To most people (including me), the idea of owning a designer dress is the stuff of dreams — but that doesn't stop me gazing longingly at high fashion and luxe Instagram accounts, trying to figure out whether I'd ever need that Maison Margiela cold shoulder in a slightly higher cut. If you're wondering whether there's a way of making those coveted frocks a little more accessible to your budget, I am here to tell you there is. So, without further adieu, this is how to rent a designer dress.
That's right, there are actual companies that allow you to rent a high-end designer gown for the night, or if you wish, for even longer. Because it turns out, millennials can no better afford to buy couture than they can afford to buy their own homes (is it all that avocado toast?). It turns out that there are a host of places from which you can hire the dress of your dreams without having to cough up the hefty price tag. And it does seem a sensible idea, as even some of my most beloved dresses have only seen a handful of outings — giving me serious pause when I start thinking about their price per wear.
One such outlet is Girl Meets Dress. This company claims to be on a mission to "democratise luxury" by offering a very simple service. You need just visit their decidedly easy-to-use website, find a frock that catches your eye, and place an order in your size (just as you might when buying a dress from, say, ASOS). They'll then send the dress out to you, which you can wear for the event of your choosing. Afterwards, you simply send the dress right back.
You can browse by designer, or use their very fun "As Seen On A Celebrity" feature. On there you'll find a ruby red Beulah number Tess Daly was spotted in on Strictly Come Dancing, and a Krystof Strozyna bodycon as previously seen on Cheryl. And if you're not already tempted, Girl Meets Dress also point out that dress hiring is considerably better for the environment than dress buying, as there will be less wasted resources and a smaller carbon footprint (alongside not costing you an arm and a leg).
Another place where you can rent a dress is via Hire The Catwalk: a website dedicated to gowns that have been strutted down the runway. So if you're one for following the London Fashion Week happenings from afar, then this might be the option for you. They offer a similar format: you find the size you want, they post it to you, and you post it back after. Another similar option is the website Chic By Choice, featuring dresses by everyone from Alberta Ferretti to Valentino.
But what happens if you're wearing a hired designer dress, one that may have cost upwards of £1,000, and you tip a glass of Pinot Noir down yourself, or dunk your elbow into some gravy? Both those things that have never happened to me, I'm obviously just asking... Well, Girl Meets Dress would hopefully have you covered, if you elected to use their insurance. For just £7.00 per dress, they will sort you out for "these types of minor damages", according to Girl Meets Dress. A spokesperson tells me: "Our customers wear and look after the dresses as though borrowed from a friend. We understand that spills may be inevitable and beyond your control. So we take care of the dry cleaning each time an item is returned."
So if you have a special do on the horizon, and you want to dress to impress, albeit on a budget — then this might be the option for you. Just go easy on the red wine, be sure to use a napkin, and maybe opt for the insurance, just to be safe.