Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Nuuly vs. Rent The Runway Unlimited, According to a Blogger Who Has Used Both

Head to Toe: Blouse, Anthropologie (thrifted) // Skirt, Anthropologie via Nuuly // Mules, thrifted // Jacket, Levi's via Nuuly // Bag, Brahmin // Hat, thrifted

This summer, a new rental subscription model called Nuuly hit the market. For $88 per month, users can borrow six items from an array of Anthropologie brands and vintage treasures. Of course, I had to be one of the first on board to try it out.

I love that subscription models let you try an array of trends and styles from brands that might otherwise be out of reach. It also feels good to shop in a more eco-conscious way than fast-fashion. In the past, I have subscribed to Rent the Runway Unlimited, so I wanted to share my thoughts on both models if you're ever interested in trying one out. Here we go!

What you get for $88 per month with Nuuly

Nuuly offers all of the brands under the Anthropologie umbrella. This includes Anthropologie, Levi's, Urban Outfitters, Free People, Citizens of Humanity, Paige and J.O.A, among others. Nuuly also has a ton of cool vintage options like college T-shirts, silk kimonos and leather jackets. With the subscription, you choose six items to wear each month. Wear them like you own them and then mail them back before ordering your next batch. Shipping, laundering and insurance is all included. 

What you get for $159 per month with Rent the Runway Unlimited

Rent the Runway offers clothing and accessory rentals from a ton of leading designers. Think Opening Ceremony, Parker, Helmut Lang, Kate Spade, Derek Lam, DVF...the list goes on. You can always order a one-off rental, which will vary in price by the value of the item. Rentals start around $40 and go up from there. With the unlimited subscription, you can borrow four items at a time. Send one piece (or all four things) back and order more. There is no limit to the amount of rentals you can have in any given month.

When I had Rent the Runway Unlimited, I lived in the city and was able to drop items off and shop at the store directly, which eliminated any shipping wait time. I was very active and typically able to rent about 12 things in a month. As with Nuuly, shipping, insurance and dry cleaning is all included.

Nuuly vs. Rent the Runway

If you want to try a clothing rental subscription, deciding between these two depends on your lifestyle. Rent the Runway is more expensive, but you get more clothing per month and higher-end designers. For me, this made sense when I was working as an editor in Manhattan. I was constantly going to industry events and wanted to be dressed accordingly.

While I've never been one to care too much about designers, it did give me more confidence to be at fancy events in quality pieces. I was also at a time in my life where I had a ton of showers and wedding things to attend, so that helped me justify the price. ($159 would buy just one dress at J. Crew, for example.) I also had a lot of fun trying crazy trends. If I didn't love something, it was okay, since I'd just send it back. 

With Nuuly, I'm much more thoughtful about the items I choose each month. I try to create a capsule wardrobe of pieces that can be mixed and matched together instead of shopping every trend. Nuuly carries brands I love but wouldn't be able to afford otherwise, as well as cool vintage offerings. It's also about half the cost of RTR Unlimited, so it's more attainable financially. And since I work from home, six items per month is more than enough. Both models offer a mix of casual and formal options, but I would say Rent the Runway skews more dressy overall.

Pros to RTR Unlimited

  • Unlimited! A virtual closet of all the clothes you could ever want
  • Carries accessories
  • High-end designers

Cons to RTR Unlimited

  • Expensive
  • No vintage
  • Constant pressure to get the most out of your subscription

Pros to Nuuly

  • Lots of vintage and contemporary offerings
  • Quality brands 
  • Create a capsule wardrobe each month

Cons to Nuuly

  • No accessories
  • Limited rentals per month, so if something doesn't fit, you're SOL
  • Not many black tie options

Final thoughts

I would honestly recommend either of these options for women looking to mix up their wardrobe. For me, Rent the Runway became too expensive and unnecessary for my lifestyle. Still, it would be great for anyone who works in an office and needs formal clothing for work and personal events. 

Right now, I'm really loving Nuuly. It allows me to try new pieces each month, and everything is high quality and fashion-forward. I also love that they have vintage items that I wouldn't be able to find elsewhere. I've always said I would buy all of my clothes at Anthropologie if I could afford it, and now I can! 

