The rise of all things secondhand has been taking over our shopping habits over the past few years or so. These days, many are switching from online fast fashion retailers to the world of thrifting and resale, focused on making more eco-conscious and sustainable efforts. With this new wave comes alternative sites like rental services, and rising in popularity is Nuuly Rent.
Launched in 2019, Nuuly’s clothing rental service allows customers to borrow occasion-ready dresses to everyday garments without breaking the bank or the commitment. For those who aren’t familiar, here’s a rundown of how Nuuly works: You can add up to six pieces to your bag with a monthly cost of $88, meaning that each piece that’s rented goes for under $15 per month. There’s a wide range of inventory to choose from, even including higher-priced items like vintage, outerwear, and designer goods. As Nuuly falls under the URBN franchise, customers are able to mix and match items from Free People, Urban Outfitters, and Anthropologie, on top of hundreds of contemporary favorites, like Anna Sui, Zadig & Voltaire, Selkie, LoveShackFancy, AGOLDE, and much more.
Once you placed your rental order, the items are sent via two-day shipping and once the month is over, you send back the selects with a return shipping label provided by Nuuly. Then you get to choose your next month’s box and start the whole process over again. If you fall in love with a certain garment, you can easily make a purchase and have it for good. Seems easy enough, right?
I’ve been interested in trying out a clothing rental service for a couple of years now, as I’m not only always on a tight budget but I’m a minimalist at heart — and hoarding so many items in my closet is overwhelming for me. After hearing great reviews for Nuuly and luckily receiving a three-month trial code to test out the site, I quickly loaded my shopping cart with a couple of “going-out” dresses from brands Maison Amory, Colin LoCascio, and Glamorous. I also couldn’t resist adding a few ready-to-wear pieces from Nuuly’s latest collaboration with Lisa Says Gah, opting for the fruit basket-printed cropped jacket, Robyn jeans, and the Alex cropped tee. Soon after placing my rental order, my package arrived in two days, coming in Nuuly’s soft zip-up case made from reusable packaging.
The very first order of business on my list was to ensure the items actually fit me, so I immediately threw on my selects. To my disappointment, I was only able to fit into two out of the six (!!!) pieces I chose, which was a bummer as I triple-checked the sizing guide to make sure something like this didn’t happen. Sigh.
Shopping online with a bigger bust has been challenging for me over the years, and with such a back-to-back work schedule, I rarely have time to complete errands, let alone worry to return online orders. After asking Nuuly’s team and scrolling through the site’s frequently asked questions, I was sadly informed that the site doesn’t offer size exchanges at this time, nor do its other competitors like Rent the Runway. This means I wasn’t able to wear most of my selects and instead, just had to admire the pieces from across my bedroom.
Despite the inconvenience, I was still excited to wear out the dresses that did fit me, like Maison Amory’s Ruffle Romance Dress, resembling the TikTok-famed puffer ones from Selkie. I first wore the pastel mini dress to Christopher John Roger’s Resort 2023 runway show in Brooklyn back in June. It was quite the struggle to squeeze my size-D bust past the side zipper but once I did, the dress felt comfortable and it was extremely adorable. I paired my whimsical outfit with chunky brown Mary Janes from Charles & Keith and tied my hair back into a low bun. Not the best styling choice looking back, but what can I say, it was a humid day!
A few days later, I attended my friend’s birthday brunch in Brooklyn, wearing the Dorothy Mesh Mini Dress from Colin LoCascio, which, funny enough, I just so happened to spot someone wearing the same dress at Governors Ball a few days before. I wonder if she got hers from Nuuly too, I thought.
Unlike the other pieces, the mesh mini dress runs on the larger side, and even opting for my usual size was too big for me. It was a bit too loose for my comfort and I felt at times that the dress would fall off of me. But thanks to the adjustable halter strap, it held up and the dress was super soft and gorgeous in person.
Since trying out Nuuly Rent, I’ve come across other friends who also borrow pieces from the site and proclaim their love for its services. Though, we’ve all agreed that the sizing scale needs to be more accurate and offer free exchanges to customers. Another concern that came about was the frequency of its cleaning services, especially with the rise of new COVID variants and monkeypox. “Let us handle [the cleaning] at our state-of-the-art professional cleaning and repair facility. We’re experts in the chemistry of cleaning and sanitizing clothing while preserving the integrity of the fabric for the next renter,” the site reads. It’s a vague answer, but I guess I’ll have to trust it.
Overall, I’ll definitely be renting more of my clothing pieces from Nuuly Rent as I have 21 items and counting on my wishlist, and I’m completely aware that it’s a dangerous game with my wallet since I have the option to purchase them, too.
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