How to rent designer dresses for, well, whatever!

So it may sound like I moved to Denver and got a job with a dress rental company and they’re paying me to write this, but that would be a lie. The truth is, I am addicted to renting dresses for special occasions from a website.

Lilly Pulitzer dress I rented for Easter

Lilly Pulitzer dress I rented for Easter 2011

The average college girl seems to be fully knowledgeable about Rent the Runway, a designer dress rental website, but still not everyone’s buying in. We’ve heard the name, know how it works, blah blah blah. So I’m shocked at how many people haven’t even tried it yet. For those who don’t know, here’s how it works:

1) Go online to and make a profile. Trust me there’s no harm done here- you get occasional discounts via e-mail, special treats for inviting friends and birthday presents!

2) Start searching for that perfect dress. You can narrow your search down by size, color, occasion, date or all of the above.

3)  Read the reviews! Always read the reviews before renting because generally if you see a common trend it’s true. Don’t rent something with questionable reviews. Three is key- remember that.

4) Input the size you want and ALWAYS (I repeat, ALWAYS) get the back up dress, you never know what could happen or exactly how it will fit unless you’re familiar with the designer.

So, now you’ve got your dress, all you have to do is wait for it to arrive in the mail. Without fail my dresses have always arrived on time (but don’t try to cut it close, order it a day early if time is pressing). Once the package arrives in the mail, it comes with a dress bag that you can keep afterward and a postage-paid-and-addressed-package to send the dresses back. You can keep the dresses for four days, travel anywhere in the meantime and mail it back from any USPS box (anywhere!). Also, Ive sent a couple back on Mondays rather than Sunday and no harm has occurred yet even though Monday was the fifth day- but I would avoid if possible.

BCBG rental gown

Long dresses are available for rental as well.

So why should you rent dresses? It seems ludicrous right? Well here’s why it’s addicting: I never pay more than $40 (maybe $50) for the dresses I rent, and I usually rent dresses for nice occasions that I would never find something less than $100 dollars to buy. Here’s how I was convinced it was a good deal- look in your closet at dresses you’ve worn to the last nice functions and tell me they’ve been worn more than twice? Even if you paid $80 to rent a dress twice, that’s still less than spending $100 to buy it from a store- that’s $20 saved!

Here’s another reason why I RTR. Lilly Pulitzer. Okay so maybe Lilly isn’t your forte, but if you’re familiar with any other designers on the website (Vera Wang perhaps? Badgley Mischka? And the new addition- BCBG!!) then you’ll know just your size without an issue, plus you’ll be saving tons of money. Lilly dresses are around $280 and I know I won’t be wearing a dress that many times to get my money’s worth, so it’s a steal (yes, Lilly dresses can be rented for only $40.)

If I haven’t won you over yet here’s another reason. Weight gain and loss. We are women. I don’t know about you but I can go from a size 2 to a size 10 with the blink of an eye, and back again. Even if you just put on a few pounds every other week and lose them every other week- owning clothes can be difficult. I have a whole slew of dresses from what I call my “fat stage” that are just wasting away in my closet because (thank god) I lost weight. But now my hips are bigger from that month of celebrating my graduation and I may have those lines at the hips when I wear my dresses (you know the horizontal ones that every woman knows means a dress is on too tight!)

So finally, the insurance plan. Yes, I have had a dress (my first rental) that was absolutely mortifying and I kid you not, I could see my underwear when it was supposed to be a formal dress (ahh!). But now that I have become more wise and I have learned the ways of the dress rental and since then I’ve had no issues. Just be smart, do some quick reading and always stay cheap! However, if that doesn’t work and you get a dud, you can e-mail RTR or call them and if there’s time they will overnight a dress to you or refund your money (in which case you can just wear something out of your closet, which is what you wouldn’t done anyways because we’re poor or borrow something.)

These are just a few ways I say “No!” to the adorable $300 designer dress and say “Yes” to renting. I’m not saying your wardrobe should be on a website, you still have to go shopping for everyday wear and what not, but for those special occasions, or nights when you really want to flaunt your style (or by the grace of god have “extra” money lying around), renting may be a great option for you.

Any questions- just ask me! I’m you’re girl.

Good luck girls!

P.S. Book early- RTR is really popular so don’t fall in love with a dress that isn’t available when you want it, or be willing to be flexible.


One thought on “How to rent designer dresses for, well, whatever!

  1. Richa Kumar says:

    Nice article.. 🙂

    Every girl dreams of having an elaborate wardrobe having beautiful and stunning dresses hanging in for her to choose from. Not everyone can afford such a great wardrobe wherein every outfit is either custom made or is a designer’s creation. Designer’s design beautiful dresses but their prices are also very high, generally not feasible for a person with an average income. If such is the problem, will that mean no designer outfits and only plain simple ones hanging in the wardrobe? The answer to your question is NO! Yes you heard that right. You still have great ways to wear beautiful designer dresses, while you go clubbing, partying or attending an important ceremony or official meeting. They are-

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