I make this work in my budget by cutting out all other shopping. Think about how easy it is to drop $100 at Marshall's. Instead, I get access to better-quality items, and I don't have the guilt about donating trendy pieces after one season. It's a luxury, for sure, but has been worth it for my lifestyle. It's also fun to look at the month ahead and plan some unique, season-appropriate looks. I think I'll now remember my months in Nuuly clothes. September will be tough to beat! Let me know your thoughts in the comments—would you ever try a clothing subscription? 
 Photos by Amish0graphy

Monday, September 23, 2019

School Days: Cowboy Boots and a Vintage Sweatshirt

Head to Toe: Sweatshirt, vintage (via Nuuly) // Jeans, Paige (via Nuuly) // Boots, Durango // Bag, Cole Haan

Happy first day of fall, y'all! Last week, I had the opportunity to shoot with an amazing local photographer, Amish Shah. We chose downtown New Haven for our location, so I wanted to create a school-days vibe in the heart of the Yale campus. (I went to college just a few minutes away at Southern Connecticut.) Even though I’ve been out of school for nearly a decade, fall always feels like my new year. It offers a fresh start—a last chance to check off your bucket list before the snow falls. I have quite a few things on my fall to-do list. Some things are expected: watch scary movies, go apple picking. Some are personal goals, like to start my online vintage boutique. What’s on your Autumn bucket list?
 Photos by Amish0graphy

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Your Complete Guide to Thrift Shopping in New York and Connecticut

Head to Toe: Dress and slides, thrifted (Goodwill Westport) // Belt, thrifted (Unique Boutique Manhattan) // Bag, Brahmin

When I asked my Instagram followers what they wanted to see on the blog a while back, thrift shopping tips was the overwhelming response. I’ve been writing this post in my head for quite some time, so here’s my stab at finally getting it all down!

I have been thrift shopping for my whole life—no exaggeration. I remember when my mom would take me to our favorite consignment shop, and I’d load up on Abercrombie sweaters, American Eagle jeans and rare gems like Juicy Couture zip-ups. She’d always say, “You made out like a bandit,” when we left with bags jammed with clothes. In high school and college, I worked at Old Navy and gave a lot of my hard-earned $8.27 an hour back to the mall, but I always relied on secondhand stores for staples like jeans and jackets.

In post-grad life, I counted on thrift shops to build a closet for my new job as a magazine editor. Around the same time, I began documenting that closet right here on this blog. Then and now, I hate paying full price for things I know I can nab for so much less secondhand. And I’ve never been good about splurging on one luxury item. I’d rather have six secondhand pieces!

With my 30th birthday on the horizon, it’s become more important to me to have quality items over fast-fashion trends. I’d rather buy J. Crew sweaters at a thrift shop for the same price as similar styles at H&M. Over the years, I have scoured through racks all over New York City and Southern Connecticut, and I’ve found the best prices and quality items at the places below.

Best Secondhand Stores in NYC and Connecticut

  1. L Train Vintage, multiple locations, Brooklyn
  2. Continuations Consignments, Stratford, CT
  3. Goodwill, Westport, CT
  4. Savers, Orange, CT
  5. Buffalo Exchange, multiple locations, Manhattan
  6. Unique Boutique, Upper West Side, Manhattan
  7. Salvation Army, Chelsea, Manhattan

Types of Secondhand Stores

A few notes on the different types of places on my list...Goodwill, Salvation Army and Savers are thrift shops, which means the pieces they sell are brought there on donation. Continuations and Buffalo Exchange are consignment shops, so people bring clothing on consignment to earn a portion of the sale. One way to get the most bang for your buck is to consign where you shop. I consign clothes at Continuations and get paid half of what an item goes for, if it sells.

Buffalo Exchange, on the other hand, pays you on the spot. I honestly think Buffalo is overpriced for a secondhand store, but I was able to do well there when I lived in the city because I sold clothing and shoes back to the store. (The latter was plentiful due to my jobs at trade fashion magazines.) The retailer offers 50% in store credit or 30% in cash for your items. I always took the store credit for my things and used it to buy new clothes the same day. It felt like a free shopping spree!

Thrift stores tend to be cheaper than consignment shops, but there is more digging involved. Consignment stores have curated items and only accept current styles that are good quality. At thrift stores, there’s going to be a mix of less-desirable options, but you’ll get the best bargains for your efforts. Thrift stores can vary in quality as well. I love the Goodwill in Westport. It’s organized by size and color, and it’s typically stocked with quality brands since it’s located in an affluent area. The thing is, stores like Goodwill Westport know what their items are worth and high-end brands are priced accordingly.

Anywhere you go, Salvation Army is going to have the cheapest things. Don’t knock it until you try it. I’ve gotten J. Crew sweaters, Topshop skirts, and even a Dior blazer at Salvation Army. Church thrift shops are another hidden gem. My favorite leather Alice + Olivia blazer was found in a church thrift shop for $8. While they are diamonds in the rough, these things are priced cheaply since these stores are typically nonprofits and don’t know too much about the value of designer items. I’ve also found that thrift shops outside of the tristate area have great vintage pieces between $3 and $10. I recently bought a Pendleton suit for $7 at a thrift store in Delaware.

