because life doesn’t fit in a file folder

Not Meant to Rent

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Okay, so it wasn’t exactly this woman. And it wasn’t exactly this dress. And we weren’t by the ocean. But you get the idea.

A while back, I saw this woman at a party.

She looked like a goddess.

Her dress was one of those long Grecian-inspired things that draped her body perfectly. She was lithe and long, and I’m pretty sure she was a size 00.

Now, I am no shopper, but I had never seen anything like that dress in any store remotely near Rochester, New York. I couldn’t help myself.

I drifted away from my husband and walked right up to The Goddess who was accompanied by a man at least twice her age.

Because I am incredible classy, I introduced myself. We shook hands, and then I stated flat out: “You look freakin’ awesome in that dress!”

The Goddess ran her fingernails through her hair and gave me a pretend blush. Because she knew she looked like Heidi Klum. Then she leaned in as if she was about to tell me the world’s best secret. “People always stare at me in my dresses,” she confided.

I knew she didn’t mean for this to come out as arrogantly as it sounded. She was just gorgeous and stupid and young. Plus, I could tell she was sitting on something big. And I figured if I could tolerate her just listened a little bit longer, then I’d be in on it, too.

“What I mean is lots of times I see people staring at my dresses, and I wish they would just ask me where I got them so I could tell them.”

I knew she wasn’t a total bitch.

“I swear I want to shout it from the rooftops!” she exclaimed.

The build-up was tremendous.

“Have you ever heard of Rent the Runway?” she asked.

I shook my head, clueless.

“Omigosh!” The Goddess grabbed my wrist and did a little pee-pee crouch. “It’s the best thing ever. I’m one of those people who hates wearing the same dress twice, you know what I mean?”

I nodded, but honestly. No. I didn’t know what she meant. I have a closet filled with dresses I wear over and over again.

Image representing Rent the Runway as depicted...
Image via CrunchBase

The Goddess continued, “Rent the Runway is this company that leases designer dresses and accessories for … like…up to 85% off retail.”

I looked at The Goddess and watched her perfectly shaped lips.

“You pick a dress style that you like, choose two sizes — the one that you think is most likely to fit and another size as a backup in case you guessed wrong. They ship the dress to you for four days, and after you are done using it you mail it back. You can rent dresses that would normally be, like $1,000 for between $275 and $400,” she gushed. “And the best part is that you always have a new dress! How awesome is that?”

I looked at this pretty young thing like she had 7 heads.

Talk about coming from totally different worlds.

1. I would never. I can’t even imagine spending between $275-$400 on a new dress, let alone one someone else has already worn. Even my wedding dress was $212 off the rack.

2. The douche-bag factor. I would never admit to spending hundreds of dollars on a rented dress because my friends would think I was the most arrogant snob in the world. Not to get all preachy, but – excuse me while I get on my high horse for a moment – people are being foreclosed upon. I have taught homeless students who have had to sleep in Walmart for lack of a place to go. Families are living in hotel rooms that cost $50 per night. How could I ever, in good conscience, rent a dress that I knew could house them for a week? Or, at least, feed them for a few days?

3. I like re-runs. I have watched The Shawshank Redemption dozens of times. I never get tired of it. Same goes for clothes. If I see an outfit that I actually love, I want it. And I want to wear it again. I wear my party dresses so infrequently that I am actually excited when I pull them out of the closet. They are like old friends that I haven’t seen in a while. And because I shop carefully and try to avoid trends, I generally do fine.

4. I rely on friends. Some of my friends happen to be the same size as I am. I can’t tell you how many times my friend Cindy and I have swapped dresses. I actually met my friend Rachel while trying on dresses. Yes, I invited a total stranger over to my house; then she invited me over to her house. We stripped off our clothes in front of each other and ended up doing a dress swap. Now that’s a “How We Met” story!

5. I’m cheap. I have pretty good luck at Marshall’s. What can I say? Some of us just weren’t made for high fashion.

I tried to appreciate the delicious kernel of awesomeness that The Goddess had bestowed upon me.

I couldn’t get past the idea that standing before me was this young woman who loved fashion so much that she was willing to spend a good portion of money on a dress that she was only going to wear once and then have to return.

“How can you afford this?” I asked. “I don’t get it.”

The Goddess smirked and whispered from behind one manicured hand, “Oh, I get my dates to pay.”

As if on cue, the old man her date beckoned, she waved good-bye, took her escort’s arm (or maybe she was the escort), and together they went off. I watched as the train of her white gown slowly swirled around a corner, kind of like expensive toilet paper does as it disappears down the drain.

What do you think of the idea of renting clothes? Has anyone ever done it? What was your experience like?

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