Rent The Runway: The Netflix For Dresses

by Chiara Atik · November 5, 2009

    Do you have a  This-Is-Getting-Serious date coming up? Meeting The Parents soon? Maybe you're heading to a Sorority Party and don't know what to wear? Rent The Runway will lend you the perfect dress for every (quite specific!) occasion.


    It works like this: You sign up, go to the website, and pick a dress based on the occasion, such as "Birthday (mine!)" or "Girls' Night Out". (What they really need is a "Just Came From Work To Meet You Casually For A First Drink, No Big Deal" or "Haven't Seen You Since Our Awkward Breakup" categories...)

    Once you've picked out a dress, they'll send it to you that same day if you live in New York, and when you're done you just pop it in the mail, no dry cleaning necessary.

    The best part of Rent The Runway is their awesome chat feature that lets you instant message with a "professional stylist" who will give you advice based on, well, your description of yourself.  So naturally, I decided This-Is-Getting-Serious with my Not-Actually-Existent-Boyfriend, and asked the stylist for help.

    Stylist: Hi Chiara! Thanks for you interest in RTR! What can I do for you today?

    Chiara: I need a dress for a dinner is supposed to be a surprise but I'm *hoping* it's Minetta Tavern?

    Stylist: oh la la! Do you like something with color? Fitted? What kind of shape do you have so I can better search a fab dress for you?

    She actually said "oh la la". At this point, I'm pretty sure it's a robot. And I don't want to tell a robot my shape so that it can better search for "fab" dresses for me. So I made my fake requirements pretty simple.

    Chiara: I don't like strapless, and I don't like green (his ex ONLY wore green.) It has to be sexy. But not trampy. I can't look slutty but I have to look irresistable and something I can wear killer heels with cause I hate my calves in flats

    Stylist: ok great! i have a better idea now of what youre looking for!

    Hmmm, no punctuation or capitalization...maybe not a robot? She sent this dress:

    Not only is this dress vaguely green, but not exactly the sexy, warm, Minetta Tavern-y kind of dress that will get my fake-serious boyfriend to propose.

    Chiara: Maybe something a little less reptilian?

    Stylist: Are you open to one shoulder?

    Chiara: I am open to it, yes.

    After that, things went smoother, and the Stylist sent me a bunch of options, adding confidence boosters such as:

    Stylist: i know im feeling you would look great in the helmet lang cut out shoulder black dress with the long sleeves!!! so sexy! and your dinner date's mouth will drop!

    Which made me feel really good about myself until I remembered this lady has never actually laid eyes on me before.

    The Helmut Lang dress we finally picked out can be mine for $50, even though it retails for $415. Very affordable, and I know fake-boyfriend will definitely propose once he sees it.

    In the end, she was very helpful, offering to send my my dress in a variety of sizes, but never pressuring me into having to choose one. Rent The Runway is therefore, in my opinion, a pretty cool option for people whose budget isn't as endless as their invitations.You should definitely keep it in mind for your next Sorority Party.

    [All images via Rent The Runway].