As a normal and not-at-all-famous twentysomething living in New York, I
am in denial wholeheartedly know that I am not a Kardashian/Jenner. However, these women and I do have two things in common: horrendous taste in men and great taste in style. The Kardashians, namely Kim, have taught me that, unless I am dressed and done up like I’m about to walk the red carpet at the Academy Awards, I shouldn’t leave the house. Unfortunately for my bank account, I learned this lesson at a young age and have always dressed up for class, the airport, doctors’ appointments, you name it. On days when I should’ve been wearing leggings, a sweatshirt and Uggs after a rough night at my college’s local watering hole, I was in full ensemble. Look good, feel good, right? Well, as it turns out, that mantra does not apply to my wallet. I’m not an influencer, so I don’t get any of my designer clothes for free, and so I have had to learn how to not pay full price for my clothes. I use fashion subscription and rental services (of which there are many) to do this. But which clothing rental services are worth your money? I tested them out so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.
Sorry to my friends and family, but RTR is the only thing I truly love in this world. Thanks to RTR, you literally have no reason to ever spend money on designer knock-offs at FashionNova again (no shade, but… ok maybe a little shade). You can get the real thing at RTR! They have every designer under the sun, including Derek Lam, Vince, Zadig & Voltaire, Proenza Schouler, etc. You can opt for either the Update membership or the Unlimited membership. The Update membership allows you to pick and keep any four items at a time, however, you can’t swap them for other pieces during the month. You just have to wait until next month, which is fine if you believe good things come to those who wait. I am not one of those people, so I have Unlimited. Praise be. The Unlimited membership allows you to have four things at once and swap anything out whenever you want.
I tried to explain this very simple concept to my mom and she did not understand, so if you and my mom have that in common, let me break it down again. Rent the Runway has literally thousands of legit designer pieces available at any given time. You pick four, and the angels at RTR send them to you in cute little garment bags. You wear them whenever you want and swap them for something new the next day, a few months after, or whenever you want as long as you keep paying for your account.
I did Le Tote for like three months, and it was fine. Not amazing, but not terrible either. Like Rent the Runway, Le Tote is a clothing rental company that has different membership options, and because I’m extra, I signed up for the plan where I get the most stuff at a time. So when I talk about LT, I’m referring specifically to the plan I had. Le Tote let me have eight pieces at once sans swaps (unless something didn’t fit) for the month. But in order to swap those pieces, I had to send them back within like, a millisecond of receiving them. Return shipping is a pain. Who has time for that?
Anyway, quantity-wise, eight pieces was plenty to get me through dinners with high school friends and office happy hours, but quality-wise, the clothes weren’t that exciting TBH. Like, my favorite thing was a navy blue sweatshirt with ruffles on the sleeves from a brand I had never heard of. If you’re just looking for a fun and easy wardrobe update, Le Tote may be for you, especially because it’s a lot cheaper than Rent the Runway. I stopped because I noticed that a lot of the stuff they were sending me was too similar to stuff I already owned, and I didn’t need to be paying a monthly fee for a few more basic sweaters to keep the ones in my closet company. But that’s just me and my style is like, v niche.
Trunk Club is Nordstrom’s personal styling side hustle that asks you to answer the world’s longest questionnaire about your style upon signing up. Because I love talking about myself, I was down to spend 30 minutes on it and then chat with my stylist about each and every answer for the rest of the
workday. So unlike RTR and Le Tote, there is no renting. You talk to your stylist and send her pics of celebrities and Pinterest boards you like and she will send you a legit curated wardrobe complete with bags, jewelry, clothes, and shoes. The stylists are also really cool and sweet. My stylist and I follow each other on Instagram and she always comments on my posts when I’m wearing something she picked out for me. Thanks, Lilly, love you!
Anyway, she sends me like six (or eight, I can’t remember) pieces every three months and I keep what I like and send back what I don’t. Because I still have to pay for things like rent, electricity, and a subway card, I usually only keep one or two things and regretfully send back the rest. If you are richer than I, you can schedule trunks more regularly. And speaking of trunks, the pieces arrive in the cutest little box and each piece of clothing is wrapped in tissue paper and tied with a super chic ribbon in the most perfect bow. Another great thing about this service is that I end up buying things I never would have found in the store, like my cropped crisp white button-down with a gigantic bow on the collar, which both repels and intrigues guys, depending on their level of fragility. Thanks to the never-ending questionnaire, Lilly always kills it with the trunks, so here’s to her and all that she does.
