Exclusive shopping clubs and fashion rental sites are all the rage these days. But are they worth your hard-earned cash? You might be surprised ...
What it is: Rent the Runway is an online designer dress and accessory rental site. They offer such brands as Badgley Mischka, Calvin Klein, Proenza Schouler, and Missoni for a fraction of the retail price. For example, Herve Leger's famous Bandage Dress normally sells for $2,150, but you can rent the dress for four days for $200.
How it works: Once you register, you can look through the site for a dress that fits your occasion -- they even have bridesmaid dresses. After you find the dress you want to borrow, you fill out your fit information, and they tell you if the dress is available. (RTR suggests booking at least two weeks in advance.) To ensure the perfect fit, you can order the dress in two sizes for free.
What we found: The site is extremely user friendly, and we could search for a dress by price, designer, style, etc. Each dress page comes with fit and sizing tips, as well as honest reviews from previous wearers. And if you still need help, stylists are on hand to answer any questions, either through live chat or the phone. We loved that you were able to get the dress in two sizes, and for an additional $25 you could order another dress (in two sizes). Plus, if none of the dresses fit, you get your money back. As for wine spillage or sequin loss, that's covered by the $5 insurance fee.
However, several reviews said they received a call two days before an their event and were informed that the dress they reserved was not ready. Several other reviews said the dresses and jewelry came in less than pristine condition -- faded, wrinkled, or with minor pulls and stains. And some users said they had problems finding an available dress in a certain size. Sounds a little iffy. Let's just say we probably wouldn't rent without our own backup.
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