I Rented the Runway {and It Almost Ruined My Event}

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Recently, my husband had a black tie event that we had to go to, and seeing as how I haven’t worn a formal gown since my wedding, and before that a sorority formal in 2004, I was in desperate need of a dress. I’d heard great things about Rent the Runway, so I thought I’d give it a try.

The Rent the Runway App. You can ‘heart’ what you like. They have lots of options to choose from!

Rent the Runway App

First, I downloaded the app, which is super user-friendly and had great filters for choosing dresses that are in your size, for the dates you need, in the colors/styles you like. I “hearted” several dresses and realized quickly that the reviews are where all the good information lies. The reviews come from other people all over the country that have worn the dress to an event and can tell you about what the dress is REALLY like. You can also filter the reviews to show you only the reviews from those with the same size and height that you are, which is SUPER helpful when choosing to size up or down or to get the “long” length.

About three weeks before my event, I chose this beautiful JS Collection Black Sweetheart Gown. I went with the long length because other gals that were my height of 5’7’’ said they needed the extra length with heels.

Waiting . . . and More Waiting

The Thursday before my event, I was so excited to receive the dress. The app told me it should arrive by 8:00 p.m. So I waited, and waited, and 8:00 p.m. came and went, and no dress. I waited till 9:00 p.m. (because I’m super patient, ha!) and I sent an e-mail to RTR saying, “Oh hey, by the way, my dress never came.”

The next day (Friday), I checked the porch and nothing, even though the app said it was delivered. I called the help line and waited 10 minutes before giving up and asking for a call back. I then hopped on Twitter and saw that they are very active at getting back to people. I tweeted to RTR that I hadn’t received my dress. About 30 minutes later, they asked me to DM them my details. About 30 minutes after I messaged them, they let me know that the dress was lost and that I could pick out a new dress to be over-nighted and it would arrive on Saturday. Cue my panic. I’m a planner, so getting a dress the day of my event that may or may not fit was a huge gamble. I went ahead and chose two dresses (that they ended up paying for), all the while mourning the loss of the gown that I would never see.

The Backup Plan

Friday night I scooted on down to Nordstrom Rack and bought a “back up” dress. It was a strapless navy gown that looked like a few bridesmaids dresses I have worn before and cost around $78. I also grabbed some earrings and Spanx because they had a great selection! Spanx are a girls best friend when wearing formal wear. 

Me in the “backup” dress from Nordstrom Rack.

Now the app said that I would receive the new dresses by 8:00 p.m. Saturday, but hold up, I was leaving for the event at 6:00 p.m. Uh, this could be a problem. But the sweet gal on Twitter said it should arrive by 1:00 p.m. Alright, feeling a tad bit better.

Saturday my family went to breakfast and when we got home at 9:30 a.m., the package was on the front porch!!! Here is what it looked like . . .

The bag that my two Rent the Runway dresses came in. It folded out like a garment bag.

I tried on the Navy BCBGMaxazaria dress in a 6R (R means it’s regular length). It was very fitted and beautiful, but it was way too short with heels. I should’ve gotten the long.

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The next dress was a halter-style black dress with a slit by Badgley Mischka in size 6L. It was a winner and a great length with heels, so it was the one! I felt beautiful in it.

Positives ::

Rent the Runway is cheaper than buying a dress. The dress I bought at Nordstrom Rack was about $78 and I did Rent the Runway for about $60 (you could maybe get it even cheaper with a promo code!). I don’t have a need for a lot of formal gowns, so sending something back is ideal for me. I also like having variety, so being able to rent something for a night and maybe try something new is really fun and exciting for me.

Negatives ::

Be prepared that things can get lost in the mail and you could be scrambling at the last minute. While they handled my situation very well and got me a dress that fit on time, I still went out and tried on dresses the night before. Part of the benefit of RTR is that you can try on the dress at home without having to go out and spend time shopping and trying on dresses in a poorly lit dressing room. Oh, and then I had to go back to Nordstrom Rack to return the backup dress. Lots of extra time was spent trying to fix this issue. (Side note: an acquaintance at the same event I was at has done Rent the Runway a couple of times, and both times she saw someone else in the same dress. This is just another possibility when using this service!)

The Verdict

Would I use Rent the Runway again? I think I would, but I would do things a bit differently next time. A couple days before it is supposed to arrive, I would check the tracking info and check in with a customer service rep to make sure it was on track to arrive. I also learned that paying a little extra and getting another size and/or dress style is super helpful. I liked being able to choose the dress once I tried it on. The reviews were great but could only help so much.

So would you try Rent the Runway? Or have you tried Rent the Runway and had a positive/negative experience? Let us know in the comments below! 

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Born at St. Vincents, Julie has lived in Birmingham nearly all her life, and she looks forward to meeting and connecting moms all over our community. Before having kids and co-founding Birmingham Mom Colllectie, she worked various jobs as a retail manager, merchandise manager, software support associate, and an HR recruiter. When she's not taking care of her two young children, you can find her (sometimes) working out, singing and fellowshipping at her church, playing golf (horribly), drinking sweet tea, and taking trips with her husband, Nathan. She loves all things coffee, Gilmore Girls, Disney World, Dolly Parton, and peanut m&ms!