Ok, if you have eyes, you know what Adore Me is because their ads are literally everywhere. Adore Me is a monthly lingerie subscription that is not rentable, because gross?? The brand has two membership options: VIP and Elite. I opted for the Elite version because I don’t feel like I need more than three sets of matching lingerie per month. I have to say, the quality is not the absolute best, but everything is so fun and no one has ever complained. I probably won’t do this forever because I still need money for food, but for now, I am enjoying it and I highly recommend it.
Alright, so as you may have guessed, I would rather rent my outfits than buy them. Yes, I know I have commitment issues, it is something I am discussing with my
best friend therapist. I mean, I live in New York, city of renters, right? This brings me to yet another clothing rental company called FashionPass. The concept is literally the same as Rent the Runway, but for a fraction of the price. No shade to RTR, which will always have me covered when I’m in the mood to wear something loud and memorable like a fuchsia Jason Wu sweater with a plaid Milly asymmetrical wrap skirt. Sometimes, though, I just want to wear jeans and a T-shirt, and that is where FashionPass comes into play. I love this company because it promotes designers for like, normal people. Think Sanctuary, BB Dakota, French Connection, Free People…etc. The list goes on, but you get what I mean.
There are three different membership options, but I am only going talk about one: Wanderlust, which offers the most bang for your buck because you get four clothing items and three accessories per month, and, like RTR, unlimited swaps and free shipping both ways. I know I said I wasn’t going to throw shade at RTR, but in order to properly commend FashionPass for something, I have to sh*t on RTR for a hot sec. Sometimes I have a legit question about my account and want to chat with a stylist online about it, which is an option RTR advertises everywhere on the site/app, but 9 out of 10 times I open the chat bubble, my stylist is out living her best life and not responding to my
urgent questions. At FashionPass, if you have any questions about literally anything, the stylists respond to you basically as you’re hitting send on your message. I don’t know about you, but I am a millennial who would rather rip my hair out one strand at a time until I am bald than speak to someone on the phone, so I love online chatting with customer service employees, and FashionPass has really nailed their chat service. If you don’t care about that because you’re a functional human who can handle a three-minute phone conversation, then opt for FashionPass for the clothes and bags. That’s all.
Wantable is similar to Trunk Club in that you take a style quiz and get to keep your clothes. After filling out the quiz and telling them any patterns, colors, silhouettes, etc. that you don’t like, you get an “edit” which is basically a preview of a bunch of looks. From there, you can spend literally hours (maybe not literally, IDK, I got bored after a few minutes) going through every piece on the Wantable site and indicating if you hate or love it. This way, hopefully, your stylist won’t send you anything you automatically hate. You can also request certain items that you know you want to try, and at the end of it, you’ll get a box with seven picks. In addition to regular clothes, they also offer fitness wear, so you no longer have to be that girl at the gym working out in your frat tank even though you graduated five years ago. The pieces typically range from $50-100 per item, so it’s a bit more, shall we say, accessible than the stuff you’d find on RTR (while still offering brands you’d find at Nordstrom and other similar retailers). I ended up keeping two items from my edit (some solid black jeans and a fun sparkly black top), and would have kept three, but the leopard jeans they sent me were a touch too big. But the stylist was so apologetic about it, it was actually kind of sweet. This is a good option if you want to push your style a little bit without committing to an expensive designer piece.
If you like your fashion with a side of responsibility, then you’ll want to check out Fashom, a new cruelty-free styling service that also does the whole quiz-then-we-send-you-stuff thing. Fashom is actually not a subscription, because you can choose when you want your boxes delivered, which means you don’t have to worry about auto charges or skipping months. (Even though it’s technically not a subscription box, I like the fact that all the clothes are ethically sourced, so I’m including it anyway.) You get to pick five pieces and then can keep or send back whatever you want, but you get a 25% discount for keeping three or four items and 30% for keeping all five. The nice thing about Fashom is that for every box sold, they donate $1 to Second Chance Rescue in NYC, so at least I can say my impulse buying is helping puppies. What I liked about it is that they don’t just randomly send you a bunch of items you didn’t want—they help you narrow down a list, and then you ultimately choose what comes in your box. However, if you want someone to do the choosing for you, this might not be the box for you. It’s not, like, designer, but I found a few cute items (like the fun striped sweater below that earned me a ton of compliments when I wore it) that I wouldn’t have found on other sites. And I mean that, because I literally tried to search the items I got in my box and didn’t find them anywhere on the internet. So at least I won’t be wearing the same sh*t as every other girl on the streets of New York, right?
