Express Style Trial Clothing Rental Review
Rentals Are A Win For Seasonal Changes
Express Style Trial is a rental service for women offered by the familiar retailer, Express. When you sign up, you'll receive three of their own-brand clothing items at a time with unlimited shipments for $69.95/month. Wear the clothing as long as you like and exchange for new styles anytime.
You may already know that I'm no stranger to clothing rental services since you might have read my reviews of Vince Unfold, Infinitely LOFT, Haverdash, or Le Tote. Some offer a myriad of different brands, while some like Express Style Trial are specifically for their own brand of clothing. This type of subscription can appeal to someone like me who sometimes has buyer's remorse after seeing how something actually wears or wants to refresh their closet without breaking the bank. I can't say I've shopped at Express recently, but that made it all more interesting to try out what styles they have to offer.
About Express Style Trial
The Subscription: Express Style Trial
The Cost: $69.95 per month + free US shipping
What You Get: Three Express-brand clothing items to rent for as long as you'd like with unlimited returns and shipments. Buy rental items at a discount, or swap what you have for a new set of three items.
Ships to: Any street address in the United States. They do not ship to US territories.
My Subscription Addiction paid for this box. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)
Pros & Cons
|Is It Worth It?||
|I'd Recommend Express Style Trial If You||
How It Works
Express Style Trial is a clothing rental subscription that allows you to rent an unlimited amount of items (three at a time) within a month for a flat fee. Once you fill up your virtual closet with items you like, Express Style Trial will start shipping sets of those items out to you. Choose to wear and return items (sans laundering), or purchase ones you like at a discount.
Subscribing to Express Style Trial is quite simple. Once you've created a profile, you can start browsing and adding clothes to your "virtual closet". Then, just add your shipping and credit card info to set up recurring shipments. They require you to have AT LEAST eight items in your closet before your first box ships out, so get cracking on filling it up as soon as you can. The more, the merrier, and the more quickly your following deliveries will ship.
I began by poking around the New Arrivals page to see which items stood out. They break down the categories by New Arrivals, Dresses, Tops, Bottoms, Work (business attire), and Weekend (more casual styles). You can also filter your size (sometimes styles I liked were out of stock at the time) and preferred colors to narrow your search. I was pleasantly surprised by how many styles appealed to me since I wasn't sure what to expect from Express. I am jumpsuit-crazy right now so I immediately fell in love with a bright blue sweetheart neck version.
When I clicked into the blue jumpsuit, I found images, a size chart, product details, and available sizes. Users are also able to leave reviews so they can share their experience on fit and wear of the garments. I found this to be helpful with sizing since users can add their size measurements.
In addition to reviews, I've learned to lean heavily on size charts when ordering online (especially with dresses and one-piece items) since I have wider hips and a petite top that can make getting the right fit a little tricky. My rule of thumb is to go straight to the hip measurement to see which size fits my 42" bottom. Here, I took a gamble on a size 10 since I thought the fabric looked stretchy and I didn't want the top to be too big.
Your Virtual Closet
When signed in, you'll see a little hanger icon at the top right corner of your page. Click here to get to your Virtual Closet. The closet is where you can keep track of pieces you have On The Rack, any items you've put On Hold, and what you have At Home. I'll explain each one of these below:
On the Rack
On the Rack is essentially your wish list and where Express Style Trial pulls your next set of items from. As I mentioned earlier, they require that there are AT LEAST eight items in your On the Rack section before they'll put together your first shipment. After that, they suggest keeping 20 items in there to have seamless deliveries.
PRO TIP: Load up your closet before you even sign up for the subscription! As long as you have an account, you can do so, but you don't have to actually subscribe until you're ready.
You can't dictate exactly which items you'll get in a shipment, but marking them as priority lets Express Style Trial know to try and ship those first. Clearly, I prioritized that blue jumpsuit!
The On Hold section is a sort of purgatory for items that won't be pulled to send, but you may want to remember. I use this as a holding area for items I like but aren't available in my size at the moment, or items that may be out of season. You can always move them back to the rack when you want them to be in the mix to send out.
