Have you ever wished you could wear a designer dress to an event without having to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars? Rent the Runway is a website that allows you to do just that…and I love it. I actually started using RTR four years ago; the first time I rented a dress from them was for a swanky New Year’s Eve party. I rented a David Meister full-length silver sequined number that fit perfectly and made me feel like a princess; I was hooked. I’ve rented dresses from RTR for many events, and even with a couple of shipping glitches I’m still happy to use the service.
So…how does Rent the Runway work?
It’s free to sign up for an account and browse through all of the dresses for rent. RTR is not limited to dresses—you can also rent other clothing like jackets and jumpsuits as well as accessories. They have a robust filter system, so you can input your size and event date (to make sure the pieces are available when you need them) along with factors like rental price, designer, color, formality, body type, length, your age, and more. Most dresses have been reviewed by at least a few users who upload photos themselves wearing the dress. Users share their own dress size, height, weight, and body type so you can get a sense of how the dress looks on actual women (I mean, the dresses look great on the models because…models). I find the user reviews to be very helpful, and I’ve submitted a few of my own.
Once you’ve picked out a dress you like, you can get a second size in the same style (your “backup” size) for free. RTR does want to make sure you’re not left without a dress to wear at the last minute! They also have stylists you can chat with who will help you pick out a dress that should work well for your body; I’ve never used chatted with a stylist but it’s nice to know I can if I’d like to.
To further ensure that you end up with at least one dress that fits, RTR allows you to rent a second style for an additional $32.50 . They also say that if the dresses you get don’t fit, they’ll either ship you a different option in time for your event or give you a credit to use on a future rental. RTR has just a few brick and mortar locations, so if you happen to live near one you can go there in person to switch out a dress that doesn’t fit (or to try dresses on before you select one in the first place). I also want to point out that they offer sizes from 0 to 22, so they do have some options for a pretty wide variety of bodies.
Then when your dresses arrive you get to have a fashion show while trying them on. 🙂 I will say that out of the nine (!!) dresses I’ve rented from them, only one style didn’t look or feel right on me so I ended up not wearing it. I’d say eight out of nine is a pretty damn good success rate.
I’ll also mention that RTR charges an $8 dress insurance fee, so if you damage the dress you aren’t held liable. That puts your mind at ease, especially for those of us who love our red wine. RTR also does the dry cleaning, so sure, go ahead and ship that wine-stained dress right back. Shipping is about $10 unless you splurge for RTR Unlimited, which is a $99/month subscription that allows you to use three pieces from their collection at a time and send them back for different items whenever you’re ready. I’m in no way fancy enough to need an Unlimited account so I can’t speak for that service.
What do you do with the dresses after your event is over? RTR has these snazzy garment shipping bags that you pack your rentals back up in and seal with with a lock so that they know the package hasn’t been tampered with when they get it back. You place their pre-paid return shipping label on the outside of the garment bag and put the whole thing in a UPS drop box. That’s it! Really.
This past weekend I attended a wedding at The Liberty Warehouse and I knew I wanted to rent a dress for the occasion. I spent awhile searching available dresses on RTR and whittled them down to an Erin Erin Fetherston Gold Trim Sheath ($40 to rent / $295 retail). The gold lace trim seemed like it would be just fancy enough but not over the top for a fall Sunday evening wedding.
Two days before my dress delivery date, I received an email from RTR letting me know that my backup size was no longer available because the dress either hadn’t been returned on time or was damaged, and that they’d send me a second dress style in two sizes at no charge to make up for it. They asked me to send them my top five dresses ASAP. I went back to browsing on the website (which is SO much fun…I’m not being facetious!) and emailed them my top five choices. They were able to accommodate my first choice which was the Gina dress from Pamella by Pamella Roland ($90 to rent / $440 retail).
When my dresses arrived I managed to hold off on trying them on until the next morning when I could do a mini fashion show for my husband. I got up and was too excited to do anything to my hair or face, so these pics are 100% #wokeuplikethis, excellent bed head, bare feet, and all. 🙂 Ready?
Here I am in the Erin Fetherston, which I’m also seen wearing at the top of this post. The dress fit like a glove:
Here’s the back of the dress:
And the gold lace detail, which appears silver-y in the photo:
So pretty, right? Now for the Pamella Roland dress:
I LOVE the shoulder design on the back of this dress:
This dress was cute and fit pretty well, but the top didn’t sit quite right. The dress had pockets, which I love! I also tried the larger size on but it was definitely too big in the chest area. I would have been happy to wear this dress but the Erin Fetherston definitely looked better, so I clearly chose that one.
I wish I had gotten more photos of myself all dolled up in my chosen dress, but all the pics I have are pretty dark so the one up top will have to do. I received many compliments on the dress at the wedding, but more importantly it was very comfortable and a good choice for an event that involves dancing. I did find myself tugging the skirt down every time I stood up, but that wasn’t a big deal. The lace around the arm holes got a tad itchy by the end of the night but I’ve experienced worse (that David Meister sequined dress basically left me with tiny cuts around my armpits after hours of wear).
Oh! I almost forgot that I also rented a pretty pair of earrings, too: the Lindsay earrings by Ella Carter ($10 to rent / $75 retail).
The earrings were lightweight and subtle but just sparkly enough.
I know this has turned into a very long post, but I want to add that Rent the Runway’s customer service has been consistently good. Long story short, I had a couple shipping issues in the past, neither of which was RTR’s fault (UPS, I shake my fist at you!) and RTR issued me a website credit both times. I used that credit to rent my dress and earrings this time around.
Because this is the first time I’ve ever written about Rent the Runway I’d like to share a few more pics of other dresses I’ve rented…I really have used this service a whole bunch! You may be suspicious of posts with affiliate links, but I can say that this post represents my honest opinion of the service. I wouldn’t have used it nine times if it was awful!
David Meister Silver Sequin Shine Gown (New Year’s Eve 2011)
David Meister Gold Lela Lace Dress (wedding in 2012)
Robert Rodriguez Black Label Sequin Trim Empire Gown (black tie wedding in 2013)
BCBG Max Azria Countryside Sunrise Dress (Our engagement party in 2013)
Have you ever rented anything from Rent the Runway? If so, did you enjoy your experience?
Okay, I’m really done now. Thanks for reading! 🙂