Website to Watch: Rent the Runway

This installment of Websites to Watch is a fabulous GUEST POST coming to the Rainy Day Box from Katie Peterson! Katie is a crazy genius/ law student/ fashionista/ nerd/ beauty expert. She’s also my kid sister. I’m thrilled to have her bring her brilliance to The Rainy Day Box! A little about her: Katie loves bows, puppies, politics, pashminas, iced skinny vanilla lattes, speaking German for no reason, Lilly Pulitzer, whiskey, Froyo, chicken nuggets (this should have been her), Hunter boots, anything monogrammed, and cold weather. She is also in the process of convincing me to use this fantastic website, Rent the Runway!

Follow her on Twitter @KEP1017 for her own mix of celebrity gossip, makeup pointers, fashion advice, and general complaints. Retweet with any suggestions for posts!



What do you do when you are a grad student with no money, even less free time, and a black-tie event around the corner? You Rent the Runway, of course!

RTR has a massive collection of designer dresses available to rent for a variety of special occasions. They have flirty cocktail dresses, stunning floor-length numbers, and a full selection of Hervé Léger’s famous(ly expensive) bandage dresses. You can even snag a classic Lilly Pulitzer creation for the next engagement/bridal/baby/insert-life-stage-here shower you attend!

RTR’s claim to fame is their “up to 90%” savings on luxury dresses and accessories. For example, this deceptively simple Hervé Léger gold bandage dress (left) retails for $2,800. You can rent it for the weekend for $200.

This gorgeous Badgley Mishka number (right) is $795 off-the-rack, and only $150 to your mailbox. Do I have your attention yet?

After spending the first few weeks of the semester locked away in the library, I was more than ready to trade my trusty sweatpants for a ball gown. Luckily, Barrister’s Ball (aka Law School Prom) was just around the corner. I love getting dressed up; but, now that I’m a little older, a $99 department store clearance rack taffeta creation doesn’t cut it. I needed something nice, and, naturally, I didn’t want to pay for it!

I was a bit wary about a) not being able to try anything on, and b) potentially destroying a $500+ dress that I can’t afford to replace.

Once I logged on to Rent the Runway, I discovered the website is incredibly easy to use. Once you pick the dress of your dreams, you can select two sizes. RTR does a great job of describing the fit of each dress. If you’re totally lost, they have stylists available round-the-clock to chat. I once cornered a stylist for the better part of an hour and made her decide whether I should wear gold or bronze shoes with my dress. Seriously.

After you select your dress, RTR also takes the extra step of recommending the perfect undergarments, accessories, and nail polish to complete your look. You also have the option of ordering a back-up dress of equal-or-lesser rental value for just $25. For that price, I don’t know why you wouldn’t. Shipping is steep at $17.95, but pre-paid return envelopes are included in the price. Insurance is only $5 and it protects you against minor stains (a spilled drink, makeup, or muddy train) and minor damage (loss of sequins, busted seam, or a ripped zipper) – basically, unless you destroy it, you’re covered. If your dresses arrive and nothing works for you, you can send everything back for a full refund less shipping within 24 hours.

My dresses arrived on Friday, and I had an impromptu fashion show with my roommates (who also used RTR) to help me decide which dress to wear. I ultimately decided to wear Trina Turk’s Twilight Shimmer Gown. I could have paid $398 to wear this dress once and have it sit in the back of my closet all by its lonesome for the next ten years (let’s be honest, ladies). Instead, I paid $100 to rock this fabulous number for one magical evening. Monday morning, I popped it in my prepaid envelope and dropped it off at the post office on my way to class. It’s that easy!

I highly recommend RTR for your next event. Whether you’re on a budget, or have no time to get to the mall before your next event, RTR is my new go-to for all of my future special events!

Final Tips:

  • Rentals go fast, so reserve your dress/accessories at least 2-3 weeks ahead if possible.
  • The typical rental period is 4 days. Costs nearly double if you rent for 8 days, so unless you are going on a cruise or another vacation where you won’t be able to return your dresses right away, 4 days is plenty.
  • RTR allows you to filter your results – I recommend filtering by size and date, because there is nothing worse than falling in love with a dress and realizing your size isn’t available for the date you need it!
  • Pay particular attention to whether the dress runs large or small. Designer labels tend to run small, so size up for at least one of your selections.
  • Schedule your dress to arrive the day before the event. That way, you have some leeway on final accessories and undergarments!

PS: Use the code “WELCOME20” at checkout to save $20 on your first order!

xo, Katie


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