The At Home section is where you'll find the items that are shipping out to you, and like it suggests, at your home. From here, you can buy the item if you like it, return notify, or check the tracking if it hasn't yet arrived. Note that this is the only place you'll see "your price" and the discount they're offering off retail to do so.
The final section is easy to miss but can be found at the bottom left of the Closet page. The History page shows all of your past rentals, their sizes, when they shipped/were returned, and how you rated them.
My First Express Style Trial Delivery
Once you have at least eight items on your rack and you're all signed up, you'll get an email letting you know that they are preparing your shipment. This will typically take about 2-3 days. Once it ships, you'll get another email with a tracking number along with which items are on their way. I live in Pittsburgh so mine came in roughly 2-3 days.
My first delivery arrived in a white box, branded with Express Style Trial. Once opened, I revealed a small booklet along with my first three items wrapped in red tissue paper and sealed with a black sticker that said "Want".
The booklet goes over the basics of how Express Style Trial works. You won't get a packing list but all the info is available in your account online.
In each delivery, you'll find a large plastic pre-addressed mailer to use to return the clothing that you don't keep.
My first Express Style Trial delivery included:
- Strapless Sweetheart Neck Jumpsuit in Bright Blue, Size 10 - Cost to Keep $13.00 (85% off)
- Open Stitch Cocoon Cardigan in Gray, Size Medium - Cost to Keep $17.50 (70% off)
- Velvet Downtown Cami in Rose, Size Small - Cost to Keep $7.00 (85% off)
Lucky me, Express Style Trial came through with my priority blue jumpsuit! I could hardly wait to try it on and once I did, it was a success! The jumpsuit immediately became my new "power outfit". I've worn it to brunch with my lady crew and they all went wild when I walked in and showered me with compliments. I didn't end up loving the cardigan which seemed like a more pale sage color to me than grey, but the velvet camisole ended up being perfect to wear this summer with jeans. I ended up tucking it in for a more polished look.
Here's what I got in my other two deliveries:
My second delivery included:
- V-Wire Cami Romper in Hot & Spicy, Size Medium - Cost to Keep $7.00 (85% off)
- High Waisted Velvet Sequin Mini Skirt in Black, Size Medium - Cost to Keep $10.00 (85% off)
- Fine Ribbed Cami in Black, Size Small - Cost to Keep $5.00 (85% off)
I don't always have great luck with rompers, but it was still hella warm out when I got this order and I thought it looked super cute. Although it fit me pretty well, I think it was still out of my comfort zone, so I didn't wear it as much as I would've liked. My secret love of sequins came up when I saw this skirt (another item I marked as a priority). I actually used to own one very similar but never wore it and eventually sold it to a second hand store. With rentals, I can scratch that sequined itch without housing a skirt I may only wear once or twice a year. The black ribbed cami was another great summer top to wear with jeans that made me feel cool and confident, so I ended up keeping it. For $5.00 (85% off!), how could I not?
My third delivery included:
- High Waisted Denim Perfect Ankle Leggings in Pitch Black, Size 10 - Cost to Keep $52.50 (40% off)
- Fitted Crew Neck Tee in Dark Blue, Size Small - Cost to Keep $13.50 (61% off)
- Open Stitch Dolman Sleeve Sweater in Light Green, Size Medium - Cost to Keep $14.50 (70% off)
This final and third shipment I received before my next billing cycle was a bit of a miss. The T-shirt was way too tight for my liking as were the jeans, so I didn't get to enjoy them. I actually liked the sweater and even though $14.50 was a great price to keep it, I let it go back with the others.
Once you've worn your items to your heart's content, you'll want to use the "Return Notify" feature in the At Home section. This is how to let Express Style Trial know you're returning your clothes and are ready for your next shipment. They'll start to prep your next box and will ship it as soon as they have the items ready. If you don't use this feature, they won't prep your next box until they receive your package which could take some time getting through their system. With other services I've tried that use the same software as Express Style Trial, the prep time was usually a mere 2 days. With this one though, I noticed the time between return notifying and shipping was quite long: sometimes 4-5 days.
