Rent the Runway Now

Oh, Harvard Business School, you've given us so much: the worst president since James K. Polk, a former Enron CEO convicted of white-collar crimes and a Real Housewife of DC. On a deeper note, you also helped in the solution for the worst problem to plague women since the operation of a vehicle: a closet full of clothes but nothing to wear.

A couple of years ago, Jenn Hyman noticed her sister struggling to find a dress to wear to a wedding because the perfect ones were out of her budget. Hyman was inspired to give women in a similar position the chance to feel like a million bucks, so being a business student and all, she took the idea to fellow Harvardite Jenny Fleiss, and Rent the Runway was born. The New York-based company allows ladies across the country to rent gorgeous designer dresses for around 10 percent to 20 percent of the retail price. After the garment arrives, you get to use it for four to eight days before returning it in a pre-postaged envelope. No more retail-therapy guilt from wearing a must-have, triple-digit-priced dress once, and there are plenty more opportunities for complements when you're able to wear a new outfit to every see-and-be-seen party/wedding/funeral/court date.

In stock are more than 140,000 gowns, cocktail dresses and Vegas-style designs from more than 165 labels, including Diane Von Furstenberg, Dolce and Gabbana, Nannette Lepore, See by Chloe, and Anna Sui. Each order comes with an extra size free of cost so you can try both on at home to ensure a perfect fit. Neither fits? Never fear—you'll get a full refund (minus shipping costs). Dress rentals start at about $50 and cap off around $400. Most sit in the $75-to-$100 range, and personal stylists are available via phone and chat to suggest styles to suit your event and body shape. You can also sort through Rent the Runway's arsenal using a tool that narrows the selection by price, size, color, trend and designer.

Matching designer clutches and jewelry are also available for rent, and the site even sells high-end cosmetics from brands such as Stila and Lancôme. There's even shapewear offered to help get the perfect silhouette. Sure, it might be a bit pricey for something you get to have for four days, but it's better than tucking in the tags, spritzing it with Febreze and praying the store will accept it as a return, right?


Follow me on Twitter: @taylorwrites.

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