My Rent the Runway experience was not provided or perked in any way. I rented the dress with my money, these opinions are fully my own.
I had heard about Rent the Runway for years before I finally tried it for myself in November. I don't know what made me wait so long. I don't have any reservations about wearing something someone has worn before (I don't hit the thrift stores as much as I used to, but back in the day my whole wardrobe was pre-owned, and I still have many of those pieces), and I go to a lot of events that require something special to wear. AND I don't like to wear a memorable dress over and over, especially if there are lots of photographs. I'm practically Rent the Runway's ideal customer.
So I logged onto Rent the Runway in early November to rent something for an event November 21. I browsed through all kinds of dresses. You can sort by price, color, length, body type, neckline, designer, etc. As you're browsing, you click on the little heart beside the dress if it's a favorite. I narrowed it down to several that I liked, were designers I was familiar with, and that fit the occasion.
There were several seriously awesome things I liked about the choosing process. Once I narrowed it down to a few, I went into more details on each dress. Above is one of the dresses I ended up choosing. It's a Nanette Lepore dress that retailed for $378 and rents for $85. (Note: I'm going to assume that is not the current retail price on this dress because I can't find it online, meaning it was probably last season at least. That kind of thing doesn't bother me. But Rent the Runway does have current season dresses available, I've seen them. If that matters to you, you'd have to be a bit more choosy, but they're there, including one I saw in the store that I stumbled upon to rent for about just a fraction of the price I almost paid.)
In the top right corner, you can see that there were 286 reviews of this dress. By scrolling through the reviews, I saw that people generally liked it, but warned that the material was unexpected, and that it was a little short. Good things to know. But even BETTER than the written reviews were the pictures. In the bottom left you can see that there were 180 customer photos of this dress. This was enormously helpful! Someone said that this particular dress photographed well, and they're right. The colors looked really great in almost all of the photos. At first, the fact that this dress had been so popular was a deterrant to me. But ultimately I decided I liked the dress enough to go with it anyway.
I rented it for 4 days, selected for it to arrive the day before my event, and then - GET THIS - you get to choose two different sizes! This is pretty much genius in my book. I chose my normal dress size and then one size up from that, since the dress was a bit fitted.
I had a 20% off coupon, so for the $85 rental, my total was $68. You can also choose jewelry to go with your look, or other accessories. I only needed the dress, but I kinda love the jewelry option and might give that a go next time around.
On the Monday before my special event on Thursday, Rent the Runway both called and emailed me because my backup size for the Nanette Lepore dress had been returned too damaged from the last renter. I was having sort of a crazy day when I got this news, but I had to appreciate that they tried multiple ways to reach me right away. When I was able to call them back, they offered a second dress (of a different style) free. Talk about customer service! I was secretly thrilled with this, because then I got to try two different dresses. I selected this Sachin + Babi dress that I had really liked, but thought might be too dressy. It was less reviewed and worn than the Nanette Lapore dress, but there was enough there for me to feel good about the decision.
I received both dresses right on time on Wednesday, the day before the party. I tried them on and made my decision pretty much immediately. If I were a better blogger, I'd learn to take better selfies in the mirror. How do people do that?
The one on the left is my original pick, and it was just as the customers described it. The material was a little unexpected (it was a burgundy lace overlay, not a graphic print) and it was a tad too short, actually a bit small under the arms for me, too. Also it looked better in photographs (even these bad ones) than it did in person. The dress on the right was flashier than I intended, but I just felt more comfortable in it. I decided I would dress it down with tights and boots, and I did.
Here are two silly pictures of me, but they do show mostly the full outfit. (Photographs by Keats Elliott) I felt great and got several compliments. For $68, I call this a resounding win.
The day after the party, I threw both dresses in the envelope provided, no dry-cleaning or fussing necessary. I dropped them by UPS, and within a few days got a receipt from Rent the Runway that they had received them. I technically had until Saturday to return them, but the late fees are STEEP (like $50/day), and I didn't want to render my good bargain null and void.
When I signed up for a free account at Rent the Runway, I got an immediate coupon in my email, which I used for this rental. Since then, I've received several really good offers through email so I know they constantly send coupons and freebies, etc. that make it an even better deal.
Would I do this for every special occasion? No. I like to have the dresses from some memories for many reasons. I might want to keep it for myself, I might want to pass it on someday, lots of other reasons. But there are also lots of other nights where I'd just as soon save a buck (lots of bucks) and get to try a new designer. My Rent the Runway experience gets an A++.
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