An important note: You must return all three items together unless you want to purchase something. If you only send one or two of the three pieces back Express Style Trial will assume you want to purchase the unreturned item(s) and charge you for them once they receive the other items. That being said, mistakes are made and if you accidentally forget to return something that you don't want to buy, you can just reach out to their customer care. They will provide you with an additional shipping label, you just have to come up with a box or bag on our own to send it back in.
When you use the Return Notify function, you'll be asked to rate each piece. That includes how often you wore it, what you did or didn't like about it, and a 1-4 "hearts" scale. The ratings will also show up in the History section of your account which can be helpful in the future.
Express Style Trial is meant to be a rental service but I must admit that my favorite part is the rather deep discount they offer if you don't want to part with an item. Many of the items had an 85% discount which is the highest I've seen from a rental service. Like, excuuuuuse me? $13 for this ah-mazing jumpsuit? Do not mind if I do. As you can see from the screenshot above, I saved $75 by purchasing this item through Style Trial (while it's on sale on express.com for $59.99). Of course, at this point you've already paid to rent it, so that could be factored into the price as well. (Also, yay no clothing tax in Pennsylvania! Woot!)
As soon as you confirm your purchase, your credit card on file will be charged. Strangely, if you buy more than one piece from the same shipment, you will see separate charges for each. I don't think it matters, but something about that feels a bit tedious to me.
Laundering & Damaged Items
Another advantage to renting clothing is that there's no need to wash the items before sending them back. Express Style Trial will take care of all of the dry cleaning:
We consider cleanliness to be of the utmost importance, and we take pride in sending items to our members in pristine condition. We use no dyes or perfumes in the cleaning process and have a state-of-the-art on-site dry cleaning plant. Additionally, three different inspectors review all items after the laundry process to ensure they arrive in clean condition.
If you choose to launder an item at home to wear again before sending it back, they just ask that you use the gentle cycle in cold water or have it dry cleaned, depending on the care instructions on the tag.
They also expect normal "wear and tear" to occur, so you're not held accountable for pilling, snags, or accidental spills.
How many items can you try in a month?
Express Style Trial gives you unlimited access to their clothing each month, but you have to factor in the time it takes them to prep and ship each box. Since reviewing this service and several other similar rental models that use the same software system, I can tell you solidly that three shipments are almost guaranteed if you don't wear your rentals for over a week. However, there are many factors involved, so it's all subject to how on-the-ball you are with the Return Notify function and if there are any holidays in the midst that can slightly slow down shipping/delivery times. I think four shipments are attainable as well, but I think to get more, you'd have to be a well-oiled machine. I will say that I did notice slightly longer wait times between return notifying and the "prepping your box" emails with Express Style Trial compared to other similar rental services.
Canceling Express Style Trial
If you decide to end your Express Style Trial subscription, you'll have to make a phone call. First, go into your account, find the cancel button, and you'll get a pop-up window with a phone number. Unfortunately, the window to call and cancel is only 5 hours (12pm-5pm ET Mon-Fri) and on weekdays only. My tip is that when you decide to cancel, make a calendar reminder that falls on a weekday before the next billing date (it might fall on a weekend) to make the call. The cancelation happens immediately, so you will not receive any more shipments even if your month isn't fully up.
The person you speak to will give you a window of time in which you have to return any remaining clothing you have, but I didn't have a problem getting that done in the allotted time. They may also tempt you to stay on and offer a discount for your next month. Once canceled, you'll be sent a confirmation email.
So, is Express Style Trial worth it?
Honestly, I think a lot of it comes down to the actual clothing offered. I ended up really loving some of the pieces I received from Express Style Trial - enough to even buy a few of them, which is a first for me. I think that even though purchasing isn't the point of this service, it can at least speak to how much I liked the clothing they offered. This rental service is a great option in transitional seasons (like summer to fall, which I experienced) so that you can wear something like a jumpsuit one week and a sweater the next, without having to pay full price to purchase either. I also liked that Express offered pieces like sequins or dresses that I may not get a lot of wear from but may need for an event, so it's perfect for the upcoming holiday season.
Express Style Trial costs $69.95 per month and I was able to rent nine pieces in that time which made each cost $7.77 to wear for roughly five days or so before returning.