Lots of plus size options and great brands | Popgen Tech

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After years of working from home in leggings and a hoodie during the pandemic, my social calendar is packed with no signs of slowing down. Invigorated and invigorated (plus a lot of time in a mask), I attended three weddings in 2022 — and, of course, thought about what to wear each time. Discovering Nuuly Rent, a plus size rental service from stylish brands for special occasions, just in time for my third wedding, was just what I needed and more.

Shopping has always been difficult for me, but after being a consistent size 16 for most of my adult life, I’ve grown to a size 16W/18W thanks to the stress and less movement during lockdown. Not to mention, my straight body has always been too big for standard sizes, but not curvaceous enough to fill out many plus-size styles. This means that trying on clothes in stores is often a hellish, demoralizing experience, even after we’ve scoured the racks for sizes that should fit.

In ten years of living in the big city, my fashion sense had long outgrown my wallet, 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’ve tried many subscription services—Gwynnie Bee, Le Tote, Stitch Fix, and others—all with mixed results and never lasting.

For the first wedding we attended this year, I wore a loose dress that I’ve owned for decades (luckily for me, the 2000s style is all the rage, making my dress vintage chic). For my second wedding, I made a last minute purchase of an affordable floral suite at a local mall and found that the guests at this wedding were particularly chic and well-dressed. In comparison, I felt unfriendly and matronly. For the third wedding, I decided to dress better. I thought about my choice. Because of the climate crisis, I don’t like fast fashion anymore. I’m also 41 and still learning how to dress appropriately at this stage of life, so I started researching clothing rentals and was thrilled to find Nuuly Rent, which has all sizes with a large rental window, and brands and styles that I like them.

Statistics

  • Price: $88 per month for six items (additional rentals cost $20 each).
  • Dimensions: 00 to 5X (including pregnancy).
  • Who is it for?: Budget and eco-conscious people who want to wear/experiment with quality fashion trends but don’t want to buy every time.

How Nuuly Rent works

You pick any six items of clothing (dresses, shirts, coats… you name it!) from their website and they zip it to you in their reusable bag. If you need more than six, additional items are $20 each. Laundry and repairs are included in the plan, so wear them as your own for a month. You have the option to purchase a must-have item at a discounted price or ship the garment back in the same reusable bag with a shipping label to your nearest UPS Store before the invoice date.

First impressions

I was impressed with the virtually waste-free shipping. As someone who has tried several clothing subscription companies over the years, Nuuly Rent seems to be the most mindful of its environmental footprint.

All the clothes I received were in excellent condition – some were brand new with tags. (I’ve read some user reviews that claim the clothes arrived looking worn, but that’s not my experience.)

When I shop for clothes, I always find it difficult to choose a size, so it’s no surprise that the same was true with this service. Luckily, I was able to make all but one of the six outfits in my first rental order, and have since learned to rely heavily on user feedback, size up (when in doubt), and avoid pants that I find very unforgiving and changeable by brand. This third bag went with all the items I chose.

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 most of the Nuuly Rent collection consists of those brands, but it also features over 300 others, including some exclusives.

From my first bag, I picked a luxe green velvet open back dress by Jenny Yoo (which retails for $295) to wear to wedding #3 and received tons of compliments from strangers and friends. I couldn’t remember the last time I felt so well dressed. While I figured my $88/month subscription would be a one-time special occasion, I spent the money to extend it so I could have something special to wear for the holidays. I’ve filled my last New Year’s Eve party bag – bring on all the sparkles!

Some of my favorites included the Luna Sparkle Glitter Sequin Blouse (retail $148, marked down to $67 if you choose to purchase it after the rental) from Sunday in Brooklyn , as well as the Sequin Embellished Coat (retail $215 / $135 for purchase after lease ) from Avec Les Filles.

I was also in awe of Adrianna Papell’s shimmering one-shoulder dress ($199 retail/$95 to purchase after rental), a style I’m too practical to buy but was happy to rent. I’ve never had anything on one shoulder in my life, but with the freedom that Nuuly Rent gives me, I chose the second one-shoulder dress—a fringed mini ($220 retail/$108 to purchase after rental) by Hutch—and I had so much fun modeling it for my 9-year-old, who I bribed with Pokémon cards to take a photo.

For something warm and fluffy, I chose the Hadley Faux Fur Coat ($220 retail / $136 purchase after rental) from ASTR The Label and was pleasantly surprised by how luxuriously soft it was (another item I would never buy, but would like to wear it once or twice).

Sustainability

As previously mentioned, Nuuly Rent clothing is shipped to and from subscribers in individual bags made from post-use plastic, eliminating the need for single-use plastic or cardboard shipping materials. Clothes are also never packed in plastic bags or on hangers to avoid waste. Nuuly reports that they have avoided using more than 1.15 million cardboard boxes by shipping orders in reusable bags. In addition, the company has partnered with UPS to fully offset the carbon footprint of shipping to customers. In 2022, Nuuly Rent repaired around 72,000 items of clothing, extending their life cycle and keeping them in rental for longer.

How Nuuly Rent stands out

There are many clothing rental services, including popular ones like Rent the Runway and Armoire, as well as brand-specific services like Vince Unfold. For me, Nuuly Rent stands out because it offers styles I want to wear at an affordable price. The $88/month plan is easy and has no late fees. It’s a personal preference, but I like that unlike other services there’s only one plan available so I don’t have to think about it. I also think it’s a plus that I’m limited to one monthly order (instead of “unlimited” exchanges or options that allow you to exchange items once or twice a month). That way, I don’t feel stressed about returning the clothes as soon as possible so I can get the next bag and the most rental clothes for my money.

I liked the wide availability of products in my size. After a lifetime of feeling too big to fit into the clothes I want to wear, Nuuly Rent, while striving to be better, feels like a company that’s truly invested in broad size inclusivity, not a snubbing rear end thought.

And while I’m glad there are plus size rental services, most seem to focus on work or casual wear, so I appreciate the diverse selection Nuuly Rent has to offer, from glamorous special occasion clothes to things I can wear every day.

Last but not least, Nuuly Rent’s emphasis on sustainability, from waste reduction efforts to recycling and carbon offsets, is far beyond the rest.

Pros and cons

Pluses

  • More size included than many other clothing rental companies.
  • Diverse models by race, size and age.
  • Honest user reviews (many with photos).
  • In an effort to increase the selection of brands owned by BIPOC.
  • A wide range of styles, from special occasions to everyday wear.
  • More affordable than some similar services (for example, Rent the Runway charges $144 for eight items a month).

Cons

  • Some clothes come wrinkled.
  • Size charts are vague (measurements for each garment are not given).
  • Not all items of clothing feature images of plus size models.
  • Not everything is available in plus size.

The final verdict

For $88 a month, I regained the joy of regularly taking pride in my appearance and enjoying my clothes—which also helped me on my long journey to body positivity. It turns out that having this embroidered lace little black dress from Maeve by Anthropologie (retail $180) on hand has made all the difference for me on long-awaited date nights with my partner.

TL; DR

  • Wear all the quality trends, without guilt (financial or environmental).
  • No more feeling like I’m not skinny or rich enough to wear the clothes I want.
  • Take my money.

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