Rent a dress instead of buying one

February 17, 2010 3:32:39 PM PST
Not only will you get away without spending a lot of money, you don't even have to leave your home to shop. "We have 12 hundred dresses in inventory right now we have another 4000 dresses on order," Jenny Fleiss said.

With so many dresses, you'd think that Jenny Fleiss and Jennifer Hyman own a department store, but their inventory isn't for sale. It's for rent.

"We work with more than 46 designers," Hyman said. "The same designers that you would find at a department store, we carry on-line."

The two Harvard business school grads launched their New York-based website, Rent the Runway, in November and their timing is spot on.

"Especially given the economy, women are more aware of the cost per wear of different dresses," Fleiss said.

So the cost of renting, about 10 percent of the retail price or a hundred bucks for a dress instead of a thousand, is totally practical, if you're only planning to wear a dress once.

Whether it's a hot date or a black tie affair, the website helps guide you in your selection.

For the first rental with any designer, they'll send you the dress in two sizes because women all know a size 6 in one brand isn't a 6 in another.

Plus, you never have to clean what you wear.

"We are in a dry cleaners right now. This is where we house all of our inventory, so that we make sure that the dresses are spotless and smell great and look great before next customer receives them," Hyman said.

With every dress in season, you'll be stylish without splurging.

"We get hand-written thank you letters from girls after their events. They send photos. People are having Cinderella experiences in these dresses, so that really is the most rewarding thing about what we're doing I think," Fleiss said.

Next up for Rent The Runway -- accessories, brides maid dresses and even maternity dresses.

By the way, when it's time to send your dress back, they make that easy too. They include a shipping envelope, with the postage already paid. The catch? You only get the keep the dress for 4 days.