I have been eyeing various incarnations of Herve Leger's bandage dress for over a year now, checking Saks and Net-a-Porter's websites regularly, and trying it on in several boutiques.
And every time, I almost make the purchase, but in the end, I can't justify the $1500 price tag. I had almost given up on my dream of surprising my boyfriend in what is often considered the sexiest dress of the decade, but then I discovered a brilliant solution for fellow recessionistas: Rent the Runway.
Rent the Runway is an invite-only site that enables women to rent a designer dress (labels like Badgley Mischka, Matthew Williamson, and Proenza Schouler) for between $50-$200. I can wear my beloved bandage dress for a full four days for only $150.
According to founders Jenny Fleiss and Jennifer Hyman, being fashionable should be easy: "As fun-loving girls growing up in New York, we observed the latent need for a service like Rent the Runway to accommodate our need for special dresses for all of the special occasions in our lives. Rent the Runway is designed for girls just like us who have many fun events in their lives, but don’t want the guilt or the expense of purchasing so many different outfits. Every girl wants the Carrie Bradshaw closet but who has the space, time, or money to assemble such a collection?"
Rent the Runway allows users to search for dresses by designer, style, and trend. They also categorized dresses by occasions as varied as "girls' night out", "fall wedding", and even the "this is getting serious date". Users unsure of their size can order the same dress in two sizes, and those debating between two (or three) dresses can order a second dress for only $25. Dresses arrive with a pre-paid envelope (like Netflix) and users can chat with the site's stylists for sizing, accessorizing, and other advice. There is even a same-day courier service for those in New York City.
Fleiss and Hyman comment: "Especially with the popularity of Facebook, girls face a social pressure to constantly be on trend and avoid repeating outfits. We ourselves have faced so many times in our lives when we would love to pop into Barney’s to buy the latest Herve mini but can’t justify the purchase. Rent the Runway enables girls to have fun with fashion, reach outside of their comfort zone to experiment with new designers, and expand their wardrobes beyond their wildest dreams!"