We all know that buying a prom dress can be an exhausting and expensive process, but after learning about these prom dress rental sites, I’m convinced it really doesn’t have to be.
These rental sites all let you browse online, select a dress to borrow for a few days, then return when you’re done. (Where was this when I was a high school senior!)
Renting costs a fraction of the price of buying, which is great since we know evening gowns don’t typically get a lot of use after the big night. This way, you can save money for other things that are important, like college. Or, you know, a blowout and a spray tan.
Take a look, and see which seems right for your own prom-goer.
Rosetta Getty one-shoulder wrap dress: $840 retail, $125 to rent from Rent the Runway
We’ve been fans of Rent the Runway for years now, and it turns out it’s a great go-to for renting prom dresses too. Like Kristen noted in her original review, the website makes it easy to filter dresses by budget, size, neckline and sleeve style, designer, and even your own body type, so you can find what you’re looking for quickly.
Rent the Runway carry top designers, and their styles often look more sophisticated than your average prom fare, but with an amazing range of dresses in every price range, if you’re shopping with a high-fashion teen, it might be the first, best stop for you.
One of the most beloved features on the site is that RTR lets you browse through customer photos, so you can see how your prom dress of choice looks on real people who may have a figure like your own. And I love that you can get the same dress in a backup size for free, and if you do, a second choice is only $32.50 giving you less chance of a last-minute dress panic.
Prices: Start at $30 for a Rachel Roy Collection sequin midi dress, $35 for a Draper James gold sequin shift
Deal: New customers who sign up through this link will get you $30 off your first rental.
Josephine Gown by Likely: $378 retail, $145 to rent from Charlotte’s Closet
Of all the rental option, Charlotte’s Closet seems the most targeted at teenagers looking to rent prom dresses — then even have a dedicated prom dress rental category. (Besides, I think you’ll agree with me when you browse through their midriff-bearing two-piece dresses.) Adventurous teens will definitely find something fun among the 240 prom options, let alone the other choices on the site.
I will say their rental prices seem a little higher than other sites as a percentage of the retail cost of the dress. But I like that Charlotte’s Closet has a home try-on option which lets you order three dresses to choose from, for a fee that gets applied to the cost of your rental.
Prices: Start at $29 for a belted BCBG Gown or a Jump sequin lace two-piece
Deal: New customers get 20% off off their first time rentalFaviana dress $450 retail, $115 rental fee from Poshare
Poshare is a relative newcomer in the dress rental world, but I think it’s a strong contender for prom dress rentals. They partner with fashion wholesalers and boutiques around the country to help them list their dresses and connect with renters. Which means that they’re able to offer a unique collection of formals that includes some fabulous pieces, like a smoking black sequin jumpsuit that this 30-something work-from-home mom desperately wants an excuse to wear. PTA meeting? Playdate? Maybe?) Just kidding, we’ll leave this one to the fashion-forward prom-goers whose parents will let them out of the house with a neckline down to the navel.
There really are a lot of uh, slits up to there and necklines down to there, and plenty of sequins and feathers and designs that look like they’d be perfect for Las Vegas showgirls. Don’t let that dissuade you — if you poke around, you’ll also find plenty of more classic gowns that are modern and fun, but perhaps more age-appropriate. There are also a few dozen options in plus-sizes up to 24.
Also be sure to really check the listings before you fall in love with something — some of the items are actually for sale, not rent. And if a dress is for rent, there may be only a single size available.
Prices: Start at $40 for a Lulus burgundy maxi dress, $48 for a Clarisse “sassy” navy cocktail dress, with higher prices for longer rental terms
Deal: Get 20% off your first rental of $75+ with code 20OFF
Taylor Fit n Flair Emerald Lace Dress: Original retail $119, $69 rental with one other dress at Gwynnie Bee
This dress-rental membership service (a Spawned “cool pick of the week”) started as an option for plus-size women, but has expanded to include sizes from 2 to 24W, so it’s particularly ideal for girls shopping for larger sizes. It’s the least “designer” of all the options, with lots of labels you don’t know that create exclusive designs for stores like Macy’s — though they do carry a category of “night out dresses” options from Calvin Klein, Ellen Tracy, Laundry, and Lauren Ralph Lauren.
It’s refreshing to see the dresses on models who aren’t all size 2 and look a little more “real,” as well as on customers through their own photos (as with Rent the Runway) which may give you the most realistic sense of how a dress might look on you. They also have a very good size advisor tool to recommend the right sizing for any given brand.
That said, this is a monthly service, not a single-dress rental option. So you’ll pay $69/month to receive two dresses to keep as long as you’d like, until you send back one for the next option in your “closet.” Might be worth it to give you a nervous high schooler a little more time to find the perfect dress — then not worry about sending it right back in a couple of days.
Plus, that free trial is gold.
Prices: The monthly fee of $69 covers 2 items of any kind, with as many returns as you’d like in a month
Deal: New members get a 30-day free trial including shipping both ways. So…free!
Top image: JD Mason via Unsplash