Fall of 2017: my closet is out of control. Bursting at the seams with hardly ever-worn party dresses, jackets, and jumpsuits, it still manages to be completely devoid of options. How is this possible, I muse, digging through the racks, laden with hangers, each carrying two or more items. Among the multitude of impulse buys and total duds, I locate that 15-year-old black jacket, two sizes too big and 20 dry cleans past its prime. I wear it with a belt, and it looks ok.
Fast-forward one year: I no longer fall for impulse buys, and I almost never dry clean anything! Thank you, unlimited membership at Rent the Runway. In a nutshell, I rent clothes, keep the four items I pick as long as I want to, and then return (no dry-cleaning required!). As soon as the returns arrive back at the distribution center, I can pick my next items (conveniently "hearted" in the app). First, this is a perfect mental replacement for shopping (hello, commitment device!). I no longer go for any splurges, because RTR satisfies that craving. I don’t have to think about whether the item I borrow is versatile or can be worn more than once: that’s the beauty – it can be returned! Second, I am saving a ton on the dry-cleaning front. Before I would have to dry clean every jacket and dress I wore even once to teach, but now I just return it. (PS -- you can also rent bags and jewelry!)
Not so fast. Here are some cautions, in case you want to try this. First, I am fortunate. I live close to a UPS location, and the RTR distribution center is only one-day shipping away, so the turn-around on the items is very quick. I can get 4 items worn and returned in one week’s time. That’s amazing! If you line in NYC, then you can even find brick-and-mortar locations. But if you live far, you wouldn’t be able to capitalize on the monthly fee quite as easily. Second, you have to know that RTR does not offer insurance on the items, so you have to be super careful not to damage anything, because you might be left paying the bill. So far, knock on wood, I’ve been lucky.
I know what you might say: but other people wore these clothes eeew! To which, I say: get over it. The chemical process by which RTR disinfects its items is by far more thorough than your laundry or dry clean service. It’s much more likely your own clothes still retain that dingy smell or a stain than the ones you receive from RTR. And if something unsavory arrives – don’t be shy and report it to get a refund or a discount.
Bottom line: I am slowly reducing waste in my closet, keeping just the basics and the staples and using RTR for the fun flashy stuff. It’s great! Note that small local businesses have caught on to the renting craze and offer similar services. Even though it’s too far for me to use, there is a beautiful boutique in Lowell, MA, that offers a similar service. Look for one near you for even bigger savings and an even smaller footprint! And have fun: it’s just clothes after all!
|Various RTR rentals over the last year|