By the time I was 12 weeks pregnant, I couldn’t fit into my regular jeans. At 20 weeks, my chest had grown way too big to fit into any of my favorite fall dresses, and I’d even outgrown the maternity jeggings I’d purchased a month earlier. By the end of my second trimester, none of my jackets zipped. Clearly, I needed some wardrobe help. Enter: Rent the Runway’s subscription service, which now includes maternity clothes.
How does Rent the Runway Maternity work?
Instead of buying maternity clothes that you’ll quickly grow out of or never wear again once the baby arrives, Rent the Runway (RTR) allows you to rent clothes on a monthly or unlimited basis. Once you’ve worn the item a few times, you can return it and swap in something new.
RTR offers a few subscription options: The one I tried involved unlimited rentals and within this program, I was allowed to keep four items at a time. I could swap the items out whenever I wanted; once I sent an item back via free UPS shipping, a spot would “open up” on my online account and I could order something new.
Most of the maternity clothes on offer range in size from 0-14, according to RTR reps, but the site also carries “bump-friendly styles,” or regular, non-maternity items that still fit the pregnant body, in expanded sizes from 0-22. When you’re “shopping” for items, you’ll be able to choose maternity clothes from popular brands like Hatch, Ingrid & Isabel, Rosie Pope, Monrow, J Brand, and more. You can also rent accessories, like purses and jewelry, as well as formal dresses. In addition, Rent the Runway provides Maternity Stylists to help you figure out your sizing as your body grows and changes.
How much does Rent the Runway cost?
The unlimited program currently costs $159 per month, although there are almost always deals going on that offer at least 50% off—and sometimes completely free service—during your first month. If you’re looking for something a bit more budget-friendly, the RTR Update option, which includes four items per month, is only $89.
What I liked about Rent the Runway
During pregnancy, I struggled with feeling attractive and stylish as my petite body expanded to the size of a small house. When my clothes didn’t fit, I would spiral into a hole of frustration. How could I go out in public if I didn’t even have pants that zipped?
Rent the Runway solved this problem winningly by providing me with cute clothes I didn’t have to worry about growing out of. Rather than spending hundreds of dollars on new clothes that might—or might not—fit weeks later, I could try new items, see if I liked them, and swap them out when I got bored. Mentally, this made a big difference for how I felt when I spent the day at the office or went out to dinner with friends. It also encouraged me to try styles I might not be brave enough to test if I were paying full price for the item.
Rather than spending hundreds of dollars on new clothes that might—or might not—fit weeks later, I could try new items, see if I liked them, and swap them out when I got bored.
During my first order, I got a pair of cropped maternity jeans from J Brand that actually fit me; once the waistband started to get tight weeks later, I simply swapped them out for a size up. My first shipment also included a Mara Hoffman sweater, an ALC sweater, and a Monrow cotton romper, which I wore constantly while traveling and around the house. The sweaters were perfect for fall and complimented the jeans. After I’d worn them a few times each, I swapped each out for new sweaters to get me through the fall months.
When I needed a dress for a baby shower—but didn’t want to send back my other four items—I simply added $20 to my monthly plan and ordered the extra item. I found all of these options by scrolling through Rent the Runway’s extensive collection and favoriting the items I liked, so they would be saved on my favorites list; it felt like online shopping without the big price-tag.
One big win on the RTR platform is that other people review the items once they’ve rented them, so you can read reviews about how that piece of clothing fit them. This was immensely helpful, as I’m 5’3” and petite with a belly the size of a bowling ball; by perusing reviews first, I could find items that fit people like me well and avoid ordering something that might not fit at all.
Other people review the items once they’ve rented them, so you can read reviews about how that piece of clothing fit them.
Three other bonuses: You don’t have to wash the items yourself (they dry-clean them once you send them back), and if you want to buy them, you can do so at a discount. The items on Rent the Runway are also mostly designer, so they’re very high quality and come impeccably pressed in garment bags.
What I didn’t like about Rent the Runway
My two frustrations with Rent the Runway’s subscription box service involved wait times and sizing. About a month in, I ordered a sweater in a size medium (which was recommended by the site’s algorithm) and it turned out to be way too big. I put the sweater back into its garment bag with a pre-paid shipping label and dropped it off at UPS, but it took three days for a spot for a new item to open up on the website, allowing me to order a new item in its place. Then it took that item a few days to arrive, meaning a week had passed without that fourth item in my hands, even though I was paying for the service.
Many of the items on Rent the Runway are designer; this makes them fun to wear but out of budget if you want to buy.
Other similar clothing rental services allow you to designate when you’ve sent the item back, to immediately open up the spot, which eliminates this in-between wait time. It could be that Rent the Runway was just experiencing delays while I was trying their service during this first month. (They did have notices up on the website instructing users to expect delays and stay flexible). But either way, I worried that I wasn’t really getting my money’s-worth if I went without an item for more than a week.
It’s also worth noting that many of the items on Rent the Runway are designer; this makes them fun to wear but out of budget if you want to buy. For example, I loved the cotton romper so much that I looked into buying it—only to find that it was $250, which is way out of my budget for a piece of loungewear.
I’ve been recommending clothing rental services like Rent the Runway to all of my pregnant mom friends. There are other maternity clothing subscription services out there, but I really appreciated Rent the Runway’s variations of styles and sizing—especially as a petite pregnant lady. The number of clothing options on RTR far outpaced the other services I tried.
The $159 per month cost might seem expensive, but using a service like this means that you’re not spending money on maternity clothing that you won’t wear again, like jeans you’ll outgrow in a few months or shirts that don’t fit your ever-expanding breasts. When I did the math, Rent the Runway was actually much cheaper than buying new clothes.
I also can’t downplay the confidence that comes with looking and feeling stylish while you’re pregnant. It’s tough to watch your body change without your consent, and incredibly frustrating to find that you don’t fit into anything in your closet. With a service like this, you can get fresh infusions in your closet every week, you don’t have to worry about the fit being perfect because you can swap it out when it isn’t, and I even found that my non-pregnant friends were complimenting me often on my wardrobe choices—something I didn’t expect during pregnancy.
I also can’t downplay the confidence that comes with looking and feeling stylish while you’re pregnant.
Overall, Rent the Runway’s maternity rental line was a total win for me and I’d recommend it without hesitation, especially if you can nab one of their many intro deals before jumping into the full-priced service. Run, don’t walk, pregnant mamas. It’s time to feel stylish again.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.