I went to a lovely ball last night. These English really know how to put on a party! As usual, I spent some time and money stressing about what to wear. And you know what? I think I'm going to try renting a dress for our next event.
Renting formal wear is something that men have done for years, but it is fairly new for women to rent dresses in the strictest sense of the word. Girls have always been great about borrowing and lending, and if you buy something at the consignment shop or thrift shop and then donate it back, it is almost like renting. But to have businesses that do rental dresses is new-ish, and the internet has made it very easy.
I did a quick internet search for rental formal wear, and I found a lot of results that weren't quite right - sites that didn't ship to the US, sites that only did accessories, and sites that didn't do rentals. However, I was able to sift through and find several sites so that I can compare and contrast options.
The principle is simple: go online, pick a dress that you like, and rent it for a short period of time. The upside is a decreased cost up front, plus you don't have to pay for having it cleaned after your event. (Cleaning is usually included in the price.)
The main downside to renting a dress online is that you can't try it on. What if it doesn't fit or it doesn't look good on you? Some sites try to minimize this risk with various policies. For example, Rent The Runway offers a free second size, and you can choose another style for a reduced rental price.
The other problem with renting is that you are paying a high "per use" price for the dress. I tend to wear the same formal dresses numerous times before consigning them for resale. In this way, I am lowering the price per use AND I am getting money back when I resell the dress. For this reason, I'm unlikely to rent a dress unless it is a particularly special occasion that I truly won't ever wear the dress again.
Have you ever rented a formal dress? How did the process work for you? Would you do it again?