A reader and friend asked for some Rent the Runway alternatives for from dress rentals, on behalf of her daughter who’s currently prom dress shopping. She pointed out that today’s teens are so eco-conscious, that many would prefer not to buy a new dress for a spring formal or a prom that they might never wear again. They’d much prefer to thrift a dress or make it easy by using a prom dress rental service.

Of course, I am a longtime fan of Rent-the-Runway, which allows you to rent a single dress at a time if that’s all you need. But if can’t find what you’re looking for there, or you prefer a monthly rental service for multiple events this coming season, here’s a list of Rent the Runway alternatives.

We’ve taken a deep dive into these prom dress rentals so you can compare selection, sizes, cost, length of rental time,and other pros and cons.

May you find the prom dress rental service that’s absolutely perfect for you! Or uh…really, for your teen.

Prom dress rentals: A thorough comparison of the top Rent-the-Runway competitors

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What Are the Benefits of Prom Dress Rentals?

  • Saving money on a stylish new dress to wear
  • Saving money on dry cleaning
  • Saving a ton of time shopping in-person.
  • Year-old styles are a better guarantee that you’ll have a dress no one else will be wearing.
  • You can experiment with different looks
  • You don’t end up with a one-time wear in your closet. (But if you do want to buy it, you can at a discount.)
  • No fussing with reselling or consignment, just return it!

Rent the Runway for Prom Dress Rentals

Of course, Rent the Runway is the original designer rental service, as you can tell from the name. They’ve grown to have more than 800 appealing labels, available as one-time rentals or as part of clothing subscriptions allowing you to keep up to 5 items at a time, then swap them for new ones — smart if you have a busy event schedule. Plus they’re known for their deep collection of customer reviews with photos, which helps you decide whether the look will work on you.

Perfect for Prom: Over 450 dresses in the formal affair category; plus a limited selection of rental gowns and dresses from The Vault, from top designers like Oscar De La Rent, Zac Posen, Hervé Léger, which means their prom dress rentals will appeal to a more urban, high-end fashion-loving teen.

Comparing gown and prom dress rentals: Zac Posen Jersey Gown rents for $65 at Rent the RunwayThe $550 Zac Posen Jersey Gown rents for $65

Cost: One-time rentals of formal affair dresses start at $30, and you can rent a second time at a discount. Plus check for deals – get 20% off your first one-time rental with code GETDRESSED or for a limited time, get 30% off one-time rentals with PARTY30.

Subscriptions start at $94/mo for 5 items valued up to $350, with the first month discounted to $89. There are also 10 and 20-item subscriptions, which give you wider access to items with a total value of $3000. All plans give you an additional 25% off one-time rentals.

Pros: Massive selection that always updates; free 1-3 day shipping; fast 1-3 day deliveries (including to a hotel desk) and easy pickups with pre-paid labels. Recommendations for matching accessories with the dresses. Big library of user photos is very helpful. The free backup size for one item in each single-rental shipment is a huge benefit.

Cons: Most expensive of the options; takes time to choose new items every month; not ideal for less typical body shapes and larger sizes

Fashion Pass For Prom Dress Rentals

A lot younger and more focused on of-the-moment trends, Fashion Pass offers clothing subscriptions with an emphasis on companion accessories (if you choose). It’s designed more like a “rent to buy” platform — return everything through FedEx when it’s time for your next box, or keep one or more items you love and you’ll be charged for them. You can also purchase a gently used item you like straight from the site at a discount.

As far as prom dress rentals specifically, the formal dress selection includes nearly 350 options with labels you’re likely to  find in department stores or boutiques like Free People, Yuri Kim, Lamarque, and For Love & Lemons. It’s easy to browse dresses by size, price, color, occasion, and brand (though there are no options to sort by price or popularity, which people often like).

Perfect for Proms: Lots more mini dress styles that teens are looking for today than RTR. You may not recognize all the brands, but if it’s a great dress and not a specific designer label you’re after, happy browsing.

Rent the Runway Vs Fashion Pass: $648 Ronny Kobo x FP exclusive mini dress for prom rents free with your subscriptionThe $648 Ronny Kobo x Fashion Pass Exclusive Mini Hudson Dress rents for free with a subscription, or keep for $518

Cost: 3 subscription options start with the “Socialite” package, giving you 2 items + 1 accessory for $89/month (with the first month discounted to $49). Additional options for $119 and $149/month give you 4-7 items with flexibility on the ratio of items to accessories, The top tier plans also allow you to choose your next box of items the same day your current box is scanned in for return.

Purchasing a dress ranges from $19 for a Line & Dot mini dress, to a to $555 for a stunning Niali x Fashion Pass one-shoulder gown.

Pros: More teen and YA appeal; unlimited rental periods; exclusive Fashion Pass designs you won’t find anywhere else; easy purchases of items you want to keep; subscriptions include monthly purchase discounts up to $20; great customer service reports.

Cons: You must return all items at once unless you’re purchasing some; if you want to rent an item in your box a little longer instead of buying it outright, it will cost you $19.95 on top of your monthly payment. That also means that if one item doesn’t fit, you can’t return it for a new size without returning the whole box

Prose custom clean beauty

Nuuly For Prom Dress Rentals

Owned by Urban Outfitters (which also owns Anthropologie and Free People), you can imagine why Nuuly Rent is arguably the hottest — and simplest — new clothing rental service. They offer the on-trend clothing you’d expect from brands like this.  For $98 with no hidden fees, you rent 6 items of your choice that you return by a due date. If you’d like to try something in two sizes, you can do that and they both count toward your limit.

