Take the hire road in the fashion and style stakes
Got a swanky summer party coming up? Designer rental sites mean high-end frocks at low prices. Katie Wright browses the best in luxury fashion loan
IMAGINE having a wardrobe full of designer dresses to choose from, whenever the occasion called for a jazzy Christopher Kane minidress, or a dazzling Roland Mouret number...
Sadly, we can't make that dream a reality any time soon, but in the meantime, did you know there's a faster – and far cheaper – route to the luxury lifestyle?
Designer rental sites offer dresses that you can hire for anything from two days to two weeks or more, perfect if you want something special for weddings, parties and black tie balls.
Your chosen dress will be delivered to your door, then when you've wowed the crowds at your fancy do, simply send it back – you don't even have to worry about the dry-cleaning.
Here's our guide to the sites that will make your fashion dreams come true, if only for a day...
CHIC BY CHOICE
Best for: Ball gowns and black tie.
Designer line-up includes: Christian Dior, Halston Heritage, Herve Leger, Jenny Packham and Temperley.
How much? Minidresses start from £50 for four days, while a floor-length Dior number with a £3,000-plus retail price will set you back around £450.
Perks: You get to pick two sizes per order to ensure a perfect fit (sizes run from six to 16), and you get £20 credit for every friend you refer. Plus, students get a 25 per cent discount, handy for summer balls.
Any drawbacks? There are a couple of extra charges for insurance and delivery that add about £14 to the cost, which is high compared to other sites.
Hire it now:
:: Halston Heritage Pink Gown, £114 rental (retail price £775)
:: Alice by Temperley Embellished Black Gown, £59 rental (retail price £490)
GIRL MEETS DRESS
Best for: Hot off the catwalk creations.
Designer line-up includes: Practically every big name brand, from Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga to Versace and Victoria Beckham.
How much? Prices are competitive, from £29 for a lesser-known designer to £279 for a fur-trimmed Christopher Kane minidress.
Perks: The majority of rentals are well under the £200 mark, and you can try up to three dresses at a time, then get a refund for those you don't wear.
Any drawbacks? The standard rental period is only two nights, so make sure you return it on time to avoid late fees.
Hire it now:
:: Alexander McQueen Roundneck Peplum Dress, £79 rental (retail price £450)
:: Roland Mouret Tinea Crepe Dress, £189 rental (retail price £1,895)
HIRE THE CATWALK
Best for: Sexy cocktail dresses.
Designer line-up includes: High-end labels like Forever Unique and Finders Keepers, alongside high street brands.
How much? Prices start from £29.99 with nothing over £50 for standard hire, plus postage.
Perks: You can opt for seven days of rental, instead of the usual three, for just £10 extra.
Any drawbacks? With lots of bodycon and low-cut styles, this site is more suited to a younger tribe.
Hire it now:
:: Alessia StyleStalker Dress, £34.99 rental
:: Forever Unique Elsie Gown, £44.99 rental (retail price £410)
Best for: Affordable glamour.
Designer line-up: A separate designer section features the likes of Adrianna Papell, Badgley Mischka and BCBGMaxAzria.
How much? It's one of the cheapest around, starting from £20 for short dresses to around £100 for gowns.
Perks: Four-day borrowing is standard, but you can extend rental periods up to two weeks and request two sizes at a time, then send back the one that doesn't fit and get a refund.
Any drawbacks? Dresses only go up to size 14.
Hire it now:
:: Adrianna Papell One-Shoulder Beaded Gown, £60 rental (retail price £260)
:: Aidan Mattox Sleeveless Gown With Deep V Neck, £70 rental (retail price £460)
THE FROCK PROJECT
Best for: Brands you won't find elsewhere.
Designer line-up includes: London Fashion Week favourites like Christopher Kane, Preen, Roksanda Ilincic and Vivienne Westwood.
How much? Rentals range from £50 to £150 for four days, or £10 extra for eight days.
Perks: More fashion-forward than other sites, The Frock Project doesn't just focus on play-it-safe styles.
Any drawbacks? It's a bit on the pricier side but the designer selection makes it worthwhile.
Hire it now:
:: Tibi Beaded Maxi Dress, £125 rental (retail price £470)
:: Preen Sequin Dress, £150 rental (retail price £1,200)
Best for: Wedding guests.
Designer line-up includes: High-end brands like Forever Unique and John Charles, alongside premium high street labels like Coast and Phase Eight, plus the occasional Vera Wang.
How much? From £29 to £89 for three days hire, plus £9.95 postage.
Perks: You can request an extended hire period by email and you can also rent out your own dresses via the site too.
Any drawbacks? There's only one of each dress, which limits your choice by size.
Hire it now:
:: Coast Ambika Dress, £39 rental
:: Xscape Mint Maxi Dress, £59 rental
GET THE LOOK
Kendall and Kylie Jenner caused a stampede in Topshop's direction when they unveiled their new collection for the retailer in LA, with the black culottes Kendall wore at the launch proving an instant sell-out. But for once, Miss Jenner isn't ahead of the fashion curve, because culottes are all over the shops right now. Very has a great selection, including the soft and swingy South Jersey Culottes, £16 (www.very.co.uk).
BUY IT NOW
Cape blazers make a great cover-up to sling over your shoulders on summer nights, but in black or block colours they can look a bit formal. Enter the When Life Gives You Lemons Cape Blazer, £60, from Kuccia, the zestiest jacket we ever did see. There's also a matching top and trousers, if you want to go for all-out fruit salad fabulousness (www.kuccia.com).
:: TALL ORDERS
Plus-size fashion has been getting a lot of air time lately, but there's another size battle going on in the changing rooms of shops. Started by 6ft graphic designer Sheyi Louisa Adelasoye, the Stand Tall campaign encourages women to take a photo whenever they try on clothes that don't fit properly because of their height, and post it online with the hashtag #standtallselfie. "If buyers knew how many tall women are out there craving more choice, they'd be inspired to extend their tall ranges," says Adelasoye.
:: STYLE STEAL
When the new season drops land, it's all about sensible investment buys, but right now, it's the summer sales, when impulse purchases are positively encouraged. Paul's Boutique is offering up to 40 per cent off a gorgeous array of handbags, including the hot pink Maisy, £39, reduced from £65 (www.paulsboutique.com).