What’s Not a Bargain

To be honest, I’ve never gotten into high-end consignment shops. They’re great for those who want to save on designer pieces, but I don’t consider paying $100 for a secondhand dress to be a steal. And to me, nothing beats the thrill of finding a designer item buried in a thrift store basement. I only shop these locations if they’re having big sales. I recently got a Parker blazer and DVF dress at Roundabout in Westport for about $12 each, since the store was having a flash 75% off sale. If you’re into designer clothing, my advice would be to subscribe to emails at a few of these locations to know when they’re having seasonal sales. Buffalo Exchange does a yearly $1 sale for Earth Day, but you have to get there super early.

I also don’t recommend online consignment shops unless you’re looking for a specific high-end item. I found my black diamond wedding band on The Real Real and was really happy with the price and quality. The site offers a layer of assurance since they examine everything before it goes online. But, I don’t think it’s the place for cheap clothing.

I’ve found ThreadUp to be underwhelming and overpriced. And there's always the risk of not trying things on. Plus, digging through the racks at consignment shops is part of the fun! I have also tried selling things on the site and barely broke even for the price to ship my items.

The best way I’ve found to buy secondhand digitally is when local bloggers sell items on Instagram stories. Follow a few bloggers who are in your size range—they might post some good deals!

Additionally, be weary of vintage stores. And I’m saying that as a person who loves vintage stores. I’ve been to a lot of vintage shops in Brooklyn that are just really overpriced. I love L Train Vintage because it has really cool pieces for good prices. Remember, just because something is old doesn’t mean it’s necessarily worth a lot of money. Designer things will always be worth more, but an '80s department store blouse should still only be about $10, not $40. Now that Levi’s mom jeans are back in style, they run between $40 and $50 wherever you go. Try them on before investing, since sizing has changed over the years. (This is a good rule for vintage items in general.) And if it has moth holes or stains, just leave it. No matter how cool it is, you’re probably never going to wear that holy dress to work or anyplace else.

Annie’s 10 Tips for Shopping Secondhand

  1. Ask if there are any discounts. Most secondhand stores will have a tag color or section that is on sale that week. Half price means double the buys!
  2. Sell where you shop. If there is a consignment shop you like, sell your own clothes there. It’s a good way to rotate your closet and fund your fashions. Some places, like Buffalo Exchange, will offer incentive to go for store credit over cash. 
  3. Try it on. You never know if something has shrunk or if there’s a weird-fit reason why someone donated it.
  4. Examine the item for stains/rips/defects. Even in nice consignment shops, things slip through. If you think it’s an easy fix, ask if there’s a discount.
  5. Don’t buy just because it’s cheap. It’s easy to think, this is $3, why wouldn’t I get it? But if it never quite works, it’s just taking up precious real estate.
  6. Shop thrift shops in affluent areas for better brands at higher prices. Shop thrift shops in not-so affluent areas for better bargains with a little more digging.
  7. For big-ticket items, do a quick Google search to make sure the store is offering a fair price. Unless you’re at a flea market, haggling isn’t encouraged. But if you’re on the fence about a splurge, it can’t hurt to ask. If it’s been on the rack for a while, the owner might be willing to knock a few bucks off.
  8. Go to thrift shops at the beginning of a new season. Think about when you clean out your closet. (I just did a big purge when I swapped my summer and fall clothes.) That’s when thrift shops will be packed with inventory. For higher-end consignment shops, you'll find the best items at the beginning of the season and the best bargains at the end.
  9. Go frequently. Secondhand stores have constantly fluctuating merchandise. You might strike out one day and hit gold the next.
  10. Plan to spend some time there. Thrift shops aren’t going to have perfectly styled end caps and rows of uniform inventory. You have to take the time to look at each piece on the rack. And I defer to tip number three. Always, always take the time to try it on.
For more tips on secondhand shopping, read my article in Connecticut Magazine

Monday, September 9, 2019

Little Woman, Big City

Head to Toe: Dress, Lost + Wander // Jacket, Levi's // Boots, CAT Footwear // Bag, vintage

Happy fall, friends! I know it's not officially fall yet, but Labor Day has come and gone and it's now cold AF when the sun goes down. It's that fun time of year when nobody knows how to dress. For example, you decide to go to New York City to see a fashion show. When you leave Connecticut a few hours beforehand, it's cold. So you style your cute prairie dress with a sherpa jacket and booties. But when you arrive in said city, it is hot and sunny, and you look ridiculous sweating in the aforementioned jacket and booties.

But such is life! This jacket did get a lot of mileage during Sean and my trip to Salem, Massachusetts, and Portland, Maine, this past week. There are lots of pictures on the gram. We had such an amazing time, and I feel a little sad to be back. Today felt like the first day of school. But I loved school, so time to hustle for that 4.0, right? How is your fall starting off?