Updated: Aug 30, 2019
As most of you know, I am un-expectably, expecting a baby boy this July 27th! And while I'm thrilled and over-joyed with this prospect, I am also not entirely enjoying the process of re-accumulating baby clothes, baby contraptions, and least of all... maternity clothes. Since this is not my first rodeo into pregnancy and motherhood, I unfortunately gave away many fabulous "new" versions of these items after my last baby boy was born some 9 years ago. I had some fantastic maternity clothes from DVF and Pea in the Pod from my time as a 28 year old, mother-to-be/ fashion designer living in NYC, and while somewhat regret giving these away, I wonder how these clothes would have fit into my lifestyle as a 41 year old suburban mother of 2 anyway.
Thankfully in the year 2019, clothing rental services are in full swing and my plan (since finding out I was expecting) has been to make the best of these rental services and second-hand goods as much as possible. It pains me to think of buying anything new for these transitional years when both baby and and I will be growing at a rapid rates. (Hopefully, I will start to shrink at a rapid rate after the baby is born, but the jury is still out!)
I looked into a few of these rental services (some of which are specific to maternity clothes which is great), but ultimately landed on RTR-unlimited (Rent the Runway's unlimited monthly rental service) due to it's offerings of hi-end designer clothing for women of all sizes. Unfortunately the word unlimited, is a bit mis-leading, as the unlimited plan which is $100/ month comes with access to 4 items at any given time. Yet, I'm very happy with my decision, since (as a fashion addict) I could have easily racked up $100/ month on apparel purchases during this time when nothing seems to fit me anymore.
Below is a picture of some of the items that I have rented and some that are in my upcoming queue. I wanted to share with you some pro's and con's of RTR-unlimited that I think could apply to women of all stages in their life dependent on whether or not they are pregnant. I will get into some of these examples in a minute.
Let's start with the bad news...
I don't think RTR unlimited is for everyone. As I mentioned it is great for transitional periods such as pregnancy. I think it would also be great for a person who is starting a new job, getting married (has lots of parties and events on the horizon), someone who wants to slowly change their look, lost weight, or even someone who has a straight up addiction to designer bags/ trendy fashion items and likes to change up their look on a regular basis. However, since it is a lot to keep up with, I don't see myself doing it much after I return to my normal size or while caring for a newborn baby. I'm fairly happy wearing most things over and over again as long as they are comfortable, stylish, and well-made. My personal preference is to develop my own "capsule wardrobe" while renting occasionally for special occasions.
Some of the items (such as a chunky porous sweater I rented) have a distinct "febreeze" smell to them that I found intolerable (especially during pregnancy.)
Sometimes, I had to do without items. RTR does not ship you new items until they receive the old ones back and while this was usually very swift, on average I would have to wait 4-5 days without 1-4 items in my queue. I tried to be strategic, returning 2 items at a time, but this proved to be difficult to maintain.
They do not offer much by way of maternity pants. I have rented one pair of maternity jeans since the get-go and don't see much beyond that except for skirts and dresses which are hard to wear in the winter months of Chicago.
Moving onto the good news...
As mentioned, I definitely think I could have done a lot more damage to both my bank account and the planet by buying all new maternity clothes. I have been able to rent designer items from Vince, Citizens for Humanity, JCrew, Pea in the Pod, Josie Natorie, Slate and Willow, to name a few. All of the items have been well-made and will continue to bring joy to pregnant women for years to come (except for that one that I spilt ketchup on.)
RTR makes selecting items very easy. You can filter search results by which trimester you are in, which occasion you are looking for, which color and size, etc.
RTR offers a wide selection of designer clothing options for women of all stages, (non-maternity) all ages, all occasions, etc
RTR allows you to "heart" items as you go, and will then save your selections so that you can easily just add these items to your shopping cart when you are ready.
Although they only allow 4 items out at a time, you can add more items if you like with a new feature that they just rolled out. This would be great if you were going on a vacation or had an event coming up when you expected you might need "more."
RTR offers great suggestions based upon your previous rentals. They even offered me some non-maternity clothing suggestions that they knew could still work on my pregnant body.
You do not need to launder or dry clean any item before you return them! This is hands down the best feature in my opinion.
All of the packages fit easily into a UPS drop box, so you do not need to go into a UPS store unless you really want to get a receipt. Unlimited shipping is part of you $100/ mo plan.
They will allow you to purchase items if you really like them and decide that you want to keep them.
Even with RTR-unlimited I have to admit that I have purchased a few things....(one pair of maternity jeans and three maternity/ nursing tops to be exact.) But, all and all I have definitely cut back on shopping especially when compared to my former self of nearly a decade ago. I would definitely suggest RTR-unlimited to others in similar circumstances such as my own, while their life is in flux for one reason or another.
POST UPDATE: Just as soon as I hit "publish" on this post... what should arrive at my door...none other then a box full of gently worn maternity clothes from my friend, Anne who just had twins! It is full of beautiful summer dresses, the softest tank tops, and even some stretchy pants! (Thank God!!!) Later that night I met up with another friend, (also named Annie) who gave me three more bags of gently used clothing! I've been so fortunate to have so many friends donating their gently used items to our family during this time, I couldn't be more thankful. I'm so happy I can continue to "borrow" rather than "own" during this transitional time while things are constantly changing and look forward to paying it forward to the next chic mama! Peer-peer lending most definitely trumps any subscription box service on the market, and it's free! Hooray for friends!