Reader Question / Rent the Runway

So the other day I got this email from a reader:

Hi Jordan!

First of all you always look fabulous, so that’s why I wanted to ask you if you’ve ever used Rent the Runway?  I’ve been considering trying it for a while now. I have a wedding coming up next month and I want something extra special.

If you have used the site or if you are at least familiar with it – could you maybe do a post on Rent the Runway how to and tips? I live in MO and we ‘mid America fold’ are sort of scared of things like this. For example – what about sizing? How will I know which size I need? Is shipping and handling totally crazy expensive? What if I spill something on it? Is there like dress insurance you purchase? How long do you get the dress for? If I have an event on a Saturday when should I place my order?

I think a lot of your readers could probably benefit from this – but if you disagree I’m hoping you can maybe just respond with some insight!!!

Thanks so much!

– Melissa

Unfortunately, my answer was that I can’t be of much assistance here, because I’ve never used Rent the Runway (alas, I just don’t have that many gown-worthy occasions in my life…although I am thinking of renting something for the next wedding that I attend).

But because I do think that a lot of people (myself included) would like some first-hand tips on how to use the service, I sent the question over to my college buddy Lily (pictured at left in a RTR Yigel Azrouël dress), who happens to also have a totally gorgeous site called A Charmed Wife that you absolutely must check out (recent posts include staycation tips and rainboot upkeep).

She had a great answer, and managed to get Ramshackle Glam readers 10% off using the code RAMSHACKLEGLAM at checkout through March 31. Thank you, Lily!!!

Lily’s RTR tips after the jump…

A. Hey Melissa,

Jordan asked me to field this question because she’s actually never used Rent the Runway, and I was happy to oblige because I just might be one of the site’s biggest fans. Full disclosure: I’m good friends with one of the girl-geniuses that started this company, but that’s not why I like it- I’m pretty sure I would use it and love it even if we were sworn enemies (that’s just the kind of big person I am).

The catch-22 about putting together a great, memorable outfit is that people actually remember it. So you can’t wear the same thing again very many times – especially now, with Facebook documenting all the special occasions in our lives, and what we wore to them, even for our friends (and sworn enemies) who weren’t there. That’s where Rent the Runway comes in, allowing you to wear something completely different to every event you attend, at a fraction of the cost of purchasing. Plus, you can’t underestimate the fun factor of getting to wear all the latest designer dresses you otherwise couldn’t afford, and try out trends you aren’t sure you’re ready to buy.

Rent the Runway rents beautiful designer dresses for $40-$350 for 4 days, which means the dress arrives at your door a day or two before your event and you can simply drop it in a mailbox the day after (no dry cleaning necessary).  I know a lot of you may be thinking, “I don’t even spend $350 to buy a dress!” but the rental prices are based on the retail costs of the dresses, so unless you choose the fancy-schmanciest gowns that retail for upwards of $3,000, the rental prices are generally pretty reasonable.  Personally, I’d rather spend $150 to rent gorgeous dresses twice than $150 on one so-so dress I might only wear once (and have to pay to dry clean). That’s just good fashion math.

Shipping (both ways included) is generally about $13 per rental, although there are different methods (dresses can even be delivered same-day to folks in Manhattan), and there is a $5 insurance fee automatically added which covers everything from normal wear-and-tear (like a popped button) to full emergencies (like a glass of red wine on your lap). Only if you truly ruin the dress beyond repair or cleaning would you be held responsible for its full cost, so just resist the urge to cut off the sleeves or jump in a pool while wearing it and you should be fine!

And while there is no guarantee that every dress will fit you perfectly (if only…), the site offers detailed fit guides to every dress (including which dresses look best on which body types), on-call stylists who are available to talk you through your rental, and informative user reviews. Plus, every dress rental comes with a second size free, so you can be sure you get the right fit. Additionally, if you rent one dress style, they will include a second style of lesser value (also in two sizes) for the same rental period for just $25, which is perfect for when you can’t decide between two dresses, want a back-up, or need a blockbuster dress for the rehearsal dinner, too.  And if your rental arrives and, horror of horrors, none of the dresses you rented fits, just call and Rent the Runway will issue you a refund for the full rental (minus shipping).

Additionally, Rent the Runway is always coming up with brilliant new ideas – they added coordinating jewelry and accessory rentals last year, and just recently launched a line of great bridesmaid dresses (imagine not having to buy bridesmaid dresses – heaven!), with many more great rental opportunities to come.

And, as if the deal needs further sweetening, between now and March 31, take 10% your rental when you use the code RAMSHACKLEGLAM at checkout. Happy renting!

Check out Lily’s site here, and follow her on Twitter here.

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