I have a controversial fashion take: holiday party fashion is the worst. As a minimalist with a penchant for black, my idea of a good outfit doesn’t involve ugly, itchy sweaters; heavy velvet; and sequins-on-top-of-sequins. So year after year, I rely on a reliable, if boring, formula of turtlenecks and taffeta skirts to get in the holiday sartorial spirit. As November rolled around this year, I started feeling like I got myself into a holiday dressing rut though. Could there be such a thing as a fashion Santa that can dress me for my holiday parties? I asked myself. Rent the Runway’s Concierge styling service was the answer.
Launched earlier this year, the rental platform’s personalized program helps customers narrow down thousands of its rental options from over 750 designers via text messaging with one of the company’s stylists. Through a series of questions and prompts, the stylist puts together a series of looks for the customer in just under a couple of hours, including clothing and accessories selections. “[It] offers a true luxury one-on-one styling experience with an expert that’s tailored to your specific needs,” says Rent the Runway’s Chief Merchant Sarah Tam of the program.
The way it works: Users text a stylist with their needs. I wrote, “I need help pulling a look for a holiday party.” Within a matter of seconds, the stylist replied with some questions for me, including if the event was formal or casual and if there were any trends I wanted to channel for the evening. In my mind, I pictured a chic business-core look reminiscent of the fashion in The Holiday or The Family Stone. “I’m looking for a casual, dressy outfit,” I texted, “particularly a dress or suit.” I also requested dark colors and no prints.
A few minutes later, the stylist sent over some links to looks available on RTR to make sure we were both on the same page aesthetically. I was happy to confirm we were. Next, they followed up with questions related to fit and coverage before sending a final list of outfits.
Options included a black tuxedo dress, an open-back blazer, leather pants, and a plum slip dress, as well as more formal selections like a bodycon dress with floor-length scarf detail and long-sleeved velvet dress. All were styles I could see myself wearing and did not involve the usual holiday party accouterments that I hate. Ultimately, I settled for a tuxedo dress with rosette detail from Bardot, a red shopping bag from Loeffler Randall, and gold hoop earrings from Crystal Haze Jewelry, to which I added a lace underskirt and Mary Jane shoes from my own closet. While I did freeze my legs on the way to the party, I was feeling the holiday cheer throughout the night, thanks to my outfit.
What was most impressive about using this service is that, contrary to holidays prior, I didn’t have to spend hours searching online or at a store for a look. Instead, I was able to delegate the task while still retaining control over my very strict holiday fashion guidelines — a service that would rank up a hefty price tag if I went with a personal stylist. (Currently, the service is available for free to new customers, with plans to expand the offering to existing users.) Plus, the experience felt like I was texting a friend for fashion advice, a scenario that many of us already put ourselves in year-round. But unlike those exchanges, which end up with more questions than answers, the RTR styling service provided clarity and a damn good outfit that looked and felt like me.
And I didn’t even have to leave home for it.
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