In life and in fashion, my policy is “I’ll try anything once for the story.” This ideology has led me to pull stunts like traipsing around the city in a ballgown for a week and wearing latex to the office (all for work, I swear), but one thing I’ve (surprisingly) never given a go? Using a clothing rental service.
But when I got the chance to try Nuuly — a subscription clothing rental service brought to you by the Urban Outfitters, Free People, and Anthropologie family — I was game to test it out, especially with the holidays approaching. My calendar might still be on the sparse-out-of-caution side, but even a chill dinner or low-key friend hang at a tinsel-bedecked bar deserves a massive new ‘fit — and renting allows you to do so for any occasion in a less wasteful way.
For this first-time clothing rental-service user, Nuuly's greatest draws are clearly novelty and convenience — you pick out fun stuff that excites you, it arrives swiftly in a tote, you pack it back up when you're done, and the cycle restarts. The premise is just like it says on the box: You choose six styles for $88 a month. After entering your shipping and billing info, the user-friendly interface prompts you to enter your height and sizes (including petite, plus, and maternity), a helpful tool for those who might need a bit more guidance.
I skipped straight to the good stuff, though: skimming through the more than 300 brands, a solid lineup of more established designers like Anna Sui and Peter Som, and relative newcomers like cupcake-dressmaker Selkie (as I'm seen swanning around in below) and West Coast sensation Lisa Says Gah. And surprise — they carry vintage(!).
During the selection process, my advice is to take advantage of the filters for a more advanced search to make sure you’re seeing the full range of items available in your size. Another feature: You can glean crucial intel from customer photos and notes on fit, material, and the condition in which the item arrived. Reading these reviews tacked on only a few minutes to my decision-making — about 20 minutes total — while delivering a similar sort of low-grade thrill you get pre-planning a meal by looking up the menu online.
Pro tip: If you have your heart set on a particular item, you might want to use another of your six slots to try out another size. Based on the crowd's consensus that a Kim Shui velvet minidress ran true to size, I took my usual small, but I found that I should've sized down to account for the ample stretch (but no matter — it allowed for a creative styling solution, like belts and strategic tucking).
My edit — heavy on holiday-ready prints, texture, and volume (and Asian American designers) — landed on my doorstep in such a manner that would've done the Pony Express proud, neatly folded and smelling of...detergent. (Everything undergoes a professional cleaning in the brand's state-of-the-art laundering facility.)
Inside, there was a poppy-print Anna Sui long-line puffer that’d keep me warm over my most abbreviated party dress, a Victorian-esque skirt suit (by the same designer) in floral brocade that’d catch the light at any soirée, and a billowy Selkie marshmallow dress that emitted angelic tree-topper vibes. There was the aforementioned Kim Shui frock that’d be hyper-glam for a New Year’s Eve event. And there was the python-pattern Madam Grace floor-length faux fur coat that’d add warmth and another layer of interest to any of my festive looks. Underneath my order I found a prepaid label, making returns painless. And in the event that you can't bear to part ways with a piece when the month is up, you can purchase it at up to a 75% discount.
I can see Nuuly working really well for both everyday outfits and special events, like a grand vacation or a wedding that was finally back on after a two-year delay. Though who needs an occasion to dress up? There’s already an extremely fête-friendly Sister Jane confection sitting in my cart for next month’s Nuuly.