Shopping·8 min read

Here's How to Trick Everyone Into Thinking You Have an Elite Designer Wardrobe

skimm tested rent the runway clothing subscription review
Design: theSkimm | Images: Rent the Runway
February 29, 2024

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Welcome to Skimm Tested, where we put products to the test and then give them a report card. (Check out all of our tried-and-tested faves here.)

The assignment…

Building a full and complete wardrobe takes time, effort, and money. With Rent the Runway, you can get access to designer pieces shipped directly to your door. My coworker Abby and I tested a one-month subscription to see if it could really elevate our style, especially when in the office.

What we tested…

We tried the most popular subscription plan, which is 10 items per month, broken down into two 5-piece shipments. Inventory is subject to availability, but you can filter by size and zip code, which makes the selection process way easier. Some hacks on product selection:

  • “Heart” the items you like, even if they aren’t currently able to ship to you. Items are constantly getting returned, so availability changes day to day.

  • You can search by occasion, type of clothing, or designers. This helps narrow down the search.

  • Don’t sleep on accessories. Rent the Runway gives you access to jewelry, handbags, and sunglasses. 

  • Read the reviews. You can see if other subscribers say certain clothing items run small or large, plus there are often images of the clothes on real renters.

clothes from rent the runway
Abby Drozd

Rented: Mesh Top, Red Top, Sweater, Vest and Pants

Straight A’s in…

  • Curated collections. I’ve noticed in the last few months, Rent the Runway has undergone a style refresh, and wow, I approve. Collections are super helpful to shop from because if you’re not a style expert, you may be a bit lost on what you want to select. Plus they’re pretty targeted, like “dinner date” or “sunny trips” if you’re going on vacation.

  • Range of brands. To sum it up, there are a boatload. You can see what designers are trending, including well-known brands like Oscar de la Renta, Zac Posen, and more.

  • Ease of delivery and return. I’ve always had an extremely easy time receiving and returning my shipments. Items arrive in a blue bag with a return label inside. Garments are on a hanger, shielded in a plastic cover. Accessories usually come in a fabric bag or box. Typically, I get items a day or two after I place my order, so overall a quick process. Abby had a delay on one of her shipments due to weather conditions, but other than that she experienced quick deliveries as well (for context, I live in New York and Abby lives in Philadelphia). 

  • Maternity options. If you are expecting, Rent the Runway will take that into consideration when suggesting clothes. You can input your due date and it’ll spit back options that are maternity and bump-friendly. 

  • Renter reviews. I live by the renter reviews. They’re the most insight you’re going to receive on how clothes actually fit real people. A lot of items have renter images too, so you can see how things look on someone who isn’t a model (highly appreciated). There’s also feedback if the item in question runs small or large, has super long sleeves, etc., along with a star rating (up to five) so you can get a sense of what’s worth it. 

  • Style and quality of clothes. Abby and I loved a majority of the pieces we received. Abby got a red top for Valentine’s Day and got numerous compliments on it. I was so obsessed with the handbag I received, I highly considered buying it but opted out at the end. Overall, the clothing options feel stylish and recent. 

  • Item swapping. At first I was a bit cloudy on this feature, but here’s the rundown: shipments unlock on your monthly bill date, but don’t roll over to the next month. So if you’re in the middle of a shipment and only want to send back a few pieces but keep others, you can utilize the “swap” feature. You’ll send back the items you’re tired of, unlocking the ability to pick new things. 

  • Option to buy. If you really love an item in your shipment, you can purchase it at a discounted price. I ended up buying a pair of earrings and Abby purchased a sweater and mesh top. If you’re like “eh, who cares,” the sweater Abby bought was originally $200 and she snagged it for $45.

rent the runway clothes
Alexandra Napoli

Rented: Handbag, Blazer, Pants, Shirt Jacket

Room for growth…

  • Availability of plus-size options. Neither Abby nor I are plus size, but when clicking around the site, I noticed a lack of clothing options for sizes above 18. There are more accessories available than clothes from that point forward.  

  • Condition of some pieces. I noticed that one of the clothing items I rented, a pleated skirt from Phillip Lim, looked worn and past its prime when I unpacked it. Abby didn’t report this issue with her 10 items, but as someone who has dipped into Rent the Runway subscriptions in the past, I have experienced this issue before. 

Works best for…

  • Someone who wants to experiment with their style. The subscription gives you access to so much, so you can really test and try pieces that you otherwise wouldn’t want to spend the money on. 

  • Anyone with a busy social schedule. If you personally hate being an outfit repeater, Rent the Runway can help you avoid that during a particularly busy time of the year. 

  • Someone interested in buying designer items for less. Since you can purchase items in your shipments at a reduced cost, this is a hacky way to see if you really like that designer bag or jacket you’ve been eyeing. 

Gets extra credit for…

There are three plan options available: five items per month, 10 items per month, or 15 items per month. Prices range from $89/month to $235/month. You can also pause or cancel your membership at any time. 

How we did our homework…

Abby and I both tested a Rent the Runway 10-piece subscription for one month, so we both got two shipments of five items. We selected a range of clothing, from pants to blazers to going-out tops. I also included accessories in my shipments (earrings and a handbag). Personally, I’ve done multiple one-off rentals in the past and I’ve dabbled in subscriptions here and there when I’ve had particularly busy social seasons, so I’m very familiar with the clothing service. 

PS: The next thing we’re testing is the one-off rental option, which is ideal if you’ve got a big event coming up (for example, a wedding) and you’re looking for a new dress. We plan to report back detailing our experiences. 


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