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Rent the Runway Reviewed: High Class for a Low Price

Dorm formals. The height of dressing up in college…and by dressing up, I mean pulling out an old homecoming dress from high school or buying a $25 dress (that isn’t to die for adorbs and probably doesn’t fit right) from Forever 21. But what if there was another way? What if there was a way to look absolutely fab without spending your entire measly biweekly paycheck from Starbucks? THERE IS. And it’s called Rent the Runway.

I’ve heard a lot about Rent the Runway, but I never thought to try it. Honestly, I was a little wary of the entire idea. If you’ve never heard of it, it is a website in which you can rent designer dresses for a fraction of the retail price. A small fraction. You can find a $500 dress and rent it for the weekend for $30. Sound too good to be true? I thought so, too. However, for the PW masquerade formal earlier this month, I decided to take a risk and go for it.

Here’s the process:

Logging onto renttherunway.com is so intuitive. It’s so helpful and it’s like having a personal shopper at Saks—obviously I would know since I’m Blair Waldorf and I have a personal shopper at Saks (I wish). You start by entering your dress size and the date you want your dress delivered (they recommend 1-2 days before the event). From there, it pulls up all the available dresses for the weekend that you can proceed to sort by price (low to high, amirite?), color, length, body type, formality, designer, etc. The lowest priced dresses rent for $30 for 4 days and the prices range all the way up to about $500 for 4 days if that’s your style.

The website homepage. Ooh, so fabulous.

As a girl who loves fashion and has a strong appreciation for designer goods, this is when I geek out. THIRTY DOLLARS FOR A DOLCE AND GABBANA DRESS IS THIS REAL LIFE? Yes. *commence hot flashes*

Viewing reviews about each dress was helpful as well. Each review includes the wearer’s height, weight and bra size as well as some pictures so it’s easy to see how the dress fits on someone with a similar body type. If you’re signed into your account, RTR will point out how many people of similar body size and shape wore the dress, and you can look at their reviews to see what they said about the fit of the dress before ordering it.

Individual dress page, look at reviews, select sizes, daydream about the possibilities

The people at RTR really want you to have a dress that fits, and since delivery is so close to the actual event, they take extra measures to ensure a proper fit. Besides the reviews that can tell you information on if the dresses run small, you also have the option to rent a second size in the dress for FREE. That’s right. Free. They will send you two dresses in two different sizes for the original rental price. If you try them on and neither of them fit, they will overnight you another style (I’m not sure if this is free or not, I assume you pay shipping, but I don’t have any experience with the 911 overnight). All very handy.

This still all sounds too good to be true, and when I told my mom about my plan to rent a designer dress, she freaked out. So I read the fine print. When you order a dress you pay a small insurance fee, I think mine was $5. This covers any normal wear and tear on the dress: small rips, zipper jams, minor stains and so on. Major damage and theft are not covered and if significant damage or theft happens, you are liable for up to 200% retail value. Yikes. So don’t lose it and don’t eat spaghetti or drink red wine. That’s the risk you take, but to me, it’s reasonable. Beyond the small insurance fee, the only other cost was shipping, so my $30 ended up being like $47, but still, not bad.

Then you wait. The dresses arrive in RTR garment bag in a box (that you can keep by the way…HAPPY DAY FREE GARMENT BAG AND HANGERS?!?!? not sarcasm). It also arrives with a prepaid UPS envelope to return them in.

I wore the dress, looked (and felt) absolutely fabulous, and literally could not have been any happier.

Me, trying on my dress and becoming #obsessed

The return day was a sad day, but I made it through. The return date is 4 days after your stated delivery date—if that day falls on a Sunday, you can return it to UPS on Monday before noon. It all seemed super easy, until I realized I had not one, but two super poofy tulle dresses that they were expecting me to return in an envelope. That was interesting. I was afraid I was going to ruin them/severely wrinkle them, but I guess they don’t care about that since they dryclean them after each use anyway. I managed to condense the dresses enough to fit in the envelope, rented a zipcar, and dropped them off at UPS. Easy.

How am I going fit two of these inside that tiny envelope?

And that was it. It was so efficient and I would do it again, no hesitation. There’s something about wearing a designer dress that is so exciting, and I would much rather spend slightly more doing that then trying to find a cheap dress elsewhere that doesn’t exactly fit right and I’ll never wear again anyway.

You can also rent jewelry and accessories, but I was a little afraid to try that. A gorgeous $1,000 Oscar de la Renta necklace for $10?? Crazy. Terrifying though. After using the service once, I would be probably comfortable renting a statement necklace that I know I wouldn’t lose…but I would definitely think twice about earrings, because we all know how easy it is to lose an earring and not know. And then when you get a $2,000 bill for a lost earring, you cry forever as you listen to your mom say “I told you so.” (This is what I pictured happening as I was browsing through the jewelry).

All in all, I am now obsessed with Rent the Runway and next time I need a dress I will absolutely look there first. It was absolutely worth every penny. Even if you need a dress for a not-so-formal event, there are casual daytime dresses (i.e. Lilly Pulitzer) for rent as well. It’s a fantastic service and I would not hesitate to recommend it to any of my friends.

My roommate, Michelle, and I looking #fabulous before the formal <3



Alison is a sophomore Finance major at the University of Notre Dame. Her activities include working as a barista at Starbucks, dancing on the ND Dance Company and spending too much time trying to pick out clothes. Her goal in life is to be Audrey Hepburn, but if that doesn't work out, working for a designer like Lilly Pulitzer, Juicy, Chanel, or Tiffany (Breakfast at Tiffany's?) would be the ideal dream job. You can catch more of her golden wit (and senseless ramblings) on twitter @AlisonJanet124
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