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Rent the Runway: Bridesmaid Dresses

That won't get shoved in the back of your closet after the wedding

Top Photo: Left: Domino Dress, by Badgley Mischka ($65); Right: Catch The Wind Dress, by Trina Turk ($60–$70). Our apologies that these models look so sad.

Two months ago, when I went to LA to see the Emmy red carpet, I used Rent the Runway for the first time. We’ve written about Rent the Runway before (you can see our wedding dress RTR roundup back here), but I’d never used the service. Here is how it went: I picked a dress, and paid for rush shipping. (Don’t do this, btw. I didn’t have another choice, but my shipping was the same price as my rental.) They delivered two dresses in two different sizes (so if I didn’t fit into what I thought I would fit into, I was still covered.) I had a choice between the four-day and the eight-day rental, which was nice. The packaging was cute, the dresses were cute, and it was overall a win. On the downside, the dresses showed a little bit of wear. Nothing that wasn’t totally reasonable for a dress rental service, and nothing that bothered me. And, I spent hours lost on the website trying to figure out what I wanted. I hate to complain about there being too many options, but there were almost too many options.

Before I used the service, in my mind, Rent the Runway was more rent the RUNWAY. Like, I figured it was just a service to rent expensive designer dresses to show off, and that’s just not particularly my bag. What I didn’t realize is that while you can, for sure, rent really amazing designer dresses, you can also order really affordable ones (think, $30 rental), that are probably nicer than anything you’d buy (think $600 dress). That in short, it was going to be my go-to solution for weddings where I was a guest or fancy parties, where I didn’t have anything to wear. Because hand to God, I have a collapsible wardrobe thing in the basement, just for my sparkly and vintage dresses. I really really don’t need any more party dresses (not that anything will stop me, but I could use some slowing).

Where I really got to thinking was how kick ass RTR would be for bridesmaid dresses, particularly mismatched bridesmaid dresses. (Though, hint, they have a bridesmaid section, but I’d skip it.) We all know the hell that is picking matching bridesmaid dresses, but we don’t often discuss the hell that is mismatched bridesmaid dresses. As someone who did it, I can attest that it’s painful. There is a constant tug of war between wanting to be the laid back bride who’s like, “Oh, wear whatever you want,” but also wanting to be the laid back bride who’s ladies show up in flawlessly mismatched super chic outfits, just on accident. (Is that too much to ask? Yes, yes it is.) It’s equally hellish as a bridesmaid, because you want to wear something that your person is going to love, and you also don’t want to spend a fortune, and it is so, so, confusing. Short version of the story: picking bridesmaids outfits is often just sort of awful. So I loved the idea of picking a unifying theme (“black” or “sparkles”) and letting your ladies pick their dresses. They could send you a link to approve, and you could make sure the dresses all felt reasonably cohesive. Then your ladies spend whatever they choose to spend (but you can get some hot dresses for $30), and they return the dress after the wedding, with pictures as proof of how hot they looked. (Also, for a change, their plus size section is filled with smoking hot dresses.)

This, I think, is a sort of brilliant use of Rent the Runway. So with that in mind, I’ve rounded up some mismatched bridesmaids collections that I think are sort of killer. Someone please do this. Send pictures.

(Note: my criteria for selecting dresses is that they had to rent for less than $100. Your ladies can choose their own price point, but I figured even those of us who like to wear super-expensive-dresses-we-could-never-otherwise-afford-for-a-day are not going over $100 on a rental. And. If you’re feeling SUPER nice, Rent The Runway offers gift cards. Perfect bridesmaids gift? I’d say yes.)

MODERN: 1. Popover Dress, by Erin Fetherston ($50); 2. Geometric Gold Sheath, by Hunter Bell ($65); 3. Sea Shimmer Pant, by Contrarian ($50); 4. Side to Side Sheath, by Theia ($90)

BRIGHT: 1. Diamond Cut Dress, by Nanette Lepore ($30); 2. Sea Shimmer Dress, by Contrarian ($85); 3. Lace Me In Teal Dress, by Monique Lhuillier ($70–$80); 4. Cyndi Dress, by Halston Heritage ($70–$80)

DARK: 1. Josephine Dress, by Jill Stuart ($60); 2. Mesh Well Dress, by Yoana Baraschi ($65); 3. Lace Face Off Sheath, by Lina Turk ($35); 4. According Dress, by Camilla and Mark ($85)

HOLLYWOOD: 1. Fifth Avenue Showstopper Dress, by Badgley Mischka ($35); 2. Mini Sequin Pixie Dress, by Mark & James by Badgley Mischka ($30) (What I actually wore in Hollywood—two thumbs up); 3. Chrysler At Night Dress, by Badgley Mischka ($30); 4. Sprinkle The Sequins Shift, by Vie La V ($40–$50)

This page contains affiliate links that help with APW’s bills, but all the items featured here are items that we genuinely like and would purchase ourselves.

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