Perfect for Prom: There are more than 1100 cocktail dresses, and 223 tagged formal dresses specifically in their formalwear and occasion dresses category. Though they’re not all the dressiest of dresses, and you’re more likely to find a tea-length or maxi dress than a mini, though there are definitely some red-carpet adjacent looks

.Rent the Runway vs Nuuly: Strapless red bubble dress is perfect for prom rentalsHutch Strapless High-Low Bubble Dress for rent with the price of your box

Cost: Nuuly Rent is $98/month for 6 items including free shipping/returns, no hidden fees, with the option to buy what you love, including end-of-season styles for up to 75% off.

Pros: Did I mention no hidden fees? Not even if you’re late returning your box (though you’ll have to wait to order the next). A growing collection of customer photos to help you choose from a giant selection of dresses, along with fun lookbooks and edits give the site an editorial feel. Lots of plus sizes up to 40W. Ability to add up to 4 bonus items for $20/each.

Cons: No single-item rentals. Many of the newer, trendier items are unavailable and while you can add it to your “closet,” you won’t be notified when it’s back in stock. Size charts don’t include specific measurements for a better fit by brand. Customer service is automated. Some reports of long delivery times, and no overnight shipping options. Quite a few of complaints about a “Febreeze smell” in the clothing..


Armoire for Prom Dress Rentals

Armoire is a bit like Stitch Fix, in which you take a fun style quiz, then have an actual person curating a “personalized closet” based on your tastes. You pick what you like, wear it as long as you like, keep the rest. Gradually they get to know your style preferences and fans say this is when it truly becomes a service they like. You can purchase the styles you want to keep with members-only discounts. Depending on your subscription plan, you can get a “Capsule” wardrobe with a new case of 4-7 items (depending on your plan) every 30 days; or an “Unlimited” wardrobe that lets you exchange items as often as you want, holding onto a maximum of 6 at a time.

Brands include Nicole Miller, DVF, Scotch & Soda, Lily Pulitzer, Yumi Kim, Joie.

Perfect for Prom:  Formal dresses on Armoire include brands like Reiss Aideen, Bailey 44, Cinq a Sept, Black Halo, BCBG MAXAZRIA, Nicole Miller, Rachel Zoe, and Ray Darte,

Yumi Kim red ruched dress : Great rental from Armoire for Prom
Yumi Kim’s Billy Draped Skirt Midi Dress can be included in your collection.

Capsule memberships start at $89/month for 4 items to $119 for 7 items a month (with $20 off the first month). Unlimited memberships are $249 a month for 6 items at a time ($100 off the first month).

Pros:  You can schedule a live 20-minute welcome call as a new member to ask questions, and a virtual styling appointment over Zoom to help them nail your style and sizing. It’s nice that they flag women-owned and women-of-color-owned brands. If you’re into experimenting with up-and-coming designers they carry them along with bigger names.

Cons: No single-time rentals, only subscriptions. Requires frequent use for them to nail your tastes.  Filters don’t include occasion, which makes it a little tougher to find a prom dress rental and they have more casual party dresses or business dresses than formal from what I can see.


Haverdash / Borrow by the Ensemble for Prom Dress Rentals

Haverdash is an extremely affordable “virtual closet” rental option and makes the process extremely simple — just $59 a month for 3 items at a time. Return them all to get the next shipment, and do this as often as you’d like. If you love something, purchase it at a discount. Their selection of dresses includes designers like Rebecca Minkoff, Vince, Lost + Wander, and Nicole Miller, along with affordable mall brands like Ann Taylor, Express, and Loft. It’s not quite as strong with formal dresses as it seems to be with vacation dresses and work party clothing.

That said, they’ve just introduced a new subbrand called Borrow by the Ensemble just for single-time rentals of designer dresses. You can keep dresses for up to 14 days with easy returns.

Perfect for Prom: They have a fairly limited collection of prom-suitable prom dress rentals at Borrow by the Ensemble, with only 75 classified black tie dresses and a few more classified cocktail dresses, but what they have is beautiful. You’ll find lots of halter gowns, maxi dresses, high slits, and some sequins. Search the selection from Nicole Miller,  BCBGMAXAZRIA, Dress The Population, and Adrianna Papell.

Prom dress rental ideas: BCBG MAX AZRIA tiered ruffle tulle evening gown in orchid at The EnsembleBCBGMAXAZRIA Oly Tiered Ruffle Tulle Evening Gown In Fair Orchid rents for $34.50; retail would be $498 

Cost: $59/month for unlimited exchanges of 3 items at a time with no commitment. Borrow by the Ensemble rentals start at $20 (yes, for 14 days!) and top out around $85, though most are $20-50.

Pros: Rental prices are fantastic. That 14-day rental can be really helpful, especially if you need time to find something that works better. If you prefer more red-carpet chic than classic 2024 body-con mini dresses, this could be a solid and affordable option.

Cons: Limited sizing and few options over 16. You can only borrow one one-time rental at a time, so you have to hope you’ll like it. UX is a little tough; you can only sort by color, occasion, and brand. Limited single-time rental collection of around 300 dresses from 40 brands — only 75 classified black tie. Lovely dresses but not a lot of them and styling is limited.

Non-dress photos by Todd Cravens and Aly Ramirez on Unsplash