An NYC Special: the Rent the Runway Sample Sale


My (and my bestie’s) haul from L to R: Badgley Mischka champagne gown, Slate & Willow Madeline Sheath, Badgley Mischka Night at the Oscars gown, Slate & Willow Melinda Sheath. Shoes: Jimmy Choo platform heel (old, similar here)

Last weekend one of my best friends from childhood visited me in NYC and what better New York specific experience to take her to than a sample sale? Cue the crazy lines and even crazier discounts, gorgeous designer clothing, and frenetic energy of dozens of women crammed into a store grabbing at anything and everything that pops out from a pile of clothes. Luckily for us, the Rent the Runway sample sale was in full swing that weekend.

Confession: I had already gone to the sale the first day that it opened, and already snagged a beautiful Badgley Mischka sequined gown and a Slate & Willow flirty backless dress. I didn’t expect to get anything else when I went back on the last day of the sale. But add in an extra 70% off of gowns and 50% off of dresses and I found some of the best deals of my life! I couldn’t resist. As many of you know, I used Snapchat (username: TeawithMD) to document all of my finds. So many of you asked me how to get the inside scoop on sample sales and where to find them and how to shop at them that I decided to do a little blogpost. Here we go!

First off, how to get the who, what, when, and where?

I basically get all of my information from Racked, a fashion blog that has an entire section dedicated to sample sales in LA, SF, and NYC. I subscribe to their newsletter which sends me weekly postings of upcoming sample sales that week or month (April calendar here!) along with locations and times. They also do a rundown of current sales with pictures of the best items, including advice of what to get, what is too expensive and not worth it, and how to get into exclusive sales. That’s my inside scoop!

How to keep calm in the crazy

Every sale is different and you don’t really know what you’re in for (and what kind of crazy lies ahead!) until you’re there. For example, the JCrew sample sale had no fitting rooms or mirrors and nothing was organized by size, whereas the RTR sample sale was organized well by size and you got 10 minutes in a communal dressing room. That being said, many gowns and dresses were misplaced in various size racks and several were hoarded in the back in the go-backs section after being tried on. The gowns from the dressing room area were continuously being recycled onto the floor so there were constantly new arrivals. I suggest checking back a few times throughout your time at the sale, especially if you’re a size that doesn’t have many options (like me!). If the lines for the fitting rooms or to check out are super long, bring along a friend or boyfriend so you can swap out and shop while the other waits in line. Once in the fitting rooms, which often is one big communal fitting room, aim to get a spot close to the mirror; those spots are in high demand so get them early!

Also, most sales offer additional discounts as the sale goes on, so going on the last day is a trade off: you may get picked through clothing but you also get crazy discounts. I found my favorite gown of all on the last day of the RTR sale, because the sale constantly restocks. Ask the staff or check on racked if the sale restocks throughout the week. I’m a big fan of checking out sales on the last day, and the lines are much shorter then too!

My favorite part: the RTR haul!

I’m on the far left rockin’ my perm and my bestie is right next to me in the light blue dress! That’s my brother in the blue jumpsuit below :)

Ever since my bestie and I were little we would play dress up, and we did it again after the RTR sale. Since we are the same size and height, I tried on all of her finds too!

This was definitely the best find of the week by far. This Badgley Mischka sequined floral lace champagne gown (which resembles a wedding dress) originally retails for $990, and rents for $100 a night on RTR. I somehow picked it up from a pile of gowns and found an extra 70% off of the marked price of $100…bringing my grand total down to $30 for this beaded knockout. The zipper is stuck halfway down the back and there is a small barely noticeable rip in the middle seam in the back, but both of those can be easily fixed with a tailor. Even including all alterations, this dress would still be a steal. Speaking of tailors, I am in need of a great one in NYC, so please send your recommendations my way!
 This Slate & Willow Madeline Sheath is a flirty little number that has cute lace detail on the sleeves and the hem. It is a little bit loose in the back but that’s always a risk with backless cuts. It can be rented on RTR for $60 a night.

We were clearly a bit obsessed with rose gold sequins. This is the Badgley Mischka Glitz gown, a sleeveless version of my gown below, which can be rented on RTR for $90.

My bestie’s Slate & Willow Melinda Sheath is on the risque side for me since it has such a deep V neckline which I’m not used to. It looks great on her though! :) The solid purple sequin version of this dress is available on RTR for $35. 

This is my Badgley Mischka rose gold “Night at the Oscars” gown with a backless cowl neck design, available to rent on RTR in gold sequin for $120. Now I just need an occasion to wear this out! Anyone going to a black tie event soon?!

I also did some research on a good backless bra (thanks for all of your suggestions on social media!) and ended up purchasing the self adhesive Nubra, which just arrived today. Hope that fits better than some of the “chicken cutlet” type bras that I’ve tried in the past.

Also: I just found out about Rent the Runway’s new Unlimited subscription! For $139 a month you can rent an unlimited number of designer dresses, tops, bottoms, and shoes with free shipping. You can rent out three items at a time and keep pieces as long as you want. This sounds awesome! You can sign up to try at the link above.

Happy shopping, and don’t forget to share your finds with me!

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