8 Best Sites To Rent a Dress for Formal Events (And More)

Two of the top online dress rental shops: Rent the Runway and Nuuly Rent

It is a truth universally acknowledged that trends come and go faster than Ken’s Mojo Dojo Casa House

Time after time, we’re invited to one-off events and expected to avoid a “Lizzie McGuire, you are an outfit repeater” moment! I don’t know about you but that’s unrealistic, wasteful, and (not to mention) harmful to our planet. 

That’s not the journey we want for ourselves, especially if we have better, more economical, and environmentally friendly options to choose from!  

As someone who owns a secondhand thrift shop, I always try to opt for secondhand, however, there are really specific times when that’s not the most accessible option. While some of us have luck thrifting the perfect cocktail dress in our size, that might not always be the case for everyone. 

Enter: rental clothing services. 

Clothing rental services have emerged as a popular and more-sustainable alternative to traditional shopping. By providing a cost-effective solution, a diverse range of styles, and the benefits of reducing fashion waste, these services have attracted style-seeking folks (like yourself!) striving for a more eco-conscious way to enjoy trendy and high-quality pieces — without the long-term commitment. 

We’re breaking down the best places to rent dresses for your next special occasion! From formal galas to outdoor weddings to cottagecore pieces, there’s something for everyone. 

Let’s raid some online closets! 

By the way, some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you!

Where To Rent a Dress Online

Rent the Runway

Rent The Runway Homepage Showcasing A Fall Wedding Dress On The Left and a 9-5 Style Jacket On The Right

What’s good: One of the OG online rental platforms, Rent the Runway — a woman-owned-and-operated company — offers everything from elegant gowns to everyday dresses. It’s a go-to for many (including myself!) looking for special occasion dresses and accessories. 

The process is pretty straightforward: Reserve an outfit in advance for a specific date, wear it, and return it using the prepaid shipping label. No need to worry about dry cleaning — they’ve got it handled! 

As someone notoriously prone to indecision, one of my favorite features is the ability to view uploaded photos from previous renters within a specific size, height, and body type range. 

Even better, Rent the Runway also offers a free back-up size with every order (which is incredibly unique to the company and so helpful for those in a bit of a tight crunch). 

We also love the company’s commitment to caring for our planet. Starting in 2022, Rent the Runway committed to offsetting 100% of its carbon emissions from shipments to and from customers.

Prices: Explore current plans

Sizing: 00 to 22, in addition to maternity sizes

Dress options: 

Rent from Rent the Runway

Nuuly

Nuuly's Homepage Showcasing Two Beautiful Dresses

What’s good: Another one of our team’s go-to rental platforms is Nuuly. It features a mix of URBN brands (like Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, and Free People), trendy, up-and-coming designers, premium denim labels, and exclusive vintage pieces. I’ve turned to this subscription service for my honeymoon, weekend getaways, and stylish happy-hour outings!  

With its monthly subscription, renters can choose up to six items they like, and Nuuly takes care of everything else (including laundry and dry cleaning). One of my favorite features? They don’t implement late fees. 

On the sustainability front, Nuuly mends any damaged rental items and repurposes them through its Re_Nuuly line. Out-of-circulation pieces are not thrown out either; instead, they are resold through Nuuly Thrift

Oh, and don’t get us started on its rental tote, which also contributes to its sustainability efforts. Each tote replaces about 40 cardboard boxes, poly bags, and plastic hangers. 

Prices: Explore current plans

Sizing: XXS to 5X, including petite and maternity options

Dress options: 

Rent from Nuuly

Le Tote

Le Lote's Homepage Showcasing Their New Arrivals and Explaining How The Website Works

What’s good: Moms-to-be, Le Tote might be the perfect fit for you! While this company does offer a wide range of styles and brands for every woman, we think this company shines in the way it caters to women during every stage of pregnancy (including nursing). 

The process to rent is pretty straightforward: You wear the clothes you’ve chosen, send them back, and within days, you receive your next batch of options — making it ideal for those who regularly purchase new clothing for work events or those who are pregnant and seeking a rotating range of maternity dresses. 

Like other rental service platforms, Le Tote also shares customer photos and reviews to make it easier for renters to feel confident about their decisions. 

Le Tote provides free 2–3 day shipping and takes care of the dry cleaning. Those who fall in love with their pieces can keep them at a discounted rate. 

Prices: Explore current plans

Sizing: 0 to 16, including maternity 

Dress options: 

Rent from Le Tote

Gwynnie Bee

Gwyniie Bee's Website Showcasing Two People Wearing Dresses. The Person On The Left Is Wearing a Teal Dress And The Person On The Right A Tropical Dress

What’s good: Of all the rental platforms on this list, Gwynnie Bee is by far the most inclusive — offering sizes from 0 to 32. The team behind this service ensures that all body types can access the most stylish dresses to add to their closet rotation.

Its straightforward monthly membership offers anything from workwear to casual and formal dresses. Similar to the other rental sites mentioned in this article, shipping and dry cleaning are included in the membership. 

Its flat monthly fee provides great value for those looking to experiment with different styles and looks, allowing you to explore the vast collection of up to 10 items at once, making it perfect for fashion enthusiasts seeking variety and versatility.

