Mister Jupiter and I used to go to Las Vegas every six months to attend a graduation. I won’t inundate you with the details, but it was very formal. For our first graduation I balked when Husband said that I needed a floor length gown, no exceptions.
At the time we lived in Little Rock, Arkansas. Not exactly a fashion mecca, but the lack of options made things easier in a way. Instead of driving around town searching, I just called shops and asked about my two most important criteria. “Hi, I need a floor length gown in a size four, do you have one?” Usually the answer was “Well, we have a size 16 and a lot of knee-length dresses…” “So, the answer is no. Thank you.”
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I did find one gown before I flew to Las Vegas, in a discount store that was maybe $40. It wasn’t stunning, but it was affordable and fit the requirements. But now my dress habits have changed for the better.
Let me tell you about how Rent the Runway has changed my gown shopping.
All of the options — A year later we were getting ready for Vegas again when my friend J mentioned Rent the Runway. I downloaded the app and asked it my criteria. Size four petite, floor-length gown. HOLY OPTIONS BATMAN. Hundreds of gorgeous dresses populated my search results. I specified available dates, and still had hundreds to choose from. I needed to sit down.
always have a back up
Two sizes delivered — RTR always offers a second size so you can try on your favorite dress in your normal size plus one size up or down. When you make your first order you are offered a free upgrade in case something happens with your first pick. Keep in mind that all of their rentables are dependent on people shipping them back on time and in good condition. So you should always have a back up dress and back up plan when you rent.
I got in the habit of falling in love with my costlier back-up dress. My first rented dress was just $40, but each six months I spent a little more, until my last graduation where the gown was $120 -it was gorgeous and fit like a glove- I have no regrets.
In-store benefits — They used to have a store in Las Vegas, inside the Cosmopolitan. J and I used to get our dresses shipped to the store (for free) and we could easily try on, change dresses, add accessories, or buy shapewear and fashion tape. One time, J’s gowns were too small and she needed to size up in store. They didn’t have the same gown on-hand, but they had options and she found a beautiful alternate for the same price. The next time that I rented, the dress that fit me was damaged. In that situation the employees can double your budget and let you swap in store. My $90 rental fee was now an available $180 in store. I got a different gown plus jewelry. Now there is only one physical store – the flagship store in New York – and it’s available for drop off only. RTR no longer supports in-store shopping, which was wonderful, but I understand that they had to change with so many other businesses in the face of COVID-19.
Varying rental spans — Rental periods vary, and I always go with four-day spans. If you are really worried about a dress you can always opt for a longer rental span to give yourself more time with swaps (if needed) before your event. Still hectic, but worth it when you want to wear a designer dress for one night. If you think about going this route, make sure to specify your rental date span ASAP because you don’t want to fall in love with something that won’t be available when you need it.
What they do — They take care of the dry cleaning, and return shipping. All you need to do is have a great night, and send back your dresses according to your rental period. You will be charged for tardiness, because someone else is depending on you to ship back on time.
the reviews are indispensable
What I can do — besides give you my experience and alternate options? I can give you $30 off of your first order with RTR. It’s so worth it! Rent The Runway has the best selection and the reviews are indispensable. Take your time, enjoy.
There are other similar rental services, like
- Rent Frock Repeat, almost the same as Rent The Runway, but their showrooms are in Canada.
- Lending Luxury, they have a lot of options but the website feels juvenile, and I don’t trust that.
- Charlotte’s Closet, this one is aimed towards young ladies, not women. Handy if your niece has a Bat Mitzvah coming up.
I haven’t used the above services, because I am very happy with RTR. I mostly added them in case you, dear reader, refuse to use RTR for any reason and are looking for options.
- Need some foldable flats for the end of a formal night? Check out: How to Break in New Tieks