Who tried it: Alex Apatoff, Senior Style Editor and Brittany Talarico, Associate Style Editor
What is it: The smash-hit website brings the experience to a storefront in NYC’s Flatiron neighborhood for those who are shy about renting online. You try on any number of looks in the store, rent them from the checkout and mail them back just like you would a normal RTR order.
Why we did it: We’re already well-versed in the online RTR experience (among our staff, we’ve rented looks for the Oscars, the Grammys and countless weddings) and when they invited us to check out the just-opened store before NYFW, we couldn’t resist.
Level of difficulty: Fairly high if you live out of town. Pretty painless if you’re down the street, especially if your stylist “clicks” with you right away.
Courtesy Alex Apatoff
Brittany: This was my first time to the Rent the Runway shop, and I already can’t wait to go back. Not only was my wardrobe consultant helpful and accommodating, but I was also very impressed by how current and fresh the wardrobe stock is at the store. And during Fashion Week, you’re looking to shop some new fun pieces.
I would describe my style as trendy, which means sometimes I want to try out a trend for a few days, but don’t want to invest the money to own it. Basically, I’m the dream RTR shopper. I loved the dress selection and immediately gravitated toward a printed Clover Canyon dress (a brand I now plan to include in my closet). Another piece I loved? This asymmetrical Opening Ceremony design. The silhouette felt edgy, but because of the neckline it was still work-appropriate.
I also have a bit of a jumpsuit thing, and fell in love with this one-shoulder Haute Hippie look. (It looks great with a black moto jacket!) And on a final note, I went for a super trendster move and rented the Hollywood-favorite Elizabeth and James backpack for the week. And it’s totally a trend I would invest in.
Alex: The store is done really well: it’s chic, the music is great and there are lots of fun touches like adjustable lighting in the dressing rooms and accessories trays laid out with options (see the photos above). And it’s nice to be able to try everything out in person, no guessing on sizes or hoping that the accessories look expensive when they arrive. I loved getting a few different sizes to experiment with and to put whole outfits together at once, and I took home a few hits, namely this dress and these earrings. The most fun part? I got compliments on all my “new” clothes — it was an awesome way to reinvigorate my work wardrobe with pieces I’d never buy myself (like this dress).
The format wasn’t my favorite — waiting for my (extremely friendly and sweet) stylist Brittany to bring out two or three dresses at a time grew a little frustrating and time-consuming, especially as she didn’t seem to be “getting” my style (I asked for simple and streamlined and got a lot of funky and ultra-feminine) so she had to make multiple trips. If I did it again, I’d just ask her to bring out a ton in my size and do the selections myself. And of course (as is always the risk with wearing a rental) one of the dresses was in less-than-perfect shape when I put it on later (the hem completely came unstitched), so now I’d know to check it carefully before bringing it home — definitely a perk of renting in-store instead of online.
The verdict: We both agree that we’d happily go back for big occasions. One of the most fun parts of stopping by the store was seeing a mother of the bride try on a bunch of beautiful gowns and get positive feedback from everyone in the dressing room. And it was fun to try designer dresses way out of our comfort zone before putting down any rental money. So while there may be a kink or two to work out still (on the day we visited, there was some cash register drama) it’s hard to imagine a more fun shopping experience than getting a rack full of pricey, pretty looks all for yourself.
Intrigued? Have you tried the site yet? Tell us below!