Bargain Shopper Blog

A new lease on labels

Jodie McLeod - Friday, July 31, 2009
I’m in a pickle. In the next few months I have no less than five weddings to attend (none of which are my own, mind you) and I have no idea what I’m going to wear. A few ceremonies will be in winter, a few in spring; some will be indoors, and some outside. What’s more, the same circle of friends will be lining the pews at each wedding. How am I going to look like a glamour princess at each event without blowing my life savings on five separate outfits?

I could lash out and buy one killer dress to wear to all weddings, but then I risk becoming the Where’s Wally in all my friends’ photo albums. Or I could buy five so-so inexpensive frocks, but then I’d probably end up blending in with the reception venue carpet.

Then, like a bouquet of roses over the head, the answer hit me.

Fashion rental! Just as groomsmen hire their suits, I could rent my five stunning kits from some of the numerous fashion-for-hire services that have appeared online in the past few years. And it’s tradition to wear “something borrowed” to a wedding, right?

My only worry was, being a rental novice, could I be sure to find frocks, clutches and accessories that’ll turn heads without having to pay in the thousands? Can I find diamonds for diamante prices?

The high-fashion rental trend hit Australia in 2006 and has been growing steadily ever since. Renting out stellar designer pieces for a fraction of the retail price for a day, week or month met the needs of label lovers who wanted to keep their wardrobes up to date without going into the red. Web-based stores such as Mila & Eddie, which offers designer handbags for hire, and Love Me & Leave Me, which stocks all kinds of fashion accessories for rent, started cropping up everywhere; and then in 2008 when Sex and the City's Carrie Bradshaw discovered the rental phenomenon, the craze boomed.

But can you still hire fantastic frocks and all the frills while on a genuine budget?

After a brief wedding march down the internet aisles, I discovered that — yes, you can. At Style 4 Hire I found a Coach clutch in baby pink for just $21 (rrp $300) to hire for the week, and at Dressed Up I spotted a stunning Rachel Gilbert black mini dress for $109 (rrp $595) also for the week. At Wish to Wear I found a pair of Prada heels for $49.95 per week ($59.95 per week for guests) and at Bag an Image I could score a Wedding Package — including a Chanel handbag and matching necklace and earrings — for $25.50 for the day!

At this rate, I’ll be able to hire five different wedding-wowing outfits, laden with labels, for less than $1000. Bring it on!

What’s been your experience of fashion rental? Know of any fab fashion-for-hire bargains? Let us know! Post a comment below or email

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