Just over two years ago on my birthday, my sister surprised me with a gift that I wasn’t too sure about. In my inbox was a year long subscription to Nuuly — a sustainable clothing rental service — but at the time, I really hated clothes. Due to the perfect storm of a wildly fluctuating weight, a meager paycheck, and a long bout of untreated depression, I’d stopped shopping completely and let my entire closet become a few oversized sweaters and threadbare leggings. My sister thought a monthly clothing rental subscription would be a fun, no-strings way to try out some new styles and refresh my closet. But I wasn’t too sure. Still, I charged forward, figuring after I hit my year mark, I’d phase Nuuly out and start purchasing more permanent items for my wardrobe — or I’d be able to go back to my well-loved leggings and sweaters. Well, I just reached year two with Nuuly, and I’m still faithfully renewing my subscription with no end in sight — and here’s why.
While year one was about putting care into my appearance for the first time (at least in a long time), my second year of clothing rentals was all about reclaiming a love of shopping and going wild with experimentation. There’s not a piece of clothing that scares me anymore, from trendy fall sweaters to glittering concert wear to quiet luxury. That’s because, with each new month and the opportunity to try out six new styles, I’d started to love clothes. It’s true: my formerly shopping-avoidant self now finds the utmost joy in picking out my rental box, and even more joy in wearing the contents. My exuberance has turned out to be contagious, and I’ve had multiple friends sign up for their own Nuuly subscriptions as a result. Nuuly’s e-shelves are fully stocked with not only a wide variety of styles and sizes, but they’re constantly changing to keep up with current style trends, events, and even awkward transitional weather.
The concept of Nuuly isn’t revolutionary by any means. Clothing rental services have been around for a while, but while many focus on designer frocks for special occasions, Nuuly is filled with more accessible brands. Owned by URBN, Nuuly’s inventory is like walking around a really nice mall with all your favorite stores’ newest styles available. Anthropologie, Free People, LoveShackFancy, and Selkie are just a few of the hundreds of available brands that you already know and shop.
Nuuly’s model is simple and effective. For one monthly fee, you can pick out six items to rent, then send back in the bag they arrived in with the included prepaid label. Once your items are received, you do it all over again. Or, if you really love an item, you can purchase it for a discounted rate. Sounds pretty easy, right?
If you’re a born shopper, it’s stupidly easy, especially given the ample plus-size options, as well as maternity and petite-specific clothing. And though in year one I was a little gunshy about shopping, this year, I leaned all the way in. The shift in my excitement happened during the coldest months of the year, which is why I feel like the second year of my journey began amid Nuuly’s coat and jacket section.
As someone who grew up watching Blair Waldorf’s neverending fabulous wardrobe on Gossip Girl, I really love a coat. Being able to rent one (or sometimes more!) a month during the fall and winter was revolutionary. The idea that I, too, could have an entire closet of coats to pull from gave me a thrill I can’t even begin to explain. I already knew that Nuuly possessed a wide range of classic styles like belted trenches and standard (but always chic) black wool coats, but I was excited to see that it also trendier coats like the cozy shearling jacket I’d spotted on celebs all fall long, the fringed suede coats I’d lusted after in the Daisy Jones and the Six Free People collection — even Evermore-esque plaid peacoats. Not only that, but it was the perfect way to transition in and out of warmer weather with a light jacket.
That is really when I think I fell in love with shopping. You see, I live in a NYC apartment with my equally clothes-obsessed girlfriend, and we don’t have the space to store coats (which arguably take up the most room of all the clothes). Adding one to the closet was fairly doable, though. I also learned how the right outer layer can completely make an outfit. During the fall and winter, it can be difficult to stay warm and look cute, especially if you’re wearing the same coat every day. The ability to constantly switch it up made me feel like a model stomping on the catwalks of fashion week. I also appreciate that Nuuly allows me to see how much the pieces of clothing retail for. Especially since coats tend to lean toward the pricier side, I love knowing how much I’m saving with my monthly flat fee of $98. (Seriously, take a look at the retail prices to see exactly how much you’ll be saving—it’s wild!)
From there, I went trend-happy. In my Nuuly clothing rentals over the last year, I have tried out so many styles that I never would have glanced at in the store before. I’m talking everything. Pleated miniskirts, tube tops, cargo pants, fuzzy cropped sweaters, wide-leg jeans, plaid everything — I even went full Y2K throwback with a hot pink Juicy Couture velour tracksuit one month. And I cannot begin to tell you how much joy it brought me.
I was shocked at how much I started to enjoy pushing myself out of my comfort zone. If I had reloaded my closet with more permanent items, I probably would have stuck to basics, but because I was only renting the clothes for a few weeks, I felt more comfortable taking more risks, especially with trendy seasonal items. It also gave me the opportunity to wear brands that are usually out of my price range, all for the same monthly cost.
If you’re a person who wants to try out trends without committing to them (or relying on cheap fast fashion items), this is a really great way to enjoy trends affordably. Not to mention, I started loving the sustainable fashion aspect of clothing rentals. While I’d never really thought about it before (I seriously wore the same three pairs of leggings for a decade, okay?), wearing clothes and cycling them to someone else made me feel a lot better about trying out new items, too. For those who are interested in sustainability, Nuuly is a great way to go. By using a clothing rental service, you extend the life of any piece of fashion, but Nuuly also has an upcycling program to repurpose damaged clothes and also offers options to thrift styles at a low, low price once they go out of circulation.
Another sustainability factor that I hadn’t considered Nuuly for was event shopping. Though it doesn’t have a ton of formal options (though there definitely are a few!), Nuuly has created style recommendations for me in several categories they just knew I needed. I was able to rent a fall wedding guest dress, as well as a Lover-themed outfit for the Eras tour, and even the base for my Halloween costume, all within my monthly rental subscription. Prior to Nuuly, I would have relied on the fast fashion items I’m trying to avoid these days or simply not dressed up at all (and who doesn’t want to dress up?!). Not only did this save me a ton of money, but I also looked (and felt) fabulous while being budget and environment-conscious. A triple win.
As I load my closet with more trends and look ahead to the upcoming season’s packed schedule and changing weather, I’m saving cozy sweaters, more fall wedding guest dresses, velvet everything, and yes… coats upon coats to my virtual closet (I’ve linked some of my faves below).
Mainly, I love that there’s no limit on what I can wear now, and I’m fully taking advantage of that. Nuuly has options for comfort, holiday dinners, changing bodies, diverse body shapes, and so much more. Try it out, or do your friends and fam a solid and gift them a Nuuly subscription — the holidays are rapidly approaching, and it’s a thoughtful gift that will keep on giving (it’s seriously one of the best gifts I’ve ever received!). I’ll be re-upping my subscription for another year and will continue to smile about it. I can’t wait to see what my fashion journey looks like in year number three!
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