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Can Rent the Runway’s New Studio Turn a Discerning Shopper Into a Rental Dress Believer?

Rent the Runway's new studio Photos: Rent the Runway

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I’ve never really borrowed clothing, even when I was in high school and all of my friends would swap outfits. The thought of having to return something after only wearing it once makes me feel like I’m losing out on the best part of the shopping experience: owning it.

I’d much rather spend money on things that I know I’ll wear and love all the time: Dries van Noten shoes, Rachel Comey jeans, and Isabel Marant jackets. (That’s me in a nutshell.) But, like everyone else in the summer, I had a wedding coming up, and was tired of wasting money on a dress I’d only wear once.

Rent the Runway was always an option I never tried. I felt like it was a service that catered to younger women looking to wear DVF or Rebecca Minkoff for the night, and that was never really my thing. But the new Style Studio sounded like an elevated experience — private, a lot more tailored, and with a stylist doing the work for me.

There are six appointment types ranging from a last-minute styling session for $25 to a  full-on 75-minute fitting for $60, where a stylist takes your exact measurements and recommends designers and dress silhouettes. I chose "Main Event," which is for head-to-toe styling for a special occasion.

Rent the Runway's new NYC studio

Neil, the stylist tasked with finding me a dress for this wedding, emailed me a few questions before my appointment, like who my favorite designers are. I rattled off names like Dries, Balenciaga, Delpozo, and Alaia — I know that the studio doesn’t carry any of those brands, but I was trying to give Neil an idea of what my style’s like.

Once I got there, everything was ready and waiting for me. I tried on a black fitted dress by Opening Ceremony (cool) and a navy Carven A-line (snoozer). There was the white Derek Lam (hot, but not for a wedding), and a floral Temperley. I was just about to make a decision when Neil returned with one more dress. It was...Christian Siriano?

I’d never seen myself as a Christian Siriano girl because his dresses are just a little too feminine for me, but — shocker — it was the one. I paired it with an Anya Hindmarch clutch that I was secretly obsessing over. (If I could’ve based my outfit around the clutch, I probably would’ve.)

The entire experience — appointment, outfit, and clutch — cost me $350. That’s not cheap by any means, but I didn’t have to commit to a one-time dress that retails for a whole lot more (like, $1,700 more), and I found something I loved that I would have never even tried in the first place.

And now that I have a little extra cash, I might just go and get a new Rachel Comey jacket.

Watch: Live at Rent The Runway