After working from home in leggings and hoodies for years during the pandemic, my social calendar is now full, with no sign of slowing down. Vaxxed and boosted (plus, masked a lot of the time), I attended three weddings in 2022 — and, of course, stressed about what to wear each time. Discovering Nuuly Rent, a size-inclusive clothing rental service that features plus-size special occasion garments from stylish brands, just in time for the third wedding, was exactly what I needed and more.
Shopping has always been challenging for me but after being a consistent size 16 for most of my adult life, thanks to the stress eating and decreased movement during the lockdown, I grew to size 16W/18W. Not to mention, my straight body shape has always been too big for standard sizes but not quite curvy enough to fill out many plus-size styles. This means trying on clothes in stores is often a hellish, demoralizing experience, even after scouring the racks for the sizes that are supposed to fit.
A decade of big-city living has left me with expensive tastes, but my immigrant parents raised me to be frugal and I could never bring myself to spend extravagantly on clothes. When I worked in corporate creative studios, the pressure to “keep up” was intense. I tried many subscription services — Gwynnie Bee, Le Tote, Stitch Fix, and more — all with mixed results and never for long.
For the first wedding we attended this year, I wore a loose dress I’ve owned for decades (lucky for me, the ‘00s styles are in, making my dress vintage chic). For the second wedding, I picked up an affordable floral number last minute at the local mall only to find that this wedding’s guests were especially fancy and well-dressed. I felt frumpy and matronly by comparison. For the third wedding, I was determined to dress better. I considered my choices. Fast fashion is no longer something I feel comfortable with due to the climate crisis. I’m also 41 years old and still learning to dress appropriately at this life stage, so I began researching clothing rental services and was thrilled to find Nuuly Rent, which features inclusive sizing with a generous rental window as well as brands and styles I love.
- Price: $88/month for six items (additional rentals cost $20 each).
- Sizes: 00 to 5X (includes maternity).
- Who it’s for: Budget- and environmentally-conscious folks who want to wear/experiment with quality fashion trends but do not want to buy every time.
How Nuuly Rent works
You choose any six garments (dresses, shirts, coats… whatever!) from their website and they ship it to you zipped up in their reusable tote. If you need more than six pieces, additional items are $20 each to rent. Laundry and repairs are included in the plan, so wear them like they’re yours for the month. You have the option to buy anything “must-have” at a discounted price, or send the clothes back in the same reusable tote with a pre-paid UPS shipping label by your billing date.
I was blown away by the virtually zero-waste shipping. As someone who has tried several clothing subscription companies over the years, Nuuly Rent seems by far and away the most thoughtful about its environmental footprint.
All of the clothes I received were in great condition — several were brand new, with tags still on them. (I’ve read some user reviews stating clothes had arrived looking worn, but this has not been my experience.)
Sizing is always tricky for me when shopping for clothes, so it wasn’t surprising that it was the same with this service. Luckily, I could make all but one out of the six garments work in my first rental order and have since learned to rely heavily on user reviews, to size up (when in doubt), and avoid pants, which I find extra unforgiving and variable by brand. By this third tote, all the pieces I chose fit.
The brands and selections available at Nuuly Rent
Nuuly is part of URBN, which owns Free People, Urban Outfitters, and Anthropologie, so you will notice a big portion of the Nuuly Rent collection is made up of these brands, but it also features over 300 others, including some exclusives.
From my first tote, I chose a luxe, backless, velvet holly green dress from Jenny Yoo (that retails for $295) to wear to wedding No. 3 and received an overwhelming number of compliments from strangers and friends alike. I couldn’t remember the last time I felt so well-dressed. Though I had intended for my $88/month subscription to be a one-time special occasion occurrence, I splurged to extend it so that I could have something special to wear through the holidays. I filled my latest tote with a New Year’s Eve party in mind — bring on all the sparkles!
Some of my favorites included the glittery-glam Luna Sequined Blouse ($148 retail, which is discounted to $67 if you choose to buy it after renting) from Sunday in Brooklyn, along with the Sequin Embellished Overcoat ($215 retail / $135 to purchase after renting) from Avec Les Filles.
I was also enthusiastic about an Adrianna Papell One-Shoulder Shimmer Gown ($199 retail / $95 to buy after renting), a style I’m too practical to buy but was delighted to rent. I’ve never owned a one-shoulder anything in my life and yet, with the freedom afforded me by Nuuly Rent, I chose a second one-shoulder dress — a fringed mini ($220 retail / $108 to buy after renting) from Hutch — and had far too much fun modeling it for my 9-year-old, whom I bribed with Pokémon cards to take photos.
For something warm and fuzzy, I chose this Hadley Faux Fur Coat ($220 retail / $136 to buy after renting) by ASTR The Label and was pleasantly surprised by its luxurious softness (another piece I’d never buy but would love dressing up in once or twice).
As mentioned previously, Nuuly Rent garments are shipped to and from subscribers in custom totes made of post-consumer plastic, which removes the need for single-use plastic or cardboard shipping materials. The clothes are also never packaged in poly bags or on hangers, to eliminate waste. Nuuly reports that they have avoided the use of over 1.15 million cardboard boxes by shipping orders in reusable totes. In addition, the company partners with UPS to completely offset the carbon emitted to transport their shipments to customers. In 2022, Nuuly Rent repaired approximately 72,000 garments, extending their life cycle and keeping them in the rental rotation longer.
How Nuuly Rent stands apart
There are many clothing rental services, including popular ones like Rent the Runway and Armoire, and brand-specific ones like Vince Unfold. For me, Nuuly Rent stands apart because it carries styles I want to wear at an affordable rate. The $88/month plan is simple and without late fees. This is a personal preference, but I actually enjoy that, unlike other services, there is only one plan available so I don’t have to think about it. I also see it as a plus that I am limited to a single monthly order (instead of “unlimited” exchanges, or options that allow me to swap items once or twice a month). This way, I don’t feel stressed about returning clothes as quickly as possible so I can get the next tote and the most garment rentals for my money.
I’ve enjoyed the extensive product availability in my size. After a lifetime of feeling too big to fit into the clothes I want to wear, Nuuly Rent, though still striving to be better, feels like a company that is genuinely investing in broader size inclusivity, not as a disdainful afterthought.
And while I’m glad there are plus-size rental services out there, most seem to emphasize work- or casual-wear, so I appreciate the varied selections Nuuly Rent offers, from glamorous special occasion garments to pieces I can wear day to day.
Last but not least, Nuuly Rent’s emphasis on sustainability, from its efforts to reduce waste to recycling and offsetting carbon emissions, is a cut above the rest.
Pros & cons
- More size-inclusive than many other clothing rental companies.
- Diverse models in race, size, and age.
- Honest user reviews (many with photos).
- Striving to grow their selection of BIPOC-owned brands.
- Wide assortment of styles, from special occasions to casual-wear.
- More affordable than some similar services (for example, for eight items per month, Rent the Runway charges $144).
- Some clothes arrive wrinkled.
- Size charts are vague (measurements per garment are not provided).
- Not all garments show plus-size model images.
- Not every item is available in plus-size.
The final verdict
For $88 per month, I reclaimed the joy of regularly taking pride in my appearance and in getting excited about clothes — which has also helped in my ongoing journey toward body positivity. Turns out, having this embroidered lace little black dress from Maeve by Anthropologie (retail $180) on hand made a big difference for me on the long-awaited date nights with my partner.
- Wear all the quality trends, without the (financial or environmental) guilt.
- No more feeling like I’m not thin or wealthy enough to wear the clothes I want.
- Take my money.