Last Updated on April 11, 2023
Part of the fun of special events like prom or a wedding is getting dressed up! You get to look beautiful, have fun and take photos… but it’s unfortunately a sad tale for the clothes. Typically a formal dress is purchased, has one (maybe two if you’re lucky) special nights out, and then hangs in a closet for years collecting dust until it’s eventually discarded.
However, one amazing solution is dress rentals!
Here are 4 reasons why you should rent dresses and outfits for special events, proms, formals, parties, graduations, or weddings (you can even rent wedding dresses) instead of buying them — as well as some gorgeous prom rental dresses modeled by my cousin Kelley!
Renting a Dress Is More Sustainable
It doesn’t sound glamorous, but most formal dresses are essentially a pile of plastic. Clothing and especially synthetic dresses are incredibly unsustainable — there’s all the petroleum and other resources they require, and all the energy and labour to make them (possibly by underpaid and overworked garment workers). On top of that, there’s all the waste both from the manufacturing process and from discarded garments when people are done with them.
With rentals, however, one dress can be shared by many people — saving all the plastic, energy, pollution, and labour of producing far more new dresses!
You Can Save Money Renting a Dress (Sometimes a Lot)
Formalwear is expensive! And for good reason — it does take a lot of work to make, but it’s also a pretty penny to pay for something that only gets worn once or twice.
Prom dresses typically range from $100 – $600, with some even costing over $1,000! To rent a dress is more budget-friendly.
For comparison, here’s what the three dresses pictured cost new vs renting:
- Green fit & flare dress: regular price $180, rents for $45
- Sequin mermaid gown: regular price $267, rents for $60
- Blush pink ballgown: regular price $850, rents for $125
That’s a savings of $135 to $735!
Rent a Statement, Designer, or Dream Dress
Because formal dresses can be so expensive, there’s often pressure to get something that is versatile and can be worn more than once. While it’s of course a good thing to get more wear from a garment, it can also mean skipping over your “dream dress” in favor of something more practical and wearable.
With a rental you can indulge in that extravagant, statement, princess, or show-stopping dress without the worry or pressure of “where will I wear this again?“.
If you like designer clothing, it’s also a way to wear a beautiful designer dress for a fraction of the retail price. Renting a dress is also a good way to wear something unique, especially if you live in a small town where there’s not a lot of stores for formal wear.
No Cleaning or Storage Required
On top of the price of your formal outfit, there are usually also dry-cleaning costs, plus the hassle of taking it to the cleaners. With rentals, most companies take care of the cleaning for you! After your event you just return the garment.
Renting also means that you don’t need to find space to store your dress — especially great if you’re wanting a ballgown style which can sometimes take up half a closet just on their own. ?
How Do You Rent a Dress?
Renting a dress is pretty simple. You either go in to try them on and reserve for a few days around your event, or rent a dress online to be shipped for your event. You wear it, have a blast, and after the celebration drop it off or ship it back in a pre-paid shipping box or garment bag.
For more questions about how dress rental works, such as what happens it it gets damaged, I have a video and Q&A all about renting clothes.
How Can You Ensure a Dress Rental Will Fit?
This is an understandable concern with rentals, you of course want it to fit. So here are some ways to ensure a great fit:
Look for Local
Finding a place you can rent dresses locally means you can try on outfits beforehand to find the perfect fit and style. Many rental services have showrooms, and more small, local rental businesses seem to be opening up!
We got the green dress pictured from a lovely woman who runs The Dress Library in my hometown, Edmonton. She has a variety of formal to more casual dresses (include some vintage and costume pieces) for different events and styles. Another perk is that local rentals can also be even more affordable!
If you happen to be in Toronto, The Fitzroy also has a local showroom and an unbelievable selection of gowns and dresses.
Renting a dress locally means you can make sure everything fits and looks right beforehand, and you don’t have to worry about the shipping.
Go With Great Service
If you’re having a formal dress shipped, being able to ask a lot of questions is incredibly helpful!
The Fitzroy, where we got the pink ballgown from, has a store in Toronto and ships across Canada. They have hundreds of formal dresses to choose from (available in sizes 0-18) and amazing customer service! If you can’t go in to pick out a dress, you can book a free virtual appointment with one of their stylists; you can see the dresses and they provide suggestions based on your style and body type, and can also check the measurements to help with fit. Plus, they are available 24/7 to answer any questions you might have.
After we picked out a dress we liked, they were very helpful about the fit and checked Kelley’s measurements with the dress. Based on their recommendation we actually ended up sizing down, and I’m so glad for their feedback as it fit beautifully!
My biggest tip when ordering a special event dress is: don’t be afraid to ask questions about the dress and fit, and if you’re unsure which style to choose, they’re happy to help! Get as much info as you need, and definitely go with a company who has good communication and is helpful with answering your questions.
Get More Than One
While most special event rental companies rent one item short-term, getting a clothing rental subscription is another option. It gives you multiple items on a monthly basis, with some even offering swaps during the month. Many subscription services also carry formal dresses, so it could be a great way to pick out a few pieces to see what works best.
For example, Beyond the Runway, where we got the sequin gown, does either a one-time event rental starting at $60, and a monthly subscription starting at $99. Their monthly subscription allows you to rent 4 items and swap items once during the month if you chose.
With a subscription you could take time and try different options to find your perfect outfit as well as try out some other pieces in your wardrobe.
(if you’re interested in trying Beyond the Runway’s subscription, they gave me the promo code BTR621KXN which you can use for 50% you first month ?)
Where else can you rent a dress from?
If you’re interested in learning more about renting clothes, check out my video all about it.
Overall, I’ve had a great experience every time I’ve rented pieces, and love that you can wear beautiful garments for a more affordable price, without the extra commitment, and also reduce the environmental impact. It just makes sense, especially for formal dresses which get worn once!