This is not a sponsored post. These are my actual opinions. Seriously, RTR is basically getting free advertising here.
I love Rent The Runway. I think it is a brilliant concept. It is exactly as it sounds: you rent designer dresses for a few days for a small fee. We’re talking formal dresses that cost hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars to purchase, dresses the average woman would never be able to afford to buy. These designs are accessible because they rent for a little as $30.
Being in your 20s & 30s means you go to A LOT of weddings. I also attend several charity banquets and balls each year since my husband works for a non-profit organization. This means that I’m attending as many as 6 or 7 events each year. In the era of Facebook, it’s hard to recycle dresses. Gone are the days when you could by one dress and wear it to every formal event (I mean, you technically still could, but it is embarrassing for some people to be seen wearing the same thing in every photo on Facebook). But what normal woman can afford to buy a new dress for every event? You’re either stuck with the cheap selections ($50 or less) that are not made well (they’re thin so you have to figure out how to wear them without showing off your undergarments, or they just don’t fit in a flattering way), or spending $200+ on a dress you’ll only wear once or maybe once every couple of years.
Over the last two years, I have rented 6 dresses form RTR and purchased 1. I’ve had more than 6 events, but not all of them were local and if there’s one downside to RTR, it’s that renting doesn’t work well for out of town trips.
I decided to become a PRO member right away because it pays for itself in the savings you get. The perks to PRO are: free shipping, free insurance, discounts, and a free birthday dress. Shipping adds up and insurance is a really good idea because if you rip or stain a dress you can’t afford to buy, it’s a little hard to pay for the damage out of pocket. You’re essentially paying ahead for the birthday dress and keeping all the other perks.
The best part of RTR is that there is very little work on your part. It arrives at your door a day or two before your event, you wear it, then you pack it up in the same garment bag it arrived in and drop it at a UPS box, no charge to you. RTR pays for the shipping and handles the dry cleaning.
Now the obvious risk to renting is that you don’t get to try the dress on beforehand. And trust me, when I shop at the mall I never buy something without trying it on. 9 times out of 10, I hate the way it looks once it’s on my body or it doesn’t fit because mass produced garments are not always true to the size on the label. RTR’s solution to this is to send you a free back up size with your dress. So you choose the size you think will fit and a backup size just in case.
So far, I have not had any issues with dresses not fitting. I credit this to the high quality of the dresses. These are not $30 Forever 21 dresses. These are expensive, well made designer pieces and it shows. They are made true-to-size, you can tell the material is expensive, the dresses are usually lined and very comfortable to wear. I’ve seen occasionally reviews on the website of dresses not fitting the way the consumer expected. I haven’t personally had this issue and as far as I can tell, RTR customer service is great at handling resolutions and helping you find an alternative in a timely manner.
I love that reviews are included with each dress. If the dress has been available for awhile, you can look at pictures and see what the dress actually looks like on a woman who is the same size as you. I’m currently a size 12-14, which is right on the line between regular and plus sizes. The dress isn’t going to look the same on me as it does a size 2 model in the picture. If the dress comes in plus sizes, they do often include a plus-size model in their pictures, but being right on the line means frequently it’s the largest size available and there’s no model example. This is where review pictures really come in handle.
So here are the specific dresses I’ve rented and worn so far.
The Ella Dress & The Like Candy Dress by ML Monique Lhuillier
Rents for: $30
Event: Weddings 2015
I accessorized the Ella Dress with a wide black belt, black sandals, a black clutch and silver jewelry. This dress was so comfortable and flattering that I basically rented it twice, the second time renting the Like Candy dress which is essentially the same dress but in plum. I accessorized the Like Candy dress with gold jewelry and sandals. Teal and plum were both popular colors in 2015 and I felt on trend in these beautiful lace dresses. Plus I felt covered, which helped me not feel self-conscience about my weight gain.
The Hanging Beads Dress by Parker
Rents for: $65
Event: 28th Birthday!
This was my free birthday dress in 2015! I didn’t have an event so I wore it for a girls night out for my birthday. It was really beautiful with a lot of detail in the beading and it was also really heavy! I went for a more expensive rental since I was getting it for so little.
So that was 2015. At the end of the season, RTR actually sells most of their dresses for a fraction of retail (because they’re used) and I purchased this dress in 2016:
The Irina Dress by Slate & Willow
Purchase price: $55
This dress is similar to the dresses I rented for weddings in 2015 so I thought, why not just buy it since it’s selling for only slightly more than the rental fee? I received it and it still looks new, but they only had size 12 left and it is a little small. I had thought it would be a good investment for Fall weddings, but instead I’m saving it for when I lose weight. It’ll be a good celebratory wear when I drop the first dress size. RTR always rents out the latest fashions, but many of these dresses are pretty timeless. If you loved a dress you rented, chances are you could get the opportunity to purchase it and add it to your collection permanently. Another cool RTR perk.
The Keep Them Guessing Dress by Yoana Baraschi
Rents for: $30
Event: Fall Wedding 2016
This dress stayed on trend for being comfortable, flattering, and well-made. I wore it with black tights and boots.
The Annabelle Dress by Marchesa Notte
Rents for: $30
Event: Fall Wedding 2016
The detail on this dress is gorgeous. The black beaded flowers, the cream colored lace. This is a beautiful dress. I paired it with black leggings, boots, and a black shawl because I felt like it wasn’t as flattering as other dresses in a size 14. I think it would look better on it’s own with some cute pumps. This was a popular dress in 2016, so I wasn’t terribly surprised to find some signs of wear on this rental. The lining had a pretty large stain (I hope it was dry cleaned and not rushed out without a proper cleaning) and a tear in the lace. I suppose this was the worst experience I’ve had to date with RTR, but I didn’t feel that my event was ruined by it…I only felt it wasn’t quite as fantastic as my usual experiences. It’s still a beautiful dress for a very affordable rental fee.
The Golden Flower Dress by Badgley Mischka
Rents for: $50
Event: Charity Gala
I briefly considered wearing a floor length gown for this black-tie optional gala, but had a change of heart and felt that the bold gold color and beading of this dress would make up for the length as far as fanciness goes. I paired it with some killer heals and clutch, with simply jewelry since the dress was so bold. Comfortable and flattering as always.
So I obviously love Rent the Runway.
You may have noticed a trend in the dress rentals. They’re all synched at the ribs with an outward a-line-esque skirt that is mid-thigh to knee-length. I find this to be the style that is most flattering on my body. Not so long ago, I was a size 4-6, and if I was still that size I’d probably be a little more adventurous, but these days I just want to cover up all the parts of myself I’m not overly fond of. I love women who can embrace their body at any size, and size 14 is healthy for many women. But my weight gain was the result of 5+ years of sitting at a desk all day and eating very poorly. Going up 5 dress sizes in 5 years was a hit to my self-confidence. That’s why I shop for the shapes and styles that I think flatter my body best. I feel more confident when I’m not self-conscience about a less-than-flattering dress. I am working hard to adopt a healthier lifestyle, and should that result in a smaller dress side and more confidence I’m looking forward to the choices that opens up on RTR.