One of the things I hate most about my love of fashion is the over-the-top consumerism. When you love following trends, and especially when you love sharing your daily outfits online it can become almost second nature to buy, buy, buy. Of course you can shop fast fashion to save money but with more and more awareness of the impact of fast fashion on the workers and the environment…that $15 top doesn’t feel like as much of a fashion accomplishment. I listen to a handful of podcasts many of which received sponsorship by Le Tote. After hearing a Le Tote plug one too many times, I decided to check out the pieces the website had to offer and give the system a try. While my favorite podcasts weren’t plugging Rent the Runway, I have used the service for years for formal occasions (seen here, here and here). When I decided to try out Le Tote I realized it would be a great opportunity to compare Rent the Runway’s “unlimited” service. So, at the end of August, I placed my first order with each company and anxiously waited for fashion to be delivered to my door.
First off, I have to say I never (and I mean never) have liked the random pieces my “Le Tote stylist” (which I believe is a random algorithm) assigns to me, that being said it doesn’t matter because you have 48 hours to switch out pieces in your tote with items you select yourself. I always ended up choosing all of my own items which is the way I prefer it anyway. The Le Tote plan I selected allowed me to choose 3 clothing items and 2 accessories. For my first tote I loved one top so much that I kept it, didn’t even wear another top and was so-so about the third piece. My next tote was similar, I liked all three pieces and got compliments on both of my accessories (I always chose jewelry) but ended up sending all of my pieces back.
I love that with Le Tote if I fall in love with an item I don’t feel too guilty buying it, especially with the discount. Since most pieces from Le Tote aren’t particularly trendy I found myself thinking “why don’t I just buy this?” That isn’t to say I liked the Le Tote pieces more than the pieces from Rent the Runway but to me it just made more sense to keep staples that could be paired with trendier pieces (much of what Le Tote is) than to rent them.
After two months I won’t be continuing my Le Tote subscription, however I may try it out again another season when my wardrobe needs an update. I personally felt that it was difficult to find pieces from my “wishlist/closet” that were available when I wanted them. I ended up settling for items I wasn’t thrilled about, and while there were a few pieces that surprised me in a good way, I couldn’t help but feel unexcited by the items I was renting.
Try it for yourself:
Get a free tote when you use my link.
Unlimited Classic Box
$59: 3 garments and 2 accessories in every tote (I chose this option)
$69: 4 garments in every tote
$79: 5 garments and 3 accessories in every tote
Unlimited Maternity Box
$69: 3 garments and 2 accessories in every tote
$79: 4 garments in every tote
Pros & Cons
+ Le Tote can be returned straight from your door (just pack your items up into the envelope provided and send via USPS).
+ Discounts on items you love are substantial, if I loved a piece I could often buy it for under $20-$30.
+ As soon as your pieces are en route back to Le Tote you are free to style your next tote. The exchange process is quick and seamless!
-Most pieces are what I consider “basics”. I don’t need to rent a Calvin Klein t-shirt or yoga pants, they aren’t super trendy or statement pieces, personally I would rather buy items like that.
-Personally, there weren’t hundreds of items I was anxious to wear, and there were even fewer items available from my wish list.
-You must return all pieces at the same time instead of switching them out as you wish. This sucked when I liked 1 item in my tote but really wanted to send the rest back.
Rent the Runway Unlimited
My first order from RTR was not my best, I received a too big, slightly stretched out dress from Free People, a long sleeved top from Tory Burch and a Tory Burch midi dress. It was too hot to wear the Free People dress or Tory Burch top in early September (my fault) so I returned two of my rental pieces without wearing them out of the house. However, I loved the Tory Burch midi dress so much that I ended up buying it with my discount (see the dress styled here).
Luckily I have loved every order since my first “trial run”. I have ordered dresses, skirts, tops and jackets. I have always been very impressed by the quality and condition of the items. My worry with “renting” clothes was that the pieces would arrive feeling worn and used. Each and every piece from RTR (with the exception of that first Free People dress) has been in like new condition so I’ve never felt like I was wearing a stranger’s clothes.
When you look at the retail prices for some of the Rent the Runway, a quick calculation proves the monthly subscription fee is worth every penny. Personally, I often regret buying trendy tops and dresses because I’ll only wear them a few times before the trend goes out of style. I love adding new pieces into my wardrobe on a regular basis so I like that Rent the Runway unlimited means I always have something new in my closet (without the constant consumer or bank account guilt).
Rent the Runway Unlimited has both clothes and accessories. I tend to rent clothes as I prefer to “invest” in my own accessories, however, I can definitely see myself using Rent the Runway Unlimited to borrow a special bag for a dress up event, photoshoot or special occasion. Overall, I really love Rent the Runway Unlimited and plan to continue my subscription.
Try it for yourself:
Get $30 off your first month of Rent the Runway subscription service with this link.
RTR Update: $89 per month for 4 pieces from 200+ brands.
RTR Unlimited: $159 per month for 4 pieces from 450+ brands.
Read the full plan descriptions here.
For $30 off your first month of RTR use my link– and we’ll both save!
Pros & Cons
+ Items for every occasion from class to a formal gala.
+ Trendy pieces I wouldn’t necessarily want to buy because I would only end up wearing the piece once or twice before it goes out of fashion.
+Designer labels I couldn’t justify purchasing
+You can switch out 1,2,3 or 4 items at a time and keep the remaining items as long as you want.
-You have to return RTR items to a UPS Drop Box or store.
-Shipping takes longer and you can’t order a new item until your its previous rental makes it back to RTR.
How do the two services compare?
If I can apply anything from my time in marketing, it is this: Rent the Runway Unlimited (or Rent the Runway Update) and Le Tote don’t have the same client vision. Rent the Runway is for the woman who wants to take a few style risks, try out luxury pieces and cycle through trends. Le Tote is better for the woman who wants to cycle everyday pieces in and out of her more practical wardrobe, perhaps a subtle trend here and there without “peacocking” or demanding too much attention with statement pieces. While Rent the Runway features brands like Jason Wu, Kate Spade, Tanya Taylor, Draper James and Marchessa Notte, Le Tote features brands like Nike, French Connection, Octavia, Anne Klein, Jessica Simpson and Levi’s . Both brands have pieces from Free People, BB Dakota, and Cupcakes & Cashmere. My overall experience was positive with both services but for now I will only continue with Rent the Runway Unlimited.
If you have tried Le Tote or Rent the Runway Unlimited I would love to read about your experience. Did you love it? Did you hate it? Do you think you could ever “rent” clothes?
Photos of me from today’s post were taken by Madeleine Wilson, be sure to check her out if you are looking for a photographer in the Seattle area.