My nuuly Review
Is renting from URBN stores better than buying?
nuuly is a clothing rental subscription from the folks behind Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, and Free People. The program features the same style of dresses, denim, separates, and even vintage pieces you'd expect to see in their stores. For $88 per month, you can rent your choice of six clothing items and wear them like they were your own. Return your set by the end of the month or hold on to them a little longer. You'll unlock the ability to pick your next set every time your billing date rolls around. (Learn more about the clothing rental trend here!)
nuuly's monthly rental fee is less than what I'd expect to spend on just one item at a store like Anthropologie. Unlike other rental programs I've seen, nuuly lets you hand-pick the exact items you want to rent. Availability can be frustrating, and the return/swap process isn't as smooth as I'd like. Still, I think nuuly is a clever way to keep my closet feeling fun and fresh.
The Cost: $88.00 to rent a new assortment of clothing (that you choose) every month. Sign up here!
What is nuuly? nuuly is a clothing rental subscription by URBN, the company behind Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, and Free People. For a flat monthly fee, members can rent their choice of 6 items month to month.
What kinds of clothes can you rent? Unique separates and dresses for casual and formal occasions, as well as one-of-a-kind vintage pieces.
How many items do I get at a time? Each month, you can rent 6 pieces.
Do I choose what I get? Yes! You choose exactly what you want to rent.
Can I keep what I get? Yes! Purchase pieces you can't live without for a discounted price.
Can I skip a month? Yes! Pause as you see fit via your account.
Where does nuuly ship? The US only. (No PO boxes, nor APO/FPO addresses.)
My Subscription Addiction paid for this box. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)
Pros & Cons
|I'd recommend nuuly if||
How It Works
Once you're all signed in, give nuuly your sizing info. That way, the system will filter the looks you see by what's offered in your size.
Add items you love to your next nuuly order, or save them to your online nuuly "closet", where you can keep track of looks you'd like to remember for future orders. You can browse by category (like dresses, tops, jeans, jumpsuits + rompers, etc.), by occasion (casual, work, night out, etc.), or by "look" (trend collections curated by nuuly).
Pick 6 pieces you'd like to rent and add them to your nuuly. (A sidebar will pop out from the right of your screen as you add pieces, and you can access that list via the "My nuuly" button at the top right of the toolbar.)
For the record, this was my favorite part about nuuly—the process felt about as easy as regular online shopping, and I liked the idea that I got to pick exactly what I was getting. (Other rental programs let you identify items you like, then they choose what you end up getting from that collection. nuuly gives you way more control.)
nuuly comes in a sturdy, reusable suitcase with all of your items packed safely inside. Shipping is free (as is your return shipping).
They also hook you up with a few different helpful extras, including a reusable tote (to use as a laundry bag for your worn rentals) and a kit with a lint roller, stain remover, and other accessories. All of the paperwork for your order, including your return label, arrives tucked in a cute folder.
You'll get a return date one month away from when you placed your first nuuly order. (You can find this in your nuuly info folder and in your account.) Simply put all of your items back in your suitcase and slip the return label into the special pouch on its side.
A few quick callouts about returning your nuuly, based on my first order:
- Be sure to return everything, unless you're planning to keep something to purchase. Otherwise, you'll be charged for what you don't return.
- nuuly recommends taking your package to a UPS location or scheduling a pickup. For one, nuuly suitcases are too big for most UPS dropboxes. And secondly, you want to make sure no one steals your nuuly from off your stoop.
- Your return deadline (your billing date) is when nuuly wants to have your order back in their hands. Having your return accepted by UPS does not count as having returned your order. Trust me—I dropped my return off at UPS several days before my billing deadline, but I was not able to start building my next nuuly (or in my case, pause my subscription) until nuuly had checked in my order on their end. If your return hasn't been checked in by nuuly by your return deadline, you'll be charged for the next month.
Interested in keeping any of the items you got? Hop into your account, and you'll be able to note what you'd like to buy. nuuly will get you checked out from there. You can also leave a review on items you've received (and upload photos, too). Reviews help other customers get a sense for the items. I know I found them really helpful when I was sifting through my options.
Once your return is processed and your next billing date arrives, you'll unlock the ability to get your next set of six items.
How do monthly rentals work?
One of the biggest differences between nuuly's plan and other rental plans I've seen is that nuuly rents its clothes on a month-to-month basis. Most rental services have monthly membership fees, but not all of them work on the same month-to-month cycle that nuuly does. Here's what you need to know:
nuuly lets you rent one set of items per month/billing cycle. For example, I rented my first set of 6 nuuly items on 8/12. I can technically keep that set of items as long as I'd like, be that one week or one year. However, if I do return my nuuly set after one week, I won't be able to get another set until after my next billing date (9/12).
Other clothing rental subscriptions have what they call "unlimited" plans. With unlimited plans, as soon as I return my first set, I can get a new set sent out. No waiting for the next billing date. nuuly doesn't currently offer that feature, though they do have other benefits that many unlimited services do not (picking exactly what you want to rent and when, etc.). I've also seen other clothing subscriptions consider your return complete as soon as your package is checked in with the delivery service. Again, not the case here. In short, it will probably take you a few tries to get into a routine that helps you get the most out of nuuly.
