How To Rent Formal Dresses For Special Occasions: Essentials You Need To Know

Want to dazzle at a formal event without spending a fortune on designer attire? This article outlines how renting formal dresses is not only a cost-effective option but also offers various other benefits.

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How To Rent Formal Dresses For Special Occasions: Essentials You Need To Know

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Key takeaways

  • Renting formal dresses offers access to designer fashion at a fraction of the cost, allowing you to showcase your elegance without breaking the bank.
  • By renting formal dresses, you contribute to a sustainable fashion ecosystem, reducing textile waste and minimizing the environmental impact of clothing production.
  • Online dress platforms offer a hassle-free experience, from selecting dresses to easy returns, saving you time.


Formal events like weddings, galas, or executive conferences require outfits fit for the grandeur of the occasion. While you may want to look stunning at these events, the desire to make a lasting impression can come at a hefty cost, as designer dresses typically cost thousands of dollars. Fortunately, getting a formal dress doesn't have to cost you an arm and a leg.

In this article, we'll explore how renting formal dresses can result in significant cost savings and offer several other benefits. We'll also explore some of the best places to rent designer dresses so that you can find the perfect dress for your next big event. Let's dive in!

Benefits of Renting Designer Dresses

While the allure of purchasing a new formal dress is certainly undeniable, renting a formal dress comes with numerous benefits. Here are some of the benefits of renting a formal dress:

1. Cost Savings

Buying a high-quality formal dress, especially one from a reputable designer, can strain your wallet. On the other hand, renting a formal dress can cost you a fraction of the cost of buying a new one.

And best of all? Renting a formal dress not only frees up your budget for other expenses for your big occasion but also ensures you don't compromise on style and elegance. By renting a designer dress, you can indulge in luxurious fashion without breaking the bank, making it a viable option if you're looking for both sophistication and savings.

2. Access to a Variety of Dresses

The desire to don a designer dress worn by an A-list Hollywood celebrity is probably a dream you harbor. But here's the stark reality: Many designer dresses cost a fortune! So, if you're shopping for a dress from a popular fashion label on a budget, you might have limited options. That's where rental dress platforms come in handy.

On rental dress platforms, you'll get to rent exquisite dresses beyond your budget for a new dress. From timeless classics to the latest trends, you'll have the chance to select from a wide variety of dresses that embody elegance and sophistication.

3. Space Savings

Formal dresses aren't everyday wear. They're typically reserved for special occasions, and you'll unlikely wear the same dress to multiple events. As a result, formal dresses often spend more time hanging dormant than being showcased. Renting formal dresses eliminates the need to set aside precious closet space for garments you rarely wear.

By opting to rent, you not only avoid closet clutter but also rid yourself of the guilt that comes with letting costly, rarely-worn dresses gather dust.

4. Convenience

Preparing for big occasions can be relatively stressful. From getting your hair done to finding the right accessories to complement your outfit, there's lots to do. Throw searching and buying a formal dress into the mix, and the entire process can become overwhelming.

Rental dress companies can alleviate the burden of finding a formal dress. With just a few clicks, rental dress websites can provide an extensive catalog of designer dresses filtered by price, size, designer, color, occasion, and more. This can save you the hassle of physically visiting multiple stores, saving you valuable time and energy to prepare for your big event.

And best of all? After your special occasion, you won't have to worry about dry cleaning or maintenance. You can simply return the designer dress to the rental company.

5. Access to Trendy Designs

Fashion trends come and go, and staying on-trend can be challenging, especially if you're purchasing a dress you might wear only a few times. That's where the beauty of renting formal dresses comes into play — providing you with on-trend collections for every occasion.

Renting formal dresses allows you to access what's in vogue without the commitment of ownership. Unlike formal dresses in your wardrobe that may go out of style after some time, dress rental services update their collections frequently to reflect what's trending. So, you won't have to worry about wearing a dress that looks like a throwback to a bygone era and sticking out like a sore thumb at your next special event. 

