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My Rent the Runway Experience

I’ve loved playing dress up with beautiful and interesting clothing all my life. As a child, I would try on most of my mother’s closet — and when it came time for dance recital costumes, I was just in heaven. I vividly remember shopping for prom dresses with my mom — and, in fact, I found one I loved so much that I bought it long before I’d actually decided to attend.

I even worked in a bridal shop for a few years, and I absolutely loved getting to try on the new gowns when they arrived. The thrill of these gorgeous (and pricey) gowns, for just a few minutes as my coworkers and I discussed the pros and cons of the design never got old.

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And, honestly, I still love trying on gorgeous dresses, but here’s something I’ve learned in the last few years: I don’t necessarily want to own them all. My closet, my budget, and my opportunities to wear fancy attire are all rather limited. Some of us live a Saturday-evening-gala kind of life. Mine is more of a Tuesday-evening-on-the-couch one.

Happily, around the time I figured this out, I also discovered the ability to rent everything from day dresses to formal gowns on Rent the Runway. I’ve used it for weddings, rehearsal dinners, galas, and you know the pictures you see around the site of Jenn and me in dresses? That’s where we got ’em!

Jenn and I don’t always make our way out of workout clothes, but when we do, we like to get photographic evidence!

And aside from loving it for my own personal use, I truly think it has some fantastic applications for active and fitness-focused women in general. Here’s why.

You can rent something that fits you, just as you are.

Maybe you’ve lost some weight, perhaps you’re focused on building muscle, or maybe you’re expecting a bundle of joy — whatever the reason, you have reason to suspect that what fits you today may not fit properly in a year. Renting a dress (for a fraction of what it would cost to purchase it) means you don’t have to worry about whether you should invest in something that you might not be able to wear in a year. Because, here’s the thing: No matter where you are on your fitness journey, you are beautiful right now — and I’m of the opinion that wearing lovely things that feel good (and fit well) is something we all deserve to do, regardless of the size on the label.

Women of all shapes and sizes share photos and reviews.

This rivals my wedding gown for favorite thing I’ve ever worn. (Being able to wear it for the marriage of two dear friends might’ve been a factor, but mostly, I’m just a magpie.)

It can be tricky to tell if a dress that looks perfect on a model (or on anyone with a body that looks nothing like mine) will suit me well, but every time you rent a dress, you’re prompted to share a review (with a picture). So, when you’re shopping and see something you like, you can click on the reviews — and you even have the option to sort the reviews to show women who’s proportions are similar to yours (based on height, weight, bust, body type, and size typically worn). The reviews often go into detail regarding whether it fit true to size, how the fabric felt, whether special undergarments were required, and more. It’s the next best thing to being able to try it on yourself.

You get a back-up size and second style.

If you tend to fall between a couple of sizes (or the reviews have you thinking you should size up or down), you’ll be glad to know that you always have the option to add a back-up size to your order (at least, as long as another size you want is available) at no cost. You can also rent a second, lower-priced style for $32.50 if you want to hedge your sartorial bets, but only one of the options will come with a back-up size.

There’s a good selection of sizes and loads of styles.

Not every dress is available in every size — especially if you’re trying to rent for a popular event (like New Year’s Eve) or wait until the last minute, but you have the ability to filter your options by sizes ranging from 0 to 22; there’s also a maternity filter. As far as the other filters go, there are tons of ways to narrow down what’s shown — by type of event/formality (black tie, vacation, work), weather, length, sleeve, neckline, color, price, embellishments, designer, and more. And, if you happen upon something you dig but don’t have anywhere to wear it just yet, it’s easy to save your favorites (you can even categorize them into lists if you’re planning ahead) to make them easy to find when the occasion arises.

It lets you get outside your comfort zone.

We’re always talking about how challenging yourself to try new things is a great way to grow, and sure, we mostly mean that in terms of health and wellness, but you know what? What you wear makes a statement, and if you’re making changes on the inside, maybe, just maybe, you’re feeling the urge to try a new look on the outside, even if it’s just for the night. Renting a dress unlike anything you currently own — maybe a jumpsuit, or something backless, or frilly, or on the short side — and wearing it out for a fun night with friends can provide you with the chance to try it out, no commitment required.

Of course, you can also stick to styles that you’ve always loved and always will — there’s power in knowing what makes you feel fantastic, too!

Wore this one for a white party — and I knew I’d love it, because I’d worn it in another color for a rehearsal dinner earlier that year!

There are options for many budgets.

As I write this, there are rentals available for as little as $30 for four days (which would retail for between $150 and $200), and there are also some that you can rent for $800 (that would retail for over $5,000). There are also monthly options, allowing you to rotate through more rentals on a regular basis. So, you can really tailor your service, even if you can’t tailor your rental dress.

I spend a lot time in casual athletic clothes — and, honestly, much of my social life revolves around running, so more often than not, when I meet up with friends, I’m sweaty, I’m dirty, and I’m wearing spandex or very short shorts (as are they). And that makes the times when we dress up feel pretty special. Turns out, we clean up pretty well!

Have you ever rented a dress or outfit? What’s your experience been like? I just can’t believe I haven’t been doing this all along … —Kristen

FTC disclosure: We often receive products from companies to review. All thoughts and opinions are always entirely our own. Unless otherwise stated, we have received no compensation for our review and the content is purely editorial. Affiliate links may be included. If you purchase something through one of those links we may receive a small commission. Thanks for your support!

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2 Comments
  1. I have not rented clothing before, but I just browsed the Rent the Runway site, and it’s pretty cool. We go to an annual gala, and I wear one of two dresses I own every year. Boring! I’ll definitely consider renting next time. Besides renting for special events, you could rent business attire for that big interview or try styles to decide if you like them before you invest in buying. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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