My nuuly Experience
When I found out about nuuly, it hadn't even officially launched, and I sat on their waitlist for about a month. But the waiting was worth it. Signing up was simple, as is the site itself. Picking what pieces I wanted to rent felt exactly the same as regular online shopping—I browsed around, read about details and sizing on the product pages, and added items to my nuuly shipment and virtual closet with a click.
It only took a day for my nuuly to arrive once I placed my order. You get free 2-day shipping with nuuly, but my order (placed 8/12) got to my address in Pittsburgh the next day. Not bad! The suitcase-style shipping container was so easy to use—it doubled as a hamper as I finished with each rental—though I worry that the zipped and snapped case could be tampered with pretty easily. (Rent the Runway also has a reusable garment-bag-style container, but it comes with a tamper-proof plastic lock.)
I love so many of the pieces I see in URBN stores—that's the primary reason I was interested in nuuly. To be clear, nuuly's catalog is more limited than what you'd find on Urban Outfitters/Anthropologie's sites, but the products they do have struck me as a good representation of what I'd expect from those brands. Lots of bold patterns, out-of-the-ordinary silhouettes, and unique fabrics. There's a nice range of aesthetics within that, too, from cool, streetwear-inspired styles to more sophisticated, elegant pieces. That said, I would strongly recommend poking around the nuuly catalog before you sign up (which you can do here) to make sure what they offer is a good fit for your style.
Here's what I got in my first nuuly:
Slim Patchwork Boyfriend Jeans by Pilcro, Size 30 - Retail Value $150.00
Jeans are always my test for a new clothing subscription—if they recommend jeans that actually fit my curvy bottom half, then any skepticism I have is greatly diminished. These Anthropologie jeans popped up as an option in my preferred sizes, and honestly, they really impressed me. Mid-rise jeans rarely fit my hips/tummy comfortably, but these felt tailored to my rounder shape. More importantly, the denim itself was incredibly smooth and soft, without feeling wimpy, weight-wise. As with most jeans, they were a little long on my 5'3" body, but I actually think they look cuter cuffed.
Anita Printed Maxi Dress by Free People, Size Large - Retail Value $128.00
This dress was a dream. It was actually unavailable in my ideal medium size, but after much perusing of the product details (and some very helpful customer reviews), I opted for the large. I nabbed this dress specifically for a summer wedding I had coming up, and it was everything I needed it to be—comfortable, forgiving, formal without being stuffy, and blissfully breezy during the course of the hot summer evening. The neckline is tied in the back, making it shockingly adjustable. It's great, and forgiving, and yet hit my 5'3" frame precisely where I need it. (No dragging on the ground!)
Hidden Love Tunic by Free People, Size Medium - Retail Value $148.00
This sweater is exactly the kind of thing I could see myself splurging on at Free People, then staring at in my closet a month later going "What am I going to wear this with?" To be clear, I love this design. The fabric is soft and comfy, the knit is light and a little bit open, so it breathes in warmer situations, and it features basically all of my favorite colors. It's just a little kookier than I can justify for work, which means it's hard to think of spending almost $150 on this sweater. But having it for the month? That perfectly satisfied my fascination with this piece. I wore it shockingly often at home and on the weekends—it's great for when I needed an extra layer on the sofa. Again, not something that'd be worth it to my wardrobe in the long run, but a ton of fun for the month.
Vector Hooded Dress by Reebok, Size Large - Retail Value $70.00
I didn't see this dress on any current URBN sites. It's one heck of a cozy find, with a super soft fleece lining and a big, snuggly fit. I wore it over leggings one day, just casually, then brought it along to toss on post-roller-derby practice. (I got it good and sweaty.) This sweatshirt is still a little pricey, but it fits exactly how I dream of sweatshirts to be. Is it versatile? Not really, but it'd be a great companion for winter.
Sophie Mini Dress by Free People, Size Medium - Retail Value $98.00
I had a theater event on my calendar that required a slightly fancier dress code, so I added this off-the-shoulder look to my nuuly. I didn't end up making any purchases from my nuuly order, but I was very tempted to hang on to this look. The dress fabric is a slightly stiffer woven cotton, which makes it breezy to wear. It did wrinkle a bit while I sat down, but I'm not the type to worry about that sort of thing, especially mid-event. I'm in love with the color (a deep plum brown—I have an eyeshadow in this shade that I really like, haha) and the loose fit and elasticized shoulders undoubtedly made this one of the more comfortable formal dresses I've ever worn. That said, I could see wearing it with sneakers on a summer day, too. Also, hello, pockets!
