The Top Places to Rent Gowns for Formal Occasions

The Top Places to Rent Gowns for Formal Occasions
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Getting dressed every day can be a struggle in itself, but figuring out what to wear for a formal occasion is when the panic really starts to settle in. And given the onslaught of dressy events that occur during our lifespan, from proms to weddings to galas to (for the rare few) red carpet events, dropping stacks of Benjamins on a gown that you'd only wear once—maybe twice—doesn't seem like the smartest move, from a financial and a closet space-saving POV. What we're trying to say here is that gown rental places are a godsend. To borrow a dress for a fraction of its retail price? Genius. We rounded up our favorite places to find a dream dress (fit for any occasion) that you can rent.

Rent the Runway

Why we love it: The brand has dominated the clothing rental sphere since its inception. And it just keeps getting better and better, with an expansion into bridal accessories, plus-size clothing, exclusive multi-designer capsule collections, and sportswear. But the selection of gowns continues to be the brand's bread and butter. You can filter the dresses by occasion, level of formality, length, sleeves, body type, neckline, age range, and designer.

The best part: Customer's reviews and pictures of what the dress looks like worn on real women.

How it works: Sift through the styles to pick out the dress you want to rent (either through the site, the app, or in person), pick two sizes (a backup size is free if you're unsure), figure out how long you want to rent it for (the range is from four to eight days), pick your delivery date, and ship your dress by noon on your return date (a pre-paid shipping label is provided).

Garment Exchange

Why we love it: The newly launched site is positioning itself as "the Airbnb of clothing," meaning that you can rent from someone else's closet. And while it's currently offline (due to site developments), we got a sneak peek of some of its features, which includes browsing by clothing style (both formal and casual that you can filter by style and color) or by owners' wardrobes.

The best part: You have the option to be the renter and the owner.

How it works: To rent, make your selection, allow four to five business days for shipping, save the shipping label and bag, and return the piece (flip the label and reuse the bag), and drop it off at a UPS location by your return date.

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Style Lend

Why we love it: It's very similar to Garment Exchange in that you can rent from someone's closet or lend from your own. The only caveat: It's based only in New York. The perk to that? If you're local, you can get your rental in a matter of hours, and Style Lend will take care of the pickup (along with the dry cleaning bill).

The best part: The quick on-demand service—perfect for a last-minute soiree.

How it works: Browse through clothing (they're broken up by style and occasion), receive it in hours for seven days, and they'll come pick it up on your return date.

Couture Collective

Why we love it: A luxe selection of high-end ready-to-wear looks from designers like Valentino, Dior, and Stella McCartney, that you can rent for the season if you're a member. You pay 20 percent of the retail price and choose up to five dates to wear the piece. There are rental options for one night only (you pay 10 percent of the retail price for a single wearing).

The best part: The high-end designer range.

How it works: Sign up for a membership and start reserving your selections. Members are responsible for delivery charges and for dry cleaning.


Why we love it: Much like Couture Collective, Armarium will be a membership-only online service, in which consumers can have their pick of a nicely curated selection of high-end designer looks, including Alessandra Rich, Nina Ricci, and Anthony Vaccarello. The site doesn't officially launch until March, but you can request a "key" to join.

The best part: You only pay 15 percent of the retail price. The downside: You have to be based in N.Y.C. to join (as of now).

How it works: We don't have any more deets for you at the moment, but we suggest making a request for a key now.

Gwynnie Bee

Why we love it: It's a women's plus-size subscription box service (sizes 10 to 32) that offers everything from work wear to cocktail dresses. You add the styles you love to your "online closet," which are then delivered to you, complete with unlimited exchanges.

The best part: You can buy your rentals if you fall in love with them—for a fraction of their retail price.

How it works: Become a member, add styles to your online profile, wear, and return (shipping is free, as is dry cleaning).

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