After working from home in leggings and hoodies for years during the pandemic, my social calendar is now full, with no signs of slowing down. Vaxxed and boosted (plus, masked much of the time), I attended three weddings in 2022 — and, of course, stressed about what to wear each time. Discovering Nuuly Cleana plus-size clothing rental service featuring plus-size special occasion pieces from stylish brands, just in time for the third wedding, was just 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 stress eating and reduced movement during lockdown, I grew to a 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 that trying on clothes in stores is often a hellish, demoralizing experience, even after browsing the racks for the right sizes.
Over a decade of city life had long developed my fashion sense to outgrow my wallet, but my immigrant parents raised me to be thrifty and I could never bring myself to splurge on extravagant 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 that 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 particularly stylish and well-dressed. By comparison, I felt frumpy and matronly. For the third wedding I was determined to dress better. I considered my options. Fast fashion is no longer something I feel comfortable with because the climate crisis. I’m also 41 years old and still learning how to dress properly at this stage of life, so I started researching clothing rental services and was delighted to find Nuuly Rent, which has inclusive sizes with a generous rental window and brands and styles I love .
- Award: $88/month for six properties (additional rentals are $20 each).
- Sizes: 00 to 5X (includes maternity).
- Who is it for?: Budget and eco-conscious people who want to wear/experiment with high quality fashion trends but don’t want to buy every time.
How Nuuly Rent works
You pick any six items (dresses, shirts, coats… whatever!) from their website and they zip it to you in their reusable bag. If you need more than six, it costs an additional $20 each to rent. Laundry and repairs are included in the plan, so wear them as if they were yours for the month. You have the option to purchase all the “must-haves” at a discounted price, or return the clothes in the same reusable bag with the included shipping label to your nearest UPS store before your billing date.
I was impressed with the virtually zero-waste shipping. As someone who has tried several clothing subscription companies over the years, Nuuly Rent seems by far the most mindful of its environmental footprint.
All the clothes I received were in good condition – several were brand new, with tags still on them. (I’ve read some user reviews saying the clothes had arrived looking worn, but this hasn’t 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 was able to get all but one of the six garments to work in my first rental order and have since learned to rely heavily on user reviews, size up (when in doubt) and avoid pants, which I find extra unforgiving and varying by brand. In this third bag all the parts I selected fit.
The brands and selection available at Nuuly Rent
Nuuly is part of URBN, which owns Free People, Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie, so you’ll notice that a large part of the Nuuly Rent collection consists of these brands, but it also has over 300 othersincluding some exclusive ones.
From my first bag, I chose a luxurious backless velvet one holly green dress from Jenny Yoo (which retails for $295) to wear to wedding #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. Although I had intended my $88/month subscription to be a one-time special occasion item, I made the effort to extend it so I could have something special to wear during the holidays. I filled my latest bag with a New Years party in mind – bring out all the sparkles!
Some of my favorites include the glittery glam Luna blouse with sequins ($148 retail, which is discounted to $67 if you choose to buy it after renting) from Sunday in Brooklyntogether with Overcoat with sequins ($215 retail / $135 to buy after rental) from Avec Les Filles.
I was also enthusiastic about an Adrianna Papell Shimmery dress with one shoulder ($199 retail / $95 to buy after renting), a style I’m too practical to buy but was happy to rent. I have never owned a shoulder anything in my life and yet, with the freedom that Nuuly Rent gives me, I chose a Other one shoulder dress — a fringed mini ($220 retail / $108 to buy after rental) from Hutch — and had way too much fun modeling it for my 9-year-old, who I bribed with Pokémon cards to take pictures.
For something warm and fuzzy I chose this Hadley faux fur coat ($220 retail / $136 to buy after rental) of ASTR The label and was pleasantly surprised by its luxurious softness (another piece I would never buy but would love to dress up in once or twice).
As previously mentioned, Nuuly Rent garments are shipped to and from subscribers in custom bags made from post-consumer plastic, eliminating the need for single-use plastic or cardboard. The clothes are also never packed in polybags or on hangers, to eliminate spillage. Nuuly reports that they have avoided the use of over 1.15 million cartons by shipping orders in reusable bags. In addition, the company works with UPS to fully offset the carbon dioxide emissions emitted to transport its shipments to customers. By 2022, Nuuly Rent repaired approximately 72,000 garments, extending their life cycle and keeping them in the rental rotation for longer.
How Nuuly Rent is different
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 out because it carries styles I want to wear at an affordable price. The $88/month plan is simple and has no late fees. This is a personal preference, but I actually like 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’m limited to a single monthly order (instead of “unlimited” exchanges, or options that allow me to exchange items once or twice a month). That way I don’t feel stressed about returning clothes as quickly as possible so I can get the next bag and mostly rent clothes for the money.
I have enjoyed the extensive product availability in my size. After a lifetime of feeling too big to fit into the clothes I want, Nuuly Rent, while still striving to be better, feels like a company truly invested in wider size inclusion, not 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 variety Nuuly Rent offers, from glamorous special-occasion pieces to pieces I can wear every 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.
- More size inclusive than many other clothing rental companies.
- Different models in breed, size and age.
- Honest user reviews (many with photos).
- Striving to expand its selection of BIPOC-owned brands.
- Wide range of styles, from special occasions to everyday wear.
- More affordable than some similar services (for example, for eight articles per month, Rent the Runway costs $144).
- Some clothes arrive wrinkled.
- Size charts are vague (measurements per garment are not given).
- Not all garments show plus size model images.
- Not all items are available in plus size.
The final verdict
For $88 a month, I recaptured the joy of regularly taking pride in my appearance and getting excited about clothes—which has also helped me on my ongoing journey toward body positivity. It turns out to have this embroidered lace little black dress from Maeve by Anthropologie (retail $180) made all the difference for me on those long awaited date nights with my significant other.
- Wear all quality trends, without (financial or environmental) guilt.
- No more feeling like I’m not thin or rich enough to wear the clothes I want.
- Take my money.
#88month #clothing #rental #ready #Years #Eve