Vintage Painted Overalls, Size Large - Retail Value $300.00
One thing that's unique about nuuly is that it offers vintage items. I was curious what it'd be like to rent a vintage piece, so I added these overalls to my nuuly. They seemed to suit my size needs, and the style was pretty cool. In reality, they were legitimately painters' overalls—super thin, with odd details that felt a little less than luxurious, like stitched-up sections on the legs, stubborn button clasps (I really had to fight to get the button through), and less than pleasant smudges up around the crotch of the look. Most cringeworthy of all, the first time I wore them, a tear formed in a particularly thin section just below the butt of these overalls—something I didn't realize until I'd already gone to breakfast and started running errands. (The whole thing felt like an embarrassing reader story from a teen magazine.) All of this would be a little less concerning had the retail value of these pants not been a whopping $300.00. So, from a purely visual perspective, this pair of paint-dappled pants were great. Fit? Pretty true to size. But quality? A little too delicate for me.
Want to know what happens when you return a $300.00 pair of one-of-a-kind overalls with a hole in the butt? Read on to find out!
Returning Damaged Items
If you skipped the last section, I mentioned that one of my items—my vintage, one-of-a-kind, $300.00 overalls—got a hole in them. Well, not just a hole, but a big, noticeable tear.
So, what happened? What's the consequence when you return a pricey nuuly item with glaring, customer-inflicted damage? Weirdly enough, the answer is... nothing.
I sent back my nuuly, fully accepting that I was about to be charged $300 for overalls I wore for barely three hours. Fully ready to feel surly and frustrated over signing up for a service like this in the first place. But they took... nothing. nuuly's support page (as you can see in the screenshot above) clearly states that the process for dealing with damage is as simple as sending back your item. Earlier on the page they talk about how they don't have damage fees, saying, "we'll take care of it all at our cleaning center." But I thought, c'mon. There has to be a catch. I scoured my billing information, my email, my nuuly text notifications. They really didn't charge me a darn thing. What's more, a few days after my nuuly was confirmed as returned, I saw the overalls back in the vintage section.
A caveat here: items vary, damages vary, and I have no idea if a torn pair of already rather distressed overalls warrants the same casual response as say, a wine-soaked gown, a shirt with all the buttons popped off and lost, or a skirt sliced up by a toddler who got a little too ambitious with the craft scissors. However, I am not a very damage-prone person. That tear on those super expensive overalls was probably as extreme as things are going to get for my rentals. Knowing that things can go that badly and be treated with a shrug and "business as usual" dispels the biggest fear I had about renting. I don't know what kind of fix-it magic they have at the nuuly cleaning and repair center, but I'm awfully grateful for it!
Cleaning & Repairs
A cool feature of most clothing rental subscriptions is the laundry service built into their systems. With nuuly, there's no need to do any of the laundering yourself—send everything back dirty, sweaty, or even slightly stained. nuuly's cleaning and repair facility will make sure everything is in pristine condition before it's sent to the next customer. Even though items are previously worn, they'll get to your door looking good as new.
Pausing & Cancelling
I was sooo happy about how easy it was to pause my nuuly. You just log in to your account, go to your Subscription tab, and choose Pause. The only tricky bit is that your latest rental must have been processed before nuuly will let you pause. It makes sense—they don't want you to still be getting use out of products you're not paying a monthly fee to enjoy. Remember, though, that simply dropping your return in the mail does not count as having fully returned your nuuly. If you're thinking of pausing, return your current nuuly ASAP, so that they can process it and you can hit pause before your next billing date. Otherwise, you might get stuck paying for a month you won't use.
The same goes for canceling (which you can also do via your account). Make sure everything is sent back and processed by nuuly ASAP so that you can go ahead with your cancellation. Also, I don't think you can pause your account and then cancel—I'm pretty sure your account has to be live in order to decide to cancel it. Just an FYI!
So, is nuuly worth it?
I was skeptical about nuuly, mostly because renting is new territory for me, as it is for many folks out there. But I was surprisingly pleased with the experience. Adding looks to my nuuly order felt exactly like online shopping (which I'm very good at), my order arrived quickly and safely, and everything from the reusable suitcase-style package to the care kit inside felt thoughtfully arranged. For the most part, the clothes matched my expectations, and I can't express enough how much of a confidence boost it was sending the torn overalls back with no consequences.
I wasn't wild about having to worry about UPS drop-offs and pick-ups for returns (even though there's a drop-off location near me), and the month-to-month membership isn't my favorite. Other rental programs offer "unlimited" rentals, meaning you can do multiple swaps in one month, but with nuuly, you can only rent a single set of items in a billing cycle. You can keep your original set for multiple billing cycles, but if you return it before the cycle ends, you can't pick new items. I think it'd take a few tries to get the routine down. However, the rest of the experience is so seamless that I can overlook the more complicated aspects.
My Verdict: If you love what you see at URBN stores—and especially if your current monthly shopping budget already falls at or above nuuly's $88 membership fee—I recommend giving nuuly a try. You get the fun of online shopping without the commitment, closet space, nor investment you'd need to buy as many items outright.
Learn More about Clothing Rental Subscriptions
New to the idea of renting your clothes? Check out some of these helpful articles: