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Designer Dresses on a College Budget

Looking for the perfect holiday dress but can’t find one in your price range? Rent the Runway offers hundred of designer dresses for a faction of their actual cost. Let’s be honest, how often are you going to wear that floor length dress you bought for an embassy event? With Rent the Runway you can rent a dress for 4-8 days and then send it back as soon as you are done. Don’t worry if the dress will arrive on time, it is guaranteed to arrive on your first rental date.Each dress comes with a backup size for free, so even if you’re skeptical about ordering a dress you’ve never tried on, you will have an extra just in case the first size is a little tight. I have been using renttherunway 4-5 times a year since my freshman year of high school and I have never once have we had an issue. The dresses always arrive on time, fit perfectly, and look even better on than they did in the picture. 

But just because you don’t own the dress doesn’t mean you have to be walking on eggshells all night. Each purchase comes with a $5 insurance fee that covers most stains and tears. Within minutes of putting on my prom dress my junior year of high school I caught my heels on the end and tore the fabric, and before my senior year prom I got mud stains in the hem of my dress while taking pictures in the grass. Neither damage was an issue. 

One of the most useful tools in picking a dress is the “customer photos” section, where you can see what the dress looks like on real people (because let’s face it, none of us look like the models in the pictures), as well as their reviews. Some of the best dresses I ever rented looked decent on the model, but amazing on the people who rented it before me.

In case you don’t have time to scroll through every dress on your own, we’ve picked out some favorites.

New Years Eve:

Card Dealer Shealth by Milly: $30- $40 rental. Get it here.


Chrysler at Night Dress by Badgley Mischka: $30- $40 rental. Get it here.

Margaux Shealth by Slate & Willow: $35- $45 rental. Get it here.

Just A Mirage Shift by Slate & Willow: $40- $50 rental. Get it here.


Embassy events:

Glitter in Gold Gown by ML Monique Lhuilier: $115- $125 rental. Get it here.

Go For It Gown by Badgley Mischka: $80 Rental. Get it here.

Genevieve Gown by Erin Getherston: $70 rental. Get it here.

Chiffon Goes Fuschia Gown by Badgley Mischka: $80 rental. Get it here.



Night Racer Dress by RVN: $30 rental. Get it here.

Gardenia Dress by Adrianna Papell: $60 rental. Get it here.

Peeping Out Dress by Rebecca Taylor: $35 rental. Get it here.

Take Me Out Dress by Adrianna Papell: $30- $40 rental. Get it here.


Worried about your dress not getting through the dorm packing room in time? Pick it up straight from the store in Georgetown — 3336 M Street NW!

So what are you waiting for?! With $25 off your first rental it’s at least worth a try, and once you try it I guarentee you’ll keep coming back.

Images: Cover, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Elyse is currently a senior at American University studying foreign language and communications with a focus in Spanish and print journalism. She is originally from Scranton, Pennsylvania and in her spare time she likes to do yoga, read, and binge-watch Netflix when she's supposed to be studying.
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