Rent the Runway is tailor-made for you, if you are like me, and dream of dressing in couture, prefer a new dress for each special occasion, and want to enjoy champagne taste in fashion, all while living on a beer budget. I previously wrote an article on Rent the Runway’s membership plans ; RTR Update and RTR Unlimited, where you can rent everyday casual, street wear, or business casual clothing on a month-to-month basis. (For tips on getting the most out of your existing everyday wardrobe, Join the 5 Day New Wardrobe Challenge!). Today, I am going to tell you all about Rent the Runway’s original service…Rent the Runway Reserve.
Rent the Runway Reserve allows you to rent high-end designer label formal wear for just a fraction of the retail price. Any time you need to buy a dress or gown for attending a wedding, a formal dinner, a ball, a gala, a dance, a charity event, and New Year’s Eve party, a bridal shower, a baby shower, a rehearsal dinner, a Broadway show, or any other special event you can think of, Rent the Runway Reserve will be your new go-to. I guarantee it.
HOW IT WORKS
Rent the Runway offers two rental periods; 4 or 8 days. You can reserve the dress months in advance if you prefer, or last minute. Of course, the greatest selection will be available if you reserve with advance notice. Rental prices start as low as $30, and can reach several hundred dollars for the most luxurious gowns. 4 day rentals average around $100, with all shipping, taxes, and insurance included.
First, you can go to the Rent the Runway website or their app (which I prefer) and browse their selection. You can filter by size, color, formality, sleeve length, hemline, price, occasion, designer, body type, weather, age range, neckline, and embellishments. With all these options, I promise you will find what you are looking for!
Once you have decided on a dress, you can rent it for the 4 or 8 day rental period, then checkout. For the base rental fee you get to choose the dress in two sizes. Your typical size, plus a backup. One of the best features of the Rent the Runway website and app is the customer review process. You can browse other real women’s reviews of the dresses, including the fit and style for every body type. I like to go through the reviews and read the comments, then find other women with similar body type to mine and see what they said about the fit. This helps me narrow down my selection to the two sizes I need to reserve.
If you are terribly indecisive like me, you can choose a second style for the same rental period for just $32.50! This is also a great hack if you have two events on the same weekend, just rent one item (in two sizes), then another item for the second event for just $32.50. This is ideal for a rehearsal dinner then wedding, for example.
Rent the Runway Reserve also has an extensive selection of accessories. Jewelry of all types; bracelets, earrings, and necklaces are available on the site. You can also rent purses, clutches, wristlets, and bags. Additionally, if you are worried about being cold, you can rent jackets, boleros, or wraps to keep you warm.
Rent the Runway delivers your rentals in a garment bag that can be unzipped, then hung up. It is truly ingenious. When your rental period is over, simply place the items back in the garment bag, zip it all up, secure it using the lock they provide, then mail it back through UPS or a UPS drop box. All returns are free!
There is no need to wash or dry clean any items, simply wear then return as-is. The insurance (typically $5) that you pay at checkout will cover any average accidents, staining, or spillage.
Below are all the dresses that I have rented through Rent the Runway over the years. Also, enjoy going through my various hair colors and styles (haha!).
I wore this ERIN erin fetherston Lily of the Valley Dress to a wedding locating in an old (haunted?) mansion. The wedding was held in early summer, and I thought the sweet floral details were perfect for the occasion. If I had to choose a favorite dress that I have rented, I think this would be it. I paired the dress with a coral skinny belt and mint peep-toe slingbacks. I got so many compliments on this dress throughout the night.
My very first rental from Rent the Runway was this Hunter Bell Addison Sheath for my cousin’s wedding. My cousin is a very creative hair stylist, so I wanted something a little edgy, but still tasteful enough for a formal wedding. I loved the cool galaxy-like print on this dress, so it was the winner!
My most recent rental was this Lovers + Friends Lantern Dress for a September wedding. Mid-September in Michigan is really difficult to prepare for, since the weather could truly be anywhere from 80 degrees summer weather, to lows in the 40s. I wanted something that looked “fall”, and this rich plum color did the trick. Turns out, the weather that day was very cold and in the 40s, so I also rented a sparkly black blazer. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any good pictures with the blazer!
This next dress, was my first ever Marchesa rental. I have always loved Marchesa design for its intricate details, femininity, and timeless elegance. Before Rent the Runway I only dreamed of wearing Marchesa, but this service made it a reality. As you can see, it cost just enter A THOUSAND DOLLARS retail. I would never be able to afford that. But I rented this piece of fashion art for $112.50.
The Marchesa Notte Artwork Sequin Dress was absolutely exquisite. The top was a merlot colored lace, and the full length skirt had a rose pantern in sequins that looked like stained glass. In this dress, I truly felt like a million dollars.
Next up is another Marchesa Notte dress. I rented this as my backup style for the wedding to which I ended up wearing the Lovers + Friends dress. I chose to wear the other dress only because this Marchesa Notte Red Floral Lace Dress felt too formal for the occasion. If I have a black tie event in the future, I may consider renting this dress again. The detail was once again, exquisite, confirming why Marchesa is one of my very favorites designer labels.
I rented this ML Monique Lhullier Garden Jacquard Gown as an option for attending a Broadway Show in NYC (read about the trip here! ). In the end, I did not end up wearing this gown because it was wayyyyy to tight! I could barely breathe in it. But it was so gorgeous I had to take a few photos in it before sending it back. Can you tell I was holding my breath?!
Next up was this Nicole Miller Red Berry Gown that I rented for friend’s wedding. The wedding was held in Michigan in October, which is difficult to dress warm enough to be comfortable, but still look formal enough for a wedding. I searched for a floor length long sleeve gown that was still young enough for my age and flattering. Alas, I found this gown! It was so beautiful in that rich merlot color I clearly love so much! The low neckline, thigh high slit, and open back actually made this gown extremely sexy. Who knew long sleeves and a floor length gown could look so hot?!
I rented this Slate & Willow Alessia Sheath as a second style. I did not end up wearing it because it was way too short to wear in public! I may size up and consider it for a future event though. I can rarely say no to all over sparkles.
Lastly, I rented this Shoshanna Alegria Dress to attend Hamilton the Musical on Broadway. I am such a lover of color, that it always feels out of my comfort zone to wear all black. Even so, I loved this dress. It felt very classy and appropriate for the occasion.
THE GRAND TOTAL
I do not earn any affiliate income nor sponsorship from Rent the Runway. I just truly love this service. To this date, I have rented 9 total dresses. For all these rentals, shipping, taxes, accessories, and insurance included, I spent a total of $617. If I had purchased all these items for retail, they would have cost……$4,854! That is a total savings of 87%! That may not be a million dollars…but I definitely felt like a million bucks in each of these designer gowns.
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Leah Little has a full time job as a social worker, and has managed to travel the world while wearing beautiful clothes by knowing how to score deals in travel and fashion. Learn more about her journey here. Join the Leah Little Travel and Fashion tribe by entering your email to subscribe to be the first to learn new ways to enjoy the best in travel and fashion for less. Say hi and send her a message! Contact