What it's like to try a clothing rental service

I tried Armoire free for a month but was not paid for this post.

In this day and age of Marie Kondo, I think we can all agree that we probably own too many clothes, especially ones we haven't worn in months (or years). It's very liberating to get rid of a lot of them. And while the concept of a super-minimalist, capsule wardrobe appeals to me, I'm only human and need a little variety now and then. Which is why I'm fascinated by clothing rental services. Do we even need to own our clothing anymore? After all, we share cars (Getaround and Turo, not to mention Uber and Lyft), homes (Airbnb), workspaces (WeWork), money (Lending Club, Kickstarter), even knowledge and skills (TaskRabbit, UpWork). My curiosity was piqued when Armoire offered me a free trial—it's billed as an "infinite wardrobe," in that you can borrow up to 8 pieces at a time and swap them out as frequently as you want, all for $149 a month. So, in the name of investigative reporting, I said yes. Here's my honest review.

How it works
First, you take a short quiz to determine your likes and dislikes; this is both visual and written. Then, you get to pick 4 items from your virtual closet—mine included labels like Alexander Wang, Frame, and French Connection. (You can add up to 4 more, but that will run you an extra $20-$50 for that month.) You can "favorite" items for later, and you can also refresh your results (or retake the quiz) if you don't like what you see. Once your items are selected, they arrive super quickly—mine usually came within two days. You can wear them as much as you want, although they advise you not to wash them—Armoire handles all the cleaning. You can keep items as long as you want and swap out what you're done with; each shipment includes a free, postage-paid return package. If you really love something, you can buy it at a discount—the price seems to go down the older (and more worn) an item is. In order to get new items, you have to review what you've borrowed; this is a brilliant way to get feedback on the products, and I personally found the reviews very helpful. Which leads me to what I loved about the service.

What I liked
I loved the fact that most items had honest reviews from other customers. I really loved the fact that I got to choose my items—as someone who's been dissatisfied with every "personal styling" service she's used, this was a major plus. As I mentioned, shipping was super fast, and customer service was excellent as well—I had picked out a jumpsuit that, as they were about to ship it, Armoire noticed was not in the best shape. They picked a replacement jumpsuit for me (which was one of my favorite items that I borrowed) and included a bonus item from my favorites list. Now, that's a surprise and delight. I also found that this was a fun way to try things I might not have picked out for myself—a striped pencil skirt (not a go-to silhouette for me), a bright coral bomber jacket (way cuter than it sounds), or a formfitting ruched dress.

What could be better
The quiz was almost too good in that the items in my virtual closet were so true to my personal style that they were kind of similar to what I already own. My advice to anyone taking the quiz is to think about what your closet is missing, or what you'd want to try. (You can also take advantage of Armoire's stylist consultation service, although I did not personally try that.) I found the pieces I enjoyed borrowing the most were ones that I wouldn't have bought for myself, something I finally figured out with my third shipment. I did have a few sizing issues (a too-short, too-tight dress, and a British skirt whose size was not properly converted to US sizing), which were a bummer, but sometimes unavoidable when it comes to fit. The craziest thing to me was that the more luxe pieces I borrowed tended to be in the worst shape. Both sweaters I borrowed were pilling (one was cashmere, one was a cotton-cashmere blend), and one smelled of cigarette smoke so badly that it made everything else in the package smell too. I generally avoid polyester in my own wardrobe but tried a few pieces and found that those tend to hold up best against wear and tear, for better or for worse. Of course, not everything I own is in perfect condition, and I didn't expect that from a clothing rental service, but it did make me very cognizant of the fact that I was borrowing clothes...that someone else had worn first.

Would I recommend Armoire?
If you are going through a life transition, definitely. Armoire has a maternity section, which I think is totally brilliant. I think the service would also be totally useful if your weight were fluctuating and you didn't want to keep buying new clothes at every stage of weight loss. Or if you started working in a more formal (or less formal) environment and wanted to try out different styles before you commit to a new wardrobe. I think it might even be fun for a vacation. If you hate shopping, it could possibly be more convenient. (Take that with a grain of salt—I obviously love to shop.) And, as I mentioned, if you've pared down your own closet greatly and want a little variety without a commitment. Armoire does offer a discount if you prepay for several months at a time, but even at that, you're looking at $1,400 a year. Your mileage may vary in terms of what kind of clothes you normally buy, but to me, that's quite a bit. Long story short, I don't think clothing rental services will ever replace the concept of owning clothes, but they're fun to try and definitely could have a time and place.

All clothes in this post were borrowed from Armoire. All shoes, bags, and accessories are mine. 


Nancy 's Fashion Style said...

Sounds good, and sure looks amazing, but I don t think I would ever try it. Perhaps if I had something important to go to. Where you want to impresse people!

Ivana Split said...

I have never tried renting clothes, sounds like a fun thing to try and a nice alternative to shopping. All of these outfits are lovely.


Mica said...

You got some great pieces and while the price is more than I'd spend on clothes in a year I do agree with your statements that there are a few times in life something like this would come in really helpful! :)

Hope that you are having a wonderful weekend :)

Away From Blue

Claire Justine said...

Sounds likea great idea Cheryl. Love the outfits you picked. Thanks for sharing at Welcome To The #Weekendbloghop

Lizzie said...

I have tried a similar service before and loved it! Renting clothes is a fun ay to be environmentally conscious. I'd definitely have to check out Armoire!


Straight A Style said...

So this sounds really cool! I like that you get new clothes without your closet filling up, but it's also expensive to not get to keep them.

Amy Ann
Straight A Style

It's Gilda said...

Oh wow, I have never heard of this before. It's a really good idea to rent clothes, since we really have too many. I like your outfit, looks very classy. ♥

Best, Gilda