A Fashion Editor Tests A New Rental Service for Holidays

woman in pink floral dress holding black sunglasses

My policy in life and fashion is “I’ll do anything once for the story.” I have done many stunts, including walking around in a ballgown for weeks and wearing latex to work. But one thing I’ve never tried? 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 the first time clothing-rental-service user Nuuly’s biggest draws are novelty and convenience. You pick out what excites you and it arrives quickly in a bag. Then you can pack it up and start again. It works as it says on its box. You can choose six styles from $88 per month. The user-friendly interface will prompt you to enter your shipping and billing information. It also allows you to input your height and sizes (including petite and plus), which can be helpful for anyone who needs more guidance.

I didn’t want to miss the best stuff. I skimmed through more than 300 brands and found a solid lineup including established designers Anna Sui, Peter Som and Selkie. I also saw relative newcomers such as Lisa Says Gah, West Coast sensation and cupcake-dressmaker Selkie. Surprise! They also carry vintage!

My advice to you is to use the filters to narrow down your search and ensure that you see all the items in your size. Another feature is the ability to extract crucial information from customer photos. These include notes and comments on the item’s fit, material and condition. These reviews added only a few seconds to my decision-making process – approximately 20 minutes in total – and provided a similar low-grade thrill as when you look up a menu online before planning a meal.

woman in pink floral dress holding black sunglasses

Pro tip: You might be tempted to rent a specific item but you may want to test out other sizes. I went with my normal size because the Kim Shui velvet minidress was true to size. However, I realized that the dress had a lot of stretch and that I should have taken a smaller one. This allowed me to experiment with different styling options like belts or strategic tucking.

My edit, which was heavy on holiday-ready textures, volume, and texture (and Asian American designers), arrived at my door in a manner that would have made the Pony Express proud. It arrived neatly folded and smelled of…detergent. The brand’s state of the-art laundry facility cleans everything.

The inside contained a poppy-print Anna Sui puffer in a long-line that would keep me warm over my shortest party dress, a Victorian-esque skirt-suit (by the same designer), that would catch the light at any soirĂ©e, and a Selkie marshmallow dress with billowy sleeves that exuded angelic tree-topper vibes. The Kim Shui frock, mentioned above, would be perfect for New Year’s Eve. 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. A prepaid label was hidden beneath my order, which makes returns easy. If you are unable to part with your piece after the month ends, you can still purchase it at a 75% discount.

Nuuly can be used for everyday wear and special occasions like a grand vacation, or even a wedding. But who needs an excuse to wear something fancy? I have a Sister Jane confection that is very fete-friendly in my cart, ready for next month’s Nuuly.

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