Instead of paying top dollar for designer items, why not rent them instead? That way you can stay up to date with the latest trends and still have money left over for your savings account! Here are some of my favorite sites that offer luxury on loan:
Rent the runway
Why fork over money for a dress you're only going to wear once, when you can rent something new each time instead? Rent the Runway has a collection of dresses and accessories by top designers that you can rent, either for a four or eight-day period.
The website includes over 25,000 dresses and accessories from 160 designers such as Vera Wang, Badgley Mischka, Nicole Miller and Versace. Rentals are generally around 15–25 percent of the retail price and there is a wide array of prices. For example, you can rent Catherine Deane's Patrica Gown for $300 (retail $1540), or the Halston Heritage Flip Switch dress for $70 (retail $425).
Simply log on, choose your item, and book it for your event date. Make sure you do this well in advance so you don't have to pay for “next day” or “weekend” shipping. While standard shipping is $9.95, next day or weekend shipping is $25 in Manhattan and $35 everywhere else.
You can purchase extras to go with the dress such as Spanx, lingerie, fake tanning products and adhesive bras, and it all arrives between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on the day of your booking. Each rental includes a back-up size at no extra cost so you don't have to worry about your dress not fitting on the big night. You can even order a second style (of equal or lesser value) for $25. The idea is to have a second choice, but we suggest splitting the order with a friend or doubling up for a particularly special weekend or a week of job interviews.
After the event, simply mail back your items in the pre-paid envelope provided, and Rent the Runway will take care of dry cleaning. Be careful to get items back on time or you will be charged a stiff late fee of $50 a day.
Currently Rent the Runway is offering $25 off your first rental, so if you have a big party coming up, it may be worth joining now. And remember, if you're a fashionista who's likely to rent more than twice a year, you may want to sign up for Rent The Runway Pro. For $29.95 you get free insurance and shipping all year plus a $50 rental credit for your birthday.
Made famous by Jennifer Hudson's character in Sex in the City II, Bag Borrow or Steal is the go-to place for designer handbag rentals and offers jewelry, sunglasses and watches for hire too.
Designers include Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs and Prada, and monthly rental prices usually range from around 10–20 percent of the retail price. However, it’s worth searching the site because you can sometimes pick up items for a little less. For example, the Chanel Istanbul Quilted Calfskin Tote, which retails for $4,000, is currently for hire at $325 a month. Prices include shipping and cleaning and damage insurance.
Unlike Rent the Runway, Bag Borrow or Steal has no late fees. Instead it rents items on a monthly basis, which simply ticks over if you don't return the item. This can be great for convenience, but it's important to make sure you don't go over by accident and end up paying for a whole other month.
Bag Borrow or Steal also buys and sells pre-owned designer handbags and accessories. This gives owners a chance to pick up some cash for their used bags and shoppers the chance to buy designer labels for 25–40 percent off the new price. If you shop around you can even find some items for less than half the price, such as this Prada Vitello Daino Easy Satchel, which is on sale for $525—that’s 59 percent off!
Tie Society is the Netflix of neckwear, offering a monthly subscription service for ties, cufflinks and other designer menswear accessories. Starting at $10.95 per month for one item and going up to $49.95 a month for 10 items, postage fees are included, and you can swap and return items as often as you want.
Marketed as the secret of the stars, BorrowedBling loans high-end accessories such as jewels, belts, crystal evening bags and accessories. Like Tie Society, it works on a monthly subscription basis, and you can keep items for as long as you like so long as your subscription fees are up to date. Subscriptions start at $29.95 per month for two items from the Countess closet, $49.95 for two items from the Duchess closet, or $99.95 for three items from the Movie Star closet.
Already broken the bank?
Already spent all your money buying everything brand new? Fashion-swapping app 99 Dresses may be just what you're looking for. Basically, you list your unwanted fashion to "earn" buttons to spend on other items you want. So before the next shopping spree, put down the credit card and swap yourself up a bargain instead!