Mum-of-2 tried renting clothes, says fashion had fun for her again

  • When it comes to clothing, I’m more likely to consider function over fashion.
  • I tried a clothing rental service before a birthday trip.
  • Clothing rental inspired me with a love for fashion that I had never known before.

Where I live in rural New Hampshire, function trumps fashion.

Rural life is great fun, but it’s also cold, dirty and muddy. A typical day might include a morning hike, a trip to the gym, or a visit to my mother’s horses. Add two small children and stains, stains and tears are inevitable.

So I don’t pay too much attention to my clothes. If I’m trying to be fashionable, I might dress in jeans, riding boots, and a chunky sweater.

This routine doesn’t bother me, because I’ve never been particularly fond of fashion. As a plus-sized kid in the early 2000s, I had a wardrobe of items that suited me, rather than clothes that inspired me. Once I became a mother, I focused on practice. I loved dressing up for dates or special events, but even those outfits were New Hampshire chic.

A trip inspired me to reassess my fashion

This was fine with me until my husband and I booked a birthday trip. We were going to Miami for the weekend, then on a Virgin cruise. We chose this route because it was fun, sexy and fashionable – everything our everyday life was not.

Almost immediately after booking the trip, I started worrying about what I would be wearing. Even I knew New Hampshire fashion wouldn’t hold up in Miami. At the same time, I didn’t want to buy new clothes for the trip, knowing that my opportunities to wear them here at home would be limited at best.

Kelly Burch posing with a dress

Courtesy of Kelly Burch

Then my little sister had an idea: renting clothes. I had heard of services like Rent the Runway and was intrigued. But I told myself that I would never be dressed enough to need fancy clothes.

Just picking out items was fun

Now I had the perfect excuse to try.

One night, after putting the kids to bed, I quit Rent the Runway. Unfortunately, I found the platform frustrating: it kept showing me items that weren’t available.

Then I looked at Gwynnie Bee, which has a great plus size collection, but the items didn’t speak to me.

Eventually I found myself on Nuuly, which I had never heard of until that night. I sorted by size and browsed through the selection, clicking on clothes I would never wear in my “real life”: a sequin skirt, a silk wrap dress with a high slit, and a crop top with a plunging neckline.

That night I changed my thinking from “I wish I could do this” to “I a m I will achieve this. Shopping online is always a risk, so I had no idea if anything would go, let alone look good. But I was already having fun.

The clothes I rented boosted my confidence

A few days later, my Nuuly package arrived. I was shocked when everything was fine. The only miss was a silky dress that left too little for the imagination, even for Miami. But with five great items, I was suddenly ready for my five night cruise. I packed up the rented clothes and left.

Every vacation day felt like I was playing disguise. My husband loved the novelty of each new item, and my confidence skyrocketed when a fashionable couple complimented my outfit while we were having dinner.

For the first time in my life, I was able to play with fashion. I experimented by putting the items together in different arrangements and finding accessories that would work with each. Since the clothes were rented, I didn’t feel compelled to choose something that I would wear often enough to justify the price – I could choose something that I would love once and never wear again.

I’m now back in the cold New Hampshire fall, but I’m already looking forward to the arrival of my next batch of clothes. I decided the price per month was worth it, not just for the clothes, but for the playful inspiration and confidence boost that comes with them.

About Ryan Headley

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