When Rent The Runway Unlimited first launched in 2016, I was one of the first people I knew who happily signed up for the program. The idea of having three rotating pieces (including accessories) that I could keep for as long as I wanted while only paying one flat fee a month, simply seemed too good to be true. At the time, I was a size 12/14 and quickly became very aware of how the service mainly worked for me because I could still (sometimes) fit into straight size clothing. Plus, did I mention the accessories? The first time I used the service I think I rented a Proenza Schouler PS11 bag for three months straight, never switching it out for something else because I loved it so much. But as I gradually sized out of straight sizes, the service worked for me less. Sure, the accessories were great, but the plus size variety just wasn’t there, so I canceled my subscription shortly after starting, about three years ago. Spoiler alert: I signed back up for Unlimited this past spring, and there's a few reasons why it's working for me this time around.
The first thing I noticed was that Rent The Runway had clearly stepped up their game when it came to size inclusivity. The plus size selection, though not quite on par with the amount of straight size options (is it ever?), seemed to have quadrupled since the last time I tried the service. Oh, and you can rent four pieces at a time now. RTR Unlimited not only now stocks thousands of plus size options, but high-end designers who make clothing in plus size, too. I’ve rented Nicholas and Tanya Taylor dresses multiple times, and every time I feel on top of the world. I now sing the praises of the Unlimited program to anyone who asks where I get certain pieces, but am often met with hesitation — especially from people over a size 12.
And hey, I get it. A subscription service when you’re plus size is daunting. Will they even have my size? Will anything fit? Will I only get the bottom-of-the-barrel brands instead of the big designer labels? Is it worth the $160 a month cost? There are a lot of things to consider. And while RTR Unlimited is a great value given the cost of most of the clothes, $160 can be a lot. Heck, the $129 discounted trial is too if you're not getting what you need from it! And regardless of budget, everyone wants to know that it’s going to work for them before they enter those credit card details. So if you’re plus size and considering the service, here are my tips for making the most out of the first-time-user 60-day trial if you're thinking about giving it a whirl.
1. Make Sure You Have The Time For Returns
Just like any other type of online shopping, not everything from RTR is going to fit you. This is just part of the deal, for plus size and straight people alike. However, the thing that makes RTR Unlimited a truly unique service is the ability to swap items out as much as you want. For me, I think about 75% of what I order from RTR fits me (which is probably a higher percentage than most of my online shopping spoils) — but for the other 25%, I have to go to UPS in a timely manner in order to make sure I’m swapping the items out, and therefore getting the most out of the service. If this isn’t your thing, or you simply don’t have the spare time for this every week or so, this might not be for you.
2. Set Your Size Filters One Size Above & One Below Your Usual Size
When you’re shopping RTR, the best thing you can do is filter through everything so you’re shopping only your size. This prevents you from finding items you like and immediately being sad they’re not available in plus sizes. One hack I’ve learned recently? Set your size filters for one size above and one below your usual size as well. You’ll be surprised how many pieces may fit you based on the style or shape.
3. Always, Always, Always Look At The Reviews & Photos
The photos that people post in the RTR pieces in the reviews (complete with body shape and size descriptions) are game changing. And they’re probably a big part of the reason why most of the items I order fit me. You’ll be able to compare your sizing/body to other people and see how a dress or top looks IRL instead of on a model. It will save you so much time, trust me.
4. Know What You Wear Most Often
While one of my favorite things about the service is how easy it makes it to experiment with silhouettes and pieces, I also think that it’s worth it to take an inventory of what you actually wear every day before you sign up. For me, I found myself buying dresses for events, nights out, and other special outings almost monthly — and then I’d never wear them again. RTR Unlimited works for me because they have a large plus size selection of dresses (especially formal and semi-formal dresses), and that is exactly what I happen to need and wear every month. If you’re a plus size person mostly looking to rent jeans or pants, than it might not work for you, as there is far less of those options in plus sizes.
5. Try Before You
The good news is that RTR Unlimited offers a discount for most first-time customers, and you’re not locked into a year-long membership if you sign up for the trial. My biggest suggestion to people interested in the service (plus size or not) is to try out the service on a month you have a ton of events to go to, or even just one big wedding or party. Odds are, you’ll at least find a couple options you love. The 30-day Update trial is currently
$89 $69, and the the 30-day Unlimited trial (use code SOSMART) is currently $169 $129 — you're allowed to use this discount code two months in a row. Give it a try — once you start getting compliments on all your rented pieces... it is very hard to go back.
Olivia Muenter is a freelance writer, editor, and digital content creator who is passionate about creating things that inspire others to love themselves more. You can find her on Instagram and OliviaMuenter.com
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