Prices: Explore current plans

Sizing: 0 to 32

Dress options: 

Rent from Gwynnie Bee

Armoire

Armoire's Homepage Explains How Renting Clothes With Them Works

What’s good: If you love a good style quiz, this rental service will be a fun stop for you. Armoire is a personalized clothing rental membership that gives users access to thousands of high-end styles at a flat monthly fee. 

What sets Armoire apart is its focus on personalization. Through its style quiz algorithm and personal stylists, it offers a highly curated monthly box of clothing aligned to your taste. (No need to scroll through endless pages of dress options.) 

Armoire also does a good job of elevating rising women- and POC-owned brands — introducing shoppers to up-and-coming labels they might not know about. 

Prices: Explore current plans

Sizing: 0-3X, including maternity 

Dress options: 

  • Maternity 
  • Casual
  • Cocktail
  • Night Out
  • Work Casual
  • Work Formal

Rent from Armoire

Vince Unfold

Vince Unfold's Website Showcasing Their Clothes, Different Styles And Colors

What’s good: Where are my minimalist girlies? Vince Unfold, the rental platform from the brand Vince, has quickly become a favorite among fashion enthusiasts seeking timeless and sophisticated wardrobe staples.  

Known for its high-quality pieces that ooze luxury (without the hefty price tags), Vince Unfold offers a wide selection of rentable items, ranging from elegant silk dresses to cotton summer mini dresses. 

By saving at least 10 styles to your Edit folder, you’ll receive a set of four items each month, with unlimited shipping and exchanges for a flat monthly fee. 

The convenience of unlimited shipping and exchanges, combined with the option to keep your favorite pieces at a discounted rate, makes Vince Unfold a go-to platform for those who value versatility and sustainability.

Prices: Explore current plans

Sizing: 0-24

Dress options: 

Rent from Vince Unfold

Fashion to Figure Closet

Fashion To Figure Closet's Homepage Showcasing Their New Arrivals and Explaining How The Website Works

What’s good: Fashion to Figure Closet is fashion for all curves. The company offers a treasure trove of stylish, trendy pieces to choose from. Getting ready to go on vacation? Planning a fun night out? You’re bound to find the perfect something for your one-off event! 

The convenience of renting through Fashion to Figure makes it easy to return and repeat as much as you like, allowing endless experimentation with different styles and looks.

If you fall in love with one of your rental pieces, Fashion to Figure Closet offers up to 50% off the retail price. 

Prices: Explore current plans

Sizing: 12-28

Dress options: 

Rent from Fashion to Figure Closet

Tulerie

Tuliere's Website Displaying Their Homepage

What’s good: For those seeking designer rentals and who love a sense of community, this one’s for you! Tulerie is a peer-to-peer luxury rental app that allows users to share and explore other people’s closets — gaining access to a collection of curated designer items from top brands like Bottega Veneta, Christian Dior, Gucci, Zimmermann, and more. 

To join this community, new members are required to go through a vetting process — including a FaceTime call. The platform’s unique approach makes sure that everyone’s on the same page and confident in being a part of this community.  

For borrowers, simply scroll through shared closets, filter by preferences, and discover vintage gems and luxury designer pieces. Requesting an item from the lender is also easy, with options to choose the delivery date and rental duration (4, 10, or 20 days). Similar to other rental platforms, the lender takes care of cleaning the item — making the rental experience so much more convenient and stress-free for the borrower. 

Prices: Tulerie is free to join, however, you are expected to pay the rental fee of your borrow.

Sizing: XS to XL

Dress options: 

Rent from Tulerie

Frequently Asked Questions

How do clothing rental services work?

Clothing rental services allow you to borrow seasonal and special occasion pieces for a short period of time. Rather than dropping a lot of money to buy something that you might only wear once, these companies allow you to borrow their pieces for a set duration of time. 

While online shopping for your temporary purchase, you can easily find the perfect style by filtering your choice of style, color, occasion, and price. Some rental services offer a subscription, while others offer a one-time price for the rental garment. The prices vary based on designer, label, and the original price, however, you, as the renter, get a discounted price while renting.

Is it cheaper to rent or buy a dress?

It depends! The cost of renting clothes can vary based on the type of item, the brand, and the rental period. In general, renting is often more affordable than purchasing something new (especially if you only plan on wearing it once and when it comes to high-end or designer items).

What is the return process like? Do I need to wash my clothes?

Typically, returning items to rental services is a hassle-free process, (especially with the services mentioned in this article!). When the rental period comes to an end, you are expected to place the items back into the original packaging (so remember to save it). Most rental services handle the cleaning and maintenance themselves, so there’s no need for you to wash the clothes before returning them.

The package usually includes a pre-paid label for easy return shipping. You can either drop it off at a designated location or, if available, take advantage of a free pick-up service. 

Once the rental service receives the returned package, they will professionally clean and inspect the items, ensuring they are in excellent condition for the next customer. For a smooth return experience, make sure to review the specific return policies of the rental service. 

What happens if I keep an item?

If you keep a rented item beyond the agreed-upon rental period, you may face late fees, which are added to the original rental cost and charged to your payment method. 

Some services offer the option to extend the rental duration for an additional fee, while others may charge you the full retail price of the item if it is not returned at all. 

To avoid this, it’s crucial to be mindful of the rental period, return items on time, and communicate with the rental service if you need an extension.

And lastly, many rental services give you the opportunity to buy a rental product outright so you can keep it forever.

Article Details

September 6, 2023 9:17 AM
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