I love an excuse to dress up, and the holiday season provides plenty. However, I’m not as big of a fan of the one-and-done nature of buying a cute outfit solely for parties or New Years Eve. Enter Rent the Runway.
The brand was actually founded back in 2009 and started as an online-only operation, renting designer dresses for a fraction of the retail price. (Legit designers, too, like Elizabeth and James and Halston Heritage.) You get a dress for four days, and Rent the Runway takes care of all the shipping, cleaning, etc. You can even rent jewelry and accessories to complete your look, with some pieces renting for as little as $5.
However, for those of you lucky enough to have a brick-and-mortar retail location nearby, it is absolutely the best way to go. The Chicago store opened earlier this year and it. is. gorgeous. I also love that they support local female entrepreneurs, whether it’s a piece of art in the shop, or a “The Real Runway” blog feature with total girlbosses like Anne Owen of Owen + Alchemy. (Which just so happens to be my favorite juice bar in the city.) They also local workshops on everything from hair styling to cake frosting that all sound super fun.
You can book an appointment with a stylist ahead of time, or just walk in and try on. I popped in on Sunday hoping to score an outfit for our office holiday party this Thursday. Just because I graduated college a couple of years ago doesn’t mean I’ve stopped procrastinating, okay?
My only complaint about the store is that rental prices are not clearly marked anywhere on the dresses, and the only way to figure it out is to try to sneakily look it up yourself on the app, or rely on your stylist. I have champagne taste on a
beer tap water budget, so needless to say, I pulled some pieces way out of my price range without even realizing they were. (Like this gorgeous Elizabeth and James shift that would have cost me $95 to rent…)
So, the best thing to do is go in armed with the app, and ideally a shortlist created of different looks you’d like to try. The store doesn’t have everything the website does, but it’s a good way to narrow down and at least somewhat try to keep yourself within a budget. I ended up selecting something slightly pricier (because of course), but luckily first-time renters get $25 off a rental of $75 or more – and my jumpsuit was exactly $75 dollars.
If your selected dress doesn’t hit the $75 mark, I believe they will also honor the website promo of 20% off for first time renters. Want a $20 credit? Leave your email in the comments below and I’ll send you my referral link! When you complete your first rental, we’ll both get $20 in credit – a win-win, wouldn’t you say?
Shop some of my favorite holiday-party rentals below – perfect for office parties, New Years Eve and more. And they’re all under $100, because like I said: champagne taste, tap water budget.
All images: Rent the Runway