Special Occasion Style: Rent, Wear, Return, Repeat
When it comes to planning an outfit for attendance at a special occasion, I’m terrible. I rarely think about what I’m going to wear more than a few days in advance. I end up throwing together something mediocre from my closet, grabbing everyday jewelry, and hope I have clean hair. No surprise, I always feel a little uncomfortable and self-conscious because I am not looking as great as I’d like.
With a shrinking closet, throwing together a last minute special occasion combination is even harder than it used to be. I don’t hold on to dresses I wear once every three years and don’t really love. I like it that way, because wearing those types of dresses doesn’t make me feel great anyway.
This year, with a cousin’s wedding on the calendar, I had absolutely nothing that was truly appropriate for the occasion. I had a couple of dresses I could have gotten away with, but I would have been under-dressed.
I was sick of feeling less than stellar at special occasion events. I also didn’t want to invest in an expensive dress I would only wear once or twice.
My solution: Rent The Runway
First-time customers get 20% off their first rental with this link.
You may be familiar with Rent The Runway. If not, they lend out women’s clothing for a fee that’s nominal compared to the full price of the pieces of purchased for keeps. The company started out lending only special occasion pieces and has grown to also offer a monthly subscription that includes more everyday attire. Monthly subscriptions, for the most part, aren’t really my thing. But for a special occasion, I was happy to rent this Elizabeth and James dress for a fraction of the price to buy it.
Unlike my typical last minute madness, I ordered my rental a couple months in advance. You don’t have to rent so early, but obviously earlier rental offers a better selection. I thought about accessories in advance (patting myself on the back) and showed up to the hotel knowing exactly what I would wear. I know it wouldn’t be much of an accomplishment for most of you, but it’s a win in my book. Ha.
I traveled to this wedding, meeting up with all my sisters and parents for the weekend. When I travel, I typically keep my accessories minimal. For this wedding, I chose my Nisolo earrings and sandals. The simple dress and understated accessories kept my look easy and comfortable yet intentional and complete. I considered dressing up the outfit a bit more with rented statement earrings but didn’t find anything from Rent The Runway that matched and struck my fancy.
Renting a special occasion dress could certainly cause some logistical errors. Various brands size their prices differently and these types of outfits often depend on really great fit.
Rent The Runway has done a pretty great job of mitigating much of the logistical difficulty. They ship the same dress in two sizes to offer a bit of flexibility if fit isn’t right. The community of ladies who rent the dresses also actively share photos and notes about body type and dress fit so you can get honest feedback from others with real bodies about what works for different shapes and sizes. I found this to be super helpful, particularly because the dress I borrowed runs VERY small. I ordered my dress in one and two sizes up from normal size, and I ended up wearing the larger one.
When I first started my adventure into my conscious consumption, I expected dressing more responsibly for special occasions would be a challenge. Sometimes ethical brands are more expensive, especially for higher end items like formal dresses. But as companies like ThredUp and Rent The Runway have grown and offer secondhand and rental options and budget-friendly prices, expanding ethical style beyond the basics like t-shirts and activewear has become much more feasible and mainstream.
In a couple months, we have another family wedding to attend. I’ll be renting again from Rent The Runway. Not only do I love that renting (and collaborative consumption in general) reduce manufacturing and waste, but I’m particularly excited about getting to wear another fun dress without a large investment or the leftover clutter in my closet.
Have you tried Rent The Runway? How was your experience? What tips do you have and would you do it again?
If not, Rent the Runway offers first-time customers 20% off their first rental, so be sure to check it out!
Dress – Elizabeth and James via Rent The Runway | Shoes – Nisolo | Earrings -Nisolo
I need this dress in my life! love the fit and the color!!
Abby | Life in the Fash Lane