By renting a designer dress, you'll get access to various dresses that align with your taste, the latest runway looks, and celebrity-inspired ensembles.  

6. Eco-Friendly Choice

The fast fashion industry, notorious for its ridiculously fast production cycles, is one of the most polluting industries worldwide. It's responsible for up to 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions — more than the aviation and maritime shipping industries combined (UNECE, 2018). When you rent rather than buy new clothes, you help mitigate this problem and reduce your carbon footprint.

Additionally, renting helps to reduce the amount of clothing that ends up in landfills. In the US alone, an estimated 11.3 million tonnes of textile waste, equivalent to roughly 85% of all textiles, ends up in landfills (US EPA, 2022). Worse still, many of the garments disposed of in landfills are made of synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon, and spandex, which aren't biodegradable.

Rental dress companies take great care in maintaining and cleaning dresses after use, ensuring they're in pristine condition for the next wearers. So, when you choose to rent rather than buy, you help to prevent dresses from ending up in landfills and extend their lifespan, making renting a win-win for both your pocket and the environment.

While renting a designer dress is a great way to be more eco-friendly, here are some extra ways to make renting even more eco-friendly:

  • Choose a dress made from sustainable materials like organic cotton, Lyocell (Tencel), recycled polyester, or other sustainable fabrics.
  • Take good care of the dress while you have it to extend its lifespan.
  • Choose a rental dress company that prioritizes sustainable practices like using recycled packaging and adopting eco-friendly cleaning methods.

7. Ethical Choice

Besides contributing significantly to environmental degradation, the fast fashion industry is infamous for its unethical practices. The industry employs nearly 60 million textile workers globally (FashionUnited, n.d.). Sadly, nearly 98% of these workers don't earn a living wage (The Lowest Wage Challenge, n.d.). Worse still, many of these workers work in unsafe environments and are exposed to harmful chemicals (McNeil, 2023).

And away from its unfair treatment of textile workers, the fast fashion industry is also notorious for animal cruelty. In fact, according to a study of 77 leading global brands, it was found that only 25% of brands had formal animal welfare policies to protect animals from harm (FOUR PAWS in US, n.d.).

By choosing to rent rather than buy, you indirectly support the fight against these unethical practices and promote ethical consumption.

Best Places to Rent Formal Dresses

Now that you know some of the benefits of renting dresses for your special occasion, you might be wondering where to start your rental journey. Fortunately, several reputable dress rental platforms cater to various preferences and budgets. Here are some of the best:

Rent the Runway

A pioneer in the dress rental industry, Rent the Runway offers an extensive collection of designer dresses for different occasions. From elegant gowns to chic cocktail party dresses, their collection covers a wide array of styles and sizes, featuring popular brands like Ralph Lauren, Ulla Johnson, Sau Lee, Sabina Musayev, and more. With the option of renting dresses for a few hours or days to several weeks, Rent the Runway offers flexibility for different timelines depending on your needs.


If you're looking for a platform with high-quality dresses, Armoire might be your go-to. On the Armoire site, you'll find premium dresses from popular brands like Joie, Lilly Pulitzer, Gravitas, and more. And best of all? Armoire is committed to providing sustainable clothing, so you can look and feel good about renting dresses from the platform.

Gwynnie Bee

Struggling to find a dress your size? Then you might want to visit Gwynnie Bee. Gwynnie Bee offers a wide collection of dresses for various formal events ranging from size 0 to 32 from top brands like Ralph Lauren, Hutch, and Leota. And best of all? The dress rental site offers great promotions like 50% off the first month with free shipping and unlimited returns promotion for first-time customers, making it a great budget option. 


An Australian-based platform, GlamCorner is popular for its diverse collection of designer dresses that cater to various body types and preferences. With a wide variety of dresses for several special occasions, the Certified B Corporation makes it easy to find the perfect ensemble for your event.


