T’is the season to be social – and last week I was set to go to the RBC Women of Influence Awards as Jean and I were nominees (yay!). But what to wear, what to wear? The awards event was stated to be black tie, so I guess I was supposed to pull out one of my many evening gowns for the night. Problem? Who actually buys evening gowns? They are completely impractical. But a gala is a gala, so I set out to find something. Well, Holt’s, TNT and The Bay’s The Room almost gave me a heart attack with their $2000 minimum for a long dress, and my fav designer consignment stores had nothing that fit me properly (the only problem with shopping vintage – its really luck of the draw). So, probably in an attempt to stop my moaning, my lovely fiance suggested I rent. He had heard about a Canadian company on CBC radio called Rent, Frock Repeat.
In the US and Japan renting luxury wares is not uncommon, you can easily find online companies that rent out high-end designer hand bags and couture pieces – but I hadn’t heard of a company doing it in wee, ol’ Canada. The few I had heard of had gone out of business. A few vintage stores in the city do this as well, but I didn’t really feel like showing up looking like I was wearing a costume from off the set of Mad Men. I loved this idea! It would be much less expensive than buying an evening gown that would sit in my closet unused and it was much less wasteful, cutting down on my personal consumption (point one for the planet).
It was really easy to do. I simply went onto the website and browsed around for what took my fancy. You have to sign up as a member to view their styles, but it honestly took me all of three minutes. Each dress is modeled by a variety of women with different body shapes, and their measurements along with the size of the dress they are wearing is provided. Don’t miss this! I almost did because I didn’t scroll through the smaller icons, I thought only the ones that were visible were provided, but there is an arrow beside them. Its purple and kind of blends into the page so I initially missed it. The frocks range from $50 to $525 and can be rented for four or eight days. I was especially delighted because they extended my rental for one extra day because my event was on a Monday and they don’t ship on the weekends. This meant that if I received it on the Friday, I would need to return it on the Monday itself. But after a quick email, they said that returning it on Tuesday at no extra cost would not be a problem – talk about excellent service. After you pick your rental pieces and time duration you choose two sizes: one that you think fits you and an option to order another size in case your estimations were incorrect (the second garment is provided at no charge).
I chose a royal blue Badgley Mischka with a pearl beaded belt, which was $150, but with shipping, insurance etc, came to $172. I had it shipped to our office and upon opening it, the two gowns were perfectly packed with a pre-paid return envelope, instructions and even some free cosmetics (unfortunately that would go unused bc of the chemical content). The size I thought would be best fit me very well and was super comfortable. But I will say that I rented something that I think was very low risk. It was very drapey but cinched in the waist, so there were few places that fit would be a problem, besides in the belt (that actually wasn’t adjustable).
I got a ton of compliments on my frock, and I think the colour photographed really well. Returning it was as easy as dropping it off at any Canada Post location. Packing it was a bit tricky because my padded pre-paid envelope was quite small to fit two full-length dresses with two matching beaded belts and hangers. But with Ben’s help we made it fit (although it did kind of look like a sausage stuffed into its casing).
I highly recommend renting, but I do stress choosing an item with a silhouette that you are familiar with because the last thing you want is an ill fitting dress just days before a big occasion. I had an excellent experience, and I am delighted that I could wear a great outfit to an upscale event without the need to buy an excessive piece of clothing or break the bank. So, if you have some special outings planned this holiday season, I’d recommend you check it out because its one way to keep your costs and consumption down during this expensive and often uber consumerist time of year.