When I first discovered clothing rental services a few years ago, I was thrilled at the idea of being able to try out different styles and silhouettes without being completely committed to the items. It felt like an easy way to expand my current closet and style without spending huge amounts of cash on things I might never wear again. However, when I started to wear sizes like 14 and 16 more often than 10 or 12, I quickly realized that renting clothes was a bit more difficult as a plus size person. Now, there are more options for plus size clothing rentals than ever. One such option, Nuuly, is the newest service on the market. It's owned by URBN, which is also the parent company of Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, and Free People. Given that Anthropologie is the only one of those brands to regularly offer plus size options (and only very recently at that), I was excited to try Nuuly, but a little skeptical that it would work for me at a size 16.
The basic details of Nuuly are pretty appealing. While most clothing rental services offer the option to rent three or four pieces at a time, Nuuly lets you take home six — and for only $88 per month. This is more items and a significantly lower cost than a lot of clothing rental brands. For example, Rent The Runway's standard Unlimited plan costs $159/month for four pieces.
So what's the catch? Well, it's not quite as flexible as other, more expensive services. Unlike plans like RTR Unlimited and Infinite Style by Ann Taylor, Nuuly doesn't allow unlimited swaps throughout a month, meaning that if you order six items and two don't work at all, you'll have to wait until your next month to swap them out. And that's another part of the program that might frustrate some people — it's truly monthly. If you return your six items after two weeks, you don't get to choose another six items until the next month begins. Similarly to RTR Unlimited, though, you can always buy your favorite Nuuly pieces for a discounted rate.
Personally, I think the amount of pieces you're allowed to choose and the really reasonable monthly rate make those details fair. Say you do have a month where only four of six pieces work for you — this still comes out to about $22 a piece for the items you do like, most of which are well over $100 to buy. However, I can certainly see how it would be a deal breaker for others who are used to unlimited returns and item swaps.
In terms of my experience, five out of the six pieces fit me. The one I loved the most didn't fit which disappointed me, but I was pleasantly surprised with the other five as well as other thoughtful details about the service.
How It Arrives
One of the coolest things about Nuuly is how the items are delivered. The packaging is relatively compact and easy to carry, and it comes with a reusable Nuuly tote bag you get to keep, a return label, and other instructions about how to best use Nuuly.
My favorite part, though, was that it also came with a little travel kit with deodorant stain remover, wrinkle release spray, and double-stick tape. The package wasn't bulky at all, and was easy to store in a closet.
For my first Nuuly order, I browsed the site for a bit and was pretty impressed with the offerings. When I set my sizing to include my usual sizes (XL, 1X, 14, 16), I was a initially a little deflated when I saw the options shrink drastically. Though this is something that happens with pretty much every clothing rental service and online shopping in general, Nuuly definitely has fewer plus size options than some other, more established clothing rental services I've tried. And as you search for bigger sizes, there are fewer and fewer options. Despite this, though, I was still able to browse through hundreds of items to choose from for my first delivery.
It's worth noting that URBN brands aren't the only options offered through Nuuly. I saw pieces pop up in my size range from Universal Standard, Monique Lhullier, and ModCloth, among others. Nuuly also offers authentic vintage pieces for rental, something that's unique compared to other clothing rental services. While there seemed to be equal amounts of options between tops, dresses, and bottoms, I personally avoided renting bottoms and pants as I know I have a harder time finding options in those styles that fit me if I can't try them on first.
I found multiple pieces that I liked, but landed on six that I was super excited about (five dresses and one top). While most of the pieces I chose were on the casual side of things (Nuuly's offerings definitely tends to lean more casual than formal on the whole — something that I think sets it apart from other rental services in a very good way), I did find some gorgeous dresses that would have worked for weddings or cocktail events. All in all, the six pieces I chose were valued at a retail price of $864. Though my first month was comped by the brand, I think $88 would be more than reasonable for all those pieces — even given the fact that one of them didn't fit me.
I loved the pieces that fit me from my Nuuly order (and the way they were delivered), and I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of compliments I got on each and every piece. Though there are certainly fewer options for people above a size 22, there are options. A quick search showed 179 options for size 26W — however, there are 1,425 options for size 4. If Nuuly continues to expand their plus size offerings, which according to Nuuly's head of product Sky Pollard, the brand does plan to do, then the sky's the limit.
"Nuuly launched on July 30 with approximately 1,000 items, and by the year's end we are planning to triple that number," Pollard said in a statement, mentioning that the brand is also very much looking to hear from consumers and use that feedback to improve the selection of pieces available.
My suggestion for plus size shoppers is to edit the selection of pieces down to your sizes, browse them, and if you like what you see, try out the service. And if you don't like what you say, take that feedback to the brand — according to Pollard, they want to hear it and use it. If you do happen to love the experience, though, it's a win, win. It's a more sustainable way to shop, and at $88/month, it's an affordable one, too.
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