ThredUP is an online consignment and thrift store where you can sell and buy used clothes. While the platform is renowned for providing secondhand clothes, they also have a section for renting formal dresses from top brands like Ralph Lauren, Sau Lee, Free People, French Connection, Sabina Musayev, and more. If you're searching for an affordable option, thredUP is a great option.

Factors to Consider When Renting Formal Dresses

While the rental dress platforms we've explored are all reputable, here are some key factors to keep in mind when renting a formal dress to ensure a seamless experience:

1. Sizing and Fit

An elegant designer dress shouldn't just look good. It should also fit well. Check the sizing charts provided by the rental platform and measure yourself accurately to ensure you get a well-fitting dress.

2. Rental Policies

Familiarize yourself with the rental policies of the platform you choose, such as rental duration, return deadlines, potential late fees and damage charges.

3. Try-on Options

Some rental platforms provide the option to try on dresses before committing to a referral. Check whether the platform you're considering offers this option if you want to assess the dress's fit, style, and look in person.

4. Accessories

Consider the accessories you'll pair with the dress, such as handbags or jewelry. Some rental services offer accessory bundles that can elevate your look.

5. Reviews and Recommendations

Before narrowing down on a platform, read reviews from previous clients or ask for recommendations from close friends and family to assess the platform's customer service, dress quality, and reliability.

6. Budget 

Last but not least, consider your budget. While renting is generally more affordable than buying, certain fees, such as shipping and late return fees, can increase costs. Also, consider whether you'll need to rent dresses often. If yes, you might want to sign up for a rental service with a monthly subscription fee rather than one that only offers one-time rentals.


Why buy when you can rent a dress?

Renting a dress offers numerous advantages over buying. It’s cost-effective, it can save you precious closet space, and you can get access to a variety of dresses. Additionally, renting allows you to stay on-trend and wear styles that might be beyond your budget for a new dress.

What is dress rent?

Dress rent is renting a dress for a specific period, usually for special occasions like weddings, executive conferences, or cocktail parties. It's an excellent way to save money on a dress you may only wear a handful of times.

Should I buy or rent a dress?

Whether you should buy or rent a dress depends on various factors like your budget and preferences. If you’re looking for a designer dress on a budget that you’ll only wear once, renting may be a more viable option.

How do I put my dress on rent?

You can put your dress on rent at online rental companies or consignment shops. While both these platforms typically take a commission on the rental fee, they can be an excellent way to get your dress in front of potential renters.

Can you make money renting clothes?

Yes, you can make your money renting clothes. Various online and offline platforms allow you to rent your clothes to others. However, many charge a commission on the rental fee.

Why is renting clothes more sustainable?

Renting clothes is more sustainable than buying because it prevents clothes from ending up in landfills, minimizes carbon emissions from the production of clothes, and minimizes the demand for resources like water, energy, and land to produce clothes.

Is clothing rental the future?

As more consumers learn about the benefits of renting clothes and the fashion industry's environmental impact, clothing rental will likely continue to grow in popularity.


Renting a formal dress rather than buying one comes with many benefits. If you want to make a statement, look trendy, and save money while championing sustainable consumption, you should consider renting a dress for your next formal event.


UN Alliance aims to put fashion on path to sustainability | UNECE. (2018, July 12).

Textiles: Material-Specific Data | US EPA. (2022, December 3). US EPA.

Global fashion industry statistics. (n.d.). FashionUnited.

State of The Industry: Lowest Wages to Living Wages. (n.d.).

McNeil, M. (2023, June 12). Are There Hidden Chemicals In Our Clothing? — Remake. Remake.

World First Report finds fashion industry lagging on animal welfare. (n.d.). FOUR PAWS in US - Global Animal Protection Organization.

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Alyciah Beavers

Committed to promoting sustainability and am pleased to have the opportunity to share my enthusiasm with you.

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