Are you the kind of person who blows the budget on an outfit for a special occasion? Or do you for budget buys? If you’d like to blow the budget, but can’t afford it, is hiring an outfit the answer? Hiring can cost from £25 upwards. It’s not just dresses you can rent either — you can also hire handbags and shoes. What should you look for?
Choice of clothes and sizes
Some sites have a lot more choice than others. Look at the range of designers whose clothes they have available for hire and check the sizes as well. Many designers produce clothes for sizes 6-12/14 but not all make clothes for women size 14 and above.
Delivery speed and cost
Some sites aim to deliver your rental dress the next day, others take up to three working days. You should be able to order in advance for a specific date, but it’s worth bearing in mind if you’re in a hurry. Some sites include the cost of returns in delivery charges, others ask you to pay for it yourself.
SAVVY TIP: Delivery normally has to be signed for and you have to return unworn items within 24 hours if you don’t want to be charged for them. As you normally have to go to the Post Office to do this, it may be a bit of a faff.
Insurance may be included or you may have to pay extra. Some sites include the cost of minor repairs (if a button comes off or you snag the zip, for example), but you should take out insurance if you’re clumsy (or your close friends are!) or are worried about standing on the dress and shredding it. If disaster strikes you could have to pay the whole cost of replacing the dress.
Dress hire websites
There are dozens of different dress hire/rental websites (check) and some have more choice than others.
Chic by Choice This site has a reasonable variety of dresses to hire.
Hiring period: You can hire for four or eight nights.
Delivery: There’s next day delivery in mainland UK. You have to return the dress using the pre-printed envelope. Delivery costs £9.90.
Damaged items: If dresses are have minor damage, you won’t be charged extra. The price includes dry cleaning and insurance.
Girl Meets Dress is the biggest rental website in the UK having over 4,000 designer dresses from 150 different designers. You can search by designer, size or price and they divide dresses into different categories. There’s a useful ‘advance try on’ service where you can try a dress/dresses on over a month before you need it and then the one you choose is sent to you (advance try on costs £30).
Hiring period: You can hire for two nights or seven nights. Prices for hiring for seven nights are often not much more than hiring for two nights.
Delivery: There’s next day delivery in mainland UK and same day delivery in London. You have to return the dress using the pre-printed envelope. Delivery costs £9.95 to send the item to you and return it. Insurance is £7.
Damaged items: If dresses are damaged, you may be charged the full cost of replacing them. You are warned against trying to get items dry cleaned yourself (dry cleaning is included in the hire cost).
SAVVY TIP: What I liked about the site was the fact that you could try up to three short dresses (or two long ones) but only pay for one as long as you return the others unworn within 24 hours. What’s not so good is that some of the dresses are photographed on mannequins and not on a model, so I didn’t feel like I had such a good idea of what they would look like on a real person.
My Celebrity Dress prides itself on stocking dresses that celebrities such as Cheryl Cole and Kim Kardashian wear. Prices start at £15, although most of the dresses I looked at cost £69 or more to hire.
Hiring period: You can hire for three or eight days. In some cases, longer hire cost £10 extra, but in others it didn’t seem to make a difference to the price.
Delivery: Delivery takes between one and three working days. Delivery costs £7.99 (and includes insurance). You have to pay to return the dresses. You do this at your local Post Office, using a special trackable returns bag.
SAVVY TIP: Like ‘Girl Meets Dress, this site will let you hire up to three dresses and return two unworn for a refund (minus delivery charges).
The Frock Project has a reasonable range of short and long dresses with most priced between £75 and £100. You can easily search by designer but sizes available were limited.
Walk in Wardrobe has a reasonable range of dresses but they were often only available in one size, when I checked (which could be XS, S or medium). You can hire or buy most dresses and hire shrugs, bags or jewellery to go with them.
BE AWARE: You’re charged the cost of buying the outfit until it is returned and has been checked. Then you’re refunded the difference between the hire and purchase price.
Hiring period: This can be flexible. The owner of the website says that if it’s out of season, outfits can be taken on holiday for several weeks. If it’s during the busy summer period, it will be limited to several days.
Delivery: Delivery costs £13.99 and you have to allow two working days for delivery. You have to return unworn items the day after you receive them and you must return them using an insurable and trackable delivery service.
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