Photography by: Emily Solberg Photography
There are few things more fun than getting all dolled up and putting on your finest dress. Coming in at a tie or close second would be putting on your favorite pair of leggings and coziest sweater. However, that’s not always socially acceptable (say, for instance, at a wedding). If sweatpants are off the table, I’m all about fancy. But what if you don’t have a lot of fancy options? I don’t. Leggings, jeans, and sweaters abound in my closet. Black tie dresses? Not so much. When we found out we would be attending a Black tie optional wedding for New Year’s Eve, I jumped at the chance to try out Rent the Runway.
If you’re not familiar with the service, Rent the Runway offers designer gowns to rent for special (or everyday) occasions. You choose a dress that you like, (they will send you the dress in two sizes for no additional charge) reserve it on the dates closest to your event, wear it, then ship it back after your event (they will take care of the dry cleaning). The process can be a little intimidating for first timers (especially if you, like me, have little-to no experience with designer gowns). Here are a few tips to help the process go smoothly for you!
- Read. The. Reviews. I cannot highlight this point enough. If I could only give one piece of advice, this would be it. The majority of dresses have countless reviews written by previous renters including information about the fit, size, and style. When you’re doing any sort of online shopping, I find it helpful to read product reviews for information on sizing. Dresses can vary so widely in fit. I would suggest finding reviews written by customers who are similar to you based on information they shared about their usual size, height, and body type. For example , for someone like me who is only 5’2, it really wouldn’t help to know that a girl who was 5’10 found the dress too short. Read what they had to say about their experience with the dress and check to see if they uploaded any pictures of themselves wearing it. Length of the dress was my biggest concern since altering it would not be an option. Some of the dresses come in petite lengths, which I would have to say I’d recommend for someone who is close to my height. I ended up having to choose a backup dress at the last minute due to an issue with one of my sizes, and fortunately chose a petite dress at the last minute. If I had only received the regular length dress, high enough heels wouldn’t have existed for me to wear it.
- Be flexible. If not having an exact plan really freaks you out, this might not be the right thing for you. You don’t receive the dress until the day of or the day before the event, giving you very little time to coordinate shoes, accessories, etc. For instance, I didn’t end up having shoes high enough to work with my dress (even though it was a petite length). My mom and I spent an hour at the mall searching for the perfect pair the night before the wedding. Also, things can happen outside of your control involving your first choice dress. I got an email the day before my dress was scheduled to arrive telling me that my backup size was no longer available. They did offer to let me choose a different dress to be my alternate, but it meant going back to the drawing board and searching for another dress, reading more reviews, etc. *However…this can sometimes work out for the best–I ended up wearing the alternate!
- Have a backup plan. Sometimes the best laid plans just don’t pan out. Even if you’ve carefully scrutinized the reviews, looked at every picture from every angle…you might not love the dress. Have a plan in place for what to do if the dress arrives and doesn’t meet your expectations. Two of my sweet friends offered their wardrobes for me to comb through in case my rentals didn’t work out! I also knew that I had a long dress I had worn in a friend’s wedding recently that would do the trick if all else failed. As another piece of the backup plan, I would suggest saving all of your favorites on the RTR website as you begin your search. That way if there is a mishap with your first choice (like what happened to me), you already have a second pick researched and ready to go.
We had the best time ringing in the New Year with friends! This was the first time in our ten-ish years together that I’ve ever seen Wes in a bow tie. He looked so handsome! Don’t try to argue with me on that one. I’ll win! I’ve always wanted to celebrate New Year’s Eve in style (you know–formal wear, dancing, the whole nine yards) and now we can finally say that we have. I’m sure next year will find us sitting back on the couch watching the ball drop, but now we have experienced both ends of the spectrum.
I didn’t realize until I started looking into it, but Rent the Runway isn’t limited to Black tie rentals. You can also rent cocktail, work, or party dresses–just to name a few. If you want to give it a try, Valentine’s Day would be the perfect time! Below are a few of my favorite picks for a date or girl’s night out–all available on Rent the Runway!
Left to Right, Top to Bottom: David Meister Picture Frame Sheath Dress, Allison Parris Purple Marilyn Dress, Kate Spade New York Fairytale Bow Dress, Trina Turk Red Zeal Dress, Badgley Mischka Fifth Avenue Showstopper Dress, Slate & Willow Black Janis Dress
Have you ever tried Rent the Runway? I’d love to hear your thoughts or answer any additional questions you might have below!