Solution for Finding the Perfect Ball Gown?


With every fall comes a considerable amount of dread as I peer into the recesses of my closet and look, with great trepidation, for the dress that I will wear to the USMC Birthday Ball. And every year, I come up empty-handed. And so begins the annual last-minute scramble in which I realize that there's a ball happening in like two weeks and I still haven't bought a pair of stockings. Let alone a dress. Oops.

First I go to the PX: Great surprise, I can buy the same dress as 50 other women at my base are sporting. Awesome.

Next stop: The local department store. Golly Gee! I can look just like a 15 year-old headed to Homecoming! Hot dog!

And then: Back to the closet. Oh look. The old prom dress recently presented to me by my mother (who insisted on saving it in the first place) in what has to be some cruel joke because, at the tender age of 17, I also sported a 17" waist, and needless to say 32 doesn't look exactly the same. Especially since I just had a baby. And I'm nursing.

Nothing fits.

If you find yourself dreading the arrival of ball season too (Well, let's be honest. It's usually marked by so much excitement to start pinning awesome ball dresses and then the regular letdown that happens when I acknowledge that budgets are real things and the magnificent Elie Saab gown I covet with unabashed greed is so expensive I doubt I'll ever see it in person, let alone put it on my bod... so, then there's the letdown and then the dread), Rent the Runway might be your new, ball-season best friend.

I've written lots about What Not to Wear to a Military Ball (all in good humor, ladies, except the lingerie-as-clothing part. That I'm serious about.) but I have neglected the much more obvious subject: What in god's name are we going to wear this year?

Because motherhood has turned my body into a perpetually morphing, upper-half disproportional nursing machine, I'm calling it quits on gown shopping. I'm not buying. In fact, I'm never buying again. I'm renting.

Rent the Runway is a fabulous service where you can rent a ball gown (or a cocktail dress, or a bridesmaid dress, or or or...) for four to eight days for a fraction of the cost it would be to buy them. They start pretty reasonably: $50 for the lowest end dresses, which are pretty fancy brands... and go all the way up to the netherlands of things-we-can't-afford-on-military-budgets-oh-well. But back in the realm of reason, they have some super sexy, classy, and fabulous options.

A lot of have you have told us you spend between $75 and $150 on your gowns, so in that range at Rent the Runway you have dozens of options, among them these:

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Sexy: Halston Heritage Mykonos gown, $100 for four days. Classy: David Meister Patriotic Wonder gown, $100 for four days. Fabulous (it's pink!): Lady of Love gown by Badgley Mischka, $75 for four days.

They even have free stylists who will chat with you through their online messenger to help you find the gown that's right for you, your event, your style, and your body shape.

To wit: I presented one of their stylists with my "I'm nursing and my upper half is larger than the state of Texas and so I need something stretchy and maybe a little forgiving too because stomach muscles take way too long to come back postpartum" request, and the ever-helpful stylist with whom I was working found me something in less than ten minutes that fit my price range, my style, and my body. (And it'll hit the hubby's Wildest Dreams while we're at it!) It's perfect.

Tell me: Have you ever rented from RTR before? Would you be willing to rent your ball gown? If you've already bought yours for this year, what did you wear?

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