately in your size. When in doubt, plan ahead early if you know you want something specific for a certain event. For example, I started trying to get a dress a month in advance because it was a popular style and did not get the right size until the week before my event. And, beware, items only remain in your cart for 20 minutes, so move quickly!

Interested in starting your subscription? Check out Rent The Runway’s website for more information!

Caroline Sheridan

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