So, How Is It Really? A Fashion Editor Tries A New Clothing Rental Service For The Holidays

In life and in fashion, my policy is “I’ll try anything once for the story.” This ideology has led me to pull stunts like traipsing around the city in a ballgown for a week and wearing latex to the office (all for work, I swear), but one thing I’ve (surprisingly) never given a go? Using a clothing rental service.

But when I got the chance to try Nuuly — a subscription clothing rental service brought to you by the Urban Outfitters, Free People, and Anthropologie family — I was game to test it out, especially with the holidays approaching. My calendar might still be on the sparse-out-of-caution side, but even a chill dinner or low-key friend hang at a tinsel-bedecked bar deserves a massive new ‘fit — and renting allows you to do so for any occasion in a less wasteful way. 

For this first-time clothing rental-service user, Nuuly’s greatest draws are clearly novelty and convenience — you pick out fun stuff that excites you, it arrives swiftly in a tote, you pack it back up when you’re done, and the cycle restarts. The premise is just like it says on the box: You choose six styles for $88 a month. After entering your shipping and billing info, the user-friendly interface prompts you to enter your height and sizes (including petite, plus, and maternity), a helpful tool for those who might need a bit more guidance.

I skipped straight to the good stuff, though: skimming through the more than 300 brands, a solid lineup of more established designers like Anna Sui and Peter Som, and relative newcomers like cupcake-dressmaker Selkie (as I’m seen swanning around in below) and West Coast sensation Lisa Says Gah. And surprise — they carry vintage(!). 

During the selection process, my advice is to take advantage of the filters for a more advanced search to make sure you’re seeing the full range of items available in your size. Another feature: You can glean crucial intel from customer photos and notes on fit, material, and the condition in which the item arrived. Reading these reviews tacked on only a few minutes to my decision-making — about 20 minutes total — while delivering a similar sort of low-grade thrill you get pre-planning a meal by looking up the menu online.

Pro tip: If you have your heart set on a particular item, you might want to use another of your six slots to try out another size. Based on the crowd’s consensus that a Kim Shui velvet minidress ran true to size, I took my usual small, but I found that I should’ve sized down to account for the ample stretch (but no matter — it allowed for a creative styling solution, like belts and strategic tucking). 

My edit — heavy on holiday-ready prints, texture, and volume (and Asian American designers) — landed on my doorstep in such a manner that would’ve done the Pony Express proud, neatly folded and smelling of…detergent. (Everything undergoes a professional cleaning in the brand’s state-of-the-art laundering facility.)

Inside, there was a poppy-print Anna Sui long-line puffer that’d keep me warm over my most abbreviated party dress, a Victorian-esque skirt suit (by the same designer) in floral brocade that’d catch the light at any soirée, and a billowy Selkie marshmallow dress that emitted angelic tree-topper vibes. There was the aforementioned Kim Shui frock that’d be hyper-glam for a New Year’s Eve event. And there was the python-pattern Madam Grace floor-length faux fur coat that’d add warmth and another layer of interest to any of my festive looks. Underneath my order I found a prepaid label, making returns painless. And in the event that you can’t bear to part ways with a piece when the month is up, you can purchase it at up to a 75% discount.

I can see Nuuly working really well for both everyday outfits and special events, like a grand vacation or a wedding that was finally back on after a two-year delay. Though who needs an occasion to dress up? There’s already an extremely fête-friendly Sister Jane confection sitting in my cart for next month’s Nuuly.

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