we tried this

Imagine Never Having to Pack Clothes Again

Photo: Courtesy of Rent the Runway

Packing a suitcase is both a blessing and a curse. Travel might be a luxury, but no matter how far-flung the destination or expensive the suitcase, deciding what to bring can be a nightmare. Odds are you’re probably bringing too much, or not enough of the right thing. No matter who you are, we’ve all sat on our suitcase to get it to shut.

Rent the Runway would like to offer a different kind of luxury: packing nothing. The online service that provides designer dress and accessory rentals has recently partnered with select W hotels around the country (Aspen, South Beach, Washington D.C., and Hollywood), so that your dream wardrobe is waiting for you when you arrive. This doesn’t include shoes, underwear, and toiletries, but otherwise, you’re good to go.

“We’ve already changed how our members get dressed everyday,” said co-founder and CEO, Jennifer Hyman. “Expanding into travel was a natural extension.”

Here’s how it works: After booking your stay, W Hotel guests are able to choose four styles to rent from Rent the Runway’s Unlimited Closet. The cost is $69 regardless of the duration of the stay, and they can select from a curated assortment of looks tailored to each destination. When I tried the service for my stay during Art Basel Miami Beach, for example, the options offered to me included bright colors, fun prints, and some avant-garde silhouettes that a gallery girl might approve of. To return their items, guests simply drop them off at the welcome desk at check-out.

Up until this point, I was not a Rent the Runway user. I know lots of people who are, including my colleague Sarah Spellings, and they swear by it. But the thought of paying to give clothes back just didn’t compute in my brain, and I also didn’t find that the list of brands that appealing to me, personally. Plus I’m not someone who lives a jet-set life, with a calendar of galas and black-tie functions to go to. But if I was, I could see this being a game-changer.

Packing for my trip to Miami really was easier knowing that two Proenza Schouler evening dresses, a cool Marni button-down, and a black Nanushka handbag would be waiting for me upon arrival. (Not having to pack a black bag really saved me some space in my carry-on.) But I was still a little nervous about the clothes — what if they didn’t fit?

Thankfully, the more casual of the Proenza Schouler dresses fit like a glove, and I got more compliments on it than anything I’ve worn in recent memory. The only thing that didn’t work was the maxi dress I requested, which was too long. (I’m short.) And the return process was seamless, although no one working at the W South Beach front desk seemed to know about the program. What I enjoyed most about it is that it pushed me outside my comfort zone. I never would have bought that Proenza Schouler dress, even if I could afford it. But this experience allowed me to escape myself, even if just for a few days. Isn’t that what traveling is all about?

This New Travel Service Could Eliminate Packing