Images: freestocks.org/ Unsplash; Rent the Runway; Le Tote; Trunk Club; Adore Me; FashionPass; Wantable, Fashom
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I’m the kind of person that somehow always accidentally buys things. Like if I’m sad, I shop. If I’m happy, I shop. If my work is going well, I shop because I deserve it, and if it’s going terribly, I shop to cheer myself up. However, as a semi-starving artist/writer, I don’t have a ton of money to spare. So, I improvised, adapted, and overcame. I learned to how to be an expert bargain shopper. I also tend to like higher-end things, but who doesn’t? As a sale connoisseur, I have figured out a few brands that are always on sale that you should never, ever pay full price for. Get the hell out of that Forever21, because here are some quality brands you can get at cheap AF prices.
A celeb favorite, Wildfox is actually my favorite brand of all time. Why, you ask? Because they specialize in sweaters and tees that are the softest things that have ever existed, like ever. That said, Wildfox is pretty expensive, with a basic tee costing ~$50 and sweaters ranging from $100-$400. They also have supersoft pajamas, sweatpants, jeans, bikinis, and sunglasses. It’s definitely out of my price range for stupid graphic tees, or like the current sweater I’m wearing with a piece of pizza pictured on it (so soft though). That said, Wildfox is always on sale. My holy grail places to search for it are Hautelook and Nordstrom Rack, where you can get tees for $14 and sweaters for $40, but any department store’s sale section usually has a ton of Wildfox items. The only downside is if you see something you have to have on their new releases, it may sell out before it hits the Rack. Splurge if you must, but for the most part, you can always find this high-quality brand for cheap.
WILDFOX Monday Mourning Knit Sweatshirt
One of my New Year’s resolutions is to be less fat. I hate going to the gym but I definitely feel more motivated when I have new workout gear. Nike products are cute and fit well but can be totally expensive. Instead of buying cheap workout clothes and shoes that you feel meh in, buy Nike stuff on sale by hitting up their own factory outlets or department store sales. You can always, always find Nike at cheaper prices by doing a little digging. I even shopped at JC Penney recently (ew) because they had baby pink Nike sneakers at half price. That is the dream!
Nike Tanjun Sneaker
Bath & Body Works
If you have ever bought anything here full price, slap yourself. They have ~*~THE BEST~*~ sales. Never, ever buy a 3-wick candle for more than $12 (normally $24) and never buy body wash/lotion unless it’s buy three, get three free. They stagger their sales and mail (and email) coupons, so sign up for their mailing lists to know when to shop. You may have to buy body wash one day and wait to buy candles for a couple weeks, but the money you’ll save is worth it. Also? Always buy in bulk when they’re having the sale, so you don’t get desperate and pay full price because you’ve run out of candles and you need to destress right now. Their best coupons only work online, so don’t even bother going into the store. You can always exchange products later for free if you hate the smell. They are having their semi-annual sale RIGHT NOW, btw.
Bath & Body Works FRESH BALSAM 3-Wick Candle
Jeffrey Campbell shoes are really trendy and fun, but although I adore them, they’re not usually super practical and go in and out of style. Luckily, you won’t have to spend a fortune on this pricey brand because they are also always on sale. Hit up the sales at Nordstrom Rack, Free People, Urban Outfitters, Shopbop, and many other stores to find these shoes discounted. These boots are currently 51% off!
Jeffrey Campbell Gamora Over the Knee Boot
Another celeb fav, Topshop is soooo trendy, but I swear the quality is no better than Nasty Gal or Forever21, and it can be expensive. The Topshop website itself has really good sales, which you should always check first – it’s currently 70% off! Since Nordstrom carries the brand, you can also always find cute Topshop pieces in their sale section, or on the Rack. It’s the perfect place to pick up a trendy piece that you might hate by next year, but fits better than cheaper stores (yet you’re paying the same price – ha!). Seriously, Forever, why is everything made for short people? Tall people are poor too, and we don’t appreciate cameltoe and high waters!
Topshop Lace Trim Sequin Slip Dress
Images: Nordstrom Rack (3); Bath & Body Works; Topshop