A Brides Editor Tested Rent the Runway’s Unlimited Service

And decided: Is it worth the $159 monthly price tag?

Updated 10/17/18

Photo by Cameron Clark Photography; Dress by Alcoolique, from Rent the Runway.

Here at Brides, we spend so much time talking about “the one”—wedding dress, that is. But here’s the thing: I’m not a bride, and I still feel like I’m always searching for that one memorable dress between all the bachelorette parties, bridal showers, weddings, and life events on my cal...Or at least that’s how I felt until I discovered Rent the Runway’s unlimited service. I first heard about RTR Unlimited at a party a few months ago when I complimented a friend’s Derek Lam midi dress. She revealed—in a whisper, almost as if it was some major secret—that the dress was, in fact, not her own. She had rented it from Rent the Runway, the online clothing rental company, and she had three (equally cute) options waiting for her at home. The concept? As an Unlimited member, you pay $159 a month—$99 the first month—to borrow any four items at any time. You can wear a piece once, multiple times, or not at all, and then, when you’re finished with said dress, skirt, sunglasses, et cetera, you simply mail it back in a prepaid envelope or drop it by a store location to replace it with your next item.

Yep, it all sounded too good to be true—so, naturally, I decided to give it a try. At first, I said I’d do it for a vacation at the beginning of the summer...but now it’s five months later, and I’m still shopping the site’s new arrivals on Saturday mornings and coordinating outfits with my upcoming calendar. After all, fall is the most popular time of year to say “I do,” and I have a bachelorette party this month, a four-day destination wedding the next, another bachelorette, another wedding...you get the picture.

So, am I a devoted member? Yes, and I do think Unlimited is the right plan for me and my lifestyle right now (thanks, wedding season!). But if you’re looking to rent fewer pieces or can’t seem to justify the $159 a month charge, there are different plans that might be a better fit for you. (There’s the RTR Update for $89, which includes four pieces total a month, and the option to rent per item.) But, for experiment’s sake, here’s what I’ve learned in the past few months—and why I’ll be continuing my membership as I strive to be the best dressed twentysomething on the wedding (and social and life!) circuit.

It has introduced me to new designers—and made me try more adventurous looks!

Right now, I have dresses by the Kooples, Alexis, Nicholas, and Parker hanging in my closet. And they’re colored, florals, and all different lengths! Which, if you know me, is quite a break from my typical wardrobe of exclusively neutral hues. Honestly, my favorite part of Unlimited has been experimenting with colors and prints that I would never have bought out of fear of them being "too memorable." (Thanks, IG!) But with one wear here, and another there, why not...?!

It has stopped me from shopping (somewhat).

Believe me, I LOVE online shopping, and I’ve still been doing it (everyone needs new booties for fall, right?!). But having RTR Unlimited has forced me to cut back—$159 is an investment to me—on event-specific purchases and spontaneous trips for fast-fashion purposes. And when I do choose to spend, it has been on more investment pieces and basic staples I felt were missing from my wardrobe.

It has saved the day on numerous occasions.

Have a big meeting tomorrow? No worries. A four-day wedding in Mexico? Come at me! In all seriousness, I’ve had a great overall experience using the site (and app) for both spur-of-the-moment occasions and planned events. I often utilize the “heart” feature, which lets you highlight pieces for specific events on specific dates, like showers, parties, and so on. For instance, right now I have a general folder for items I want to wear this fall, and I’m starting a specific mood board for my friend’s wedding next month. That said, the reviews and photos are helpful, but you do have to be smart about what you’re shopping for and what fits your body. (So, ladies, now’s the time to learn your best silhouettes!)

And, most important, it makes me feel great about myself.

At the end of the day, a new designer dress does put an extra pep in my step, whether I’m wearing it to the office on a Monday or to a black-tie wedding on Saturday. Oh, and that feeling when someone gives you a compliment? Forget the price tag because to me that might as well be priceless.

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